Tales of Xillia 2 is the fourteenth mothership title in the "Tales" series, a Japanese Role-Playing Game series developed by Namco Bandai Games. This game is a sequel to the original Tales of Xillia, which was released in 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in Japan, and will be released this year in August for America and Europe. The game puts the player in the role of Ludger Will Kresnik as he fights through monsters, explore dungeons, complete quests, meet characters from the previous game and travel to alternate realities in order to pay off a 20,000,000 Gald debt.
The game plays quite similar to Tales of Graces and exactly like Tales of Xillia, however, unlike any of the Tales games before Xillia, the game world is viewed with camera angle behind the main character with free camera control so you can see and interact with the environment much clearly than before. Every town, dungeon and outdoor location has something to do and you never feel like you're spending too much time doing one thing or another, if you're not exploring, you're in engaging battles, if you're not in battles, you're looking for treasure out in the open, there's a lot to do in this game.
As you pay off the 20 Million debt little by little, new areas will open up allowing Ludger and his friends to progress with their exploration as well as continue on the story, it doesn't usually take long to rack up large amounts of Gald, as battles and quests are extremely generous in the amount of Gald they reward you with, the quests are your usual "look for x amount of item y and bring it back to the quest board" and "slay x amount of y monster and report back", making a return from Tales of Vesperia are the Giganto Monsters which are essentially optional minibosses that roam the overworld, if you manage to fall one of them, you can turn the quest in and get massive reward.
The battle system is identical of that to Tales of Xillia, you control one of four party members in battle and you move left and right in a line, while pressing up or down or forward while pressing the artes button will unleash one of your artes, which are basically special moves that consumes TP, if you hold down the L2 button, you can free run around the battlefield, very much like all the modern Tales games; the Character Link system returns from Tales of Xillia too, in battle, you can link up with one of your party members who can support your every action as well unleash Link Artes with your character, the Link Artes are all very flashy and unique knowing which do what really gives you the upper hand in battle.
A slight addition to the Tales of Xillia battle system is the main character himself; Ludger can switch between three different weapon types: swords, hammer and guns on the fly, each weapon type has a different moveset and knowing which one to use on which enemy as well as when to switch makes winning battles a lot quicker, but it's fine if you don't wish to micro-manage, Ludger also has the ability to enter his "Corpse Shell" when you unlock that ability, by pressing L3 and R3 together when the gauge fills up, Ludger transforms and pulls himself and the enemies into a separate dimension where he will have infinite HP and TP as well as buffed stats and a completely different moveset, this ability is very useful against some of the tougher bosses and can be considered rather overpowered, on top of the fact that Ludger is a rather overpowered character himself without Corpse Shell, being able to use abilities of every element (sword, hammer, guns, fire, water, wind, earth, light and dark) and being extremely fast in battle too.
Another addition to the game are "Character Episodes" which are side quests that focuses on one your party members, some of these episodes are rather short and just consists of dialogue, but most of them require you to go to different areas and do battle with enemies, while in a Character Episode or a Storyline Chapter, you are typically forced to bring one or two certain party members along (You must always have Ludger in your party at all times), but outside of that, you can freely switch between your party members in town from the menu. On top of that, anyone who's not in your present party will also gain EXP so no character will ever be underpowered.
Throughout the scenes in the game, as well as the various skits you view, dialogue options may come up, prompting you to choose what Ludger will say, or do at that moment, they are chosen by pressing either L1 or R1, some of these prompts are even timed, forcing you to think quickly, there are no penalties for choosing the "wrong" thing to do, but sometimes, there are benefits for choosing the "correct" choice, whether its improving your relationship with one of the party members, or avoiding needless battle.
The Lilial Orb level-up system is absent from the first Tales of Xillia, instead, you equip E. Cores on certain characters which can teach them new artes, improve their artes and/or give them new passive abilities, and improve their elemental strength, these can be switched at any time from the menu and is rather simple to understand.
There's a fair bit of customisation in the game, especially after the disappointing amount of attachments in Tales of Graces f outside of purchasing additional content from the PSN store, each character has a wide array of costumes and hairstyles which you can change at any time, you can also add up to three attachments to any one of them, such as party hats, glasses, shades, dolls, etc. they can also be fully customised, you can place them anywhere on their body, change its direction, increase and decrease its size and even change the colour of it.
In conclusion, Tales of Xillia 2 is a very satisfying experience, it takes everything Tales of Xillia did and improves it massively, it's a JRPG with a great plot, interesting characters, fantastic music, engaging battle system, addicting progression and customisation, best of all, there are no random battles and no backtracking as the game gives you a quick-travel system almost right off the bat.
Go buy it, especially if you like Tales of Xillia or any Tales game. If you're into JRPGs but have never played a Tales game before, I recommend you try out Tales of Xillia first.
How many times did I say "party member" in this review?