WHAT CHOICES WILL YOU MAKE?
The Tales series has always had a few things going for it: great stories, likeable characters, and fun gameplay. Tales of Xillia was no different when it launched last year. Its sequel, Tales of Xillia 2, took a chance by changing up one of the key components of the series; for instance, having a silent protagonist, giving players the dialogue options and allowing players to make decisions that can change the story. How would this affect the overall story? Would it change the feel of the game? These are questions that worried me as a fan of the series. However, after the nearly 60 hours it took me to beat the game, I’m here to tell you not to worry!
The story takes place a year after Tales of Xillia and the world is learning to adapt after the almost cataclysmic event that rocked it a year ago. Enter our new characters: Ludger, Elle, and Rollo. On Ludger’s first day of work as a cook, Ludger and his cat Rollo unexpectedly run into a little girl named Elle. The events that follow force the three to stay together, first on a quest to pay back a huge debt, and later to save the world. The case from the first game makes a return in this one, so don’t worry if you wanted to play as them again.
Just like most of the Tales games in the past, this story has a crazy twist to it about halfway through. By now I have come to expect that out of each game. However, even after knowing something was coming, I was still surprised by how cool the twist was. But it’s not the overall story that makes this game special; it is the characters. I have never felt more attached to a set of characters in a Tales game than I did with Xillia 2. I believe there are two reasons why that is.
First, the silent protagonist aspect of Ludger really paid off. You are given choices to make hundreds of times during the game, and no matter what you choose you will never hear more than a word or two out of his mouth. It reminds me of games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout where you never hear your character’s voice. This made me feel like I actually was Ludger. I didn’t hear some random voice actor giving my responses, instead it was my voice.
Bandai Namco and the Tales team could have made it where Ludger still voiced the answer you gave, much like BioWare did with the Mass Effect series. However, if they did that, they would have ran the risk of his responses not matching what you wanted, or just a general disconnect with the character because it’s not your voice. The older games didn’t give you dialogue options or decisions to make, so you never really felt like you were in the story; rather, you are just playing (watching) a story.
The second reason why the characters are so special is the relationship between Ludger and Elle. I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here because it is worth it to experience it yourselves, but it reminded me a lot of the relationship between Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us. They started as total strangers, but grew closer as the game went on.
As good as the story is, it can’t be overlooked that the entirety of Tales of Xillia 2 is made up of reused assets. Is this a bad thing? No. I loved the world that Tales of Xillia took place in, so it was awesome to revisit all of the locales in Tales of Xillia 2, even if it all looked exactly the same. However, there will be players who are annoyed by having to traverse the same world they spent 50+ hours in only a year ago.
There was one technical problem I ran into repeatedly during the game. Every time you enter a city, it takes a while for all of the people to load. This results in you running through the city and seeing people popping up all around you. This isn’t so much of a problem as it was a minor annoyance because it didn’t break the game by any means.
The battle system in Xillia 2 is largely the same as it was in the original, which is a good thing. The battle system is called Cross Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System. You have a group of four fighters who can use a combination of physical attacks and magical abilities called artes to take down your enemies. The four fighters can link up to one another, which allows for better teamwork, special abilities, and new moves. The change it made in Xillia 2 is allowing Ludger to be able to switch weapon types on the fly. He can use dual swords, dual guns, or a warhammer. I personally found the dual swords to be the best weapon so I only switched when necessary. The game tries to make you think that switching weapons will be extremely beneficial by having certain enemies weak to certain weapons, but I found that the difference was not big enough to matter.
Another change to Xillia 2 was the addition of character chapters. These chapters are completely separate from the main story, and instead let you learn more about the cast of characters if you choose to. I really enjoyed learning more about the characters that I grew to know last year.
The Verdict: 8.6 out of 10
The Tales series is full of great JRPGs, but it is hard to find a game that is significantly better than the rest. At least, that’s what I used to think. Feeling like I was Ludger, and the relationship between him and Elle, made Tales of Xillia 2 very special. All of the typical JRPG aspects are there, but the story made this one absolutely incredible. So much so that I found myself crying my eyes out when I achieved the “true” ending. If you played Tales of Xillia, you owe it to yourself to play this amazing sequel. If you haven’t played either yet, go out and buy the first one. Tales of Xillia 2 is the best JRPG to come out since Ni No Kuni, but I fear you won’t enjoy it without playing the first game beforehand. So what are you waiting for?
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.