Princess and Prince can be chosen in the Classic Mode right from the beginning.
FFX - Mt. Gagazet
Tales of Xillia 2 is the latest installment in Bandai Namco’s long-running Tales series, and a direct sequel to the quite successful Tales of Xillia. The game was released in Japan in 2012, but has only recently been localised for international audiences.
(This review contains spoilers for Tales of Xillia. Be warned!)
We all know how this goes:
The world is about to be destroyed because of force X, and it can only be saved by the protagonist, thanks to his special ability of Y. Because of this, our protagonist is unwittingly tangled in a web of intrigue, woven by the competing interests of multiple powerful parties.
There’s nothing particularly about the plot that necessitated it be a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia. It takes place in the same setting, but the main plot is so far removed from the events of the previous game as to make them both entirely irrelevant to each other. The game does, however, assume the player has knowledge of certain concepts key to understanding the internal workings of its fictional universe.
The party of the previous game returns (along with two major characters who are newly playable), to congregate around the new protagonist, Ludger. But unlike the previous game, where most of them at least had decent personal motivations to drive them, the familiar characters are encountered mostly by coincidence, and decide impulsively to tag along because it’s ‘the right thing to do (tm)’, which, to me, smacks of lazy writing. It is nice to see and hear about what they’ve been getting up to, but I can’t imagine that newcomers to the series would much care, and in the absence of personal investment in the new conflict, their inclusion seems like empty fan service.
In some ways, I feel like the return of the old characters actively hurts the game, especially as at least a few of them have undergone dramatic changes since their previous appearance. In the space of one year, Leia has inexplicably abandoned her training as a nurse to pursue a career in journalism, while Muzet (previously a mass-murdering socio-path), claims to be completely reformed, and is welcomed into the group with very little hesitation. I realise that JRPGs and anime are big on redemption of previously antagonistic characters. I also realise that this is the same group of people that, in the last game, readily forgave Alvin for betraying them repeatedly (up to and including literally shooting another party member in the back), but my willing suspension of disbelief can only stretch so far.
Also, a major plot point of the previous game was the discovery that ‘mana’, the force that keeps the world of Xillia alive, had been almost entirely depleted by the reckless use of ‘spyrix’ technology. Despite being extremely aware of the fact that they are living on borrowed time, the returning characters have adopted the use of spyrix-powered mobile phone equivalents, which they use extremely frivolously.
(Yeah, no, go ahead and text your penpal, the world is only mostly desert.)
I have seen other reviews praise Tales of Xillia 2 for ‘exploring mature themes’. I’ll grant that the game does, in fact, do that, but I’m not convinced that it does it at all well. There is some passing lip-service to the fact that their actions are directly leading to an untold number of deaths, but this fact does little to weigh them down. When one party member loses everyone and everything she ever knew or loved, she is expected to essentially pull on her big girl pants and get over it, which she surprisingly manages tolerably well. Conversely, later on, the deaths of single (admittedly major) characters are treated as insurmountably tragic.
Also, if someone is racist to you, just beat them up to make them respect you.
Gameplay is pretty standard for JRPGs. Run around the various areas, kill monsters to earn gold and level up, etc.
Combat is mostly identical to the flashy, frenetic style employed in the previous game, with a few added mechanics. Ludger can switch between three different weapons on the fly, which grant him access to different kinds of attacks. He can also occasionally transform into a more powerful form with special abilities.
Unlike the previous game, which was mainly linear, the player is offered options as to what Ludger might do or say in a given situation. These options rarely, if ever, have any significant impact on story outcomes, but they serve to raise Ludger’s affinity with his team mates, which in turn grants him access to side content and special items.
(Some choices are obvious, but on other occasions both options are so inoffensively bland that it hardly seems to matter, and which response your companions would prefer feels largely arbitrary.)
Outside of these, Ludger is also forced to pay off a massive medical debt. This is facilitated by the completion of quests that have been listed on a notice board, most of which are along the lines of ‘Kill X number of monster/Retrieve Y number of object’. This was pretty obviously done to pad out the length of the game, and adds very little to the story. There’s a special reward if you manage to pay off the debt, but personally I didn’t think it was worth it.
A cute diversion comes in the form of ‘Kitty Dispatch’. Lost cats can be found around the game world, and locating them opens up those areas for your own cat, Rollo, who can be sent off to explore them and will return with rare items that can’t be acquired any other way. This mostly serves as another way of completing sidequests, but there are also special weapons and vanity items that are gained through this feature.
There’s also a crafting mechanic, but it’s pretty basic.
If you like anime, or the art style of other JRPGs, you’ll probably like this. I only wish that more cutscenes employed the gorgeously fluid 2D animation employed during the intro and ending scenes, rather than the in-engine graphics.
Tales of Xillia 2 is only okay. The plot is nothing special; it’s confusing and suffers from poor characterisation. The combat is good, but it was good last time, and the new features don’t do much to innovate the familiar formula. There’s a lot of post-campaign content, for those who like that sort of thing, but I don’t feel particularly compelled to check it out.
I also would’ve liked to see more of the world; most of the locations are rehashed from the previous game.
If you don’t like JRPGs, then Tales of Xillia 2 is unlikely to change your mind. If you do, then you can still enjoy this for what it is.
PRIMAL GROUDON AND PRIMAL KYOGRE’S ABILITIES REVEALED!
Permanent weather for both (until defeated or switched; then the weather will fade). Water type moves have no effect when Groudon’s Desolate Land takes effect, and Fire type moves have no effect when Kyogre’s Primordial Sea is in effect. Pokemon using weather moves will not change the weather when strong sunlight or harsh rain is present.
Today I tried my hand at gif-ing, and I am pretty content with the results. uwu