Hands-On Preview: Tales of Xillia 2 – Once More Unto the (Dimensional) Breach
It’s interesting how things have progressed for the Tales games in the West over the last few years. Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox 360 went largely ignored and because of that we never got a PlayStation 3 version release in the West. Tales of Graces F had some minor success here but things really exploded with last year’s Tales of Xillia, which surprised everyone. Soon after, Bandai Namco quickly announced that the in-development game, Tales of Zestiria, would also be released as well as the sequel which I’m previewing for you fine people, Tales of Xillia 2.
This game takes place after the first one. Where you got to play as two different characters in the original game, in this one you’ll play as only one. Main protagonist Ludger and his companions are tasked with saving their reality by destroying pocket universes which threaten its existence. As the story progresses, the moral quandary of whether it’s right to destroy other worlds to save theirs comes up and each character has to deal with the consequences of those actions.
The part I played took place inside of a military installation of some sort. There were some character moments which happened every once in a while but being thrust into this demo, I wasn’t able to understand what was happening story-wise. That didn’t matter though so I continued on and tested out the game’s combat.
The fighting in this game isn’t all that different from Xillia or other Tales games. This is to the game’s benefit since it is relatively easy to pick up, though mastering it will take a while.
I was able to link up with other characters to unleash powerful Artes attacks. Ludger also has three different types of weapons (hammer, sword and guns) which allows him to take on different enemies who are weak against a particular weapon. In addition, he has an ability which makes him very powerful and even invulnerable for a short time.
Each battle that I engaged in was lively but this is a Tales game so it was to be expected. The animations for the attacks all looked impressive and I really liked how the special attacks looked. However, the enemy A.I. wasn’t all that smart and were easy to dispose of. This is a demo so I wasn’t expecting it to be too difficult but nevertheless the battle system was enjoyable. This series excels at quick and fun combat and this game is no different in that regard.
Though this game only has one character in it, the story isn’t 100% linear. As you progress, you’ll have dialogue choices to make. Some are superfluous, others can affect your relationship with party members and others will have a more significant impact on events. I wasn’t able to see how my decisions eventually panned out but this is a welcome feature that will add to the replay value.
Another cool feature that the game will have is character specific side stories. These will help fill players in on what happened between Xillia and Xillia 2. This is also a great way to get to know all of the colorful and eccentric characters in your party.
After the events of the intro, Rudger is forced to pay off a massive debt by taking on jobs to raise money. Some parts of the story will not go forward unless he pays off a specific amount at that point. While this will add to the game by having players complete various sidequests, it also has the potential to slow the story down.
Graphically speaking, this game is on par with its predecessor. This isn’t a bad thing since that game looked gorgeous and so does this one. The game’s anime art style makes it pop out of the screen nicely and everything was finely detailed without being visually complicated. The cutscenes were full-on anime which looked fantastic and the still shots that are seen when the characters speak are drawn well.
It’s really nice to be getting another Tales game so quickly. Fans have shown this series love in the West and Bandai Namco has reacted appropriately by giving them what they want. This looks to be yet another winner for the series and another solid JRPG for the PlayStation 3.