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Posted on Nov 13th 2014 at 12:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under RPG, namco bandai, tales of xillia, ps3, playstation, gaius dumplings

I have been excited about the release of Tales of Xillia 2 since I played and reviewed the first one a few months ago (http://www.rfgeneration.c...-Tales-of-Xillia-2755.php). I greatly enjoyed the main characters and writing of the original game and thought that the plot took plenty of nice turns that were not as predictable as an RPG veteran would expect.

Unlike the first game, Tales of Xillia 2 gets off to a fast start. Quite a bit happens in a short amount of time and its not too long before you've reunited the cast of the first game. In comparison, it just feels rushed and there's no real connection or build up with Ludger Kresnik (pronounced Loo-grr), the new protagonist. All of the original cast just kind of joins in, probably because Jude's there early on and they all fondly remember their time together.

Ludger is a much different protagonist than either Milla or Jude from the first game; in fact, he's almost a silent protagonist. He rarely speaks, and when he does, it's only a couple of words at most and just feels out of place. Instead of pre-recorded, written lines and a well-defined personality, the developers decided to give the player a choice between two different lines at various points in conversation. The choices can have an impact on the affinity of your party members and can cause them to like you more. However, simple decision-based systems like this make it easy for the player to make the character contradict him or herself, and the feeling of a character arc suffers as a result.

If you do not like backtracking, and you've played the first Xillia, then you will hate Tales of Xillia 2. Most of the game area is ripped straight from the first game, so for a long time, you're just revisiting areas you've already been. There are a few new areas: a new town that serves as a bridge and trading post between Rieze Maxia and Elympios, and a few more areas in Elympios. However, it doesn't feel like enough was added to make the world stand out from the first game. There's some more backstory with Elympios, and most of the new major players in the story are Elympions as well.

Video from Lion's Abyss

The battle system in Tales of Xillia 2 is much the same as it is in the original game, but Ludger has some unique abilities. He gets to wield multiple weapons: a pair of swords, a giant hammer, and twin handguns. You can also switch these on the fly to attack enemies with different weaknesses. Ludger can also transform, and this causes him to fight enemies by himself during this transformation sequence. The other characters play the same way as they do in the first game, with the exception of Gaius and Muzet, who are new additions to the party. Because of this, there are plenty of new options to keep you occupied while you play through the game, even though you are backtracking to most of the same places you've been before, and fighting the palate swapped enemies again.

The quest system in Tales of Xillia 2 is more streamlined than the first game. Before, you had to find whoever needed something done, talk to them, and then go off and do the task, now there's a quest board. You rank up while doing plenty of quests, most of which are just random ones that involve killing a certain number of specific monsters or turning in items. Elite monsters are unlocked by progressing the story, and there are other story based quests that unlock from progression as well. Quest points can also be earned by completing quests, and there are a series of levels to work through as well. Some of these story quests require a certain quest level to complete. Sometimes this level requirement makes little sense, as the quest you can't do yet will later send you to kill some monsters that you were slaughtering 20 levels prior, or an item you are sent to obtain will be one you already have at least a dozen of. This type of inconsistency is the most annoying aspect of these jobs.

Video from MasterLL

Part of what helps you get items for quests in Tales of Xillia 2 is the Kitty Dispatch system. One of the overarching quests of the game is to find all kinds of hidden cats for some crazy cat lady that lives in the same building as Ludger. Each area you visit also has an item table that the cats can find when you send them out hunting for items. Some items you can only find through the cats, and there are plenty of quests which require these kitty items. Always expect to have a cat out running around finding you stuff, since it's the best way to stay on top of it.

In Tales of Xillia 2, you're also expected to grind quite heavily while exploring the world. You have to find a cat in a certain area before you can send your kitties there to hunt items. Killing a certain number of enemies will also give bonus skill points to use to equip the various skills you learn from the Allium Orb. There are plenty of skills here from simple stat increases to complete changes of combat mechanics. It can be quite enjoyable to customize your character's skills to create certain builds. Eventually, you'll have so many skills that keeping up with them becomes more of a chore than anything else.

The cats will also find you plenty of materials for the game's crafting system, which is rather simple. You don't have to guess and try to build items and gear without any guidance. Item tiers unlock through story progression, and you can visit any shop to see what you can make and the item's material requirements. Fairly early in the game, these custom pieces of gear start to get stronger than gear you can buy, but most recipes will require a lower tier of weapon to make them.

In Tales of Xillia 2, you have quests to make money, and a crafting system to pump money into. So what other way can they find to take all of your hard-earned Gald from you and make you scrounge for healing items and gear? The answer: cripple the main character with a ridiculous amount of debt! Ludger does not start the game with any debt, but his life is saved quite early in the story, and he is then given a 20 million Gald debt to repay for surgery and reconstruction.

I did enjoy Tales of Xillia 2 despite the flaws I outlined above, but if there is a Tales of Xillia 3, there will need to be a lot of stretching, or Elympios recovering that leads to new areas to explore. It would be a massive chore to slog through the same places for a third time. The stories in the sequel and the original take plenty of twists and turns; however, the story in Tales of Xillia 2 is less evenly paced than the original and picks up more towards the end.

This isn't even my final form!

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I really enjoyed Tales of Xillia 2 when thought of the second half of ToX but not as it's own game. By the end of the first game there really was room to expand on the area of the new game, especially since you barely dug your claws into Elympios. The friend side quests are fun but the job quests got old and most times were down right boring. Earning money to pay off a huge debt did not really bother since money seemed plentiful and it helped to pace the story. What did bother me was hearing Nova every five minutes repeat the same dialog or just randomly call you. Collecting cats reminded of collecting the 101 Dalmatians in KOH, sometimes I could hear them and still not find them. In the end I love these characters so that is what truly pushed me to continue playing this game. 
My beloved and I sunk quite a bit of time into the first ToX, but never finished it.  I did pick up the CE of ToX2 and we'll revisit the series some day (once we finish our Diablo III game... people finish it, right?)

That's a continuing problem for me and the Tales games; I get into them, sink a bunch of time into leveling and developing the characters and world... and then never advance the plot.

I guess that's also why I like Destiny,
@slackur: You just have to make that final push through the games. I spent a lot of time grinding in both games and now I have New Game + at least unlocked for both of them. I can buy 5x Experience Points in each one, so it'll be more of a story run the next time I decide to play these, and easy to reach max level.
@SirPsycho:You're right, I'm sure.  There's a lot I enjoy about them.  It just seems the series at large has pacing issues for me.  I'm planning on pushing through once I get another space from the glut of games in rotation...

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