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Tales of Xillia - Playstation 3
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71 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Color Name: Playstation 3
Ever since I first played Tales of Destiny way back in 1999 I have been in love with the Tales franchise. While not as immediately recognizable in the mainstream gaming community as the Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest/Warrior RPG juggernauts, the "Tales of" series of games have always had a loyal fan base due to the great stories and combat that is the hallmark of the games. The question of whether or not to purchase the latest game in the franchise was a no-brainer for me, and I can say with 100% certainty that I am so happy that I indulged myself.

Controls, Music, & Animation

Every Tales game is painstaking in its delivery of beautiful graphics and music, and Tales of Xillia (henceforth referred to as "ToX") continues in that tradition. Simply put, this game is gorgeous and takes every advantage of the PS3 hardware to simply amaze me. The world of Xillia is bright, colorful, and varied. Environments are dynamic; each exploration area is divided by little "breaks"; while this may seem annoying, the lack of lag when going through a doorway into the next room is practically non-existent. The screen flashes black for one moment and then you are free to control your character.

In addition to the beautiful backgrounds, the characters are 3D mirrors of their anime-inspired sprites used in the cut scenes. While you do notice the difference between the 2D drawing of Milla (the female protagonist) and her 3D avatar, the seamless transition negates any of the very minor aesthetic details. Finally, each character in the game is unique, sporting their own look, and enemies are just as varied and detailed as the "good guys".

Musically speaking, Tales of Xillia boasts an amazing orchestral arrangement with songs to suit every zone in the game. It is truly beautiful and lends itself well to the atmosphere of the story. When you are in an ominous, dark dungeon the music is creepy, with violins and woodwinds playing higher and slightly off-key, creating the ambiance of a thriller movie. Sound effects cover every aspect of movement, helping to bring the world of Xillia to life. If your character is moving through shallow water, swishing noises will occur with each step. The crackle of fire whispers through a zone, subtlety lighting a path. Birds chirp. When the graphics and sound come together, you will find yourself immersed in a world of magic, mysteries, and more than a few baddies to kill.

The controls in ToX are spot-on. Combat is real-time, so players need to be aware of their characters and the baddies on the screen. At the beginning of the game you can alter whether you want harder enemies, a longer input time for combos, and your X- and Y-axis movement [meaning whether pressing upward with the control stick will move the camera up (normal) or down (inverted)]. I chose the hardest setting and kept the input time as "Normal". In the beginning enemies attack slower, which is good as it gives you time to acquaint yourself with the mechanics of combat. While pressing the "X" button will make your character charge forward and attack a target, you also have different magic/elemental-based attacks that can be access from the menu (the "▲" button) which vary based upon who you chose as your protagonist to control. Thus, combat sometimes needs a good strategy; just jumping in and whacking enemies with your weapon does not always work. In this way ToX enhances the gameplay by adding a level of strategy. Once you form a party, coming up with a plan of attack becomes critical; you will be able to combine attacks and setup AI strategies to maximize your combat proficiency (your cohorts will be controlled by AI; from the party menu you can adjust their combat focus, for instance: should that character conserve TP (mana) or go all out and cast the most powerful spells each battle? Do you want a character to heal exclusively or to heal AND attack?)..

Finally, in regard to the map and character control, Xillia has everything nailed. The camera rests comfortably in a 3rd person perspective of your character. The camera rotates freely, enabling you to see a complete map and minimizing the risk of an enemy sneaking up from behind. Since enemies are seen on the map and battles are not random encounters, this is a very important function.

Story

ToX has an over-arching plot of determining why the elements are out of harmony and how to restore mana to the world. When one of the kingdoms in the world of Xillia experimented with powerful magic, they unwittingly caused widespread devastation by draining the world's mana. It is your job to figure out what happened and how to fix it before the other kingdoms start an all-out war.

While the story itself is your basic good-vs-evil RPG fare, the depth of the storyline, the complexity of the characters (their personalities and motives) and presented in a manner to both intrigue the player and to soldier onward to learn more. In addition, ToX gives you TWO games in one; at the beginning you choose either the male (Jude Mathis) or female (Milla Maxwell). In either case, the story will unfold from the perspective of THAT character. Thus, while you will travel with the other person regardless, you will only interpret events through the eyes and mind of your protagonist. This, of course, means that you will want to play through the game AGAIN to see another side to the story!

