Tales of Xillia 2 is a direct sequel to last year’s excellent PS3 J-rpg Tales of Xillia. Tales of Xillia 2 is set a year after the events of the first game and takes place in the worlds of both Elympios and Rieze Maxia. You play as new hero, Ludger Kresnik.
Ludger is a mostly silent protagonist who responds to differing events and scenarios through the game’s new choice system. His lack of voice acting in the main game makes it hard to get a firm handle on his personality and can be a bit jarring as he grunts and sighs his way through skits. The choices you make can affect the story or your relationship with each character, but quite frequently, they can have no consequence what-so-ever.
As you progress, you explore Ludger’s relationship with his brother, fractured alternate dimensions and the morality of possibly destroying others to save yourself. The story serves its purpose by giving you a reason to progress from one area to another but never really captivates the way Tales of Xillia does.
The main cast from the previous game return to your party with a couple of now playable additions. Discovering what happened to each character in the time between the two games, is one of the best parts of Tales of Xillia 2. Elize is a great example of this, no longer is she the timid, quiet girl wholly reliant on using Teepo to express her feelings. She’s now more open, snappy and confident.
As mentioned earlier, choice plays a large part of Tales of Xillia 2, each character has an affinity gauge that increases every time you pick a favourable response. You can also raise affinity the more time you spend linked in battle. There are optional side chapters you can play, which gives a little more insight into a characters life and deepens their affinity towards you.
Early on in the game you are rescued by the Spirius Corporation and in-turn straddled with a whomping 20,000,000 gald debt. This has to be repaid in certain amounts before you can progress through to new chapters of the games story. At first, this can seem to be rewarding, giving you an opportunity earn extra gald by exploring, grinding and taking up some of the games jobs. The jobs are fairly simple, often involving hunting specific monsters, collecting materials and giving items to various NPCs. As you move deeper into the game, the amount of gald you need to deposit before you can progress increases dramatically, quickly making the forced grinding a chore.
“Though there are many improvements in Tales of Xillia 2, there are more annoyances that stop the game from ever realising its full potential and meeting the expectations set by its predecessor”
The Lilium orb leveling system (think of the Crystarium system from Final Fantasy XIII) was a fantastic feature in Tales of Xillia, it allowed you the freedom to tailor the growth of your characters; choosing which attributes to unlock such as strength, vitality, artes and skills. The new Allium orb system automates your characters attribute change on level up with new skills and artes being tied to specific magical elements each orb contains.
Overall Tales of Xillia 2 is a mixed bag. The battle system has been refined with new slash, gun and power damage; requiring Ludger to swap between dual swords, dual pistols and a hammer depending on enemy type; adding a brand new layer of strategy to each encounter. Though there are many improvements in Tales of Xillia 2, there are more annoyances that stop the game from ever realising its full potential and meeting the expectations set by its predecessor. Fans of the first game may appreciate the better parts Tales of Xillia 2, but with so many missteps Tales of Xillia 2 is destined to live in its big brother’s shadow.