Tales of Xillia Review
3 years ago
The “Tales of” games have been running for quite some time, loved by its fans as much as the popular Final Fantasy series, but unlike FF, the Tales games have managed to keep a strong and steady release of games, keeping true to the games well known format and steadily building on what worked in the past and though Tales of Xillia is now hitting a couple of years old, this English translation is yet another fine example of just how good JRPGs can be when done right.
Set in a world where sprits and humans share a symbiotic relationship, the ruler of Rashugal has inexplicably begun to harvest these shared powers for his own evil deeds, destroying the carful balance and creating a weapon of mass destruction called the Lance of Kreznik. Setting out to stop this is Milla Maxwell, the human embodiment of a spirit god called Maxwell, who lives in a very harmonious relationship with the spirit elements. They as a team are aware of the happenings in the world of Rieze Maxia and go to stop this evil; however her attack does not quite go to plan, with Milla being stripped of her spirit friends and along with that, her powers. Left for dead she is saved by Jude Mathis, a local scholar who was also infiltrating the compound investigating a spate of suspicious deaths. It is then with this chance meeting that the fallen god and young man then forge a friendship and set on a quest to stop the King before it is too late.
Tales of Xillia is very familiar territory for anyone who has played a JRPG before with the game being split into two distinct parts; first you have the areas that allow you to collect and trade, negotiating menus to choose the best items to wear and visiting shops and traders to try and get the best deal. As with any JRPG there will be plenty of meetings with other, slightly flamboyant characters along the way, some will join you and offer their help whilst others will offer light relief or to forward the story and though the end goal is very clear, the quest itself covers plenty of enjoyable elements with Milla learning to become more human and Jude trying to become a more confident and responsible man. Presented either via in game cut scenes or the many talking heads conversations that you can watch at certain points; it is these little segments that whilst not essential, really add depth to the characters and add even more purpose to the story. Thankfully the story and the characters that inhabit it are well created, each with their own quirky personalities that will keep you entertained for hours and though it sticks close to the stereotype of a classic JRPG its avoids the more juvenile and at times seedy approach of other titles like underwear shots or poor attempts at innuendo.
The other half of the gameplay is the actual battles which mostly take place in the field areas. These large expanses of multi-tiered land allow you to run and climb obstacles, searching for hidden treasure and of course getting into fights. The enemies that roam the land interact in real time, so if you get too close they will then turn on you and attack, which when a connection is made, you are then warped to the familiar RPG battle area for some fast and frantic action.
At first these fights are very overwhelming, with the game throwing pretty much all of the different moves and tactics at you at once; it will take time to figure out what works best but the general jist is that once you have set a battle in motion you are warped to the classic arena viewpoint, from here you can either run towards and away from the enemy on a fixed horizontal plane, or by holding down a trigger button, unlock free move which allows you to run anywhere on screen, helpful for getting behind an enemy and keeping your distance. All of the moves that you perform are linked to the Assault Counter (AC), which is a set number of a combo chain that resets after a few seconds of recharge; basically it stops you from totally spamming the enemies. Aside from the standard melee attacks you also have Artes; these are special moves that are unlocked as you progress though the game by ranking up via the huge web-like upgrade system; each strand of the web connecting until you surround an Arte, which then is unlocked for use. Each Arte is associated with an element which can then be quick set up to use on both the left and right sticks (this can get a little messy at times with so many moves to choose from). These Arte moves are not only linked to the AC but also to a Technical Points meter that depletes with each special move and again, recharges slowly with every other regular hit you make.
Even with just the basics it is a lot to take in, with some of the earlier battles getting quite confusing. It is helped a little with the inclusion of more members to your team, with Milla and Jude working together, who are later also joined by many others on their quest, the game allowing four characters to jump into battle and the AI doing a decent job of keeping alive and dishing out just as much damage as you can. When fighting in teams you have quite a lot of say on how the rest act, with commands like focus on healing, hold back or go all out a few of the instructions you can tell them. When in group battles you are also able to link to another character, with a thin line attaching the two of you which then allows for even more tactical approaches like blindsiding enemies and even performing linked Artes, unleashing even more devastating power onto the enemies.
There is a decent balance between adventuring and fighting and even with the story going along at some pace there are plenty of reasons to slow down and attempt some of the many side missions that appear, which is made even easier with the quick travel system, allowing you to jump to places you have visited in the past, chatting to the inhabitants and carrying out their requests.
Whilst an enjoyable game there are a couple of annoying attributes that can grate after a while, like the aforementioned Artes controls being a little too cluttered, the worst culprit though is the overly stunted dialogue with no real flow, the voice acting is quite good but with its slow pace you can find yourself more than often mashing the skip button just to get to the point.
Overall Tales of Xillia is a fun JRPG that will entertain throughout its story and is a well-deserved translation that can hopefully bring many fans the chance to finally play this game.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3)
- A wealth of characters to enjoy
- Deep real time battle system
- Chance to play twice as different characters, offering slightly different story threads.
- It looks like a two year old game
Edited On 06 Aug, 2013