Namco BandaiDeveloped By:
T for Teen (Blood, Mild Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence) Release Date:
August 6, 2013Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Matthew PruntyAugust 29, 2013
- The “Tales Of” series has spawn several compelling examples of JRPGs at their finest; debuting with Tales of Phantasia
some 18 years ago. While not every one of these titles made it to North America, it didn’t stop gamers from importing a copy of the latest epic journey in order to get their fix. With a long enveloping series that has spawned more than a dozen titles, countless spinoff games and a handful of anime adaptations, “Tales Of” series never forgot its roots and why the world has come to love it. Fast-forward to 2013 and the North American debut of Tales of Xillia (released in Japan in 2012), and we have yet another example of the evolution of the “Tales Of” series and how we simply can’t get enough.
Tales of Xillia is about Milla Maxwell and Jude Mathis’s journey to protect mankind and spirit-kind from the actions that will doom us all. However, this pairing is anything but prepared for the events that unfold on your journey. Milla is a self-proclaimed “Lord of Spirits” who can wield the power of the four great spirits to do her bidding. As for Jude, he’s a doctor who hasn’t met someone he hasn’t tried to help in some compactly. These two meet as Milla is breaking into the medical research center in Fenmount in order to destroy the Lance of Kresnik. A sequence of events unfold and Milla is left powerless and Jude’s left with a decision to ignore what he saw or stand by Milla’s side. His big heart and naivety of the world ultimately leads him down a path of resolve and growth as he sets out to help Milla save the world(s).
Simply knowing how everything is going to play out in the end isn’t enough as the journey along the way breathes life into the epic conclusion. Jude and Milla; with the help of individuals they meet along the way, do end up saving the world. However, it’s the events, the resolve and the determination along the way the provide substance, heart and character to Tales of Xillia. Along the way, Jude and Milla will come across more than a dozen unique individuals, all with a compelling argument for why they are joining the fight to save the world. Just like a coin, there are two distinct sides to how the world should be saved. It’s this conflict and those involved that will often have you pause for a moment to think about what was said and if your actions are indeed the right ones.
The individuals you come across on your journey either joins up with you or have a different view on the world and how it should be saved. One example of this is Rowen Illbert, a butler of a noble family who was once feared as a great spirit artes master known as the Conductor. He has many reasons for getting involved with the conflict; both past and current plights that must be dealt with. However before you learn of these misfortunes, Rowen comes off as a gentleman of many hats. He can be seen as a mentor, a sweet talker and a leader to name just a few. Just like with the other characters, you get see all sides of him and you realize how three dimensional these characters lives are and what they are fighting for. Another character of intrigue is Alvin, a mercenary for hire with his own agenda. While Rowen is the most intriguing character in your roster, Alvin is the most mysterious. Throughout the game you never know what he truly is up to; what side he’s own. This mystery, but willingness to stick his neck out on the line for you and your comrades, earns him a special place in your heart.
Tales of Xillia is loaded to the brim with dialog, which is a bit off-putting when compared to traditional JRPGs. This isn’t a bad thing at all; far from it. Being able to hear your comrades talk amongst themselves; express their views and naivety on certain situations is welcoming. This entire dialog plays out in a myriad of ways – animation, in-game dialog, static cutscenes – each breaking up the monotony of constantly being in battle to level up your team. During these moments, you hear and see discussions ranging from what foods to eat to the loss of a love one or even about the affect Milla is having on everyone; especially Jude. Jokes are even dished back and forth between comrades which shows of that’s group of strangers have grown into a family. You can’t help but be enamor with the depth and thoughtfulness of how the developer is able to give you tons of information; without feeling like you are being overloaded.
The combat in Tales of Xillia is unique and based around the evolution of the “Tales Of” series. Each game prior to Xillia brought something to the table and helps to shape what is utilized in this game. You are in control of one of four (at most) party members, while the others are controlled by a competent AI system. You are given the freedom to play out the battles as you see fit. You can stay in control of Milla or Jude the main characters of this epic tale, or switch over to one of the equally stunning support characters like Leia or Elize and utilize a different set of combat abilities. If you don’t want to be in the thick of things, you can opt to switch all the party members to be controlled by the AI and watch the battle play out. Each party member has his or her strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited by the right enemies, so you need to keep an eye on all those involved in battle and know when it’s time to use an item, an artes or simply swap out a member to gain an advantage.
Each character has several layers to them when it comes to the combat system. You have your basic melee attacks, which serve a way to deal damage to your enemies and replenish TP that is used when performing artes and spirit artes attacks. These basic attacks can carry you through most of the game, but at a certain point, relying on your artes abilities are the only way to survive. Milla and Alvin are you offensive line, Rowen and Leia are your defense counterparts, and Eliza and Jude are your support characters. While each of these characters specializes in a particular area, any of them can be utilize in a different role on the battlefield; especially Jude.
Another layer of depth to the combat system is the “link” ability, which can give you an edge in battle. Each character has his or her specialty. Rowen specializes in canceling spirit artes, so linking with earns the other player the ability to dispel magic attacks. Link with Alvin and he will break the enemies’ guard, which were preventing you from dealing massive amounts of damage. Linking also brings about special artes attacks that deal twice, if not three times the damage on the suspecting enemy.
Depending on the difficulty of your battle and how long it takes you to complete it, you and your party members earn a certain amount of grade points which are used to increase skills and learn new skills/artes. These new abilities can turn the tide in battle and allow you to pull of some amazing combos. I have a ways to go, but my best combo stands at 38 hits. Strategy, timing and the right abilities can yield the best results when in battle. I went for a more well-rounded approach to my party members by upgrading all their skillsets. However, you are given the option to specialize in the traits that best suit that character. Jude, Milla and Alvin are all about delivering devastating attacks on their enemies, so you can ignore the most of the available nodes and focus on the ones that increase the physical and artes capabilities of their attacks.
For those who are not into level grinding to have an advantage in battle, you are able to avoid roughly 95% of all enemies within the game. For the most part, enemies are scattered across the environments you explore (outside of towns), so picking and choosing which battles you partake in is easy. The only downside to this is that when it comes time for your boss battles, you can be seriously at a disadvantage. Finding the right balance of combat and avoidance is key to progress smoothly through the game.
Tales of Xillia’s visuals are a mixed bag. When exploring the various towns scattered across the world, everything looks lush and vibrant. However, when exploring the various dungeons, pen fields and deserts, the environments look un-inspiring. Early on within the game, each town and its surrounding areas are littered with a multitude of personality and diversity amongst the NPCs and enemies. However, on the latter levels, you see a lot of the enemies being recycled again, just given a new coat of paint. There are several instances of frame rate slowdown when the action is getting intense on the battlefield; however none of it ruins the experience.
Tales of Xillia features two unique stories, told from different perspectives. You have Milla’s epic journey to rid the world of a powerful and deadly device in the Lance of Kresnik. Jude’s story is all about transitioning from a boy to a man and experiencing what it truly feels to be alive and believe in someone. All the key moments within each storyline are the same regardless of which character you play as, but there are moments that are unique to each story. You also have the addition of a game + option, which allow you to alter your second playthrough by spending the “grade” points you earned.
It has been a couple of years since I’ve dived into the world that is “Tales Of”. Which the gameplay mechanics and avenues of story-telling have evolved, the true essence of the experience remains the same. Tales of Xillia is a joyous experience that’s chalked full of heart and soul. Each character has his or her unique story that’s part of the greater experience. Despite a few issues here and there, Tales of Xillia is a masterpiece and a perfect example of how JRPGs have help put Japan back on the map.9/
10Review copy provided by Publisher.
Spread The Word...