Tales of Xillia review – Animation at its finest

I have always been a fan of the JRPG genre since back in the Super Nintendo days. There are quite a few series that are must plays for me, which includes Namco’s (now Bandai Namco)  Tales series. So when Bandai Namco finally announced Tales of Xillia would be coming to the West two years after it was released in Japan, I was excited just for a chance to play the game.

Tales of Xillia is the first Tales game that features dual main characters. You pick between either Jude Mathis or Milla Maxwell and follow their story. The overall game and story is the same, but each character has different scenes during specific parts of the game, giving you a better look at each character.

Jude is a doctor in training and uses his abilities to help and heal people in need. He is about to graduate, and his mentor is called away, leaving him to handle all the work. Soon after Jude goes searching for the doctor, he meets a strange woman named Milla Maxwell who is known as the “Lord of Spirits.” She is looking to stop a weapon that may just destroy the world in the hands of humans. While Milla is the normal sword wielding main character, she controls the spirits while fighting and Jude is your bare handed fighter who is quick on his feet and has healing techniques.

Tales of Xillia uses the Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System” which gives you a large battlefield to run around and even circle your enemies for strategic attacks. You have basic attacks, along with physical and spell arts you can use in battle as in all previous Tales game. However, you are limited to the number of attacks/arts based off your “AC” or Assault Counter. You can also switch out your teammates at anytime during battle by simply pressing the R3 button, which is pretty handy in situations that allow you to change strategies on the fly.

Xilla adds a partner system to the game where you can switch who you’re linked to at anytime with a press of the control D-pad. By linking characters in battle, your battle style changes with your teammate. Linking with Milla allows her to protect you and lock opponents in a beam, preventing them for moving. Linking with Leia allows her to steal items from downed opponents. The linking system also plays a bigger role in battle by linking and creating combos (“unified attacks”) you can access via an action bar. When the bar is filled you have unlimited unified attacks while the bar drains. It is the only way to activate Mystic arts which can only be used while linked.

Snapshot_20130804_115157The game features an open world experience where you travel on foot from your current location to your destination. Normally this means crossing over multiple maps and areas to find monsters that respawn when you leave. And when you get a chance to return to the map, find items and explore the map and continue on and repeat. You could easily dodge and avoid enemies to continue and you can also look around towns for quests which has you searching for items or enemies in the map. After visiting a location you can free warp back at almost anytime, thanks to the game using a fast travel-like tech.

An interesting addition to the game are the shops. Normally you are used to going into a new town and buying new items and equipment for stronger enemies. Well thanks to the leveling up system and new shop mode added, that has changed. In the game you find food, item, weapon, armor, and accessory shops and they are all the same carrying the same items. If you want to get new and stronger items/food/accessories/weapons/equipment you need to raise the shops level by donating items you find on the field from defeated enemies or donate money. Once you raise enough levels, all the shops will carry the items for you so you never need to backtrack from items. You can, however, just sell the items you collect instead of donating them if you need more money.

LiliumOrbOne of my least favorite additions to Tales of Xillia is the leveling system, using a sphere grid called the “Lilium Orb” similar to Final Fantasy X, you receive points every time you level up. You can distribute to whatever stats you want to improve. You can raise your character’s strength, HP, mind and agility and speed, by unlocking a block of traits you unlock skills and arts for your characters in battle. For the lazy you can auto equip everything, as the AI will just do all the work for you, increasing what stats it thinks is best.

Tales of Xillia has plenty of replayability, normally after beating the game you can access scenes and a final hard mode dungeon for even more game time; you can also select a new game plus. Tales of Xillia like previous games in the series allow you to carry over certain items, abilities, moves and skills to to your next game using “Grade” which you obtain in the game based on how you do in battle, by finishing your enemy quickly, performing consecutive combos and not taking any damage rewards you with higher grade, which you need quite a bit for all the perks.

Tales of Xillia celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Tales series. Xillia features some amazing visuals when it comes to character designs and detail to backgrounds every detail is very carefully done. The game also incorporates a lot of anime cutscenes throughout the game which also looks stunning. The games intro theme is done by Ayumi Hamasaki. While the game has an enjoyable soundtrack, only a few songs really are memorable in the game.

With plenty of costumes in the game, you can have plenty of fun dressing up your team in plenty of outfits that span multiple anime series. Some items are free and can be found throughout the game, others are purchase items on the PSN. My Jude was rocking some Aviators for most of the game with his alternate colors…while kicking butt.

Tales of Xillia is a fun game. It does have a subpar story at times that teeters back and forth between fun, boring, uninteresting and then really good. Xillia has a pretty unique and interesting cast of characters that you can enjoy playing as, but even they have faults. Jude tends to be whiny and complain, never knowing what to do with himself until the end which gets on your nerves. The English dubbing done on the game is pretty enjoyable and fits well which is a real plus. Normally I find myself liking maybe 2 or 3 characters max per series but I found myself enjoying almost the whole cast heroes and enemies in this game, with Rowen, Alvin and Teepo/Elize as the top 3.

Grade: B+

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.