The Tale of Our Time
This year’s range of RPG titles to satisfy our needs to play a game mixed with a good story, good gameplay, good characters, and a fantastic world to immerse you into has been a bit dry. Luckily with Namco Bandai’s release of their next Tales title; Tales of Xillia the wait is over and fans and RPG lovers will be able to get that craving fixed.
Tales of Xillia brings together an all-star cast of characters varying in personality and traits to give a fun, warm and loving atmosphere when you see all the characters together interacting with one another. Xillia follows the traditional Tales formulae that have worked with all the Tales titles by splitting the story into two parts. Creating a strong and immersive story that allows development of the story to deepen and creating stronger changing characters.
Story of the Tales
Sometimes with the story line being cliché’ most of the time and nothing can get any fresher. Tales of Xillia brings to the plate a fresh renewed look having two main protagonists; Jude Mathis or Milla Maxwell to choose from to see different perspectives of the story. Although this is hardly noticeable throughout the game, there are certain parts in the story that players will be separated and different events can be seen which were otherwise only talked about. Such as the major arc of the story seeing Milla split from the party and Jude having renewed conviction, he goes to try and settle the scores himself.
“Tales brings together an all-star cast of characters varying in personality and traits to give a fun, warm and loving atmosphere”
Tales of Xillia takes place on a world called Rieze Maxia, where you start off noticing there is two power countries vying for control, Rashugal and Auj Oule. The country Rashugal, controlled and lead by King Nachtigal, is power hungry and wants to rule by fear. He creates a Spyrix technology based weapon called ‘The Lance of Kreshnik’ which is powered by absorbing and using the life of the spirits. This conflicts with Milla Maxwell’s mission and purpose in life as she is Lord Maxwell, the Lord of Spirits and goes out to destroy all things using the Spyrix technology. Although failing at first at attempting to destroying the Lance of Kreshnik, Milla’s spiritual powers as Maxwell is absorbed along with her aides ‘The Four’; the great four Spirits, Efreet, Undine, Sylph and Gnome.
Seeing as that there is always a power struggle and one individual always wanting to have all the power, it is easy to see where the story is leading. Especially with the story centred on Spyrixes which to be used kills spirits and with the spirits gone, the world is left in turmoil as the nature is left alone and barren. This can be noticed when the players are transferred to the second half of the game where the story takes a turn and the protagonists make a climatic decision on how to stop the antagonist.
The introduction of each character along the way gives them a strong presence as well as a nice backstory which is further deepened through side missions or conversations. Every character’s role plays an important part of the story and they just don’t feel as if they were thrown in for the extra spice. Characters like the aging and wise Rowen whose persona is that of a father caring and advising for those younger than himself. Having a gentleman air about him, he also enjoys playing tricks and participating in over exaggerated conversations making them sound surreal. Conversations like involving Jude in his curiosity of what is a bazoonga that Teepo keeps saying.
Keeping true to the Tales formula, the characters in Xillia are full of life and vibrant making the world of Rieze Maxia interesting. Even apart from the main characters in the game, the side characters offer humour and ice breakers such as Milla’s handmaiden, Ivar who is always on a never ending quest to prove that he is better than Jude in front of Milla. Aside from side characters, the antagonists, the evil-doers of Xillia have a strong presence in the game and leave you in awe at how of a strong personality they have on screen. Antagonist’s such as the ruler of Auj Oule, Gaius who is drawn like a tribal samurai warlord welding a long blade makes players love him even though he is the bad guy.
Drawings and Environment
All the Tales series have always been an animated game and it is what fans have loved through the years. Tales of Xillia boasts gorgeous colours and cell shading that it is almost as if you are playing an anime straight! The character designs have made an incredible leap as that they are more life-like rather than their boxier clunky designs. At moments you cannot but help look at the character designs and check out all 360 degree angles to scope out the detailing and colouring. Even enemy designs are gorgeous but lack the wider variety of enemies to fight against.
Tales of Xillia boasts gorgeous colours and cell shading that it is almost as if you are playing an anime straight!
The biggest change in Tales of Xillia is the world map being replaced for the field maps. The field maps are open field dungeon maps but with sunlight. The designs for these field maps are openly gorgeous with details for trees, ponds, cliffs, shrubbery, water falls, beaches and lighting. Although with the lack of a world map to actually engage how big the world is, we can only tell from the background display in certain areas that give an almost surreal look.
The gameplay mechanic has always been unique in the Tales series allowing players to enter a battle and have free roam in the battle. It is fairly easy to execute allowing for key buttons to use Artes and casting spells. The biggest change is the chance to link up to a partner allowing a more diverse gameplay. Characters can link up to one another giving special abilities such as linking up to Jude allows players to have ‘Support’ from Jude as he occasionally heals and protects you in battle. Other characters offer different roles such as Leia’s ability to steal from the enemy or Alvin’s ability to break enemies guard down.
Not only do these offer a support role from your linked partner but also allow linked artes to occur when executing certain artes. These Linked Artes are more powerful and can turn the tide of battle if you are in a tight spot. The Over Limit gauge is revised and is a lot more fun to execute rather than having it there to soak damage and unleash limitless artes on the enemies. In Over Limit mode you can chain link artes together with your partner and also change partners in the middle of it bringing another partner with a different link arte skill. This becomes fast paced and gets quite psychedelic on screen as you watch an onslaught of a boss when you’ve unleashed a four character link arte combo.
Is the sound on?
A game is nothing without its sound and music and Tales doesn’t fail to impress. The background music is lively and every sound executed for artes and voice overs for skills isn’t annoying. It comes natural and doesn’t bother you even after playing for hours. At some points you would even stop and listen to what the characters say after a battle or even listen to the humorous Skit scenes that can be viewed throughout the game.
Overall Tales of Xillia is by far the most enjoyable RPG played this year and will probably be the best. The story is just right and doesn’t go over the top or does it stray off to much to have questions start rising about it. Every character has their personality and quirk that you will love and it is hard to only like one without liking another. The adventures of Jude and Milla makes it seem like a growing love story between the two as they try to save the world and at the same time figure out who they truly are. Tales of Xillia is just bursting with colours and life as you play through to only engage colour schemes you thought never existed but does. Even with the revised battle mechanics, it becomes seamless and fast paced after you learn the curves and is enjoyable. Entering a battle doesn’t become grinding, it becomes enjoyable and fun executing fancy moves and linking artes together with your partner just to watch the pretty moves.
Even with the removal of the world map to get a scope on how big the world is, the field maps does its best to ensure discovery and exploration being rewarded with treasures. Tales of Xillia is an enjoyable story that you will find hard to put the controller down once you started and have the urge to find out how it ends. Check out the Opening Trailer for Tales of Xillia, it pretty much sums up everything.
Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PlayStation 3
*Review copy provided by the publisher