Review: Tales Of Xillia
Tales of Xillia is a traditional JRPG experience with a couple of unique twists to make the formula all that more interesting. Expect doses of fast paced combat and a lack of the slower turn-based battles you may expect of a JRPG.
- Worth The Time?Yes, if you're fan of JRPGs
- Things LovedThe game has a unique anime style visual aesthetic, a fast paced combat system with unique combos which you can pull of with different party members, an interesting storyline and cast of characters to bring everything together.
- Things HatedThe voice acting is lacking in parts, the visuals are somewhat dated and the difference in difficulty level between normal enemies and bosses is vast.
- RecommendationIf you're a fan of the Tales series of JRPGs and JRPGs in general, this is definitely a game for you.
- Name: Tales of Xillia
- Genre: RPG
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Co-op
- Platforms: PS3
- Developer: Namco Tales Studio
- Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
- Price: R630
- Reviewed On: PS3
Tales of Xillia is the latest game in the core Tales JRPG series, to receive an international release, and was originally released in Japan in 2011. It has now arrived on our shores in 2013 and is a warm welcome in the lacking JRPG scene. Tales of Xillia builds upon the foundations of previous Tales games with its combat system and doesn’t attempt to re-invent JRPGs. Rather it refines the established formula present in previous Tales games and takes steps further to make the series more welcoming to newcomers. I had been introduced to the Tale series through a simple SNES emulator on my first PC with Tales of Phantasia as my introduction. This was my first time playing one of the modern games in the core franchise and it was a refreshing surprise whilst remaining oddly familiar.
The game is set in the fantasy world of Rieze Maxia, where you can follow the story through the footsteps of either Jude Mathis or Milla Maxwell. Jude is a medical student who stumbles upon Milla when she is breaking into a military laboratory. Milla, on the other hand, is the successor to the Master of Spirits named Maxwell. After both of them encounter a magical weapon, in the military laboratory, which is draining people of their mana Milla attempts to stop the machine with through the use of spirits she can summon. Her plan backfires as the weapon consumes nearly all her power and leaves her to be as vulnerable as Jude is. Both Jude and Milla set out to restore Milla’s power, and discover the motive and intent behind the mana-consuming weapon they encountered.
Jude and Milla set out on a journey and encounter a cast of vibrant characters like the mercenary Alvin, Elize who is a very young mage, Rowen who is a butler with great fighting skills and Leia a childhood friend of Jude. All of the characters in your party can interact with you regularly in both cut scenes and interactive skits which display dialogue windows with animated portraits where characters chat with one another. It adds greater depth to the character development of the characters and provides the added bonus of comic relief from the serious storyline of Tales of Xillia. The cast of characters in Tales of Xillia are likeable and the story, whilst predictable to a degree, is interesting enough to keep you coming back for more.
The world of Rieze Maxia is vast and expansive and and you can explore a variety of towns and areas in a world map. Whilst in areas outside of towns, you can pursue sidequests and main quest points, you encounter enemies and enter into the battle with different enemy types which you come across whilst traversing the world map. Enemies can be seen in the field map and if you don’t want to encounter a battle you can avoid an enemy. But Tales of Xillia is a game where levelling up and grinding with your party for experience points is vital, especially on the harder difficulties. It is recommended to play the game on harder difficulties in order to get the full Tales experience.
When encountering enemies, if you attack them from behind you can stun and damage the opponent in the process. Once an encounter is engaged you move to the battle screen where you can control your party in the enemy assault. In your control is the character you’ve set as leader of the party, and you can only control one character at time. In the midst of battle, you can swap characters and take control of whoever you want. The rest of your party is set to automated strategies which you can define in the menu system. Battles utilise the Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System which builds upon previous Tales combat systems. In every battle you can only have four characters in action, and you can easily change party members to inactive members that you choose as backups.
Combat is fast paced with battles lasting only matter of minutes, in most cases. Boss battles are much longer as the difficulty ramps up. Most enemy battles are there to drive levelling up and give you a chance to try out different tactics and strategies before you make significant storyline progress. Each character has a Assault Counter (AC) that denotes the number of skills and actions a character can perform. These points have to be recharged after performing a combo or a magic-based skill called an Arte. Artes are various magic skills ranging from healing to element-based attacks. Artes consume TP (technical points), known as MP (magical points) in other JRPGs and RPGs. These points are refilled by continually physically attacking enemies and building up enough TP to initiate a larger Artes attack, coordinated through your party.
The Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System in Tales of Xillia works by linking two party members together so they can work as a unit and initiate various combos, and group Artes attacks on enemies. This is where you can use Linked Artes and partner up party members to take on an array of enemies who have a range of weaknesses that require you to be tactical and take advantage of. Eventually after using Linked Artes on enemies a number of times in battle, you can take your linked partners into an overdrive mode where you can link up Artes in combos. It is quite satisfying when you connect a combo of Artes together. There are also passive skills which you can unlock, along with Artes, in the upgrade system which works by unlocking spheres, through the experience you gain from battles, in a similar way to the Final Fantasy games where skills are linked to more powerful Artes and passive skills. Essentially you level up characters through the linking of spheres of your choosing. This requires thorough thinking as you have to be strategic in the decisions you make as your party members level up and you think about the battle roles you want them to play.
Enemies you encounter are quite easy at first, even on the second hardest difficulty from the outset, but as you make your way to harder areas on the world map and take on a number of sidequests the challenge is upped significantly. Bosses, however, offer a disparity in difficulty from the normal enemy types you encounter in the field map, as you traverse the world of Rieze Maxia. As such it becomes a necessity to grind early on and level up your party before taking on a boss. So it is suggested that you make use of the game’s Quick Save function and save points you come across from location to location. This does not detract from the overall experience. but is important to take note of. The fast paced combat in Tales of Xillia is truly where the game shines and means you never have a dull moment during combat.
Visually the game is outdated and masked quite well by the anime style of the game. This cannot be helped as the game was developed in 2011 and has only reached our shores now. The scenery and many of the environments are still a sight to behold, but towns and some combat environments do become repetitive after awhile. In terms of audio design, the music is enjoyable and I particularly liked the metal-infused tracks used during combat. However, the voice acting can become irritating at times. Both the voice acting and music may not be to everyone’s tastes.