As the story progresses, you will find yourself watching numerous cut scenes and work to cultivate not only new abilities for combat but also the friendships of others in your party. Using a robust crafting system, ToX adds another level of depth by encouraging the player to explore and find items. All of this combined will suck you into the game and make you want to press onward (maybe to the detriment of your job... make sure that you don't miss work in your zeal to beat the game!).

Overall

To simplify this review, let's recap:

Pros:
1) Beautiful combat system that keeps enemy encounters fun and challenging,
2) No random encounters! Enemies are seen on the map and can be avoided, if desired,
3) Beautiful environment, unique characters, and an amazing soundtrack,
4) Game controls are easy to pick up and play,
5) LOTS of replay value: play through the character-specific storyline depending upon the hero,
6) Wonderful and often-humorous storytelling, encouraging dialogue with others,
7) Lots to explore and many items to find; exploring the world is visually rewarding!

Cons:
1) It costs money; but I guarantee that you will find this to be the best $60 spent on a game this year!
2) The cut scenes can be a little long at times, but this is a minor irritation at best,
3) That Tales of Xillia 2 won't be available in the U.S. for a while!

Thus, simply put, ToX is one of the best games that I have acquired and played in 2013. The story is entertaining, the gameplay is fun, combat isn't random and does require strategy (you can't just button-mash and expect to win), and you can replay the game a second time to see the story from another viewpoint. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the graphics are gorgeous and the soundtrack is amazing?

If you haven't already clicked that "Buy" button, you should really do so. This game is a must-have for PS3 owners, Tales franchise fans, or the RPG-lover in your life. This is truly one of the best games I have played, and I encourage you to explore the world of Tales of Xillia for yourself!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 8, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3
The Good:

+A good cast of characters
+A very in-depth battle system
+A good balance of character customization
+The music is absolutely fantastic

The Bad:

-Some areas could've had more details
-Exploration sometimes feels limited

The Tales series has not been huge in America. Case in point, we're just now getting Tales of Xillia when Japan received the game a couple of years ago (and already has a sequel out). Tales of Xillia made a big splash in Japan. It's said to be one of the best Tales games ever released. When playing it's easy to see why. It's a very fun JRPG that helps remind us why the genre still has life while other times reminding us why it's not quite as popular as it once was. Nevertheless the pros win out as Tales of Xillia is an amazing game.

Tales of Xillia centers on two characters. The first is a medical student named Jude Mathis. The other is a mysterious woman named Milla Maxwell. You're allowed to pick one character or the other to start the game. Picking one changes how you see certain events and the perspective of the story. The end goal is, for the most part, the same, but if you really love Tales of Xillia, you already have an incentive to play through it a second time. Their story takes place in the world of Reize Maxia where mana seems to be slowly draining away. Milla, along with her four spirits decides to investigate, while Jude gets wrapped up in the conflict.

As you might have guessed, the story in Tales of Xillia doesn't get off to a very quick start. It takes time to really get you to understand the world it takes place in as well as getting you used to the characters and their banter. So while it might take a moment of Tales of Xillia to really get going, you'll appreciate this once you really get to know the characters. One of the best things about the Tales series is the characters. Certainly they each play one typical role or another, but Tales has always gone to great lengths to develop them. The story itself really comes to life because of the characters and their chemistry with each other. They each have a distinct personality. Likewise, Tales of Xillia contains skits (a Tales staple) where characters will joke with one another, talk about certain events going on within the story and sometimes just talk about themselves. By the time the journey is done you'll learn a lot about them, and they'll change and develop quite drastically. Because of these characters, the story is that much more enticing as a result.

In the past, Tales games often got bogged down in exposition. With you running between towns with no real battles in between. Tales of Xillia mostly avoids this. There are times when it gets exposition heavy, but being able to warp between towns keeps the story moving at a brisk pace once it gets going. As a result the exposition dumps that Tales is sometimes known for aren't as troublesome here because you needn't traverse huge chunks of the world map to return to towns and leave, or pass through the same area again and again. There will still be moments where you'll feel like the game is explaining too much of a certain plot point again and again (and where you'll figure things out as your characters are trying to piece them together) but the pacing doesn't suffer as a result thanks to being able to warp between areas so easily. It makes Tales of Xillia keep running once it really hits its stride. This change for Tales is a pretty big one if you played previous games in the series.

