Tales of Xillia has one of the most messed up plot lines ever dreamed of (besides Final Fantasy 13) and one of the most irritating final boss fights ever. I don't know where to start but I suppose i'll start with the story so that I can get it over with... urgh.
The story opens up rather well as you quickly obtain new characters and there are plenty of interactions via skits along the way. It starts steady but it is likeable and it even starts to get good at one point.
The game begins with either Jude or Milla depending on whom you choose (Star Ocean 2 much?) and they're trying to stop this weapon of mass destruction, not because it's a terrifying weapon that could kill millions but because it kills "spirits". Now i hope this "spirits" theme appeals to you, because the entire game is based around it, like many tales games, the world has a source of energy, sorta like blastia and cryas in the last two games, this game uses spirits as the power source of the world. Spirits essentially feed off the mana lobes of humans (don't ask) to survive, in return they provide their powers to the world. The lance of kresnik however sacrifices spirits themselves to power it up, in other words it is essentially a spyrix, which is another term commonly used in this game (if you think final fantasy 13's constant use of the words fal'cie and l'cie, you'll probably get the feeling of this game's common use of these terms and there are more of them later on).
The first issue is that the philosophy behind the spirits is pretty poor, the game doesn't explain much about them in words and what exactly it is that they do, the game only gives you an idea of their purpose. They essentially seem to be connected to nature in a way and the worlds energy but this isn't really explained properly and so the game can be pretty confusing at times and it can lead to the party's actions being somewhat questionable. The main issue is that the game doesn't make the spirits seem to be an essential plot device as you question their importance, can people exist without spirits? would the world shrivel away to nothing without them? (well according to milla it would) If so then why the hell are the characters not explaining this to the villains?
The problem is that this game is filled with plot twists, some of which make the game worse and further have you questioning the importance of spirits, this isn't helped by the fact that Jude is such a do-gooder yet he never thinks for himself, so you have to do it for him, how hard is it to think "am I really doing the right thing by following Milla on her mission to destroy the spyrix weapon"? If anything, the plot is solely centered on Milla since Jude just follows her around the entire game and serves little purpose, one of the main issues i have about Judes character is his obsession over Milla, it's so damn creepy and awkward, especially since she isn't human and she doesn't understand human relationships, this makes Jude very inconsiderate towards her which is ironic since she gets accused of being inconsiderate towards Jude when it was his decision to tag along in the first place.
The many plot twists this game throws at you makes it really hard to explain why the story is so awful but i'd be best to say that the story is actually good up till the final chapter where the game literally falls all over itself, think star ocean till the end of time when I say this, the plot twist at the end of chapter 3 is literally a game killer, especially since the game sets you up with what could have been a great villain only to throw it all away, in fact the game does this twice. By the end of the game, the main villian is the guy you predicted to be the main villian fight from the start due to his cliché'd appearance. All I have to say is that the main villain of the game is bad, despite many people believe he is cool, I don't think so, his actions (particularly his minions actions) are illogical and his goals are unclear, at the start of the game he is likeable, by the end you want to stab him with an ice pick and watch him die a bloody painful death just because of how bad of a villain, no of a character he is. His worst offence is in chapter 4, where the characters finally find a solution to everything. the problem is that the main villian believes their solution to be futile due to his arrogance and man is this guy the most arrogant character ever as he believes what he is doing is right just because he says so.
The ending is pretty unsatisfying to say the least because the main villian doesn't get the punishment he deserves.
Also, early on in chapter 4 Jude becomes emo for no good reason, if you think Edge Maverick's emo moment in star ocean 4 was bad, wait till you see Judes moping in chapter 4, it is simply put pathetic, all the respect I had for his character was gone at that very moment, which is sad since he is my main dude in battle, screw that guy.
Simply put, the story is a mess, many people say, the games pacing is where it's lacking, I disagree, the game does build up interest slowly but meeting new characters along the way helps build up to the major parts of the story, it's not a boring crawl but I think the game does tend to focus a bit too much on the characters at times which is nothing new in the tales series, milla in particular was an interesting character and very well explained, but I think they went a bit too overboard with the whole "Maxwell" thing instead of developing her characteristics and by the end of the game, after a certain plot twist, her character development becomes completely worthless, if there is any character development whatsoever, it's just so difficult to see as the game doesn't express itself properly, which is it's main problem. had the game managed to express itself to it's audience, instead of spilling too much jargon down our throats, I think the story would have been far more appealing. Oh and just forget chapter 4 ever existed... it completely ruins the whole game.
