Tales of Xillia 2 Review
Bandai Namco’s Tales of Xillia 2 is a strange beast. Not just because it’s the sequel to a sequel, but because it also adds a bunch of new wrinkles to the formula while still sticking close to its roots. The question is, does it pay off?
Those who don’t know their Xillias from their Symphonias need not worry — Tales of Xillia 2 can be played on its own merits. However, those who dove into the original Tales of Xillia a year ago will be pleased to see a healthy number of characters, locales, and even combo systems make their return.
Rather, Tales of Xillia 2 takes its story in a new direction. Previous protagonists Jude and Milla are pushed to the sidelines, replaced with the borderline mute Ludger Kresnik. The story places more of an emphasis on alternative realities and mystery, with Ludger often left in the dark over cryptic clues and out-of-character happenings occurring in the world of Elympios. This is likely intentional, but the vague events of the story can oftentimes border on excessive.
The already complex story is made even deeper with Tales of Xillia 2’s new choice system. Ludger Kresnik might be a man of few words, but the player is oftentimes given the choice between two dialog options. Said choices oftentimes do not lead to anything more but a pat on the back, but they occasionally bring new items and affinity from party members. It’s not as big of a game changer as the ones found in the Mass Effect or Deus Ex series, but it is still a welcome addition.
Story in a Japanese role-playing game like this one is certainly important, but Tales of Xillia truly shines in its gameplay. The DR-LMBS real-time battle system from the original Tales of Xillia makes its return, and for the better. Unlike other JRPGs, the system in place here allows for fast, real-time combat that is almost like what you would see in a hack-n-slash action game. The new ability to swap out your arsenal of weapons on the fly is also welcome, allowing for a greater element of depth. Breaking an enemy’s defense with a sledgehammer and then immediately following it up with a tag-team attack isn’t just effective, but satisfying as well.
The same goes with the vast quantity of side quests available throughout the game. Collecting cats, taking on bounties, collecting trinkets, and even wandering the landscape will provide a good amount of replayability for those looking for it.
It’s just a shame that one of the “side quests” is mercilessly tacked on near the beginning of the game. A massive debt is thrust upon Ludger at the beginning of the game, and it is a must to pay back a good amount of the debt in order to proceed through the game. The trouble is, Xillia 2 reminds you about said debt any chance it can get, breaking the atmosphere of the game. The worst part? The remaining amount of your debt is cleared by the end game, making scrimping and saving a moot point.
Tales of Xillia 2 is not without its faults, but it is also a solid RPG. The story will take some serious time to process, but the gameplay is still strong throughout. Come for the gameplay, stay for the story.