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Tales of Xillia review*

Tales of Xillia is only available on the Playstation 3 (PS3) and developed by Namco Tales Studio.

*Review contains spoilers for the story, please do not read if you have any fear of spoilers*

I been a big fan of the tales series for a while now which is why I pre-order Tales of Xillia the instance I heard about the release date. I received with my pre-order a music ost (original song track) CD, skit portrait booklet, a fancy cardboard box, and dlc costumes. The card board box along with the rest of the items felt really cheap flimsy cardboard. Nevertheless, it was the game that was important for me to enjoy. Oh, the fun and joy I experienced in this game are so complex that it becomes awesome. So much so, that you need not read this review; instead go out and buy the game right now!

Still not convince yet? Okay, I was being lazy. Let me tell you the ways I love this game and the flaws incurred to stop this love of mine.

*Review Contains spoilers of gameplay mechanics and story elements. If you do not wish to hear about such spoilers, please leave. You have been warned.*

Tales of Xillia's DR-LMBS


A battle so intense, everything explodes. 

Tales of Phantasia (on SNES) started the series off with a bang using the Linear Motion Battle System (LMBS). The battle system at the time was only on a 2d scale but felt like a cross between a fighter and real-time combat game. Essentially the elements that made the system interesting was the combo moves, special moves, and having a main character along with 3 npcs on the screen at a time during a real-time battle against enemies. Also, being able to jump in the game was very awesome. On the other hand, Tales of Xillia uses the Dual Raid Motion Battle System (DR-LMBS), an enhanced version of the LMBS.

DR-LMBS is by far, the greatest iteration of the LMBS by making the player focus on doing combos, critical hits, linking, Artes (special attacks), blocking, and dodging in battles. Although, I been hinder in battles during the beginning of the game because of the Assault Counter (AC).

The AC (number in the sword of the picture above) is used every time you do an attack (or heal) regardless of the type of move you use. And once it goes to 0, you won't be able to attack until you rest for 5-10 seconds. Then once you rest, the AC is restored back to the maximum you have available on a single character. However, there are skills you can equip to your character to increase your maximum AC and restore AC faster in battles. Keep in mind too, that the game does re-introduce Technical Points (TP) which is used by Artes; only way to refill TP is by items or special skills.

Another unique aspect of the DR-LMBS is LinkingLinking happens when you link with another character in your party in battle and will continue to be linked unless party characters have changed or forced to remove your link party member. Additionally, you can break your link easily in battle and link with different characters. The greatest benefit of linking though, allows people to use Link Artes which does a huge amount of damage and elemental damage but can only be used when your link gauge is filled to a notch. Additionally, when your link gauge is completely filled up you can activate the Overlink State where you can do multiple Link Artes as the gauge drains and use an ultimate arte move to deal massive damage.

Before, I move on it is very important for you guys to realize how important linking is in Tales of Xillia for the benefits are awesome. For instance, you can transfer damage done to your current character to your Linked partner. Plus, your linked partner gives you a special boost/ability such as breaking enemy defenses, instant heal Artes, steal more items, instant revive, and etc. Technically speaking, you should always be linking because of the abilities, damage cover, Link Artes, and Overlink State.

Furthermore, strategies brought by the system for defeating enemies are about the same shape and form during the battles in previous games; although, the focus on this game has leaned to one or two ways to defeating enemies. The first way is using the elemental weakness of the enemy such as using a water Arte against a rock based enemy. The second way is to use combos and Linked Artes to knock down enemies to dish out massive damage. There are many other ways to finish off enemies but I found these two ways the quickest and fastest; however, it does get harder when the boss battles come into play.

With DR-LMBS brought a fun combat system in ease of control and difficulty. No matter what level I was at in the game, the last boss was still hard to fight even at level 80 (normal difficulty) because the way the system is set up. Furthermore, DR-LMBS allowed for quick battles lasting about 20-40 seconds long. Any difficulty higher than normal though, will make the battles last longer with little benefit to the player unless they want a challenge.

Skills and Abilities


Lilium Orb paths with the Skills or Artes in the center of them.

Tales of Xilla brought something new to the series that is quite similar to Final Fantasy X sphere system called Lilium Orb. Each main character is equipped with a Lilium Orb that allows the character's stats, abilities, and skills to increase. There are only two layers that contain Lilium Orb paths. The only downfall of this system is you get more points as you level up until you reach level 64 then you only get one point to spend. For me this felt wrong from a player's perspective, considering all the hard work it takes to get to level 100 and you get only one point after level 63 to spend on the Lilium Orb.

