So, first let us talk about Tales of Graces F. I had some issues with this game. I mean, in the end, it wasn’t a terrible game by any means and was probably one of the better games of 2012, a year where there was definitely a lot more bad than good. However, I just didn’t care for it. Its story was sluggish at the beginning, the characters became unlikable until after the half-way point, some parts of the story weren’t fully explained well or at all, and the combat could be slightly button-mashy. All and all, I was disappointed by this game, but it was lucky that it was slightly better than Max Payne 3, which I awarded my Most Disappointing Good Game of 2012. It just had a lot of negatives that really brought the game down for me. However, if you enjoyed it, that is fine. I got some slight flack for not liking this game from a series that has a hardcore fan base here in the States and is like a religion over in Japan. I can’t help it that this game came out the same year as Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, which brought much better gameplay, storytelling, and an overall better experience. Plus, I think Tales of Vesperia is the better game. After I reviewed that game, I kept hearing the news that they were going to bring over Tales of Xillia, which in Japan, is the highest rated entry in the Tales franchise with a nearly perfect score of 39 out of 40. So, it must be good, right? I mean, if it has high scores it must be amazing! Let us check it out!
The story this time has two main characters that you can choose to play as, even though in the end, you will be able to play as both characters at the same time. The first character is a young male med student named Jude Mathis, voiced by Sam Reigel. He is studying for a big exam in the city of Fennmont. As he is going around about his day of helping out people with injuries, he notices strange things happening with the spirits and the mana power people used to do daily things. The other part of the story revolves around Milla Maxwell, voiced by Minae Noji. She is the so-called incarnation of Maxwell, the “Lord of Spirits”. She decided to travel from Nia Khera to the city of Fennmont where she and Jude end up meeting. They both meet up, and find out about a powerful “weapon” within the research building in Fennmont, but in the end, Milla loses the ability to use four of the spirits that control earth, wind, fire, and water. After leaving said research building, they are labeled as the ones to cause the damage and the vanishing of multiple citizens. Once they head to the harbor area to leave Fennmont, they are almost caught by the guards, but are saved by a mercenary named Alvin, voiced by Matthew Mercer. After all three escapes on a boat leaving the harbor, they decide the goal is to stop the so-called “weapon” from being used, but also run into the usual war between kingdoms, and something even worse later on. Along the way, you will meet many allies like Jude’s childhood friend, Leia Rolando, voiced by Lauren Landa, a young girl named Elize Lutus, voiced by Erin Fitzgerald, and an ex-strategist-turned-butler named Rowen J. Illbert, voiced by Todd Haberkorn. The story is fantastic. Well, let’s just say that the story is leagues better than Tales of Graces F. I love the characters as well. I found myself investing more of my time with them than the last game, and found them to be much more interesting. The story does pull a huge twist near the end, but in the end, everything is just better in this game.
If you are familiar with the gameplay elements of the Tales games, then this one won’t be too different, but for the newcomers to the franchise, Tales of Xillia is an action RPG. Instead of running around dungeons and a huge overworld map, you will have the normal towns and everything else including dungeons that are just separated areas that you will travel through. Thankfully, you can fast travel to any place you have visited before, instead of waiting until you are 30 hours in, when you get some kind of traveling vehicle or animal thing. Let’s talk about the combat, since, well, that is the meat of the gameplay experience, besides leveling up and item management. The combat engine this time is called the Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System. These combat systems just get wordier and wordier, don’t they? Anyway, you will be fighting visible enemies that you see in the overworld on a 2D plane, that with the press of a button, you can also maneuver in 3 dimensions. The mechanics that make this combat system unique are that you can dual-link with one of your four battle partners to pull off different abilities and super moves onto the monsters. Leveling and gaining abilities is done differently here. You, of course, gain levels like usual, by fighting monsters and gaining experience points. The abilities you earn, such as different attacks and secondhand abilities, are done with a sphere-like grid in the form of a spiderweb. It basically works like Final Fantasy X’s sphere-grid system. Items are also handled differently. Instead of items just appearing in the shops, you actually have to donate material you find in the levels to said shops to get new items, weapons, armor, and etc. There are also the traditional side-quests that are much easier to deal with now, due to the fast travel system implemented into the game. So, yeah, this game has a lot going for it and is still quite the lengthy adventure.
How are the graphics, music, and voice work? Fantastic! Since this is a game made specifically on the PlayStation 3, it looks amazing, unlike Tales of Graces F, where that was just an HD Wii game. It’s a beautiful looking game, with some amazing colors. Music is also pretty good, and the title theme to the game is rather righteous. The composer for the game is once again, Motoi Sakuraba, who has composed for the Tales games and the Mario sports games. Voice work this time is also handled better. Each of the voice actors does a good job with how they portray their characters.
So, any problems with the game? This game has quite a few problems, actually. The game was heavily advertised that you could play two different storylines as two different characters, Jude and Milla, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter a whole lot who you choose. Each of their stories has a few exclusive cutscenes and boss fights, but other than that, the game is basically 90% the same for any character you choose. Why advertise this part of the game when it really doesn’t matter? I also found the enemy AI in the levels to be rather dumb. You can easily abuse and exploit them to either get advantages over battles or just get out of harm’s way. It breaks you out of the immersion a bit when you see these dumb AI moments happen. I also found a few minor bugs here and there that didn’t break the game, but are noticeable. They are mostly issues dealing with the subtitles not coming up all the time, but I feel like I should have brought it up along with the music issues.
In the end, this is probably my second favorite Tales game. Vesperia still did a few things better than Xillia, but Xillia is very close to being the best game in the series. The game is still pretty new, but if you want to get it, get it at its current price or wait for it to lower, and buy it. I am interested to see what Tales of Xillia 2 will be like, but from what I hear, it failed expectations when it was released in Japan, and that isn’t a good sign, but I will just have to wait and see when it comes out next year. For now, I’ll be enjoying Ni No Kuni, along with Namco’s other fantastic RPG, Tales of Xillia.
This game gets an 8 out of 10.