Tales of Xillia 2

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Ludger applies to be an agent for Spirius, the largest corporation in Elymios, and where his brother Julius currently works, but ultimately fails the exam. Hence, he applies for other jobs and eventually gets a job as a chef at a train station. His first day is the opening ceremony of a new station, and hence security is on high alert. The remnants of an organization that had tried to enslave the other world, Rezia Maxia, have become a terrorist organization trying their best to make sure peace between the two nations never happens and are expected to attempt to attack the ceremony. On his way to the event, he runs into Jude, who has now become the worlds leading expert on Spyrite research, as well as Elle, a girl who appears to be lost. Well, one thing leads to another, and Ludger, Elle, and Jude end up on the train in the middle of a terrorist attack. However, things get stranger from there, with the timeline going crazy, Ludger transforming, fighting his brother Julius, and eventually everyone being thrown off the train. Ludger eventually wakes up and is greeted by Rideaux, who had healed him, but also stamps him with a 20 million gald fee.

Hence Ludger’s journey to pay off his debt begins. He has to make periodic payments to the bank, specifically to an old classmate named Nova. But of course there’s far more to the story than that. While doing so, he also begins to search for the reason his brother seemingly betrayed him. He also learns more about Elle, and how she was separated from her father, but knew that she would find him by searching for the mystical land of Canaan, which he hence also begins the search for. Meanwhile, Spirius corporation isn’t done with him. Bisley utilizes his powers to destroy Fractured Dimensions that have the possibility of severely damaging the primary timeline, with his secretary Vera, Nova’s sister, acting as the go between. Plus there is the added element of Ludger being a Kresnik and and having to deal with something called Origin’s trial. And of course, Jude isn’t the only character from the previous game Ludger meets and journeys with. Jude continues his research on Spyrites, but hits a major roadblock. Leia is on a quest to become a major news reporter. Elize was a student in Sharilton, but decides to join the party and act as a big sister to Elle. Alvin continues his endeavor to start a trading business between Elympios and Rezia Maxia alongside his friend Yurgen from Xian Du, but has difficulties with the differences in culture between the two nations. Facing similar difficulties, Rowen is acting as the prime minister of Rezia Maxia and trying to develop a relationship with the chancellor of Elympios, Marcia, while also doing his best to get rid of the terrorist organization Exodus. Gaius continues as King of all of Rezia Maxia, but also takes on the persona of Erston as he explores Elympios so he may better understand it and betters serve his subjects in dealing with it. In the spirit world, Milla disappears to deal with the threat of fractured dimensions, and Muzet goes off in search of her. They eventually find the Milla they’re looking for, but it’s a long journey, and involves the sacrifice of another. And hence the journey of Ludger and company in changing the world, and changing along side it, begins.

***

Tales of Xillia 2 is obviously the sequel to Tales of Xillia, and hence it will inevitably be compared to its predecessor. It’s a direct sequel that takes place a year after the end of Xillia, and is very similar in many aspects, but also has a number of major differences.

Story wise, the tale is less of an epic adventure as with the previous game, with everything tying together into a single strong narrative, and more of a story of a man seeking his destiny in a world that’s in a state of flux. This can be seen from the fact that while in the previous game, for the most part progress meant going to new areas that were previously unavailable, in Xillia 2 the vast majority of areas are unlocked at approximately half way through the game. The majority of these are reused from the previous game, which is somewhat of a bummer, but even that further contributes to it feeling like your domain so to speak. Hence, rather than there being a feel of going on a journey to save the world, there’s more of a feeling of the entire world being your home and working within it as well as to improve it. This is evident in the main plot that still has saving the world as a key plot point. But it is also evident in the side stories that only loosely tie into the main plot. This is done through the character episode system, where chapters are dedicated to the stories of side characters with as much care as taken with the main plot, and which involve the various characters essentially exploring certain aspects of the world that came to be as a result of what occurred in Xilia, and how they interact with it.

Before I get into that, let me comment on the characters in general. Ludger is the main character, but ultimately, he felt like somewhat of a blank slate, and his personality beyond caring for Elle and his brother didn’t really manifest much, in part because of the choice system. This system allows the player to make choices on what to say or do that primarily effect the affinity rating with other characters, but also make some key decisions that effect the plot. These choices aren’t worded aloud, and overall seem to be rather random and not of a consistent character, and hence his character gets sort of side lined. To be honest, I thought that this entire aspect was rather weak and not needed, as it the majority of decisions resulted in only minor changes such as getting different cutscenes, which may be motivation for replaying the game, but similarly to the Jude/Milla choice in the previous game, a rather weak one. Anyway, Elle was the other main character, in that she too developed the strongest relationships with the various other characters, but had a very strong personality that worked well with Ludger’s lack of such. The new side characters also felt like they had more of a presence as compared to the previous game. The rest of the main cast are characters from the previous game. Other than minor changes, all of them behave the way one would expect from the ending of the previous game. The exception to that is Elize, who has gone through a major change in character, as is to be expected from one at her age. Hence, the story doesn’t so much focus on delving into introducing them again, as that would be redundant for everyone who’s played the previous game. Rather, it focuses on how they make their way in the new unified world that’s been created, and the growth that comes to be as a result of that.