Now that i've got the horrific storyline out of the way, i'd like to get to the gameplay. The game play of Tales Of Xillia is the most fluid game play in the series, period and is one of the best real time battle systems in an rpg. Combat is fast paced and fluid and is really easy to pick up but can be difficult to master, I suppose it depends on the character you pick, Jude is pretty good for beginners, I used him the majority of the game and i had a lot of fun with him. Every character is unique and has their own abilities and traits for example, Jude is able to blindside enemies by back stepping at the right time, like in Star Ocean 4, though this requires more precision and unlike Star Ocean 4, it isn't a core element of the gameplay.
The best part of the gameplay is by far the linking. In battle you have the choice to partner up with another character, when "linked" you're partner's ai will synchronize with you to perform long combo string's, which allows anyone to pick up and play the game. You can also perform link artes by filling a bar of your over limit gauge, this is essential to build the gauge up so you will use them often just for the sole purpose of filling it up, once it reaches maximum, you can use a link arte to enter over limit, in over limit you can chain your link artes and even perform powerful mystic artes by executing arcane artes and holding X, you can perform any move freely without consuming ac to really build up the combo count.
Sadly, linking isn't as balanced as it should have been, some character combinations have more link artes than others, Jude and Milla moreso, this can lead players to use the same link partners all the time. Every character has their own unique ability to assist their link partner, some are really useful, you could even say that they're cheap such as Rowen's magic guard others are rather useless such as Judes healer and Leia's steal, Elize can be used to conserve tp so you can save your gels for later battles, so she's usually going to be a major link partner but the best link partner combination in the game is definitely Jude x Milla due to the fact that they have the most link artes, true you can swap link partners on the fly to perform more link artes but it's easier to just stick with Jude x Milla.
Leveling up in this game is similar to that of Final Fantasy X or Path Of Exile which allows you to freely input your characters stats and abilities using the lithium orb. Many times I forgot to do this and got curb stomped, so you have to remember to spend your gp. The problem with the lithium orb is that most of the abilities are completely worthless and i'm talking farcry 3 worthless, you level up and spend it on an ability that for example, the bench warmer abilities heal up characters in reserves periodically which is useless for characters you use all the time. whereas the magic guard abilities are useless for the characters you never use. It's as if Tales Of Xillia expects you to main every single character. It also feels like they just added abilities for the sake of adding them as some of them don't seem to serve much purpose such as Teepo master which increases your tp and hp when taunting with Elize, first of all, even if you were to main the healer, why would you be taunting with her? you'd be best to swap her out and link with her so she automatically restores tp herself with her Teepo
drain which she uses often anyways.
Some abilities are rather cheap such as angels cry and revive, though they aren't particularly cheap for the end game, you can get them way too early because of the freedom of the lithium orb which can make the rest of the main game a cake walk, I think they should have removed the level cap after the completion of the main game allowing more skills to be available for the end game such as revive and angels cry. The end game, I haven't finished yet but i'm at the end boss of the bonus dungeon (magnus zero) and he is really irritating for the same reasons as another boss in particular.....
Now I would like to rant about one thing in particular, this does not affect the game in itself but it may be important to know. Tales Of Xillia has the worst final boss fight in a jrpg ever, at least from what i've experienced. Now you already know by now that i already hate the main villain, but this final boss fight is the main reason why I hate him. Now for those who have played you're probably wondering why i direct my hate at him because he isn't the main issue... but my god if I hear "Absolute Domination" ever again i will crack someone's head open... metaphorically of course. There may be spoilers but I will try to keep it as spoiler free as possible.
There are three issues with the final boss fight, the first becomes obvious as soon as you wittle the health bar to around the half way mark, the final boss will heal. It took me a while to figure out how the final boss managed to heal but it turns out that it occurs when the final boss is blocking... how the hell was i supposed to know this!? The worst part about this is that the final boss heals 10,000 health every second whilst blocking, no joke. So how do you combat this? There are many ways somebody mentioned stealing with Leia but that wasn't the way I did it. The best way to beat the final boss is to link up with Alvin which allows you to break guards. The goal is to keep Alvin alive long enough so you can use his breaker skill when the final boss blocks, that way you can stop the final boss' healing.
