Tales of Xillia 2 is the sequel to Namco Bandai’s 2011 hit RPG. The first game finally made it to the west last year and its sequel released a year after in Japan, saw a release last month. This time around you follow the silent protagonist Ludger Kresnik a man who through a train hijacking meets a young girl named Elle with a pocket watch that strangely resembles Ludger’s brother Julius’. Ludger and Elle retain injuries from the incident and are left with a heavy debt of hospital bills that the player must work to pay back while solving the mystery of the fractured dimensions appearing throughout the two worlds of Olympus and Rise Maxia.
The cast of the original Xillia returns in Tales of Xillia 2 and joins Ludger on his journey each with new rates and improved link skills to back each other up in battle. Tales of Xillia 2 plays out in main story chapters and character chapters. When you increase a bond to a certain point with your party members by making choices that please them you’ll unlock their specific character story. Unlike Xillia, the Tales of Xillia 2 pushes you to play with a set party of 3 characters plus Ludger at certain times, while you slowly meet the rest of the cast. Lord of spirits Milia Maxwell returns but she isn’t the Milia everyone remembers. Her sister Muzet and King Gaius are now playable characters who are both interesting additions to the party.
Speaking of making choices, while moving through the story the player must make decisions on Ludger’s behalf. These choices consist of but not limited to complementing other characters to increase their bond, where you want him to go after paying of a small amount of debt, and gaining information. There are also timed decisions that affect the course of the story and determine what ending you receive at the end of chapter 15.
By pressing R1 Ludger can pay his debt by talking to Nova the accountant from the Spirius Corporation, the company that Ludger needs to pay back for all of his hospital bills. When he pays off a set amount restrictions will be lifted as to how far you can travel, advancing the story. You can pay off the debt through normal monster encounters, selling items, or completing quests. Each town and port has a job board that updates with brand new quests as you complete them and advance the story. They consist of fetch quests, monster hunting, tracking down cats, and more of the same quests that Xillia 1 had. This time around because of the job listing addition its much easier to finish all of the quests without having to run around back and forth looking for and giving items to NPCs. The only difference is that you receive points for completing each quest that upgrade your job level. Certain quests are unavailable until you have upgraded to a certain point.
Ludger comes armed in battle with twin blades, dual wielding guns, and a hammer. Switching to one of them is as easy as pressing L1 and R1 together at anytime in battle. Later on in the game Ludger will be able to take control of his Chromatus powers. For a short amount of time he is able to transform, sending enemies to another dimension, while granting himself a hardy status boost, infinite health, TP, and AC while the ability is active. By attaching certain skills the time that Ludger is in this mode can be increased. This continue the battle there without the aid of his allies for that short amount of time. Unlike many power up modes in JRPGs Ludger can use his Chromatus as many times as he wants in battle as long as the meter is charged. It an essential mode for defeating the game’s toughest bosses.
While the game takes the player to many of the same locations as the previous entry it still manages to take you to new dungeons. Returning players will either enjoy running around familiar landscapes or find it boring. It depends on how much they liked the overworld of Xillia but as a new feature pressing R2 will make the on screen character dash through those dungeons and fields faster than ever before.
Graphically Tales of Xillia 2 looks great if not better than its predecessor. It feels as though you can see more emotion in the character’s faces during cutscenes. This is an indeed an improvement although since this not a PS4 JRPG it still has that last gen feel to it. Not that this is a bad thing as the game presents itself in a clean and smooth fashion.
The soundtrack is lovely as always although there aren’t a ton of new tracks since most of them are just recycled from the first game. It would have been nice to have some of these tracks remixed but it isn’t too much of a let down. Considering that both games were probably made at the same time the music was developed to be used for both games if they contained the same fields and dungeons.
Tales of Xillia 2 takes everything great about the prequel and improves it significantly. While the battle system is more streamline it can be kind of confusing at first. The new and organized quest system is by far the best change that was made to the series as it cuts down on the time it took to finish quests. It is very easy to rack up 50+ hours in the game working on completing quests and grinding, as the game lets you set back and stray away from the main story as long as you need without any consequences. This means that there is no time limit as to when you need to pay your debt increments back, but paying a lot at once gives you bonus items. It was a tough move on behalf of the Xillia team to make Ludger a silent protagonist as it doesn’t work very well for the story’s narrative.
What the game needed was a main character that shows an array of emotion and talks more than an occasional word or sigh. Especially since he has such a vivid backstory with his brother Julius, the person that drives Ludger to work harder towards his goal. Almost as if he is living in his shadow.
Tales of Xillia 2 Review (PS3)
JRPGs are slowing making their way to PS4 but its nice that games like Tales of Xillia 2 will still be made for PS3 for a little while longer. And when they are they are truly some of the best the system has to offer. Tales of Xillia 2 may have its weak points but its is definitely a great addition to any JRPG fan's collection.