Tales of Xillia review
SG Gaming Info takes a look at the latest western released ‘Tales of’ game, Tales of Xillia. Is the latest ‘Tales of’ game a fun and memorable experience or is it a game that people will find boring and uninteresting. Check out the review below to find out.
For those who don’t know the Tales of series is long running series of Japanese RPGs published and developed by Namco Bandai Games. The first Tales of game, ‘Tales of Phantasia’ was released in Japan in December, 1995 for the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo). Since Tales of Phantasia, there have been fourteen Tales of games, this excludes spin off games. Out of the fourteen games only nine of them have been released in North America and Europe. The last Tales of game to be released in western countries was Tales of Graces f in 2012, a game that was originally released in Japan on the Wii in 2009, but ported to the PlayStation 3.
Tales of Xillia is a tale about humans and spirits working together to save the world of Rieze Maxia. The two main characters are Jude Mathis, an honours level medical student, and Milla Maxwell, a mysterious woman who is supposedly the Lord of Spirits. Their task is to stop the Kingdom of Rashugal from using a powerful weapon known as the ‘Lance of Kresnik’, which can kill spirits and destroy mana. As the tale goes on both Jude and Milla learn more about the world of Rieze Maxia, its factions, themselves and why Rashugal is using such a powerful weapon.
Before I go into a detailed look at the story, characters and battle system etc. I have to say Tales of Xillia is a truly fun an enjoyable game. The game builds and fleshes out an amazing world and creating a cast of characters that you grow to care for as time goes on.
The story of Tales of Xillia is brilliant, engaging, fun, and sad and heart warming, but at the same time it can also be boring and uninteresting. The developers took great care to limit the boring and uninteresting parts, but when they appear you can tell that the developers tried to make them as interesting as possible. For example when the Milla, Jude and the rest of their group arrive in a city called Xian Du, a city the kingdom of Auj Oule they take part in a tournament so they can progress to the kingdom’s capital and meet its king. The tournament is basically them facing a wave of enemies and progressing through the tournament. However the developers try to make this section of the game interesting by adding in events which at first appear to be nothing more than a sub plot, but potentially become something more. As the story progresses war breaks out between Rashugal and Auj Oule for control of the weapon, a new powerful enemy appears to add a new dimension to the plot. Just when you think the game has found the perfect place to finish, the game throws in a new piece to the story. Finally what the story does best is attempt to fill in every hole in the game, and to a degree it does.
As the game’s story progresses you learn a lot about the characters, not just Milla and Jude, but about the rest of the party. In fact as the story progresses each character has their own moment of character development. The main characters in the game are Jude and Milla, who I mentioned earlier, but there is also Alvin, Elize and Teepo, Leia and Rowen who are trying to help Jude and Milla complete their task. The character development each character gets is well done and sticks with you. Elize and Teepo have arguably the best character development as you learn what Teepo, a mysterious talking and floating doll really is and why Elize a shy girl who rarely talks has it. Alvin also has good character development, his character is introduced as a mercenary and as time goes on you learn why he became one and his reasons for helping Milla and Jude.
The character development isn’t just limited to the main characters. The villains and side characters are all well developed. Two spoiler free examples would be Ivar, Milla’s handmaid and Gaius, King of Auj Oule. Ivar is the game’s comic relief character and as such his development shows this, he is constantly trying to win affection from Milla and is jealous of how close Jude is to Milla. Gaius is very much different to Ivar. At first Gaius seems like a power hungry king, declaring war on Rashugal to claim the ‘Lance of Kresnik’, but his motives and reasons for what he does is shrouded in mystery and as the game goes on the mystery slowly begins to dissipate and you learn why he does what he does.
For additional story and character development the game has various skits. These are short conversations where you learn more information about your main mission or just miscellaneous information.
The battle system in Tales of Xillia is similar to previous Tales of games. The closest resemblance would be to the last western released Tales of game, Tales of Graces f. The battle system called “Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System” allows for a good degree of control on the battlefield. In battle your four active party members will fight against a certain number of enemies, you control one while the other three are controlled by the game. Now here is where things get interesting with the battle system.
While you can only control one character outright, you do have limited control of other party members. One way to do this is with the Linked combat system. This system allows you to link your ‘artes’ attacks with one other player, these ‘linked artes’ attacks are powerful, but can only be performed if you use the right artes attack. Another form of control is the ability to make shortcuts for attacks. By the midpoint of the game you will be able to create twelve different shortcuts (excluding the combinations for the main characters artes attacks). Creating and using shortcuts is an import tool to survive in combat, as using an ally’s move at the right time can be the key to victory. For example when I played the game I made sure that Jude’s healing artes abilities were on the easiest to use shortcut.
At first the battle system can be a bit complicated, but the game does a good job of introducing the mechanics and once you master the system you are close to unstoppable.
Fighting in battle is all well and good, but when fighting you need the right stats, and to do this the game as large stats/talent tree called, Lilium orb. The orb is like an ever expanding web, which is split into sections. Each piece of a section provides a boost to your HP, skill points, TP and other stats. When you complete a section you gain either a new skill or arte. Selection is key because the sections you pick will determine each characters role in combat. However, if you are like me and don’t know what is best the game has an auto-level ability which will pick the best options for you.
As I just mentioned there are skills. These skills are permanent stat boosters or new abilities. While you have a large array of skills, you can only use a certain number of them. The number you can use is determined by how many skill points each character has. Basically you can select as many skills as you wish until you run out of skill points.
As I stated earlier Tales of Xillia has two main characters, now this might confuse some people as there is normally just one main character. In truth the game does have one main character, but you choose who the main character is. At the start you are asked to pick through whose eyes you play the game: Milla Maxwell, the supposed Lord of Spirits or Jude Mathis a medical student in Rashugal’s capital. The character you pick determines how you see the game because there are times when characters are separated and as such when Milla is away resting, Jude could be out completing his own personal task. Personally I really like this feature because it asks the player how they wish to experience the world.
In Tales of Xillia exploration and item finding is key. When you are exploring you will find chests, materials and other items. Find materials should be one of your top priorities as they are the key to gaining new items via item expansion. Gaining new items in shops is important because they are the only place where you can guarantee getting new armour, weapons etc. When you go to a shop, of which there are several types: item, weapon, armour, accessory and food. When expanding a shop it is important to not what material type gives a bonus as it makes levelling the shop up easier. When you level up a shop you unlock new material and discounts.
Tales of Xillia also has limited character customisation with fashion items available via sub-quests or through special chests. These items include a monocle, dog tail and elf ears. It is a nice piece of content and the right fashion item can lighten up even the most boring cutscene.
Speaking of cutscenes, the game has a mixture of in-game and animated cutscenes. Animated cutscenes are only used for major events and in-game cutscenes for everything else. Both are enjoyable to watch, with my personal preference being the animated cutscenes.
Graphics and sound wise the game is well done. I personally had no issue with the English voice actors they all did a good job of keeping me immersed, especially Minae Noji who voiced Milla as she does a wonderful job of selling how stoic and focused the character is. On the graphics front the game is nice, with the game at times looking like a painting.
Finally for those wondering how long the game takes to complete. It took me 31 hours to complete and by the end of the game my highest level character was level 64.
Tales of Xillia is a great tale of humans and spirits working together to save the world. While the story does waver at some points, the characters and world are well fleshed out. To top things off the battle system which appears complex is fun and easy to use.
Tales of Xillia Information
Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Platform: PlayStation 3
Length: 30+ hours
Release date: out now