Tales of Xillia- An excellent Tale worthy of your time

toxThe Tales series has gained quite a following over the years, delivering a dynamic fighting scheme to its battles, lovable characters, and well written stories. Now the latest game in the series has made its way to North American and European audiences after enjoying success after its initial 2011 release in Japan. Tales of Xillia, the thirteenth title in the overall series, suffers no bad luck as it delivers a terrific game, bolstered by a deep, rewarding story and two strong protagonists, highlighted by a delightful musical score and beautiful anime-style graphics. The sequel has already been released in Japan in 2012, and the rest of the world will be able to play the game in 2014. If its follow-up is as good as this game, that will be something to look forward to. In the meantime, we have Tales of Xillia to grace our PS3, and there’s plenty of game to keep you busy for some time.

And that’s because this game is set up to be played through at least twice to see all it has to offer. Right from the start, players can choose which one of the main protagonists they wish to play through as- either Jude Mathis, honors medical student with a naive, idealistic outlook on the world, or Milla Maxwell, a mysterious girl with the power to control spirits and who is driven by an urgent mission. While the overall story arc follows the pair on their adventures across the world of Rieze Maxia, each character does have their own individual cutscenes and areas where they’re on their own, offering a perspective to the tale from two different viewpoints. Each has their own skill sets and ability to use different equipment- Jude is more of a martial arts brawler, fighting with kicks and specialized gauntlets, while Milla uses a sword. The Linear Motion Battle System makes its return to the series with an upgrade, called the Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System. That’s quite the mouthful, but what it means is that two characters can be linked together during battle, and once a meter fills, can combine to pull off powerful, ctox2hained attacks. There’s a variety of combos to learn and choose from, so each player can play accordingly. The combos come close to approaching that found more often in a fighting game, and it keeps things fun in combat throughout the game. Leveling is accomplished using the Lilium Orb, a web-like structure where you gain hit points, technical points with which to use Artes, and skill points that can be used to assign boosters to your combat ability. Eating food also gives you a boost in combat. Depending on the size of the dish your party consumes will depend on how many battles the dish’s effects last. It all adds a nice layer of strategy to the proceedings, and the nice thing about the Lilium Orb you can use an auto-leveling feature if you choose not to micromanage your party. It’s a nice option to have, allowing players to deal with the characters as they wish.

The story mainly revolves around a weapon called the Lance of Kresnik, a device that absorbs mana and threatens spirits, incurring the ire of Milla, who comes to the city of Fennmont in the country of Rashugal to destroy the weapon. It’s here that her and med student Jude meet, and complications throw them together on a quest that becomes more and more involved as the game goes along. During their journey, you’ll meet the other characters who’ll eventually join your party, all of which are playable in combat. Characters are another strength of this game in addition to the deep and well told story, and for the most part they are well voice acted and each one proves to be fully developed and fairly likeable. Alvin is a mercenary with a shaky past, whose arc may or may not annoy some players (for myself, I found him to be an enjoyable charatox3cter, similar to a shadier Han Solo). Rowen is an elderly butler whose prowess in combat hints that he is something much more. Elize is a little girl orphaned and kept locked up in a village, who is accompanied by the bizarre and somewhat comic talking puppet Teepo (whose voice can be grating at times, much like Claptrap in Borderlands 2, and yet he’s often amusing enough to make you overlook that fact). Leia is a childhood friend of Jude’s, and she seeks to prove herself by going along on the journey. Each character has their own strengths and uses in combat, and all have nice arcs throughout the game’s main story. As with an RPG, there are plenty of side-quests to undertake as you visit towns and talk to various people. You also encounter plenty of NPCs in your quest, and each one of them proves to be well drawn characters as well. Some of the story arcs can be quite emotional, and just add to the game’s depth.

Outfitting your characters at various stalls and peddlers across the land is handled quite nicely. In order to open up a wider selection in each shop, you need to expand the stores, either by donating materials you find in your travels or by donating Gald that’s earned in battle. The more you donate, the better the selection, as well as the higher the discounts you receive when you make your purchases. It’s a neat system, offering a more engaging economy to play around with. You can pick and choose which shops you upgrade, though you’ll most likely want to give them all at least a little attention. By the end of the game, you’ll have plenty of Gald and items to use, so you shouldn’t have to worry about having your supplies depleted for too long. Most encounters won’t prove too taxing in this respect, but boss battles can leave you drained, though with proper leveling no one should give you that much trouble. Some may find this too easy, but it avoids a lot of frustration, and none of the bosses are ever cheap, so if you fall in battle it’s more your fault rather than the game’s.

For all of this good, Tales of Xillia is not perfect. The anime cutscenes are superbly done, but in game graphics do have a fair amount of pop-in, especially noticeable in certain towns. It’s nothing game-breaking, but it can put a little damper on the immersion into the world. Loading times between sections aren’t bad at all, and save points are plentiful, though you also have a quick save option to use if you choose to do so (in my opinion, every game should have this). As I said before, for the most part the voice acting is terrific, and fits each character well, though some NPCs don’t come off as well and you can get tired of hearing “Mutton! Get your fresh mutton!” every time you visit a shopping area. The towns and cities are nicely varied, but the wilder environments tend to be copies of each other. There’s no world map per se, but there is a map that you get early in the game that allows you to fast travel to locatox4tions. This is especially useful when you want to take on the multiple side quests, which typically entail finding certain items or killing nasty monsters. They offer nice rewards and extra money, but they’re not so compelling that they’d provide a major distraction to the main story. There’s also a Coliseum to test your battle skill, and a New Game + opens up upon your completion of the game. A playthrough can take you anywhere from 30-40 hours to complete the main story, depending on how much you explore and level up. With side quests and an optional dungeon, you can easily tack on another 15-20 hours, and with the game practically begging to be played twice from each of the main characters’ perspective, you can end up doubling the amount of time you spend in Rieze Maxia. It’s a meaty experience that definitely gives you your money’s worth.

All in all, Tales of Xillia is a fantastic game, with engaging characters, fun gameplay, and a deep story. It has a few flaws keeping it from perfection, but they’re minor quibbles and nothing that should keep you away from this excellent addition to the Tales series. Veterans of the series should find plenty to like here, and newcomers will find it very accessible and easy to jump into. It’s a worthy addition to your game library, another nice exclusive for Sony’s system, and should have you eagerly awaiting the upcoming sequel. This is a Tale well worth your time.

 

9/10

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

2 thoughts on “Tales of Xillia- An excellent Tale worthy of your time

  • August 20, 2013 at 5:10 AM
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    First time play the tales series and this reminds me of Star Ocean: Till End of Time

  • August 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM
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    I tried Star Ocean but it didn’t hook me at the time. Want to go back and give it another shot. Xillia is only the second Tales game I’ve played, the other being Tales of Graces f. Based on those two, I’d like to try and play the others.

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