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whatshot Tales of Xillia PS3 Review - -
Tales of Xillia
Reviewed by
Andrew Proverbs
Tales of Xillia 8 PS3 Review. There are a couple of graphical imperfections, and the controls could use further refinement. But apart from those niggles, Xillia does everything you want a Tales game to do: Frantic action, likeable characters, and a skit-load of customisation.

Gameplay 8.2
Graphics 7.7
Sound 7.6
Value 8.6
Developer: Namco Bandai
Rating: PG
Review Date: August 2013
Andrew Proverbs


Tales of Xillia

There’s no denying that the JRPG has lost some of its prestige in the West in recent years, mainly due to miss-steps from staple franchises like Final Fantasy. But in a gaming landscape that’s increasingly dominated by gritty realism, crushing moral choices and quick-time events, it’s refreshing to know that Namco are still crafting quality JRPGs. 

For those unfamiliar with the series, a Tales game is like a traditional JRPG mixed with a classic 2D brawler like Street Fighter. Combat takes place in real-time, with characters and enemies exchanging attacks along a 2 dimensional plane. Attacks and special moves are easy enough to execute (usually mapped to a single button press,) but there’s an emphasis on razor-sharp timing and combos that means a certain level of skill is required to master the game. 


The story concerns the adventures of Milla Maxwell and Jude Mithas: One, a beauteous incarnation of a revered deity, who has four powerful elemental spirits at her beck and call. The other, a naοve medical student with prowess in unarmed combat, and an uncanny knack for finding trouble. 

Milla has come to the nation of Rashugal to investigate, and ultimately destroy, a weapon that has been sucking mana out of people’s brains. Jude simply blunders into Milla’s path, and the two become inextricably linked from then on in. During the attack on the ‘spyrix weapon,’ Milla’s powers are torn from her, and she can no longer channel the elemental spirits. Thus begins an epic journey to re-acquire her powers, take out the doomsday weapon and foil the machinations of a group of rather stylishly-clad bad guys. (Seriously- why do the baddies always get to wear the awesome trench coat?) 

You can choose either Jude or Milla as your avatar at the beginning of the game, but it makes barely a scrap of difference… certain story elements will play out one way or another depending on who you pick, but that’s about it. For a series that’s always encouraged multiple play-throughs, this mechanic is bafflingly superficial. 

As per previous games in the series, a lot of the story is told through ‘skits,’ which are optional conversations between characters. These can be deep and enlightening, often delving into the serious moral territory- or they can be two people talking about bondage. The beauty of these exchanges is that you never know what you’re going to get- it’s a true mixed bag. 


Tales of Symphonia looked good on the Game cube a decade ago, and Tales of Xillia looks slightly better on the PS3. There are the obvious improvements due to the step up to HD, and an engine that allows for more expressive faces and prettier water effects, but it still looks essentially the same. The cel-shaded graphics have a rustic charm to them- nothing that will blow your socks off, but visually pleasing nonetheless. There are a few muddy background textures, and NPCs who materialise in front of you at a few paces, but these are minor distractions.  

Loading (both from the menu and between areas) happens almost instantaneously, which is always a plus. 

 The sound design is something of a mixed bag. Voice acting ranges from acceptable to very good, and there’s always loads of incidental dialogue during and after battles, adding to the drama. The music does its job without soaring to any great emotional highs or lows, while during battle it’s the cheesy grunge/rock melange that makes you cringe and smile at the same time. 

There’s an element of chaos to any battle, with fireballs exploding and spells detonating from every corner of the screen. But it’s never to the point where you can’t see what’s going on. 


Rather than being restricted to moving left-to-right in a battle like in older games, by holding the R2 button you’re free to roam the 3-dimensional battlefield, and this gives you tactical options such as being able to flank enemies. But, crucially, you can only attack while being locked in a 2D axis with your opponent, so it retains that old-school fighting game feel. 

New to Xillia is the ability to ‘link’ with one of your party members, which essentially means teaming up on an enemy. By fighting in this way you will fill a gauge, and eventually be able to launch a ‘linked arte’ or special move. With expert timing, you can chain these linked attacks together, even bringing in other party members who weren’t part of the original attack. Mastering this system is certainly rewarding, but the added complexity also means that the control scheme becomes more finicky than in past titles. At times it’s difficult to link to the person you intended, and this can lead to frustration during the more tight and frantic encounters. 

Gamers who like to adjust, tweak and tinker will delight in the wealth of options that Xillia provides. There are numerous ways you can adjust the experience, whether it be optimising your party formation, or setting skills to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. For some real fun, you can delve into each party member’s scripting, and change the way they behave during battle- say, to use a healing item once a character’s health dips below 40%, or to attack weaker enemies, or to keep an amount of technical points in reserve. 

By setting the whole party to ‘auto,‘ you can sit back like an armchair general, and watch them act out the battle based solely on the scripts you’ve set, pausing occasionally to issue specific commands. Or you can jump in and get your mitts dirty by controlling every action your character makes- the choice is yours. 

Final Thoughts 

There are a couple of graphical imperfections, and the controls could use further refinement. But apart from those niggles, Xillia does everything you want a Tales game to do: Frantic action, likeable characters, and a skit-load of customisation.


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