The battle system is going to feel both familiar and new to any Tales fan. Battles are contact based. When in battle you can move around freely and attack. There's no turn based system here. You and your allies can run all over the field and attack at your leisure. Tales of Graces F certainly added a new spin onto the series but here things go back to be on par with Vesperia more so than any other game. As usual you have tech points (TP) which can be used to perform Artes, which are like magic to deal extra damage. Some things have changed, however. There's more to Tales of Xillia than button mashing. It can feel this way at first, but as the game progresses you'll really need to put some of the new mechanics to work. When in the heat of battle you can backstep to evade attacks and surprise your enemy from behind. Most unique of all the new elements, though, is the ability to link with other party members and perform linked attacks. You'll be able to flank enemies, for instance. Whoever you are "linked" to will also cover your back. More impressive is that you'll be able to perform linked artes as well. All this seems like it would make Tales of Xillia a pretty easy game, but the truth is that at some point there's a lot of strategy involved. You need to be smart about who you link with, for example, and you need to be smart about how you evade and utilize your TP. It's not exactly a hard game (unless you up the difficulty) but it is a game that really wants you to understand the system at play.

You are only able to control one character at a time in battle. The other three are controlled by the AI. In most games the idea of the AI doing anything on your behalf is a nightmare, but in Tales of Xillia they hold their own. You won't have to spend a lot of time babysitting them, and you can customize strategies for them to use. The game also provides you with the ability to sign certain artes from other characters to a shortcut. If you need a character to cast a specific spell you can assign it to a shortcut to have them do so. You are also able to switch between characters any time you want in battle.

There is more to the battle system. Each character has a Lillium Orb. As you level your stats don't increase. Instead you get GP and move along a characters Lillium Orb. Using the Lillium Orb allows you to develop characters at your own pace by letting you increase their individual stats and learn new artes and skills. If you find you don't want to have to constantly make decisions about what stats to increase or artes to get, the game allows you to auto level and it'll develop the characters accordingly.

Graphically speaking, Tales has never been a big leader in this department. There aren't a lot of detail to the environments. In particular, running around the fields can sometimes feel like you're running down the same path over and over. There just aren't a lot of details in any of the dungeons or towns. At times environments feel strangely empty. This isn't likely to bother many players. By now most Tales fans pretty much expect this graphically. At the very least the cel-shading itself isn't bad. Character models are fairly detailed and have a unique design to them. They really stand out. Plus, with how much fun you'll be having with the battle system and how good the story is... it's safe to say that the graphics being below the standard is a very minor flaw in what is an otherwise very good game overall.

Musically, however, Tales of Xillia may have the best soundtrack in a Tales game yet. It's very good all around. Often evoking the right mood and tone. For those who picked up the Limited Edition you'll get a music CD to help you sample. The voice acting can be a mixed bag, however. As is usual, the voices themselves fit with the characters, but the voice talent themselves isn't always up to par. At the very least, Tales of Xillia has some well crafted dialog to really help things along. Again, the voice acting is probably a more minor thing. It's never cringe worthy. There are just times you wish it packed more of a punch--especially in the game's more emotional moments (and there are a lot of those).

Tales of Xillia is far from being flawless, of course. As noted, the graphics aren't the best and the voice acting isn't quite as good. These are the minor things. What may be a little more major is how the world in and of itself feels slightly smaller. One of the best things about other tales outings (particularly, Abyss, Symphonia and Vesperia) is that there was a huge overworld to explore. Here, things are a lot more linear. Often the game doesn't really let you branch off the beaten path. If you try many times the game simply won't let you--usually reminding you to get back to the quest at hand. There are plenty of sub events and sidequests that can be done, but Tales of Xillia doesn't always feel like it's a world that can be explored and traversed. When you've reached a certain point in the game it's all at your disposal but the game works its best to make sure that you're keeping to the story for a long time.