The game re-introduces the term Skills as a stat or move to improve a character. Skills in the game make it easier for the player because they allow the player to reduce damage, reduce status effects, gain TP, gain AC, boost stats, and etc. The only downfall of the skill system is that it makes the previous title system useless; therefore in Tales of Xillia, they treat titles earned in the game as a trophy/achievement system.  By the way, skills and Artes are earned by capturing the orb on all sides in the Lilium Orb.

If you can’t tell by now, Artes are special moves you can use in the game by pressing the circle button. Artes are earned by capturing a special star orb on all sides in the Lilium Orb. Artes also are different from character to character. The drawback of the artes though is you only have two healers (Leia and Elize). Additionally, Artes and Linked Artes are the only attacks or heals that required the use of TP. On the plus side, you can heal your characters outside of battle using a healing Arte, items, or food.

Items, Shops, food, and Equipment


Expanding the item shop...oh what fun we will have.

In previous games there was some form or another of creating items yet in this game, the only option available is to expand the shop levels. Basically, different type of item shops are forced to only give you items based on the level you contributed to using either money or materials. The shop levels do limit the player in advancement but it is very easy to gain money and materials to boost the shop levels. A fail aspect of this system though, lies with the very fact that some shops like the items and food shop levels gain nothing beneficial after level 50 as they get higher in the shop level.

Food has always been prevalent in the tales series games. And just like before, the food temporally boosts stats, amount of xp, heals, and etc. There is no way to create food; so expect to be paying a lot of money to buy those foods that boost the amount of XP or boost the amount of money you earn in battle. If you don’t use food in the game, expect lots of grinding.

Moreover, equipment in the game obviously gives the player a boost to offense and defense stats. On the other hand, the best blade weapons (legendary items) in the game can only be obtained by doing a new game plus. So, it forces the player to re-play the story even though there is barely any difference in story except one or two cut-scenes.

By the way, you can use auto items for NPC(s) party members in the game to use certain items during set conditions of the battles. This in turn makes using items easier supposedly. The Artificial Intelligence of NPC party members make it not possible to use the auto item method for there are still problems with NPC(s) wasting items.

Story and Characters


Alvin is such a dirty dirty man.

The entire world of Tales of Xillia revolves around the spirits living there who give life to plants, nature, and animals. Likewise, the spirits allow the humans to have a mana lobe. In this sense the mana lobe could be thought of as chi or aura that allows humans to use Artes. Without spirits, the humans would not have Artes and nature. Thus, the entire conflict deals with protecting the spirits from going extinct. 

With that said, this is the first time in the entire series where you can choose between two different characters. These two characters are Jude and Millia. Milla wants to save spirits and is determined to do so while Jude is smart and wants to help Millia. Ironically enough, the major flaw from the entire story lies with the very fact that you choose between Milla and Jude. This is a flaw because the video game seems to like Jude more during cut-scenes and skits even if you choose to be Milla. 

Plus, there are some anomalies when you choose as Millia. For instance, when Millia dies during the game she is turned into a spirit and must wander around trying to remember why she was there. It sounded good at first but it felt like the scene wasn’t necessary and didn’t do justice to Millia’s character. And for some reason we see certain scenes from Jude's view even though Millia is not there. On the other hand, you never see scenes that Jude was not a part of during the playthough of Jude’s side.

Personally, I felt more emotionally attached to Jude’s story. He was more clever yet flawed at the same time, someone I can relate to.  He actually felt like a smart character main character such as telling people that he has a smart plan, rare in video games. The scenes after the death of Milla during the Jude’s side, has got to be the best part of the game. It was so emotional and tragic but oddly warm. Warm like a faint feeling you wish to forget about someone but you cannot. He is one of the few people that I like besides Alvin in the game.

Alvin is a foreigner from another world who does not have a mana lobe. It was hard for him to grow up in this world and constantly lie about his past.  He never really was a good or bad guy in the story. All Alvin ever wanted in the story was to make his mother feel better and return home. So, naturally he has to make the best choices even if he becomes a bad guy or good guy because no one else can help him. Oddly enough, his character reminded me so much of the main character of Kaze no Yojimbo which made me love him even more. I have totally not read any fan fiction or created any fan fiction that includes Alvin.

Anyway, I could mention more about the other main characters about how unique each of them felt but it would be wasting time. Instead let’s talk about two characters I didn’t like in the game that made the game felt horrible when they speak.

Leia was sick as a child but got better and a childhood friend of Jude. She would often “play” with Jude by training with him (beating him up all the time). As she got older she became a nurse with the dreams to one day be by Jude’s side. This all sounded interesting but her personality felt generic. Plus, I felt like her personality reminded me of how much I hated the Tales of Graces f main character’s girlfriend. In fact because of how closely they resemble each other personality and background wise made me hate Leia even more.

