It’s been a while since I did some first day impressions. It dates all the way back to Tomb Raider. Since I’ll be living in the world of Tales of Xillia for a while, I thought I’d start my return to the franchise with a diary for posterity. I consider Tales of Symphonia one of the most complete RPGs to ever grace the Gamecube and even overall it’s one of those top tier memories. I can’t say that Xillia will be the same, though there is still consistency to be found in it, more than Tales of Eternia had, at least.
What’s clear straight away is that the “Tales of” franchise has evolved with the times. For one, there are tons more cutscenes, for better or worse. Its anime influence is now undeniable with lengthy cartoon movies gracing the screen. Luckily, these are in top notch quality, with crisp drawings, amplified with glaring effects and swooping camera angles. It’s fan service all the way, but it’s doubtful that something with a clear JRPG style would ever attract another audience in the first place. Perhaps that’s a shame, since the dialogue within shows riveting quality. English voice actors are terrible, but luckily the lines that are spontaneously thrown around serve for many a chuckle. On that note, Xillia also has tons of little skits that can be viewed during play time. It’s an optional side attraction with even more comical banter, so it fuses the best of both worlds. It’s not necessary to stop playing for it, but it’s damn great to do so anyway.
On the combat side, there is potential as well, but it remains dormant under its complexity, so far. In truth, a grandiose scheme of combos and such is only as good as its comprehension can make it apparent. However, with just short text tutorials, there isn’t enough practice to figure out the swift battles occurring in real time. There’s a lot to be impressed about though, such as linking characters to fight together, combining magic spells, upgrading characters to unlock new abilities on a grid and more. Combat has always been one of the franchise’s strong suits and if it will slow down just a little past its first few hours, it may be the same for Xillia. In any case, having monsters sprawled across the map is handy, as it’s possible to sneak up behind them and temporarily stun them.
Another point that shows promise is an organic update of shops, where it’s a player’s responsibility to make shops thrive, by giving them business. This can either be done simply by purchasing items or by donating goods and money to make their wares selection expand. It’s simple yet clever, as it breaks away from the arbitrary bigger shops in new towns. It’s a more involved design to logically make certain stores develop.
If there’s one thing that currently shows no signs of improvement, it’s a minor element. Sound effects sound tinny and flat, certainly anything relating to walking. Sadly, there will be tons of running around in the game, so be prepared to turn down the volume on effects. Let’s not get into the sexualized aspect just yet, as it can go both ways and again, this is catered towards a specific audience. There were a few cringing moments in the first hours, but they were few and far between, luckily. Let’s hope it stays that way. There’s nothing wrong with some sexually tinted content, as long as it stays just that.
Now, off to find out more amusing anecdotes from this band of travelling misfits. That really is the best part, certainly as the overarching story line is trash. It keeps the narrative going for the people, not for their mission.