The Silent Protagonist Plays Tales of Xillia 2

Just over a year ago, the big boss man Dan popped over for a cup of tea; he said he had something important to talk to me about. Naturally, my instinct was to assume that I was being sacked. I had no idea that he was coming over to drop off a copy of Tales of Xillia for me to review, which ultimately put me in Official Playstation Magazine as part of the full page advertisement for Tales of Xillia.

I had been waiting for this game since I got my mitts on Tales of Xillia. And there it was, sitting on my kitchen counter.  It was just waiting there. So I did what any fanboy would do… I made a single cup of tea for Dan, didn’t offer any kind of biscuit or cake and made it pretty damn clear that he was getting between me and my precio… *ahem*… game. He was getting between me and my game.

Fast forward one year and I’ve had the sequel for a week. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect. I had automatically decided that I wouldn’t enjoy this game for the simple reason that to progress through the story you have to periodically pay off a portion of a 20 million gald loan that you’re slapped with at the end of chapter one. I read this and instantly decided it belonged in the same pile as the other Tales of sequels. And… that’s exactly where it does belong.

Sup!

To be honest I’m not that impressed. The debt thing feels like a cop out, a way to accurately put “Over 80 hours of gameplay!” onto the front of the box.

The loan is ridiculously huge and by playing the game for the last week, I can honestly say that it is one of the worst game play mechanics I’ve ever come across, be it in JRPG or any other game. Yes, money is relatively easy to come by; be it through battle, hunting monsters or delivering items, but it takes some serious amounts of hardcore playing to chip that 20Mil beast to zero… More than what I’m willing to put in to be frank.

THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS

The game actually prevents you from playing through the main story, until you pay a portion of the loan off.  Speaking of the main story… it’s rather meh. The previous title was full of spirits and a world divided, which created a captivating plot. This title however, came across as less of a fantasy title, and more of a science fiction title by introducing alternate universes… and ultimately mass genocide, by destroying “catalysts” in these other universes. When these “catalysts” are obliterated, that entire timeline is destroyed and all the people in that timeline cease to exist. You obviously don’t learn this until much later on in the game, but the first time it happens, it looks like Luger is going through some weird-ass steampunk magical girl transformation, and you’re left oh so very confused.

SO LONG SPOILERS!

Other parts of the game feel somewhat incomplete, whereas other areas are bursting with content.

The one thing that bugs me the most about this game, aside from the debt, is the almost near silent protagonist. He rarely ever says more than one word at a time, unless he’s in battle shouting out the name of an arte. He just generally feels… incomplete.

For instance, when there’s a dialogue that involves Luger, you’re presented with two options, and you decide what he says by pressing either “R1” or “L1.” Except he doesn’t actually say anything… he’s kind of like the Grey Warden you created in Dragon Age Origins but with fewer dialogue options. If you go through the trouble of giving him a voice in battle, why not just fully voice him? I can see what they were trying to do by giving the player a more dynamic and interactive play through. Personally, I don’t think it works terribly well.

Luger is going through some weird-ass steampunk magical girl transformation, and you’re left oh so very confused.

Saying that, depending on what you make Luger say, you get affinity points with certain characters. Once the affinity reaches a new level, the character gives you stuff. For instance, when you raise your affinity with Leia, she gives you the “Lottery” skill. The more you raise the affinity levels, the better stuff you get. You can also raise affinity with characters when you “link” with them in battle.

Speaking of battles, I still thoroughly enjoy them. They’ve packed out the characters artes, and it generally feels fuller, enemies not only have elemental weaknesses, but also weapon weaknesses. There are six elements in the game, fire, water, earth, wind, light and dark, but there are also three weapon attributes; piercing, slashing and blunt. Each character has one weapon attribute, whether they do blunt damage with their fists, or shoot magical balls of piercing damage. Except Luger, who eventually can swap weapons in battle doing all three if he wants; each weapon has its own arte list.

Dual Blades, Guns and Sledgehammers
Dual Blades, Guns and Sledgehammers

If you played the original Xillia, you’ll remember the Lilium orb; it not only taught your party members skills and artes, but it allowed them to “link” in battle and pull off some spectacular combos? Well that’s gone, and it’s been replaced with the “upgraded” Alium orb. It’s… pretty meh. At the end of battle you get “Element Points” which automatically get assigned to the Alium orb, and you learn the skills and artes through that.

