Name - Tales of Xillia
Developer - Namco Tales Studios
Publisher – Namco Bandai Games
Available Platforms – PS3
Tales of Xillia made its first appearance on store shelves in Japan back in 2011 and due to the successful sales records of Tales of Graces F in North America; we get our hands on Tales of Xillia. My personal experiences with the Tales of franchise were initially strong, I first played Tales of Symphonia, and I thought it was nothing short of incredible. Later entries in the franchise didn’t seem to add up, Tales of Graces being a particular let down. Luckily, Tales of Xillia managed to make me a Tales fan once more.
When you start Tales of Xillia you won’t get a main menu, instead you are given an options screen and then you pick which story you’re going to play: Jude’s or Milla’s. It is highly recommended that you play Jude’s side of the story first, especially if you enjoy watching characters grow through their journey. Milla’s story focuses more on sorting out a certain party member’s motivations, and fills in the blanks from Jude’s journey.
Jude Mathis is an honour’s student attending the Talim Medical School as he trains to become a doctor. When his Professor goes missing in the Fenmont Research District, Jude goes off to find him, but winds up meeting Milla Maxwell, the physical form of the Lord of Spirits. It’s Milla’s mission to discover why there’s been a disturbance among the spirits, and finds the source of it as the Lance of Kresnik, a weapon of mass destruction which utilizes tremendous amounts of mana in order to operate. Milla teams up with Jude, but the two are unable to destroy the Lance and then swept away and must make their escape.
XILLIA IS MUCH DARKER TALES GAME
The best part about the final villain is that he isn’t much of a villain. His view on how to save the world is different than Jude’s. The final boss battle is incredible, it’s definitely one of the highlights of this outstanding game, and it has to be said that I could not be more pumped to throw down with this guy.
Some may scoff at the playtime of only 30 hours for a JRPG, but it is a full 30 hours of a gripping plot and developing characters, and it doesn’t pull too many punches either. The party goes through some traumatic stuff, and Xillia managed to be a bit darker for a Tales game. In the end, we get some truly amazing character interactions, the heart of it being between Jude and Milla.
Gameplay in Tales of Xillia works the same as almost every Tales game; monsters appear on the field and upon contact you’re thrown into a real time battle. Xillia definitely has one of the better combat systems, it takes the AC gauge from Graces to show you how many actions you have left before you have to take a small pause, but brings back TP that Graces had dropped for its combat system.The big addition Xillia has to offer is linking, linking allows combatants to partner up for extra damage, linked artes, and linked skills. By linking with an ally, that ally will lend you a specific skill to aid you in battle, for example, while linked with Alvin, he will break an enemy’s guard and stun them. Be sure to experiment with linking to each party member and work out the best strategy. Back stepping at the right time allows you to pivot behind your enemy for critical hits and extra damage, and you can also jump into the air for some aerial attacks. From basic attacks to Mystic Arte attacks, everything looks stylish and fluid while the combat overall is a fast paced and fun experience. I had little to no problem with grinding a few levels, which is a strong testament to the combat.
The level system has received a very big make over, instead of just levelling up and receiving stats automatically, you now earn GP. These points are then used at the player’s discretion to plot the stats progression they want for that specific character. While this system can take a long time to use, there is always the auto level button if you don’t want to level up a new party member later on in the game. Almost every gameplay aspect in Tales of Xillia comes together in a fun and exciting package.
EVERYTHING LOOKS STYLISH AND FLUID
Tales of Xillia may not be the best graphically developed game out there. You can see some washed out textures, Milla’s hair being the prime example, but the overall art direction still manages to impress. The game is a bounty of colour with some beautiful landscapes and intricate monster designs. Cities and towns are fairly memorable and distinct; one truly striking locale was Fenmount, cast in its perpetual twilight. Motoi Sakuraba once again composes the soundtrack, which is not only fitting, but has some excellent battle themes.
‘Skits’, a common tradition within the Tales series returns fully voiced to help to flesh out character and plot points. Accompanying skits in Xillia will be little clips of party members just talking about what’s on their minds, whether it’s about the player neglecting to use them in battle, or they’re just hungry. These clips helped me connect with the party members, to feel like they were all with me on the playing field. In battle you see something similar, in the top left corner, a portrait of whoever pipes up to say something important appears, while if the enemy has anything to say, they show up in the right hand corner. It really comes together for some of those big boss battles; you get the feeling that this battlefield is a bit livelier and dynamic.
Unfortunately some may miss out on some backstory or extra plot points because that info comes from following up on ‘sub events’. A sub event is usually initiated by a skit, and it sets up where to go for the player to see the rest of the event. Should the player miss the skit, or just not pick up on the idea that they have to follow up on the skit, they are going to miss out on a lot of plot details and character backgrounds. In fact the majority of Rowen’s character is revealed through these sub events. Important character information like that isn’t something the player should be seeking out for, it would be better if it was more of a focus, because I felt that Rowen needed more attention, as a result, I didn’t know much about him until pursuing it.
XILLIA IS A CONCISE AND CONDENSE STORY THAT KEEPS YOU ON FOR THE WHOLE RIDE
Tales of Xillia doesn’t have too much fat or filler, the game pretty much kicks off running, it’s a concise and condense story that keeps you on for the whole ride. Only one thing seems unnecessary and that is, Leia, a party member. She’s not in any way a negative character, she’s definitely likeable, and you don’t want to see anything bad come her way, but in the end of the day she’s not really needed, and feels like a placeholder.
Tales of Xillia is definitely one of the strongest Tales games in a long time.
It has a great cast with excellent aesthetics and a gripping story, the combat is fun and entertaining, the game doesn’t drag itself out, and there’s a lot of replay value. This is definitely not a game to be missed by JRPG enthusiasts, and for those who want to give the genre a try, definitely check out Tales of Xillia.