Tales Of Xillia is a Sony Playstation 3 JRPG offering by Namco Software. It is one of many many “Tales” games which have appeared on Sony Playstation 2, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Sony Playsation Portable and Vita and probably some other systems I can’t think of right now.
Now it’s no secret I rather like the JRPG genre, particularly the Final Fantasy and Wild Arms franchises; and it would be fair to say the “Tales” games, whilst playable, aren’t my number one choice when it comes to JRPGs. Looking back I *think* the first one I played was Tales Of Symphonia on the Nintendo Gamecube (now as rare as a Labour Party leader with “charisma”) and whilst it was “ok” I found it a bit annoying. The annoying part for me was the “talking heads cut scenes”. If you’re not familiar with this allow me to explain …. The game features little sequences (they’re called “skits” by Namco) where the characters talk amongst themselves. You see a notification pop up on screen and you press X (or whatever) and the faces come up on screen in a sort of grid and have this somewhat inane conversation you progress through (often about food it seems for some reason, eg “such and such is such a greedy buffoon, they ate all the pies last night”). This, for me, slows down the game because you keep stopping for this inane drivel instead of running around the wilderness killing things and levelling up etc. However, it seems that these sequences may be entirely optional and not necessarily essential to the plot and development of the game, although I don’t know this for sure. Either way it’s still kind of annoying.
Anyway Tales Of Xillia follows a lead character called Jude Mathison who is a medical student and Milla Maxwell a lady who has some sort of “spirits” who “tag along” with her for some reason or other. You can start the game as either of these characters who then later meet up (not an original concept, Final Fantasy Adventure/Sword Of Mana/Wild Arms have all done the same thing). They live in a world where humans and spirits live alongside each other. However, they discover that the Kingdom of Rashugal has been draining Mana from this world (basically “energy” or “magic” depending on the game, again not original, see Final Fantasy VII!) So off they charge to destroy the equipment Rashugal is using and save the world in the process! Yes, nobody said it was particularly original
One criticism of some JRPGs is the ratio of the on screen characters to their surroundings. In this game it is more realistic and basically more accurate. The idea being to make feel more like you’re “really in the game”. The combat system is much the same as other “Tales” games in which there’s a lot of running around looking somewhat like headless chickens (think Star Ocean Till The End Of Time or Eternal Sonata) although there seems to some better artificial intelligence at work in this title and the characters can “link” to perform combination attacks and the like.
The story also unfolds in the context of the initial character you started with, be it Jude or Milla, so you could play it twice, each time with a different character and get a different perspective on the plot. The levelling up system is performed via a matrix sort of system and you can decide in which direction to take, not unlike Final Fantasy X.
The game starts off well enough and there’s enough to keep it interesting but after a while it starts to get tedious, with a lot of video cut sequences and a fair amount of repetition. I found it hard to “bond” with the characters and frankly found the game boring. Whilst I’m not a big “Tales” fan I’d hoped for more with this title which I felt was not as good as Tales Of Hearts on the PS Vita or Tales Of Vesperia on Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3. Maybe the franchise is running out of steam? Save your money and get the Tales Of Graces F/Tales Of Symphonia compilation instead, two of the best of the franchise and half the price (well at the moment!), link is below.
I give it 5 out of 10