Saturday, 6 September 2014

Tales of Xillia 2

Very few RPGs need a direct sequel. Shenmue needed a sequel whereas Final Fantasy X did not. RPGs by their very nature present us with large, expansive and detailed stories and worlds, most of which once the game ends are nicely put to bed. Don't get me wrong, after finishing a really good RPG I often get that sad feeling. You know the one, the “I've spend 300 hours of my life with these characters and now it's all over I feel like an empty husk of a human being” kind of feeling. Back in 1997 when I played Final Fantasy VII I wanted more, and 7 years later I got my wish in the form of a whole slew of Final Fantasy VII sequels and prequels. They were all terrible, absolutely bloody terrible, but it's fans like me that ultimately made it a reality. So when Tales of Xillia 2 arrived in my door I was wary. I was quite surprised by much how I enjoyed the first Tales of Xillia, so is this direct sequel a disappointment?

Developed by Bandai Namco Games and out now on PlayStation 3 comes Tales of Xillia 2, a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia that, while isn’t exactly needed, is a hugely fun and welcoming return to the world many of us enjoyed last year. First off, as it's a direct sequel that heavily references the first game, do not play this if you haven't played Tales of Xillia. Seriously, if you haven't played the original you won't have a clue on what's going on or whom anyone is. But for those of you who have, Tales of Xillia 2 picks up a year after the first one ended with the destruction of the Great Schism. There is now a bridge between the physical human world and the spiritual one, and you take control of a young man named Ludger Kresnik. During his first day at work of being a chef, Ludger comes across a mysterious girl named Elle. Together both Ludger and Elle go on a journey that will not only bring them into contact with many characters from the original game, but also have massive ramifications on both the real and spiritual opposing realities that exist in their world. In fact, much like the two existing realities in this games universe, Tales of Xillia 2 often gives the player a choice of two dialogue options during gameplay. This can lead to various gameplay and story differences, and is a refreshing change of pace.

Tales of Xillia 2 is very much like Tales of Xillia. You'll run through locations you've been before, use items you only know too well and interact with characters that you know almost everything about. However, while this does indeed prevent the game from feeling entirely fresh, returning as a fan of the first game is utterly worthwhile, as you'll discover how the world has moved on, and how characters have evolved over time. Like any self-respecting RPG there's two main elements to Tales of Xillia 2: battling and exploring. Exploring the world here is great fun, mainly due to how colourful, interesting and diverse its visual design and inhabitants are. Sadly the game does go for a segmented world as opposed to more of an open-world feel, and while this often manages to squash any great sense of freedom, it doesn't entirely destroy the charming atmosphere the game holds.

Combat goes for a more action based approach, opposed to the typical turn-based model most RPGs find themselves using. At first this action based fighting mechanic looks utterly chaotic, but over time you'll start to makes sense of the visual mess on screen. Though you can freely run around during combat whacking enemies at will, your best bet is to utilise the special abilities known as Artes, as well as the ability to link up attacks with team fellow members. Also, much like the limit system in Final Fantasy, Ludger can use his Chromatus ability; an ability that essentially turns him into a demonic looking creature. This ability of Ludger lies at the heart of his character, and it'll be your go-to way of annihilating multiple enemies at once throughout your time playing the game.

Overall while no one was crying out for Tales of Xillia 2 to be made, it's not only a worthwhile adventure with old friends, but a very in-depth, exciting and fun RPG in its own right. That's pretty surprising, as Tales of Xillia 2 treads over some incredibly familiar ground, yet never feels boring.

Tales of Xillia 2 is the sequel no one wanted, but I'm glad was made and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Tales of Xillia 2 at CeX

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