Nevertheless, Tales of Xillia is a very fun game in and of itself. It's a rewarding JRPG which is a lot of fun to play and has a good cast of characters to carry the story along. If you're a fan of the Tales series then you should definitely play.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3
This is first experience with the Tales series. ]

Story: A little on the cliche side but very enjoyable. The main cast of characters have their own motives and issues going on. Their chemistry makes for some entertaining dialog segments throughout your long journey. Only minor gripe I have is with the pacing. There are times where I felt like I was watching a full anime movie than playing a game.

Gameplay: This is where the game truly shines. The combat is faced paced, colorful, and dynamic. There is a lot to learn when creating combos to cause mass choas on your foes, but the game has an amazing tutorial system the breaks things down. Each character has their own feel and unleashing their moves and combos makes you want to take turns controlling each one throughout the campagin.

Verdit: Whether you're a fan of RPG's or great games in general, this game is a must buy. It definitely holds a candle to the best RPG's of this generation. Don't miss out!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3Verified Purchase
Yet another successful tales installment. I decided to get it while waiting for tales of symphonia to come out for ps3 next year. I have to admit, this will probably be my second favorite (first being ToS) of the tales series.
As per always, gorgeous graphics, interesting storyline and of course hysterical dialogue. This game caters to slightly older audience, which I greatly appreciate. Some of the jokes are a bit more grown up than other tales games.
Also a few nice new touches to store and combat system, evolution is not always good, but in this case improvements are very well coordinated and bring a new interesting twist to a familiar game style. Needless to say I'm impressed by ToX and after playing for a few hours can't wait to continue ^_^
If you enjoy tales games, you won't be disappointed with this one!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
Color Name: Playstation 3
Tales of Xilia is a lot like other games in the Tales series. Whether you liked those previous games or not will play a big part in whether you appreciate this game. To those coming at the game fresh, the Tales games are a JRPG series that goes back to the mid-90s. Along with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest it is one of the top three series in Japan. It has a lot of standard JRPG elements with a few interesting twists. For example instead of fighting through turn-based combat the game goes into a battle mode where you fight the enemy in a more traditional action-game style. Other commonalities are centered around the plot, which generally features two worlds connected through some means, as well as bureaucratic religious organizations and Anime-like characters.

When I say this game is like previous incarnations I mean it. There are very few additions or improvements to the basic gameplay mechanic. Which is fine really, as the series had a pretty good mechanic to begin with. The only change from earlier games is that the overworld map is gone, replaced by basic paths to other levels. I kind of miss the overworld, which while cheesy I never minded. It was a cheesy I could accept. The style of the game is heavily Anime-inspired, which I really like. The look of Fennmont city and the wonderful ships absolutely took my breath away. This seems to be the most popular approach since they first tried it in Tales of Symphonia, although they rely less on cell-shading now. It provides an easily recognizable style for these games. There are some elements that are a little bit too familiar however. I'm getting a bit tired of how the main character always looks exactly the same except for occasional changes of hair color. Jude in this game looks Asbel from Tales of Graces but with darker hair. I don't just mean faces, Jude's costume is just a black-dyed version of Asbel's which was in turn identical to Luke's from Tales of the Abyss. I miss the days of unique character designs.

That said, the plot can always be relied upon to be complex and unique. I've never seen a franchise able to keep so much of the same style while making each entry uniquely different. This game is no exception. I will say that it has a much slower start than some of the previous games. As much as I love the beautiful city of Fennmont, they don't do much with it at the beginning. When the action does pick up it seemed a bit unbelievable and forced. As with previous games in the series the plot can move a bit too slow at times so that they can drag the game out for 40+ hours when it really only deserves half that. There are the usual moments where one character could explain the entire plot from the very beginning, but they decline to because the plot says so. If this didn't ruin previous games there's no reason it should ruin this one. Just be prepared for the plot to continue for longer than you expect.