It’s basic, it’s forgettable and the spectacular combos are gone. The linked artes are still there! And there are more of them, which is awesome! Yas! Something nice to say – finally!

Also remember Aifreids treasures that were dotted about all over the world? It’s been replaced by kittens. Yes. You read that right. 100 kittens are dotted about the world, and it’s your job to find them all! Once you find these kitties, you can send them out on mini quests, and they return a fixed amount of time later – whether you’re playing the game or not, which is rather cool. And they bring stuff! Stuff for delivery quests, or items that you can’t find or purchase anywhere else in the game. So keep your ears purr-fectly poised! Come on! That was pretty Hiss-terical. Help meow-t!

Past favourites

All in all? I’d say it’s yet another sub-par sequel, marred by the semi-silent protagonist and the boring plot. It has been unfortunately overshadowed by the sheer majesty of its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong – it’s enjoyable. However, you won’t see me rushing back to play it once I’m done with this run through.

Out of ten? I’d give it a 6… and a half.


Posted

in

, ,

by

Tags:

Comments

3 responses to “The Silent Protagonist Plays Tales of Xillia 2”

  1. Jason Park avatar
    Jason Park

    Hey Ben!

    Firstly, great review, I didn’t know you did this kind of thing.

    That being said, I think I kind of disagree with a lot of it…

    In my playing (I’m feeling I was a bit more thorough within the game than you were, doing Elites as soon as they became available, any RED jobs were completed and I worked a lot of the other jobs for Extractors), the debt thing didn’t feel particularly intrusive. I found most of the time, that I had enough money to instantly make my next payment and continue the main chapters if I wished. That was never my first thought though. I wanted to see character stories as they appeared, hunt kitties in new areas to see what attachment or comedy weapon was waiting to be found… I guess I found more to do within the game than the (thought provoking and emotional) main plot.

    A side note about the silent protagonist I discovered today is that you can elect to have him voice your options on NG+ for 0 grade in the store, just worth saying.

    I guess I just see this game differently. The debt is, to me, just another thing to complete and I am now post-game and swamped with things I can do…

    Again, great review 🙂

    1. Benjamin Sykes avatar
      Benjamin Sykes

      Hey Jason,

      I would like to point out that I actually did all of the Elites as soon as they became available as well – as well as completing all of the jobs that were available to me, not to mention that I also completed the character quests. Whilst they were entertaining, I got exceptionally bored very quickly.

      I don’t agree with you intrusive comment however – as you know from playing the game whenever you amass a certain amount of Gald, regardless of whether your character is progressing through the main story or you’re doing the character quests, you get the automatic pop up saying that you should pay off another portion of your loan. I can’t really think of anything more intrusive to be honest.

      I did say that money was easy to come by in the review, I never once struggled to proceed with the story at any stage, even if I upgraded all of my characters and was broke, it only took me half an hour, if that, to earn enough to proceed with the game. What I struggled with was trying to stay entertained enough to chip away at the 20 million gald debt. A sum that I don’t think I’ve ever attained through any game – even when you rebuilt a city from the ground up in Symphonia, you only need a fraction of this amount, which when you think about it, is a bit ludicrous.

      It’s okay that you disagree with what I’ve written, I’m not saying that you have to agree with anything with what I say – but I do have to gauge an appropriate length for writing something like this. So if I glossed over anything like hunting the Elite monsters – which are just an extension of the hunting jobs, which I have mentioned previously, then I’m sorry if I have given the illusion that I wasn’t particularly thorough in my play through, but I can assure you that is not the case.

      I hope this has cleared up any queries that you might have had about my review.

      1. Jason Park avatar
        Jason Park

        Hey Ben!

        I didn’t have any queries, I was just responding to start a narrative. 🙂 It’s nice when someone actually examines a game instead of just playing it.

        The money thing is intentional, I think, with Nova since the increments increase each time. I believe it was there to balance the massive amount of Gald you play with, so that you couldn’t stockpile to buy better weapons or overstock on consumables.

        Btw, paying off the debt gives a creepy ending involving the hot springs… I’m talking bikinis and man bum!!!

Leave a Reply