Tales of Xillia Preview
No, we have no idea if Tales of Xillia will ever arrive in North America. But you know what? We figure if we start covering the crap out of the JRPGs we want, Namco Bandai will take notice and do the right thing; there are still plenty of role-playing fans in this country, you know! Anyway, the latest in the esteemed Tales franchise has been revealed and detailed, and will launch in September in Japan. Set in a world called Liese Maxia, humans and sprites coexist in a charming landscape that is unfortunately marred by war and roving enemies. There are two main characters: Jude Mathis and Milla Maxwell. Jude is a 15-year-old medical student who doesn’t use his brain during battle…he uses his fists. Milla is into spirit artes (no, that isn’t misspelled, I swear).
So yeah, the female is the magic user. Big surprise, huh? Anyway, during your adventure, you will encounter other characters, like Elise Lutus, Tipo, Rowan J. Ibert and Alvin. Each character has a unique set of skills and abilities, and each may be crucial to your survival. We won’t give away any more of the story, so on to the combat mechanic, which is dubbed the “Double Raid Linear Motion” system. This, used in conjunction with the Link Mode system, will dictate the flow of battles. You control one character and AI handles your other party members. It sounds pretty standard but there’s one fresh element that sounds intriguing: the cooperation involved. See, you can tag-team between two characters, which means that – just for example – Jude and Milla can flank an enemy and blindside. To add more depth to the concept, you’ll be able to execute team-up special artes during a combo.
Jude and Milla’s team-up move is called Scarlet Fang, which slices a hapless enemy multiple times. When you link two characters, you control one of them (the “master”) and the AI handles the other (the “partner”). You’ll be able to tell which two characters are working together during battle, because a blue line will connect them. Obviously, the decision to make one character the “master” will make a huge difference, so strategy is definitely going to play a major role. This system sounds like it has potential but I’m a little concerned at the complexity involved; this is a real-time mechanic (yeah, so what else is new?) and with the sheer amount of stuff happening at any given time…well, it might feel a tad overwhelming.
But there are benefits to this style and if done correctly, it may prove to be fluid and even seamless. The possibilities really seem endless and you’ll have full control at all times. You’ll even be able to swap out party members at any time with the d-pad and to make things even easier, pressing R3 will cause time to slow as you select a new party member. I will add one final caveat and those familiar with JRPGs this generation will know what it is before I type it- we require great AI for all this to work correctly. We also need a solid balance between the overall challenge, the speed of the combat, and the rate at which we become familiar with the mechanic. If the developers can time things just right, we should be in for a treat.
…provided Tales of Xillia ever comes here, of course.
6/1/2011 Ben Dutka