Tales of Xillia
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Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Publisher: Namco Bandai
North American Release Date: August 6, 2013
European Release Date: August 9, 2013
Trophies: 1 | 3 | 10 | 32
Coming straight from Namco Tales Studio, we have Tales of Xillia, the latest of the long-running Tales series of JRPGs to be released outside of Japan. For the first time, the game lets you choose two characters: Jude Mathis and Milla Maxwell, to save the world of Rieze Maxia from a dastardly technology known as 'Spyrix'. Fans have been eagerly awaiting this title, but will it capture the magic of previous Tales games, or is it a waste of time and money?
Tales of Xillia, as with every other game in the series, is a JRPG with real-time combat, and battles are started the same way as others. You need to walk into an enemy, or they you, while exploring an area to initiate combat. No random encounters to be found here. While in battle, your enemies and allies are constantly moving, and things often get hectic. Battles in Xillia take place on a three-dimensional plane (A trend started in Tales of Symphonia, way back in 2003), making monitoring the positions of everyone on the battlefield a priority. The battlefields are large, with more than enough room to maneuver with the enemy you're currently targeting. The standard fight is typically two to three enemies, but they can get larger. Large battles can and will get hectic, with everyone (aside from your Link Partner) acting according to their whims. You can change this (to a degree), but unless you have three other people playing with you, you'll just have to deal with the AI controlling the other characters.
The controls are easy to learn, with performing a normal attack, activating an Arte (Basically, a skill.) you've mapped to it, and you can map other skills to different directions on the left analog stick. is used to guard, and opens a menu that lets you use items, change Artes or equipment, run away, or change the strategy of your party. It takes a minute, tops, to learn, and should be second nature within the first hour of gameplay.
Tales of Xillia also features some more complex options. You can map any skill to the right analog stick for easy access, as you could in other Tales games. The next one is useful, allowing you to switch party members mid-battle. All you have to do is press the right analog stick down, and select someone to replace with the D-Pad. I only used this once, but if you're ever in a pinch, or just the type who is indecisive on who you want to be in your main party, this was made for you. Be careful if you decide to map any skills to the right analog stick, because the slightest hint of being pressed down will make the game think you want to switch party members. Not much of an issue, at least not until you're fighting a boss and it decides to happen. See, the game doesn't stop time to give you as long as you'd like to switch, as you'd normally expect. Instead, the game will slow down time, allowing you to be hit by the enemy while you're still distracted trying to close the damn thing. This happened to me more times than I can count, and it annoyed the piss out of me.
You can't have Artes without colorful lights!
Included are control modes to help you do some or all of the fighting, with three to choose from: Auto, which obviously controls the character chosen on its own; Semi-Auto gives you control of your character to move around freely, but it'll run to the targeted enemy automatically if you attack or use a skill; and lastly Manual, which gives you complete control of your character. Every mode has its uses, but it's up to you to decide on the one you're comfortable with.
Some new features have been added to spice things up in-battle, with the most noticeable (In other words, important) one being the Link System. Linking allows you to select one partner to assist you, often times helping you gang up on an enemy, or healing you, depending on the character chosen. An important thing about Linking is that each character has a unique Partner Skill. For example, Alvin's skill is called Breaker, and it allows him to attempt to perform a Guard Break on an enemy that is currently guarding. These skills are all extremely situational, but they're extremely handy whenever that specific situation might occur.
There is a gauge to the left of the screen in-battle that you'll notice right away, and it's called the Linked Artes Gauge. As you can guess, you'll need to be Linked to fill this bar up. Using Linked Artes is, quite honestly, a simple process. You only need to be Linked with a partner and have compatible Artes. After that, you need to use the compatible Arte when the bar is filled up enough, and press . Simple, right? These Linked Artes are a combination of you and your partner's Artes, and they'll do more damage than a single Arte by itself. These will save your butt when you're fighting against a tough boss.
Two things left to be mentioned about the Linked Artes Gauge are what happens when it's filled up all the way, and chaining Linked Artes. Once filled, you can activate a Linked Arte to start Over Limit. Attacks and Artes won't cost any Assault Counter (AC) points, and you can use Linked Artes repeatedly until the bar completely drains. I should mention that AC is a number you'll find to the right of your character's health bar, and it judges how many attacks you can use consecutively. Every attack or Arte uses a unit of AC, and it refills while you're idle. Finally, when in Over Limit, you can chain Linked Artes into other Linked Artes by pressing on the appearance of a brief prompt. What you can use is judged by how many skills you have, and how many you and your partner are compatible with.
Like most JRPGs, Tales of Xillia has a party that you'll use through the whole game. In a battle, you are allowed to have up to three extra characters, controlled by the computer, to assist you. These AI companions are, for the most part, helpful, and the only issue I had with them was them wasting items constantly through the Auto-Item feature in battle. This changed the moment a proper healer joined my party. Until that point, though, my allies were spamming the Auto-Item function like it was going out of style. Thankfully, you can change their strategy and Auto-Item habits through the main menu or in battle, as mentioned earlier.