This manifests itself in the previously mentioned character episodes. Jude’s side episodes involve his research into spyrites as well as continue exploring his relationship with Milla. Milla’s are a bit more complex in that they involve two separate Millas. The first is focused on Milla trying to find her place in a new world completely different from her own, while the latter is focused on a search for the truth related to how the world came to be as it is. Rowen’s focus on him dealing with his age, especially in the context of his dedication to making sure that peace comes to exist between the two worlds. Elize starts out being redeveloped in her quest to try to become a good big sister type figure for Elle, but later has to deal with the messy side of the great responsibilities that come with great power. Alvin has to deal with him trying to be a better, more trustworthy person, while also trying to create a business that’s ultimately competing with people from Elympios that are even shadier than him, and the culture clash that is created with Rezia Maxia in the process. Leia also has to deal with learning what it means to be a good reporter, and in the process deal with the stereotypes that have come to exist between the two nations. Gaius has to deal with the prejudices that exist between the two nations, while simultaneously balancing being a good king to his subjects. Muzet is properly introduced as a deeper character than she first appeared as she tries her best to make up for what occurred in the previous game and become friends with the rest of the group. The side episodes are very diverse in game play and story and a very welcome addition.

These side episodes alongside the job board replace the side quest system from the previous game, and considering how clunky that was this is a very welcome improvement. The job board lists all available jobs that you can do as well monsters that you may need to hunt. No running around randomly searching for quests. It’s all in a convenient package that can be accessed from any job board that is very clear in what every job entails. Furthermore, the story is heavily tied for the majority of the game to paying off portions of the debt in order to be allowed to progress further in the story, which sounds pretty bad, but with the job board it’s actually relatively painless and feels coherent with the larger story. Nova constantly interrupting asking for money was incredibly annoying however. In addition to this, there was also side content in the form of searching for missing cats who you could then send out to search for items, the coliseum, poker, and of course a post game EX dungeon.

The battle system is largely the same as in the previous game. The main change is that Ludger’s battle system is completely different from all the other characters, and by far the most interesting. It involves being able to switch between using dual blades, dual guns, or a hammer at will. Each of these has a different set of artes, and hence a different set of linked artes with other characters. Furthermore, characters can be weak or strong to different weapons, which incentives using all of them. This led to me taking a much more varied approach with combat as opposed to the late game of the previous game where I pretty much pulled the same tactics every battle. There’s also the addition of the Chromatus, which essentially puts Ludger into a super form for a bit. The chromatus fills up over time but has various levels, and hence there is some balancing to be done in regards to when to use it, though for the most part using it at its first level is the best option. There’s also the addition of  linked Mystic Artes, which are about as useful as regular Mystic Artes, but a whole lot cooler. One noticeable removal was the ability to swap out party members mid battle, which annoyed me at first, but in hindsight was probably for the best.

The character development system I think was a major step back. It essentially involves allocating where growth should occur and that growth occurring automatically, with little control given. Hence new ability development is a lot more passive. It’s nice that you don’t have to think about it really, but of course that means you have a lot less control, which I really didn’t appreciate. The store system of giving materials has also been replaced with the more traditional crafting system, which I’m not as much a fan of as I don’t enjoy farming materials.

Presentation wise, it was about as good as the previous game. The anime scenes were great and used well. I prefer the OP of the first game but this one was still really good and enough to listen to every time I started up the game. As before, the main game is solid from an art design point of view, though somewhat lacking from a technical perspective. The voice acting was decent, and I really have nothing to complain about this time. The soundtrack I think was a definite improvement however. It was more diverse and had more tracks that really stood out to me and that I remember.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the ending. You are actually given a number of different ending. There’s a bad ending and a couple joke endings essentially, but there are two key endings. Each of them are emotional and very well done, but at the end of the day the way that the choice is handled, and that there is a choice at all I felt really wasn’t necessary. They should have focused on the true ending and having the alternate ending just took away from its impact, though it was certainly still impactful. Furthermore, while the majority of plot threads from the previous games well as this one are adequately resolved, I was dissatisfied with how Jude’s and Milla’s relationship came to an abrupt ending. That more than anything I wish had some sort of closure considering how important it was in the first game.

Overall, a solid sequel that plays well to many of it’s predecessors strengths while also being different enough to avoid being too similar and feeling like a repeat, though not all of these differences were for the better.

8/10

 

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