Thursday, July 7, 2016

Backlog Gaming: Tales Of Xillia 2, Pretty Good Sequel

I finished Tales of Xillia so I was ready to start playing Tales of Xillia 2 which is a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia. The story takes place a year after the events from the previous game and Rieze Maxia and Elympios are now connected via a large bridge. The two worlds are now trying to work together to try and find a way to coexist peacefully and that's where the new protagonist main character Ludger (pronounced LOO-GRR, yeah I know) comes in. The majority of Tales of Xillia 2 occurs in Elympios, but you do get to go to familiar locations from Rieze Maxia as well. The characters from Tales of Xillia also are in the game and you get to see what they've been doing in the past year. You also get a few new party members who join your adventure. 

Meet Ludger. He's pretty cool. 

I started my new game and I thought it was very cool that the game found all my previous Tales game saves such as Zestiria, Graces, and Xillia and it rewarded me with weapons attachments and costumes. So I started the story and the main plot has you running into a little girl named Elle who is looking for something called the Land of Canaan because it's supposed to grant the person who makes it there one wish.  In the meantime, Ludger and friends are working for the Sirius corporation exploring fractured dimensions because your dimension is considered the prime one and they want the fractured dimensions destroyed.  Essentially Ludger and friends are tasked with finding the divergence catalysts in the fractured dimensions and destroying them. There are even more things involved with the story and the reason behind it, making for some interesting insights about existence and adds more depth to all of the characters.

The gameplay is as good as it was in Tales of Xillia. Upgrading skills is a little more streamlined with something called an Allium Orb, allowing you to just select an orb and while you have it equipped you learn all the different skills it has in it. Think sphere grid a la Final Fantasy X. The Linked Artes system is here too and with the fact that Ludger has three different weapons he can swap in and out easily, he can pretty much link with anyone in the party and do some great combo attacks. Ludger also has special skills that no one else has allowing him to really wreak some havoc on enemies. 

Linked Artes are as awesome as ever. 

The anime cutscenes are gorgeous and the music soundtrack is really nice. There are also the usual skits that come with the Tales games and a lot of them are very funny. You also have the opportunity to do companion story quests which flesh out the personal story of many of Ludger's friends. This builds up your affinity with them and they'll give you rare items and skill books after you complete their stories. I really liked the interaction between Ludger and Jude because they seemed to be very similar in their determination to help others and they really came to understand each other and became friends.

Anime cutscene with Ludger and Jude. 

As you continue your adventure you get to see the subtle changes in some familiar areas showing how much can change in a year such as an orchard full of tall trees that is very pretty. The new areas are beautifully done as well. The voice acting is as good as the first with the original voice acting cast from Tales of Xillia. There's all kinds of extra costumes and props to collect as well so you can customize your party members in things like pajamas or Tales plushies.

A pretty orchard. 

There were things I had an issue with. One of the big things that I really did not like was the debt system. It was part of the story and basically poor Ludger gets conned into this huge 20 million gald debt. While I get that it was a stepping stone to pull you in to the story, this was the dumbest idea in the game. Not only was it frustrating, Ludger's annoying "friend" Nova calling you every other minute or any time you have any money at all on a device called a GHS (think cellphones) to nag you to make a payment on your debt because she's a broker became insanely irritating. I actually started to hate the sound of her voice. That's not a good sign. 

Oh good, it's Nova calling. AGAIN. 

The good news is that there are ways for you to earn extra money to pay off the debt. You can take a variety of jobs from the job vendor and you get paid for each job completed. The best way is definitely hunting elite monsters as the reward for them is worth a lot of gald. It made the debt dwindle in no time and it also helps with all the level grinding. You get rewards for consistently paying it off which is something at least. However, the debt system is not fun and real life does not belong in a freaking fantasy video game.

It really bugs me that Ludger doesn't really talk. During conversations you're left with an L1 or R1 choice. The rest of the time he mainly only talks in the skits or cut scenes. While I understand that this was to hide a huge plot point about Ludger, I really wish they had just made it so he talked like everyone else. The lag in a couple of the towns is odd. I'm not sure why they were the only places that lagged, but it wasn't a total deal breaker. Elle is okay as a character and while I know she's a kid, it seems odd to have her be the only unplayable character. I also found it odd that I could not swap party members in and out like I had before in Tales of Xillia. Much of it was due to the story, but it was a little irritating when I had party members I wanted to take with me only to find that I couldn't because they had stayed behind for some reason. I didn't mind that the game has three different endings. It's designed to give you a choice about things. What I didn't understand is why it seems like only Ludger gets screwed over in every single one in a sense. I know we can't always have a happy ending and that the theme is you can't save everyone, but there should have been at least one ending where something good happened to him instead of all of it being sad or messed up.  

There are some fun side quests too. I especially liked Kitty Dispatch which lets you send out Ludger's cat Rollo to different towns and bring back helpful items for you. There is also the Kitty Sightings quest where you have to find a lady's cats all over Rieze Maxia and Elympios and return them to her. You get extra money for this as well as items and costumes. I had a lot of fun doing both these quests and the names of all the cats was hilariously creative. 

Kitty Dispatch is so much fun. 

Kitty Sightings is a lot of fun too. 

Considering that Tales of Xillia 2 is a direct sequel, it's a pretty good one. While there are some flaws, it does not detract from the fact that the game has an interesting story and gives you a lot of hours of solid and fun game play. It's worth checking out and worth playing.

*Tales of Xillia 2 is playable on the Playstation 3

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