It should be noted that you aren't forced to use the character you initially start with. You're free to choose to play as any character currently in your party, should you so desire. All play differently, with a focus on either Artes or melee combat, and each have their own special ability to give them a unique twist in battle. Finding a character you like to play as is important for getting the feel of the game, because who likes playing as a character you just don't like through the entire game?
When you level up you'll gain Growth Points (GP), which you can then spend on your Lilium Orb (which is really just a giant hexagon.) Inside your Lilium Orb you'll find dozens of smaller orbs which you can invest your GP into. All of the orbs sitting on lines raise your stats, with the orbs sitting in the spaces between the lines giving you either Artes or skills. To unlock those, you need to connect orbs in the shape of a deformed trapezoid. Once you've created enough deformed trapezoids, your Lilium Orb will expand, giving you the chance to create even bigger deformed trapezoids. Once your Lilium Orb is big enough, it'll give you a second Lilium Orb to put points into, which will end up completely filled once you reach the level cap of 99. A quite useful, if monotonous, system, and who could possibly resist the allure of creating deformed trapezoids?!
Hexagons for the hexagon god. (As you can see, it's almost like Final Fantasy XIII's Crystarium System)
The last thing I'd like to cover are the shops in this game. Instead of purchasing items of increasing quality the further you get into the game, all shops of the same variety share the same inventory. (There are some that have every shop in one, but those are usually out in the fields.) How do you get different stock? You level the shops with gald (Yes, gald.) or items you can find everywhere. Seriously, you'll have no trouble finding them. Throughout the fields in the game, you'll find treasure chests, random sacks (Who leaves this stuff out here?!), and sparkly points that you can investigate to receive items. All you have to do to use them is to go to any shop in the game and select Expand. The shops will offer bonuses for different types of items you have, as indicated by the small icons. The bonus is usually x2, but occasionally x3. These bonuses change as you progress through the story, so it's worth it to visit the shops as often as you can.
As a first for the Tales series, you have the option of picking one of two characters to play the game as, each with their own perspective of the events that take place within the game. The two character's stories are, for the most part, the same, with only a few major differences between each other.
The story of Xillia takes place in the world of Rieze Maxia, where you'll join Milla Maxwell and Jude Mathis as they find themselves meeting, by chance, in the city of Fennmont one night. Her goal? Eliminating the technology known as 'Spyrix' from Rieze Maxia, while Jude is just a medical school student forced along on the ride. Things go awry (Spoilers ahead!)when Milla loses her spirits while attempting to destroy a spyrix known as the 'Lance of Kresnik'. They get caught by the guards and branded as terrorists, only narrowly escaping due to the help of a mysterious mercenary. Wow, I've not heard this one before!
Despite the generic start, I found myself enjoying the story soon after leaving the first city. Things manage to pick up after the first three hours or so, and you have more than two members. In the end, my only complaints are that the story gets incredibly strange close to the ending, and it seems like they just wanted to rush straight to the ending at that point. The short length of the game is a concern, as your first time going through the game will take around 35 hours, which is quite short for a Tales game.
You don't just have to do the main story, as Tales of Xillia includes quite a few extras to lengthen game time. Most of the story's extra bits are skits and sub-events. Skits are short scenes played out with character portraits, which can be viewed when prompted on the lower left side of the screen. Many of these are humorous, with the occasional serious skit, and I found myself backtracking all over the map to see if I had missed any. Doing these are worth your time, as you can get a title for viewing enough skits. Titles, by the way, award Grade, which allows you to purchase benefits for a New Game+ playthrough.
Sub-events are just short sidequests, found in towns by looking for people with an exclamation point over their head. These people will give you a request, such as finding an item or killing a monster, and they will reward you (usually a cosmetic item) for completing them. Some of these are time-sensitive, so you'll want to look all over town to complete these while you can.
The environments in the game look fantastic, with only a few (OK, I lied, there are at least eight...) cases where you'll think “I've been here before!”, those mostly being the seahavens or fields. The places that actually look different are worth exploring, with my personal favorite being the city of Fennmont. A city where it's always night, AND a green shade to the sky? I'll take twenty. You'll revisit places often in the story, too, meaning you'll get to enjoy most areas at least twice, or even more than that with the soon-to-be mentioned fast travel.
The city of Fennmont looks beautiful.
Every area in the game is connected, with no world map for you to explore, so you'll find yourself going through plenty of fields and a cave or two! Included to reduce the monotony of travel is a world map, accessed by pushing down , giving you the option to fast travel to areas you've been to previously. This sounds good at first, but it explains right off the bat that you won't always be able to fast travel. Sometimes you won't be able to travel to certain areas, and at others, you won't be able to fast travel at all. Still, it manages to be useful whenever it decides to let you use it.