The second issue is that the final boss CAN STOP TIME AT WILL. You may be beating the living crap out of it one minute and then BOOM, you can't move a frame. This leaves you open for the final boss to do anything to you, including Blade of Heaven and Absolute Domination (get ready to hear it over and over again till your ears bleed). There is literally nothing you can do to stop this, it is just a cheap move the final boss uses to screw you over.
The third and final main issue is that once you beat the final boss, it magically comes back to life... what!? so you have to kill it all over again. I was ready to throw down my controller and reset the game, which I did, because the final battle lasted at least 20 minutes straight, possibly even half an hour.
Anyways now to cover miscellaneous features. The game has a new attatchment system which is fun to mess around with. Now you can colour your accessories and place them anywhere you want, you can make your characters look stylish or stupid, every character can equip every accessory, so yes you can give the male characters pig tails and the female characters a moustashe and a pipe. All in all I was impressed by how many different kinds of accessories there were and it really gave the player incentive to do side quests just to obtain them all.
The level design is great and open despite not being a world map. there are a lot of hidden treasures to find which gives players more incentive to backtrack. you can fast travel to any area in the game once you reach a certain point which is pretty early in the game so backtracking doesn't feel much of a chore to do. There are lots of foraging sports similar to that of the last remnant (I swear, this game's level design feels very similar to the last remnant).
The soundtrack is better than the previous game, though it may not be the most memorable soundtrack, there are some nice tunes in the mix and the final dungeon theme actually doesn't suck this time. It also has a pretty good final boss theme (thank god) but sadly you will be sick of it by the time you've fought the final boss for half an hour. Voice acting, though controversial is pretty decent.
The game doesn't last as long as the other games in the series but there is still plenty of content. Grade has returned though this time it is less stressful. Grade is rewarding for earning in game achievements, titles which was great considering the fact that i'm not a trophy hoarder. All in all Tales Of Xillia has left me with a bittersweet feeling... after beating it I am bitterly disappointed but I cannot lie and say that I didn't enjoy it the whole way through.
Lifespan: Quite Long
Would you replay? no
Just an outspoken fan of rpg's and gaming in general who likes to rant about first world gamer problems because there are so many.
My blogs mostly consist of reviews/rants of games of all generations, particularly rpg's. I try to blend my reviews with both facts and opinion so that people can see from my own experiences and decide for themselves. i will also tend to review older titles because i still believe that there are few people out there who haven't played these awesome titles and deserve to give them a chance.
Oh and as for some negative's you might point out, i can't spell for my life and my grammar is terrible. Plus i like to exaggerate my points a little to make things more fun, yet some people are dense enough to take them as fact.
Here is my response to those intelligent enough to point them out:
Heres my review rating system:
Masterpiece (Same as masterful but for overall score, will be based on opinion), of course it won't be perfect in every way but it will be close to perfect, no game is perfect.
Masterful - Perfect in every way (Formerly 9.5+) (definitely pick up the game if you are a fan of the genre)
Exceptional - Goes way beyond expectations (Formerly between 9.1 and 9.4) (definitely pick up the game if you are a fan of the genre)
Excellent - Does what it needs to and provides a first class experience (9.0) (definitely pick up the game if you are a fan of the genre)
Great - Does what it needs to, provides a high class experience (8.5-8.9) (recommended to all fans of the genre)
Good - Does what it needs to and provides a very enjoyable experience (was 8.0 - 8.5) (recommended to all fans of the genre)
Satisfactory - Does what it needs to, provides an experience which is just enough to satisfy the player (Formerly between 7.5 - 7.9) (Reccommended to read the review if unsure)
Decent - Does what it needs to, experience can very depending on the players tastes (Formerly 7.0-7.4) (Recommended to read the review if you plan on picking up the game to see if it's for you)
So-So - Not for everyone, has some issues, may be worth a try if patient enough to cope with it's flaws (Formerly 6.5 - 6.9) (Reccommened to read the review if you're interested in the title)
Flawed - Alot of flaws, difficult to recommend, some may be able to pass them by but will require a lot of patience (Formerly 5.0 - 6.4) (Reccommened to read the review if you're interested in the title)
Awful - (Formerly 4.9 and below) (If you see this, don't pick the game up for this catagory)
Kill It With Fire - (Same as Awful but for overall score, based on opinion which in this case is usually right if you see the game, you know what to do, don't buy this and if you do, get some gasoline and a match)