Tales of Xillia is a role playing game developed and published by Bandai Namco. It did not take me long to start enjoying Tales of Xillia. The characters are quite memorable, which in today's world of RPGs seems to be less common. Or they focus so heavy on characters that they make a bland, boring, and repetitive world (looking at you Bioware). Xillia manages to avoid both of these shortcomings to create a memorable cast of characters, and a wondrous, magical filled world to explore. Artes, Rieze Maxia's form of spirit channeled magic, help fuel everything from a healthy ecosystem to the architecture of cities, even an area's local climate, and passing of the seasons.
The game starts with the ability to choose which side of the story you want to view. You're able to pick between Jude Mathis or Milla Maxwell. They're pretty much the same for over 90% of the game, but there are a few moments when the party splits up and bad things happen. Number 1 rule of RPGs, be they video game or tabletop, never split up. That's how people get hurt, or die.
Anyway, I started with Jude's story. He lives in the city of Fennmont, blessed under a cover of eternal night, and the capital of a country called Rashugal. Jude is studying at the Talim Medical School to be a doctor, following in his father's footsteps. He wanders out to find the teacher he's doing slave labor, I mean graduate study work for. He makes his way to the Laforte Research Center, where outside he sees a strange woman who can walk on water with ease. He grows curious and follows her, and she claims to be the Lord of Spirits Maxwell in a human form. Milla has control of the Four Great Spirits, and begrudgingly decides to let Jude travel through the Research Center with her since he insists on finding his professor.
For those of you familiar with the Tales series you'll know that the combat system is where the real meat of the game is, having a nice story and interesting world are wonderful add ons. The combat system for Tales of Xillia is a real time system. Enemies appear on the screen, and the player has the option of how they approach the enemy. Do you run and strike them behind for some damage? Do you give them the run around until they stop chasing and hit them from behind for even more damage and a stun? Or do you gather up enemies to fight a big group all at once for added EXP and money? I usually chose the latter option as it coupled well with EXP and money boosting food buffs.
You can customize your combo system, using the left stick + circle button, just the right stick, or pressing down L1 for a second set of combos. Each character also controls completely differently. Jude is a very fast fisticuffs brawler, smacking enemies around the screen with his gauntlets. Milla uses a shortsword to dispatch enemies, and is great to use as an aerial combatant. Alvin is the heavy physical damage dealer, swinging a greatsword around like its nothing, as well as using a gun for added distance. Elize is primarily an artes user, being a great healer as well as an area of effect threat. Rowen is a great arte user for single target spells, the Fireball spam is strong with him. Leia shares many combos with Jude, but uses a staff for extended reach and different attacks.
And you can create pretty princesses with various fashion items!
Whoever you're playing as can link up with another character, and as you build a battle gauge on the side of the screen you can unleash combos by pressing R2 and certain combos while linked with a specific character. The skills you must use are predetermined, and some links are more fruitful than others. When you've climbed this ladder enough you have the ability to unleash as many of these Link Attacks as possible in a given timeframe, even if you switch who you're linked with in the middle of the timeframe. This game's combat is incredibly satisfying, and I found myself turning the difficulty up to hard so I could enjoy longer fights.
This combat system is deep and incredibly satisfying. You feel like you're in complete control as the player, and you can even customize your ally's AI to help support you by healing, or go all out with their strongest attacks, or anything in between.
One of my favorite parts about this game are the villains. In a game of war, politics, intrigue, and quickly advancing military technology each antagonist has his own goals and a defined personality. Each one is much more complex than a stereotypical mustache twirling, world conquering, or slaughtering menace. Nachtigal, King of Rashugal rules through a military junta and is investing heavily in powerful technology that could be Rieze Maxia's Weapon of Mass Destruction. Gaius, another king who has united the country of Auj Oule, united warring clans by force and has consolidated his rule by winning the hearts and minds of his most common subjects. These two powerful kings and some other unforeseen players are all ready to strike in the name of glory, power, and survival.
In the end the goal is not conquest, or destruction, but merely an ideal for how the world should be. The game's story and narrative are centered more around philosophical quandaries amongst Rieze Maxia's most ambitious people, be they king or a medical student on the lam. As such I feel this story is a true sign of the evolution of video gaming as a whole, growing from nonexistent stories to one of an ultimate, nonsensical evil being hell bent on world destruction or domination, with no real follow up plan. If you're a fan of RPGs you owe it to yourself to play this game and discover some well rounded characters and a world of mixed fantasy and science fiction. I am anxiously waiting for the sequel to be localized!
NO! THAT'S NOT WHY I'M SO EXCITED! MY EYES ARE BURNING!