Tales of Xillia

Tales of Xillia

Tales of Xillia is absurd, and it flourishes in absurdity.

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Once lulled into acceptance of its peculiarities, it becomes an experience full of joy. Some players may struggle to understand the series' appeal, but fans of the JRPG genre will find plenty to get excited about.

Humans, spirits and monsters co-exist in the lively world of Rieze Maxia, but a powerful new weapon called the Lance of Kresnik threatens to hurl the planet into war. It's up to Spirit Master Milla Maxwell to save both the world of men and the world of spirits. Accompanied by a good-natured medical student called Jude, the two undergo an epic journey of exploration and discovery, making enemies and enlisting new allies along the way.

Players are asked which of the two protagonists to experience the story with. Both share the majority of events, but occasionally go their separate ways. The intention is to encourage repeat plays. It's a good idea, but the execution is lacking. It's frustrating to miss essential parts of the story, and because of the vast amount of content that's shared the idea of replaying as a different character isn't nearly as appealing as it should be.

Tales of Xillia
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Every character has a somewhat clichéd but very individual personality. Milla, the first female player character in a Tales game, is aloof, naive and, at first, not very likeable. Jude is easier to warm to but a bit bland compared to the other party members. The rest of the roster is like a who's who of JRPG stereotypes, featuring a quiet girl with mysterious powers, a wise old man who regularly provides history lessons and an untrustworthy but loveable rogue.

The most engaging gameplay is during battles. A vivid mix of firepower, magic, and sword slashes that's more akin to fighting games than most JRPGs. Players move freely while attacking in real-time. Standard attacks and more powerful abilities, known as Artes, are the basis for building combos and chaining moves. Artes can only be used as long as there's ‘TP' so they can't be spammed for easy victory.

A ‘link' system lets players combine abilities with other party members. As well as supporting the player by healing or blocking threats, they add their might to special attacks, creating a devastating and sometimes decisive attack. The intricacies of combat can be daunting, but practice and progress leads to feeling truly powerful.

Each successful battle rewards with experience points to be spent in the web-like Lilium Orb. Stylish and well-presented, this represents how members of the party can evolve their abilities. There's a huge range of possibilities in developing characters, allowing the player significant input in how they fight.

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Outside of battle the lush overworld is an inviting place to explore. It's easy to wonder off in the wrong direction. Sometimes areas will be stumbled upon that are far too tough to conquer, but with every wrong turn there's something new to discover. Even though animations are a bit stiff and occasional graphic pops occur, most of the scenery looks great. Realised with a hand-drawn style, vistas are littered with detail and variety that insist on being gawked at.

Tales of Xillia

A myriad of items can be found and upgrade shops discovered. There aren't fixed items in Tales of Xillia, instead stock is dictated by what the player donates. While opening a chest to find bird eggs isn't as rewarding as finding a powerful weapon, there's an on-going sense of progression and flexibility with this loot system. I went for a fairly even spread with my donations but could have completely ignored the armour, accessory, item and food shops and chosen to pump all my materials into the weapons if I wanted to.

The amount of audio throughout Tales of Xillia is impressive. Characters voice work is of good standard and the music is very varied. Anybody familiar with Western localisation of Japanese anime will be familiar with the acting style. The soundtrack, though expansive, is not always in keeping with the game. Some blues inspired arrangements are entertaining to listen and the synthetic jazz scores in some dungeons is creative, but neither is very fitting with the narrative.

Tales of Xillia won't be a priority purchase for most PS3 owners. Some may even start playing, only to be put off by the rapidly delivered story and very Japanese presentation.

Despite some minor issues Xillia excels where it counts. The world is never dull, exploring is enticing and the combat is superb. Fall for its charms and you will find plenty to enjoy, including stunning visuals, a wealth of customisation, quirky humour and an evocative story.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+ traditional JRPG +Upgrade system works great. + Voice work and music good.
- Nothing that'll draw in non-fans - shared content means little draw to replay the other storyline.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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REVIEW. Written by Jon Newcombe

Tales of Xillia is absurd, and it flourishes in absurdity.

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