The characters in this game don't shine as much as previous games. Alvin is a good deal of fun as the adventurous rogue, but he's the main one to stand out. Milla (as one of the two possible PCs) had the potential and dialogue to stand out, but the voice actress is so flat and uninspired that she drains all energy from the character. Jude (the other possible PC) seems to be the logical development of the Tales series protagonists. He has no personality apart from being very Japanese, and all the characters seem much more impressed with him than he deserves. He does get some moments to prove himself later on, but they come too late to prevent this early impression. You know that picture of him looking cocky and confident on the cover? Don't expect to see him act like that in the game. He's quite meek and unassuming. The main character advancement is a typical coming-of-age story, where the lead must learn to grow up and take responsibility for himself. A lot of this is cultural so it may make more sense in Japan, but I find it a bit wearisome and yearn for the days of Yuri in Tales of Vesperia, who knew how to handle himself and was going through a different struggle. This game and Graces have really over-focused on the coming-of-age story.

Another amusing quirk of these games is the names. They range from perfect and fantastical to ridiculously out of place. Character names tend to be taken from Western sources, but since they're all just cool sounds to a Japanese audience they can be hilariously out of context. Thus for the leads we get the relatively normal Western name Jude for the hero but Maxwell for the heroine. Maxwell is technically her last name, but since nobody is really on a first name basis with a goddess they always refer to her that way. Then you get the cities and or organizations which are given either awesome made up names like Rashugal, or else utterly random names like Exodus (replacing the somewhat more random Japanese Ark Noah). These names don't symbolize anything, they're just there because the creators thought they sounded cool.

As with previous games, the best bits are the random character skits that pop up throughout. These show up as a message at the bottom-left of your screen and you hit the select button to watch them. Then you get to watch a brief skit as the characters chat to each other in animated 2D images. They are insightful, frequently amusing, and always worth it.

I wouldn't normally complain about the graphics in a game like this, which isn't trying to tax the graphics engine at all and is more intent on looking pretty than looking expensive. And indeed, the locations and characters look perfect with just the right balance between necessary 3D models and Anime character designs. The problem isn't with the looks, it's with the extremely outdated level design. As I said before, none of the graphics in here come even close to stressing the PS3's capabilities, so why does each new area require changing screens? Sure, it's done almost instantly because the PS3 can handle it, but why does it exist at all? The PS3 is more than capable of handling levels twice the size of even the largest one here without it being split into sections. But here you go a hundred feet and the screen will cut to a different model as characters slowly appear to populate it. They're just lazily recycling the engine from earlier games designed for systems that couldn't handle it. I understand that this is the first Tales game designed for the PS3 (Tales of Graces is a port from the Wii) but they should know better than that. It's a lot more irritating than it sounds, possibly because the rest of the game feels so fluid and natural that these constant pauses remind us that it's a game.

Overall I liked this game a lot, but I felt it was relying too much on elements from previous games. It's almost like a Greatest Hits album at some points. I understand that this is the most popular game in the series in Japan, so future installments are likely to borrow much from this. I do hope that they make some improvements the next time round. I enjoyed this one despite its failings, but too many more that suffer from the same problems and that tolerance will likely fade. Still, that's for the future. At the current moment the series is still quite good. If you liked previous games I'd give this one a try. If you enjoy JRPGs but haven't tried a Tales game yet you could do worse than this one, although I'd recommend you start off on Symphonia or Abyss.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3
This is another fantastic addition to the Tales series. The battle system is fast and fun and adds enough new elements to the Vesperia system to keep things fresh. It also takes some ideas from Graces f and translates them well. The story engaging and paced well. It's worth the purchase and I highly recommend getting it while you can still get the artbook and music CD since this game has no physical manual, unfortunately.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3Verified Purchase
"Tales of Xillia is awesome I just got the same day it came out, the game play is amazing. I started playing this game as soon as I got, I am in no way disappointed, this game is well worth checking out for anyone who loves the Tales series."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3Verified Purchase
Pros:
Great story
Enjoyable battle system
Good story
Well written dialogue

Cons:
English voice acting isn't the best.
Can take a bit to get into it when getting started
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3Verified Purchase
Pros:
- It's a great Tales of JRPG!
- Solid story
- Hours upon hours of game play
- Solid gameplay and local multiplayer!

Cons:
- Ps3 exclusive
- only English cast dub
- DLC is pretty weak

Bottom line: If your looking for a great RPG look no further, this is a fantastic game, get the big collector edition if you can.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2013
Color Name: Playstation 3Verified Purchase
I ordered and paid fifty. I got the limited edition set that's normally seventy online. Best deal ever, for such a low price thanks!
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