The ‘Tales Of’ franchise is one that always seems to have a deep story that gets interconnected in various entries and that’s what fans love about it. Not just the gameplay but the immersion into the world they create. Tales Of Xillia 2 continues on the groundwork laid out by the first title which was released to The West last year, but this time with a new protagonist at the helm and a new story to tell.
Tales Of Xilla 2 puts players into the shoes of Ludger Kresnik, a young man who lives with his older brother Julius and their cat Rollo. It takes place one year after the events of the first Tales Of Xillia. Ludger is just a regular guy who was on his way to his first day of work at his new job as a cook at a train station, then things go awry and through circumstances he is brought to cross paths with a young girl, Elle Marta, whom changes his life forever. He subsequently becomes caught in the middle of what appears to be a terrorist attack at the train station. One thing leads to another, and the story of Tales Of Xillia 2 begins to unfold with the choices that you make. These are shown as a quick-time events, where you press the respective button for one of two choices — some are timed and some aren’t.
Choices are an important part not just for story but they offer a way to interact with your party members and build affinity with them. This will give you certain benefits such as additional skits (unique conversations that occur during the course of the game) or new items in your inventory to use or customize each character’s looks with. As you progress you will unlock the ability to do personal missions for each one of your party members, which helps build more affinity with them, as well as being linked with them in combat. Linking in combat helps perform special moves together which are more powerful than normal special moves alone.
Soon after the events at the train station, players are saved by a shady character who is essentially a loan shark except, without the loan part. He believes you owe him a debt so he forces you to sign a contract that results in you owing him twenty-million gald (local currency). After assigning a personal debt collector to you, he allows you to go on your way and start paying him off by doing various jobs. Since the man you owe money to is very powerful, he is able to freeze your ability to travel freely throughout Rieze Maxia and Elymphios. You’re required to continuously pay off the debt as the game progresses. Ludger will be unable to progress the main story until a set amount is paid and you are notified via Nova (your debt collector) that you have access to new areas of the world. The only upside is that it is fairly easy to earn money at an easy pace by fighting monsters, completing monster contracts, item requests on the job board of any town or city within the game, or defeating Elite monsters whom are essentially mini-bosses. That is, until they decide to increase the required money per payment then it becomes a question if you really are willing to go above and beyond to pay off Ludger’s debt, as it is not required of the player by the end of the game.
The ability to visit any store and utilize items you have collected to create unique items that are only available through this means, is quite cool. These are referred to as Custom Orders. The weapons and armor you find here are usually a lot stronger than anything you will find in shops. It adds an element of farming to the game, requiring you to gather the necessary resources to craft these powerful weapon for your favorite character. Xillia 2 also adds an interesting aspect that serves as both a collection to keep, and way to gather rare items to build those cool weapons and armor in your Custom Orders.
Early in the game a woman asks you to find one-hundred (100) of her lost cats that ran away and scatted themselves throughout the world of Xillia. This unlocks Kitty Dispatch, where you take your faithful pet Rollo, and order him to visit areas you have already unlocked. He can bring back rare materials and items from each area in the game, including dungeons. You can equip him with cat food, fish and various items to have him return more quickly. Each day of the week allows for special Kitty Dispatch related rewards. For example, Sunday’s allow for Rollo to bring back three or more items. Meanwhile, he can also sometimes bring back cats for collection, or you can find them hidden in areas around the game world.
The combat in Tales Of Xillia 2 is fairly complicated on the surface, but as you play it, the game becomes second nature. It adds on the basic combat style in the previous entry using a freeform real-time combat that allows your player to run around the battle area, perform special moves or Artes which use TP (tech points). Players can block using the square button and perform different attack moves based on the cross button in combination with various directions of the left stick. The same works for the Artes moves, which instead use the circle button. Players can roam freely around the battlefield by holding the L2 trigger and moving around like normal to avoid attacks, if blocking is not your thing. Players can take control of any of the cast of characters available to you in your menu after a certain point by setting them as the party leader. This is as long as a locked symbol, represented by a padlock doesn’t appear (which means you are likely in a sub-story or main story mission where Ludger has to be used as the main character).
Ludger is the only character with the ability to change weapons once he acquires all three of them; dual swords, hammer and pistols. Players can change weapons mid-battle by holding L1 and pressing either R1 to cycle forward or R2 to cycle backwards. Certain enemies have resistance or weaknesses to certain weapons in Ludgers arsenal so it’s smart to mix things up. At a certain point in the game Ludger is able to freely transform into a more powerful version of himself, it is partially limited by a Chromatus gauge in the bottom right of the battle screen that constantly fills as you fight enemies. While Ludger is in this mode he does more damage to enemies and is able to perform high damage dealing combo moves. Each character is equipped with an Allium orb which has it’s own Artes and Skills that progressively unlock as you gain elemental energy dropped from enemies and procured within the environment. There are a variety of orbs to pair with the characters but you are not forced to stick with one the entire way through the game. They also upgrade already existing skills and Artes both of which can be equipped via the Skills and Artes menu respectively.
Graphically the game is a little better but on the same level as the previous Xilla title but not enough can be said about the amazing cutscenes that are played out in anime fashion. Great artwork throughout and the games musical score is plenty good enough to back it up. At the end of the day the controls are rather comfortable and the cast of characters brings back many from the first which is always great.
Tales Of Xilla 2 does an amazing job to outdo last year’s title with a compelling story and gameplay that continuously shows the player more things to do and places to explore. The side-story of having to pay off a debt is quite genius and finally makes currency in RPG titles feel meaningful, as you are fighting for every gald. A returning cast of supporting characters offers plenty of fan-service for Tales fans and the overall package will surly beget hours of gameplay with various endings is just the beginning of what to explore in Tales Of Xilla 2.
Tales of Xillia 2
- Available On: PS3
- Published By: Bandai Namco Games
- Developed By: Bandai Namco Games
- Genre: Role Playing Game
- US Release Date: August 19th, 2014
- Reviewed On: PS3
- Quote: "A wide variety of content and things to do coupled with great fan services makes a worthy successor in the Tales franchise."