Graphics:
7.0
Gameplay:
7.3
Sound:
7.2
Control:
7.0
Replay Value:
7.5
Overall Rating:
7.1
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Namco Bandai
Developer:
Namco Bandai
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
Release Date:
August 19, 2014


Tales of Xillia was one of the most entertaining role-playing games of the previous generation. That’s why I was excited to check out the sequel, which takes place a year after the first adventure and follows the tale of Ludger Kresnik. He’s one of those old-fashioned silent protagonists who get caught up in a mysterious global battle. Yep, standard JRPG fare, right? The original cast of characters is once again part of the fun, so you can continue playing with your favorite faces, and the combat is comfortably familiar.

Okay, so one would assume the result is a surefire winner. …not so fast, though. Beginning with the graphics, they don’t appear to be significantly upgraded when compared with the initial entry, and I’m not as impressed with the general world design. The animations, especially during battle, are better than ever, and fans of the Japanese anime flair will appreciate this finely honed styling. Perhaps it only feels underwhelming because we’re in a new generation of consoles now, and certain PS3 games appear dated. That being said, I really do believe the developers could’ve done more with Tales of Xillia 2 .

As is typically the case with JRPGs, you have to embrace the cornball acting and over-the-top caricatures. Once you do, you’re in for a wild audio ride that consists of well-produced music tracks – there’s a nice variety, too – and somewhat absurd dialogue sequences. Such sequences are common for the genre and they won’t surprise any veterans. In some ways, I actually prefer this soundtrack to the one in the original, just because it seems more diverse and has better balancing and production values. That could just be in my head, though; it has been a while since I played the first game.

One plays an engaging JRPG for two reasons: What should be a compelling narrative and memorable characters, and an in-depth, rewarding, often unique combat mechanic. Let’s start with the latter: As I said in the intro, those who played the first game will be right at home. It’s basically the same; it’s a combo-based system that features those excellent Linking mechanics, and players have to keep an eye on the Assault Counter (AC) and Technical Points (TP) used to execute various Artes. Combatants move in real-time and each character has a very distinct set of traits and abilities. It’s robust, involving and even addictive.

Linked allies can offer support, which is critical for more difficult encounters, and players can tailor their approach. If you wish to form more offensive-minded Links, by all means, go right ahead. But if you’re facing a particularly powerful foe, you might want to focus on defensive Links. This strategic element of the game works particularly well. There’s even more strategy thanks to Ludger’s ability to wield three different weapon types at once. Switching between them on the fly is quite fulfilling, especially because each weapon type has its own strengths and weaknesses.

There are a few combat tweaks, such as the designer’s decision to emphasize the Weakness component. Finding and exploiting the weaknesses of your enemies isn’t anything new for RPGs, but it isn’t always a major consideration. In this game, it really is. The foundation for this battle mechanic was extremely solid to begin with, and the minor changes and upgrades we have in the sequel only make it better. Obviously, fighting is the main draw. Unfortunately, things sort of go downhill from here, as the rest of the game feels too much like a rehash. I really hate that word but when it’s an apt term…