Finally, the last character I hate the most is Ivar “hand maid” of Millia. He is an energetic character who loves to please Millia. Too bad his energy goes to waste for all the bad things that gone wrong in the game happen because Ivar is naive.  No, calling him naïve doesn’t do him justice. He is stupid and miss-guided about what he perceives would win Millia’s affections. In fact, he gave away an important item that allowed an entire army to invade the world because he thought it would make him look good in front of Millia.

I have to say though; the main villain Gaius is very grey as a villain. He is a great ruler and has a similar personality to Millia but a different way to approach the main conflict. Now that I think about it, I never hated Gaius. It remains that he is not the main villain because he wants to be, simply the choices he made treat him as the main villain. The main characters also don’t hate him either but must stop him because of difference in opinion to save the spirits.  

Animation and Sound


Blue tints for everyone. Look at the sides if you don't believe me.

There was nothing I particularly loved about the animation or cut-scene art direction. They did finally add a world map and local map, makes it better to navigate. Also, included in the world map is the ability to teleport to areas you have been to before which is fantastic. However, a blue tint would occasionally show up on screen for no reason on the sides of the screen and below. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me as to why this kept happening in the game. It really bugged me though because it distracted my eyes at times when I was in certain dungeons. Otherwise, the animation was pretty good.

Moving along, the music in the game kind of reminded me of a traditional tales series game. One song in particular sounded like a Japanese instrumental folk song.  The game also had a jazz song in the game when entering a modern city. The music fitted perfectly with the image they were trying to create in the game.

There were some flaws with the overall sound that affected my gameplay experience. Sometimes dialogue wasn't voice for some reason during certain side quests while others were for some reason. Plus, people in every city had the same background sound talking about wanting meat buns. Also, music didn't play in certain areas throughout the game which made it creepy when you go back to the area. It obviously wasn't intentionally made to sound creepy; it ruins the atmosphere of the game though and made me not want to the creepy port city without music.


Play this game for the battles and Jude’s side of the story. Otherwise, Namco Tales studio should have polished this game a bit more before releasing it. Particularly fix Millia’s story and fix the technical glitches that were mention above. Here’s hoping Tales of Xillia 2 story will be better, I don’t have high hopes though.

Gameplay: 5/5
Game Mechanics: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Animation: 4/5
Sound: 4/5

Overall Score: 4/5
Where to buy: Amazon, Gamestop, and other major retailers. Average price about $39.99.

Anime Recommendations

Kaze no Yojimbo: Alvin and the main character have similar qualities in terms of being neutral in terms of conflict. Both also want to obtain their goals no matter what must be done.

Video Game Recommendations

Final Fantasy X: The story reminds me similar to Final Fantasy X where belief played a big role in the story. Also, the main villain share similar quality where I don’t hate them but understand why they are doing things. Plus, have a similar system in terms of getting magical abilities.

Tales of Graces F: Combat is similar but no TP and allows creation to happen. Story is a little meh and subpar at best.

I’m sure there are plenty of anime that have similar elements to Tales of Xilla but I can only think of one that had a similar character to Alvin in the game. Anyway, please subscribe to me if you can. I’m a lonely person. Also follow me on Albelcasting if you would be so kindly. 

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  • icon
    "so complex that it becomes awesome" I can-not be the only one who noticed that. Also. I read half. Will read the other half tomorrow. :) Good job.
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    Ebel +1
    For the past couple of years the JRPG and RPGS have been trying to stray away from the old tiresome turn base battle mechanic. Tales series though has always stuck with the best battle system and continues to improve it. I'm guessing the battle system for Final Fantasy XV would be similar to kingdom hearts based on the trailers which means only controlling one main character in battle. Also, I'm happy that you guys were able to read all of it. >.<
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    I think this is the longest blog I've ever seen! :D Argh,I just finished the half. I'm reading more! *i can do it! xD*
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    Yeah when I saw the orbs my first though was final fantasy looks just like it well sorta. Also I never used LMBS system before it seems like a good idea. I like a game where you can't get over-powered and are always forced to make strategies.
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    Hey, I read it all. Good read when you're on a stationary bike. I used to like FF's active time battle systems. This seems like a step up above it. Not sure on the link system but I can see how it could be a big game changer with strategy. Good mix of thinking fast and strategy.
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    There are probably flaws on this because this is the first time I wrote up a full review purely on Word. Also, I doubt many of you would read a 2,777 (8 page) word review.
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