Game review: Tales Of Xillia

It starts off simply enough. Boy meets girl and girl gets attacked, so they team up to save the world.

Tales Of Xillia is the latest in the long-running series of Japanese role-playing games (JRPG) and brings about some of the best elements of JRPG, though action fans might get lost in all the varied elements.

Lead characters Jude Mathis and Milla Maxwell are two strangers thrust into adventure, fighting monsters and meeting new friends. Their quest: to destroy the evil weapon, Lance of Kresnik.

Speed is of the essence here, as your party, which can be assembled from six playable characters you meet along the way, plays out battles in real time. Encounters are also done in real time, allowing you the option to enter or avoid combat on the area map.

And the fights get complicated. Characters grow in strength and ability and players choose which skills, also known as Artes, to bring into a fight. Two characters can also be linked in battle, to activate greater combo attacks. As characters have different attributes, various combos can be made and they can determine the outcome of a battle.

This gives rise to a greater combat system, especially since the use of Artes with two linked characters can play out differently based on the character combinations picked.

Pretty soon, you have to know how to set the battle tactics of characters in your party that you do not control, and how to swop between characters and link them with the right partner, to give yourself that battle advantage.

And this is just the basics of the battle. Abilities can be upgraded through a complex skill tree that determines how each of your characters is strengthened, in terms of physical or magical attacks - this, in turn, awards corresponding buffs and skills that differ greatly based on earlier paths taken.

And that is just for skills and abilities. If you want better armour and other items, you have the choice of visiting upgrade shops. Think of it as investing in them, so that you get better prices and items. The choice is yours because some RPG players prefer not to buy any weapons, and prefer to rely on their skills to win the game. This method saves players a lot of gold for other items.

The depth of the game also extends to side quests, which are staples in any RPG.

And once you are done, you can go back and play as the other lead character you did not originally choose, as the game unfolds in a slightly different perspective based on your choice.

As this version is an English translation from the Japanese one released two years ago, the cell shaded graphics can seem dated, even though games in the Tales series are not known for being beautiful renders.

The voice acting is also very anime-like, with cute voices and tones that can grate on your ears, especially as the game uses plenty of dialogue to get the story across.

Rating: 8/10

Price: $139.90 (PS3, Collectors Edition;$79.90, Day 1 Edition)

Genre: RPG