Reviews: Tales Of Xillia 2

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A sequel that does a lot of things right, but some wrong.
Again, I'll start with the negative to end on a positive note.

Xillia 2 stars Ludger, who, in a rarity for a Tales game, is a Heroic Mime. And I don't really feel that suits a series as character-driven as Tales. You do get a good enough feel for Ludger's character purely through his actions and dialogue choices... but the real jarring area is Skits. A Heroic Mime just REALLY sticks out like a sore thumb there, and makes most skits involving him feel really jarring. (There are occasionally funny dialogue choices though)

Second main flaw of the game, I feel, is the way it's divided into "chapters". In theory, giving the player dedicated "story time" and "sidequest time" works well, and warning the player when the story will move on is a good move. (to help avoid quests being Lost Forever) They just could have done it better, the whole "main chapter, debt grinding, main chapter, more grinding" structure results in the main plot feeling really disjointed and fragmented. Sometimes you can come back from a grind and think "wait, what was happening next again?"

The plot itself overall is good, if Darker and Edgier to the point of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy sometimes. It doesn't have as many good twists as I've come to expect from a Tales Of game though, nor is there all that much Deconstruction: the whole Humanity on Trial thing is pretty much played as straight as they come.

But the game's Wham Episodes are very, very good, and a real highlight the game. It also fixes the major flaw in Xillia 1 by giving more focus to Elympios and its culture. But its real strength, I feel, is the Character Episodes. Think Social Links from Persona, but with gameplay, these are sidequests that add huge amounts of Character Development. The ones that involve fractured dimensions are particiulary good, using For Want of a Nail very creatively to show the development of the cast since the last game. Also, if you disliked Mila or Alvin in the last game, you'll probably change your opinion here.

The battle system adds a few new innovations, like physical "elements" to make party members more unique, and a Power Hit Chain mechanic that's much more intuitive than Graces', making combat feel fresh since Xillia 1 while still keeping the same feel. Overall worth checking out if you liked the original.
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