Tales of Xillia on the PlayStation 3 is one of my favorite games on the console. It has great characters, a well-executed story, and satisfying combat. It might have its technical issues and problems with the overall design, but it’s my second favorite game out of the franchise, behind Tales of Vesperia. Unfortunately for me, I cannot say the same for Tales of Xillia 2. I am late in saying what I think about this game, but I honestly don’t care. In my opinion, Tales of Xillia 2 is one of the many reasons why direct sequels to Japanese-style RPGs for the most part never really work. This is such an underwhelming game in a lot of ways, and I am going to list why. Sure, it has its good elements, and it isn’t the worst RPG of all time, but this is a prime example of when a company is getting greedy for more money and pushes out a soulless sequel that is worse than the original. Let’s begin, shall we?
5. The same technical issues pop up!
When you make a sequel to a game that was originally criticized for technical issues, you would think they would improve on this element, and make sure you don’t see the same criticism for the sequel. Well, someone forgot to tell the developer that, because every single technical issue that you saw in Tales of Xillia is in this game! The same issues that include people loading in and out of the frame, graphical glitches with textures popping up, and the voice acting that is sometimes not synced up to the movements of the character’s mouths are all there. It brings you out of the immersion of the game’s world when NPC will appear in and out of the screen like ghosts. The team behind this game should have fixed these issues, but they didn’t. Maybe it’s because they basically took areas from the original game and placed them in this game. Speaking of…
4. The constant rehashing of everything!
With sequels, you want to expand on the world around you and introduce new lands or areas. Once again, someone forgot to tell the world builders this, because 90% of this game’s locations are taken from the first game. The same cities, the same areas covered in monsters carrying money and items, and the same monsters are pretty much taken from Tales of Xillia. It doesn’t even have that nostalgic factor to the game, due to the game’s technical issues being the same. It just becomes boring to traverse the game since you have literally been to many of these places. You do get abilities to traverse these repeated locations more quickly, but it doesn’t change the fact that the areas you travel through are the same ones from the first game.
3. The story and choices were boring.
Now, to be fair, the story can be grim and interesting near the end, but you have to put in an immense amount of hours before getting to the good points in the story. Now, personally, I find that a story should be good from beginning to the ending hour of the game. If your story is boring from the beginning, and only gets interesting five hours in, you are going to turn off so many players from feeling motivated to keep going. I also found the multiple choices you can make throughout the game to not really matter. Sure, some choices you make will change how the story will be told, but if you offer up multiple choices, I want there to be actual change! This shouldn’t be an issue, but since so many games these days subtly or not so subtly give the players choices in terms of how the story unfolds, they need to make every single choice matter in the long run, and not have these choices just because other games have them. Of course, the overall story isn’t the only reason why I didn’t feel invested with the game. That honor also goes to…
2. The main characters are boring!
Listen, you can make a character silent, but you have to make that character interesting. Yeah, Link from The Legend of Zelda franchise is mute, but they give him personality and traits to make him a likable character. The main character of Tales of Xillia 2, Ludger Will Kresnik, is not interesting. He is as generic a main anime-style character that you can get. You want to know the kicker? He actually has a voice actor who does his English lines by the name of Josh Grelle. You would know him best as the English voice actor of Armin Arlert from the popular “Attack on Titan” anime series. The only problem with this is that you have to beat the game to unlock the feature of hearing him speak the narrative choices in the game. What kind of backward logic is that? Beating a game, just so you can hear your main hero talk. The even bigger kicker is that the Japanese radio drama for the game gives Ludger a voice and personality. This is so odd that they give him personality in other forms of media, but not in the game. I think the main reason for having a preset name and look for a silent protagonist is finicky, because if you are playing a game where you get to make your own character, you would rather make them look how you want them to, and tailor the experience to your specific choices that you make within the narrative. As for the little female character, Elle Mel Marta, I think she is okay. Her character isn’t anything special, but she is more of a step backwards in terms of good female protagonists. Having boring main characters is one thing, but it isn’t even the worst aspect of Tales of Xillia 2. That honor goes to…
1. The Debt System
If you ever met me in real life and wanted to see me rant about what I consider one of the worst gameplay mechanics I have personally ever seen, you should just ask me about the Debt System in Tales of Xillia 2. Early on in the game, your character accrues a huge medical bill, and throughout the entire game, you need to continually pay it off. That means that side-quests play even more of a role in this game, which clashes with the desire to just enjoy the story. Not only that, but the side-quests will actually repeat and pop right back up for you to go through multiple times. Once you gain a certain amount, you will be contacted to pay off an amount from the bill. It’s annoying, but it doesn’t really happen until you have reached a particular sum, and they always give you enough to get items, weapons, and armor. However, the one thing that puts this game mechanic onto my black list pile is the fact that you won’t be able to progress through the game unless you pay off the required sum. You won’t believe how much the story’s pace just stops dead in its tracks because of this stupid mechanic. Pretend you are watching a highly engrossing movie, and right when the next part of the story is about to pick up, you have to stop, go to the main menu and watch 15 minutes of extras from the movie before you can go right back into the main story. Plus, who wants to play a game that isn’t some kind of simulator where you have to focus on paying off debt? Don’t we play games to escape that part of real life? When I am not writing reviews and doing other work, I play games to escape the real world trappings and have fun. I don’t want to play a game that has a serious focus on paying off a debt. This sole reason is why Tales of Xillia 2 is so disappointing, and why the team behind these games is better at making main entry games than direct sequels.
This is why Namco Bandai shouldn’t be making these direct sequels to their popular games. I mean, at least for their RPG franchise. I don’t care if fans demanded it, and I honestly think fans of the franchise are being way too lenient about the disappointing sequels to certain entries. Just because I love a certain franchise doesn’t mean I can’t hate an inferior experience. If you haven’t gotten this game yet, just wait for it to go cheap. I mean, if it ever does go cheap. I would highly recommend just waiting it out until the new Tales of Zestiria comes out. It should be soon!