Tales of Xillia 2

In 2011, Namco released the latest entry of their Tales series for the PlayStation 3, Tales of Xillia, with an English localization coming a little under two years later, with the franchise’s golden age outside Japan continuing. Given the game’s success, it was unsurprising that a sequel, Tales of Xillia 2 was announced, also receiving an English translation. Direct sequels at the time were nothing new for the franchise, with several titles such as Symphonia and Destiny receiving narrative successors. The second Xillia itself provides an experience largely on par with its predecessor.

Like its prequel, Xillia 2 sports visible enemies on fields and in dungeons, with foes able to surprise the player if they approach protagonist Ludger from behind, although he and his party can get the advantage if he approaches enemies’ backsides. Since antagonists, however, tend to become aware of him when he comes near at normal travel speed, getting an advantage can be somewhat difficult, and compulsive gamers will typically need to have Ludger walk slowly to approach nemeses facing away, which is admittedly tedious, players most likely wishing to forgo an advantage for sake of time.

Fights themselves begin with Ludger and three allies squaring off against foes in real-time on a battlefield, with many features bequeathed from the game’s predecessor such as characters fighting in pairs for occasional added effects. A new feature is that the protagonist can equip three different weapon sets, a pair of swords, a hammer, and guns, with this providing an element of strategy, the player anytime able to view enemy strengths and weaknesses while switching targets, the action of battle pausing while players do so akin to most other entries in the franchise, always a welcome design decision.

There is also difference in the system by which players’ characters learn new skills, with allies able to equip orbs that allow them to learn abilities through the acquisition of special points, akin to the Esper system from Final Fantasy VI. Combat has always been a strong point of the series and continues to be in the direct sequel, with competent and adjustable A.I., and little complaint aside from the aforementioned tedium of the encounter system. Ultimately, those that play RPGs primarily for the gameplay will certainly experience minimal disappointment.

The controls also help the game well, with easy menus, shopping, navigation, and whatnot, alongside a largely-clear direction on how to advance the main storyline and the countless sidequests upon which players may wish to embark for extra rewards. One can also send Ludger’s cat Rollo to visited locations for supplementary items, a massive debt the protagonist receives playing part as well, with regular payment necessary to advance the main plotline, although this doesn’t hurt the game at all. There is a minor step backwards in that shops all across the world have differing inventories, a slight burden to those that wish to update their party continually with the best gear, but otherwise, interaction is solid overall.

The narrative is also a solid continuation of its predecessor, with plenty of old and new faces, the payment of a debt a nice break from the typical norm of RPG storylines, the protagonist regularly receiving decisions that impact the story and eventual ending, although the returning playable characters lose their abilities acquired in the first game, and elemental spirits continue to play part as well. Even so, the plot is a superb driving factor throughout the title.

Series composer Motoi Sakuraba as usual does a nice job with the soundtrack, although some areas fly a bit too much upon ambience, and the voice acting, like the game’s predecessor, is easily top-notch.

The graphics also look nice, although there are many noticeable visual glitches such as NPCs magically appearing on-screen when the player comes to their map locations. The occasional anime cutscene, however, rounds off a general visually-pleasing sequel.

Finally, breezing through the main storyline can take around thirty hours, although there are plenty of sidequests and extras such as paying off Ludger’s debt and achievement trophies that can easily supplement this time.

In conclusion, Tales of Xillia 2 is a solid direct sequel that hits most of the right notes, what with gameplay that excellently builds upon that in its predecessor, an engaging narrative and characters, great aurals, good graphics, and plenty to boost playing time. There are only some minor imperfections such as the mentioned graphical glitches, although players who enjoyed the first game and others in the franchise will likely enjoy the sequel, with the future of the series outside its Japanese homeland very much likely to be a bright one.

The Good:
+Great Tales battle system and control.
+Engaging narrative and characters.
+Nice soundtrack and voice acting.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Some graphical glitches.

The Bottom Line:
An enjoyable sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 3
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 30-60 Hours

Overall: 9/10

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