Tales of Xillia gets the job done when it comes to graphics, being neither stunning nor horrible. Just very, very average. In fact, the only complaint I really have is the fact that some cosmetic items clip through clothing in normal gameplay or during scenes. This issue ruins any immersion for important scenes (Although most of the items on their own ruin scenes, but whatever.), just like one other issue for the audio, which I'll cover in a bit. Aside from the annoying cosmetic item issue, the graphics do well enough to satisfy. When I say the graphics are average, I really mean that the models used are average. The character designs are great, and the vibrant colors used for every area suit the game perfectly, it's just that the models are just average, nothing more. They weren't particularly great when it received its original Japanese release back in 2011 either, especially when you compare it to games released that same year.
The presence of Alvin, your mysterious mercenary companion, makes this scene look a lot better.
Sound-wise, the game gets one thing right, and that's music. I have NO complaints at all about the music. It manages to sound like a fantasy game should, and I can't remember disliking any particular song. Tracks chosen for any situation fit. You want a fast-paced battle theme to play while beating up your enemies? There are more than ten. What's that? You want a song to capture the feeling of a rustic village? Xillia provides a few of those! Not much I can really say here without linking a song, so I'll say it again: absolutely no complaints.
Unfortunately, the voice acting has a few glaring problems. There are quite a number of lip sync issues, which isn't too bad on its own, but these are combined with pauses in places that don't belong while characters are talking. These stick out like a sore thumb, there's simply no way to ignore it. It's odd to talk to someone who pauses mid-sentence frequently in real life, and it's worse here, where there are numerous scenes with a serious tone. Strangely, these issues seemed to plague the game more from the beginning and middle, rather than toward the end, but that's a good thing, isn't it? I can understand that dubbing a game and being accurate to the original script is an ordeal, but I'd like to think they could put at least a bit more effort into it.
Another minor gripe I have are the numerous small quips that characters give you while walking throughout any area of the game - some of them are humorous, some informal, but any character you might neglect to use in battle will use this as a platform to whine at you as often as they can, which happens to be constantly. I couldn't go half a minute without Jude complaining about not being used. It's really not too big of a deal, but it gets annoying fast, especially when you try to use the same team until the end.
While playing the game, the only significantly gameplay-affecting bug I had encountered was the slowdown experienced when things got extremely busy in battle. This can be noticed right away, as things will get sluggish, and seems to last until things calm down, or you kill enough enemies. The slowdown is annoying, as it happens constantly while against large groups of enemies or a tough boss battle. Everyone moving at the pace of a slug is never fun, and it may even get you killed. There's also the awful draw distance for NPC character models (Most noticeable for me while in the Coliseum), but aside from that, there was nothing I noticed in particular.
Tales of Xillia's trophies are all quite easy, but you'll have to grind for them. Most are for completing certain tasks 'a target number of times', which you can keep track of in the 'Titles' section of the Library. Progress toward these carry over to your second playthrough, which you'll have to do regardless if you want the platinum, so worrying about completing all of them in the first playthrough isn't a big deal. Next we have some standard story-related trophies, a trophy for beating an optional boss, a trophy for getting a 100 hit combo, trophies for leveling up every shop to maximum, and finally... collectibles! Yes, you'll need to look through every section of the fields and dungeons for black and purple colored octahedrons. They're not too hard to find, but they'll require a thorough sweep of the area. I'd estimate that Tales of Xillia takes around 70 hours to platinum, which isn't bad at all when compared to previous games in the series.
Overall, I feel Tales of Xillia is a great game. Battles were always interesting, with the Link System and Partner Skills allowing you to shift how you fight mid-battle quickly, making battles feel fresh, and only rarely feeling dull or repetitive. The story was entertaining for the most part, and having two to choose from will extend your total playtime if you want to experience the entire story. Tales of Xillia manages to be one of the best JRPGs released this year, worthy of being called a Tales game. If you're looking for a JRPG to sink some time into, definitely consider purchasing this game.
Exciting real-time battle system that's easy to learn, but difficult to master (Wow, that sounds so generic). The Link System is unique, and allows you to handle any situation you may come across. This is the strong point of the Tales series, and Xillia delivers in spades.
There are two playable stories to go through, each about 35 hours long, which is rather short for a Tales game. Skits and characters make the characters entertaining the whole way through, and it helps that there are no friendship speeches! Environments such as towns, dungeons, and fields look good, but a couple of repeats with only slight variations get boring to run through after the nth time. Quick Travel is a lifesaver when you need to get around in a hurry.
The models themselves are nothing to write home about, but the character designs and vibrant colors more than make up for that. Absolutely fantastic music, but that's what I expect from a Tales game. Voice acting issues were too numerous and too major. It seems like they barely tried, making this the most disappointing part of the game for me.
Overall: 8/10 Superb