Ask someone to name a game from their favorite role-playing series, and a good portion of the time, they'll rattle off something from the Final Fantasy or maybe Dragon Quest series. However, you'll also find a few people with a preference to Namco Bandai's Tales games, and for good reason. Over the last few years, the publisher has been really expanding upon this world with elegant characters and storylines that keep you drawn in to the very end.
Tales of Xillia was a significant chapter when it released on the PlayStation 3 way back in 2011 – in Japan – and it was well received. However, U.S. gamers have been crying out and wondering when they would get a turn. Relax, because un a matter of weeks, you'll be returning to this wonderful world as the game arrives just in time to close out the Summer.
Rather than focusing on a single characters this time around (as most Tales games have done in the past), Xillia will instead focus on two. You've got Jude, who is a male medical student working his way up in the ranks and Milla, a female character with mysterious origins. Both characters have different storylines, adding to the replay value right from the start. Stuff you'll experience with Jude you won't necessarily come across with Milla.
Xillia also has a new way of playing battles out. The game now presents the world from a third-person perspective, allowing you to stick close to your character of choice as you explore and find new parties and items. Along the way, you're going to get into some skirmishes with enemies, which you initiate simply by walking up to them in classic role-playing style. As battles proceed, you'll combine both special Artes attacks along with regular strikes to chain together combos and bring enemies down.
You'll combine these attacks together utilizing a Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System, which works similarly to past games. The player selects his or her own actions while the AI steps in to handle the other characters, with particular battle tactics as chosen by whoever's at the controls. From there, you'll choose from the number of skills and actions a character has on hand through "Assault" tactics with the help of a power meter. It does take a good deal of strength with certain attacks, but it always manages to rebuild before the next turn, so you're never out of luck – or breath.
Using these skills will also have an impact on your Technical Points (TP for short), but you can refill them as well by either attacking or activating certain items within your possession. On top of that, since Tales of Xillia focuses more on a group initiative, you can combine together to execute special attacks to clear the screen in a hurry.
Going back to the combos, you can really build some multi-hit ones if you go through the regular and Artes moves efficiently enough, leaving your enemy dazed. Combined with the power of double-team moves, you'll be able to do rattling damage with your squad.
Though Namco hasn't gone too far into the game's storyline, you will be able to experience two different races in Xillia. This is due to the world being divided into two halves, Rieze Maxia and Elenpios. Both have different kind of people that can help you out, depending on what you're looking for.
If you visit Rieze Maxia, you'll run into advanced human beings that can use mana at will but do so in a rather peaceful manner, relying heavily on spirituality for the use of magic. But if you opt to visit Elenpios, there's a whole new society you'll run across, making use of technology while also utilizing a power source known as Gin. This energy doesn't come cheap however, as spiritual energy is required to keep it running.
A barrier has been built to keep Rieze Maxia safe from Elenpios' advances; however, it's been infiltrated before and there's reason to believe it could again... and your character would somehow play a part in this.
With a new combat perspective, plenty of innovative combo-building techniques and a storyline that literally lets you choose what route you way it to go, Tales of Xillia could easily be the best in the series to date. Throw in an extravagant presentation with miles of terrain to cover and full U.S. voiceovers and you've got a game worth the two-year wait for its localization.
We'll see how it fares when it hits stores on August 6th for PlayStation 3.