Tales of Xillia (PlayStation 3) Review

By SirLink 16.09.2013

Review for Tales of Xillia on PlayStation 3

Unlike other games in the series, Tales of Xillia lets the player pick their preferred protagonist at the beginning of the game. This can be either the young medical student Jude Mathis or a mysterious woman called Milla Maxwell. Regardless of the choice, the overall story is largely the same with the central theme being unwavering convictions. A lot of scenes have different perspectives depending on the lead character while huge differences are reserved for a few key points in the plot. This mechanic complements the New Game+ feature the Tales series is known for quite nicely, offering more interesting details to the story the second time around. Without spoiling anything, the story is very well made with a strong overall plot, diverse characters and great character development.

Coming off the back of Tales of Graces f, the battle system certainly feels like a huge step back at first. While it retains the Action Points for attacking or evading in form of the Assault Counter, using Artes costs MP again, which means that - particularly during the early parts - combat feels quite dull as many normal attacks are needed to regain MP for more Artes. It's not until later when several available skills and accessories coupled with the affordability of MP healing items alleviate this problem. This is when the new key mechanic really starts to shine. Characters can link up with each other in battle and gain several benefits from it. They can share certain equipped skills with their partner, protect their backs from other enemies and some of the taken damage, as well any received healing being transferred to the partner. Each character also has a Partner Skill that's ideal for a certain enemy type. For example, Jude will heal a knocked down ally, which is particularly useful when fighting Power-Type enemies.

Screenshot for Tales of Xillia on PlayStation 3

Most importantly, linked characters can team up for powerful Linked Artes, which can be triggered after using certain Artes with the right partner. These Artes are dependent on the Linked Gauge, which consists of five parts. Once a part is filled up by attacking while linked to someone, a Linked Arte has to be used for the meter to increase further. Once it's maxed out, Over Limit is activated and offers a wealth of temporary benefits. Attacking no longer costs AC, enemy attacks won't stagger a character and Linked Artes can be used freely and even chained together. Lastly, using an Arcane Arte and pressing X after it connects to an enemy ends the Over Limit mode and triggers a powerful Mystic Arte based on the character. Certain bosses can, and will, use Linking, Over Limit and Mystic Artes against the player as well, though.
The game offers various difficulty options that can be changed at any time and lets players decide how much of a challenge they want. While the feature is appreciated, oftentimes it's either too easy or too hard with no middle ground to offer a good challenge. The battle rewards, such as Experience, Gald and items, are also largely unaffected by the difficulty, so there's little incentive to play on Hard or Unknown. Speaking of Experience, Level-Ups don't actually give any immediate stat growths; instead, the character gains a set amount of Growth Points (GP) that can be spent in items called Lilium Orbs. They look like a spider web with nodes that each correspond to a different stat, such as Strength, Intelligence or Dexterity. Each GP activates one node and activating all nodes that surround an Arte or skill unlocks it. Each character has one key Arte or skill for each stadium of the Lilium Orb that has to be obtained along with two more areas in the outermost layer before it will develop further, unlocking more nodes. It's a fairly simple system that allows for some early customisation but eventually everything can be unlocked. There are also nodes for HP, MP and SP. SP are Skill Points that are used to equip skills for each character, allowing for further customisation.

Screenshot for Tales of Xillia on PlayStation 3

Unlike previous games, all shops offer the exact same inventory, based upon an overall shop level. Donating materials obtained from treasure chests, random gathering spots and enemies, as well as Gald, will increase the shop level. The shops will expand their inventory and offer discounts based on their level, so it's very important to explore areas for materials as shops are the only way to obtain almost all equipment in the game. Food once again provides considerable boosts ranging from recovering HP or MP to obtaining more Experience or Gald from battles. It can be bought from a vendor and will last several battles depending on the type. Characters will also remind the player when the food effects have run out via some funny one-liners, making it a very convenient feature indeed.
The game offers over 200 Skits that are very entertaining - optional conversations between the party members - with topics ranging from the main plot to completely unrelated and amusing subjects. The Side Quests also frequently act as a supplement to the story, providing more details about it and the characters contained within in general. There are still a good amount of fetch quests and the like but the inclusion of story-focused Side Quests is very welcome. The ability to travel to any previous location is obtained early in the game and makes additional exploring extremely convenient. Important NPCs will also have a small exclamation mark above their head, making it far easier to find new Side Quests to tackle.

Screenshot for Tales of Xillia on PlayStation 3

Being a PlayStation 3 game, Tales of Xillia looks significantly better than the enhanced PlayStation 3 port of Tales of Graces f that was originally released on the Wii. The improvements to the character models are immediately noticeable but the environments aren't as impressive. Some key scenes of the plot are shown in stunning, short anime movies and the Skits also contain nicely animated portraits of all the characters.
The soundtrack is once again composed by Motoi Sakuraba. Its quality is great overall and contains some particularly outstanding pieces. The English voice acting is superb, as well. Interestingly enough, the opening also features the original Japanese song instead of an instrumental or English version usually found in other localised versions of Tales RPGs.

While Tales of Xillia is on the short side compared to series standards, it's still a lengthy adventure. The length of the game differs vastly depending on the play style, so gamers should expect anywhere between 30-to-50 hours for the initial playthrough. There's also a bonus dungeon with a secret boss that can only be accessed after beating the game. In true Tales fashion, Grade that's earned by unlocking titles can be spent on multipliers and other upgrades for a New Game+. This can range from basic things such as Double Gald or Double Experience, right through to keeping certain item categories like consumables or materials. Players who are looking to play through it again and obtain the Platinum Trophy can expect to easily double their playtime, if not more. The mechanic of having two main characters also makes another playthrough even more interesting, as it provides different viewpoints during many events and has some content exclusive to each protagonist.

Screenshot for Tales of Xillia on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

While the battle system of Tales of Xillia doesn't quite match Tales of Graces f, it manages to push the series forward in several other areas such as overall plot, character development and side-quests. It's an essential purchase for fans of the series and well worth a look for fans of the genre in general. With a localisation of the sequel Tales of Xillia 2 confirmed for next year, it's looking like there's a bright future ahead for the series in the West.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Namco Bandai

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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