Tales of Xillia 2 Review

One year after the events of Tales of Xillia, the worlds have merged. The characters have gone onto new lives. Absolutely nothing could go wrong, right?

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Tales of Xillia 2 instantly throws you into the fray with mysteries. You’re introduced to Ludger, the mostly silent protagonist. He’s having his exam to join Spirius Corporation and work alongside his brother. Things don’t go as planned however, and he ends up as a chef at the train station. On his first day of work, he meets a lost young girl and Jude. Soon after, he starts looking after the girl – Elle – and things start to get crazy.

Tales of Xillia 2 is dark. Extremely dark. It may be the darkest game in the Tales of series, though I haven’t played all of them. And perhaps I’ve just grown too used to them now, or maybe this game just broke the mold, but it didn’t feel quite as “Tales of” as the rest of the games. While I definitely called some of the twists that happened, some actually managed to catch me off guard.

The entire party from the first game returns, along with three additions – Ludger, Muzet, and Gaius. The old party brings back their arsenal of skills, so prepare to do even more staff elongating and arte tuning. The new members bring in their own variety of gameplay, though Muzet does seem to be pretty similar in her arte/skill set to previous characters. They all contribute to the story well though.

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During my playthrough I got the most experience with playing Ludger. He has three arte sets to learn, though it’s okay if you tend to stick with just one or two of them – I know I sure did! These three arte sets are tied to three different weapon styles – dual blades, sledgehammer, and dual pistols. They all play differently and have their own sets of link artes to do. He also eventually gains access to the Chromatus. This mysterious power will grow at certain points in the story, allowing you eventual access to its own mystic artes and beyond. The Chromatus is fairly strong, and will also make you unable to die so long as you have time left on your transformation. Getting hit does take away from the gauge though.

The main story of Xillia 2 is split up into chapters, and between each chapter you have a wide variety of options available for you to do. You can choose to do a character’s specific story, should it be available. You can also choose to take on a variety of small “jobs” which are essentially this game’s side quests. As you complete these quests you will gain merit points towards your next rank. HIgher ranks mean access to more quests. There are also the elite monsters you can take on, but be warned – these aren’t pushovers! Of course, if you DID think they weren’t enough of a challenge, once you get to the post-game… Well, hope you like challenge, because they’re back! Just, hey, that scorpion that you fought first? Oh, yeah, sure, definitely still the easiest. Definitely.

Combat plays very similarly to Tales of Xillia. You can take control of any of the four active members in battle. Between them, you can pull off a wide variety of combos. These combos use your AC, and artes will also use your TP. Movement in battle is typically limited to being from side-to-side, however with use of L2 you can freely move around the field. You are also able to link up with your party members and perform special linked arte chains with them if your gauge on the left is at certain points. Should it be full and you start one of these, it’ll start draining and you’ll have unlimited access to linked arte chains until it empties. These chains don’t use any AC or TP and can spread across different members (and all of Ludger’s combat styles).

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You’ll eventually gain access to Mystic Artes as well, and should you use a Mystic Arte it will completely empty the gauge to pull off a large special attack. Mystic Artes come in a variety of options, one for each character as well as ones for pairings of characters. You’ll need to set abilities with your SP to be able to use them however! Mystic Artes can be pretty easy to accidentally use though, so be careful.

SP is used to equip your passive abilities that can do useful things such as raise your stats or let you use Mystic Artes. While some SP will be gained through skill learning, you’ll also earn SP through defeating enemies. Almost all of the enemies are linked to a character (the ones that aren’t are typically limited-time only ones you can’t refight). Should you defeat enough of them, you’ll gain some SP on the character they are for. Don’t worry, you don’t need to defeat them with that character (thankfully)! There are three tiers for earning the SP, though only the first two are actually “reasonable” to do. Sure, you can go for killing something like 200 of a particular enemy to get that last bonus but you’re usually better off just going for another enemy. The gaining SP through enemy kills was a nice addition from Xillia, and sure helped give a bit of incentive to go back and kill weaker enemies to get a bit more SP!

There is one big overarching side quest in Xillia 2 however, outside of the jobs. There’s the kitty cat search. There are 100 kitties scattered throughout the game and it’s your job to find them. Some kitties will get a job attached to them to give you a hint as to where they are, but the majority do not. While some are found just by searching through the areas until you hear a “meow” nearby, others are found through Kitty Dispatch. Kitty dispatch is a timed thing, with the kitties returning about 15 minutes after you had first sent them out. Of course, you could speed them up with items but it will still take some time. There are also items you can only find through dispatching, so be ready to do it as often as you can. It runs off of real time as well, so when you come back from a break of not playing they will have returned.

Then, of course, there’s the loan. Due to early events where your characters had to be treated for injuries, you’re slapped with a hefty bill. After you take out the loan, well… I hope you weren’t too attached to your money. This also ties in with how you progress the story – for a good portion of the game you will have to make a loan payment to proceed. At certain points you’ll get a “reward” for paying it though, with the rewards typically being skill manuals for your party members. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t able to pay it off by the end of the game – I think I managed to do around 4 million of it before I beat the game. This whole loan thing can get irritating though, as you have to find a balance between equipment upgrades and paying. And of course, should your gald get “too” high, you HAVE to pay something on it. Granted, you could use some selling tricks to get your money before you leave a shop but still, it does get a bit irritating.

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Tales of Xillia 2 is long. Perhaps not the longest Tales of game, but it’s definitely longer than the first game. As in, my file for Platinuming the first game was only 20 hours longer than my first playthrough for Xillia 2. It’s definitely a good sort of long, however, though sometimes you’ll just wish you didn’t have to deal with that loan and could go at your own pace of exploring and story. If you’ve played the first game though (which I do suggest doing, even if Xillia 2 does provide a guide to Xillia) then the areas will mostly look familiar. There actually aren’t that many new areas in Xillia 2. And even then, even with the all of the areas from Xillia returning, you’ll still end up going through some areas multiple times.

Area repetition especially comes true in the Fractured Dimensions, although yes it makes sense. Fractured Dimensions are one of the main plot points in Xillia 2 as you’re tasked to destroy them. Granted, one always seems to be discovered ever-so-conveniently during conversations with your party. How… convenient. Once you enter one of these dimensions, you can’t leave until you’ve completed it. You’re also usually stuck with certain party members within them (and always stuck with Ludger until you’ve beat the game). Thankfully, there’s typically one open spot so if you’re trying to work towards certain linked skills (Gaius) you aren’t totally screwed.

How you learn skills has changed from Xillia. Before, you would gain points as you leveled to progress along the Lillium Orb. Now, you gain elemental ore for your extractors for your Allium Orb. Which extractor you have equipped determines what element you get, and certain skills are tied to certain elements.. It’s definitely an interesting idea, though I did start to miss the method from the first game after a while.

Is Tales of Xillia 2 worth it? I’m not sure if you haven’t played the first game, though I do suggest it if you have played Tales of Xillia. I don’t know how good the Xillia Encyclopedia is, but I do feel like there’s likely some “small” things you won’t get without having played Xillia. I did find Tales of Xillia 2 to be quite good though, even if getting the platinum is going to take forever. Just be prepared for a really dark story. There’s no “super happy fun times” here!

Tales of Xillia 2 Review Score

4.5/5

Tales of Xillia 2 is available now through Amazon and PSN for PlayStation 3.

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