Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tales of Xillia 2

Scroll down to the bolded text if you don't wanna read my ranting and raving over the past week

Normally i write these when i finish them...
Normally games don't piss me off as much so i'm going to make notes while i play.
Sadly i don't easily forgive bullshit game design so even if the rest of the game is amazing... this can't be any better then a mediocre for me.

So, i had seen a lot of mixed things about this game... mostly negative but hey.... i have liked games that most people didn't care for in the past so i figured i should still give this a shot... it's only fair considering i bought it.

Things i liked right off the bat.
i got lots of in game stuff for having played Xillia and Graces F... that made me smile.
yeah that was pretty much it.

Things that worried me off the bat
No intro song upon first boot up... you have to play to a certain place in the game (it's really early on) before you see it... they did this in Xillia as well but it was a bit easier to understand since the visuals you got for the intro vid were different based on who you picked.
the game takes a long time to load up and feel the need to check for DLC 3 times before you even get to pick your file.

So then i got to playing... and was reminded that the music for the world you start in is really terrible (that may just be me and jazzy tunes not getting along but i think even people who like jazz would hate the music)
Still i enjoyed the fact that there is the Illusion of choice, it makes you feel like your in control even though i have a feeling a lot of the dialogue choices lead to the same end result.

But then we come to Ludgar.
now before anyone says "they made him say nothing so that you created his personality"
someone can correct me if i'm wrong but when i played Tales of Symphonia 2: dawn of the new world there were dialogue options... yet Emil (emile?) still had a lot of personality... and i still felt like i was shaping his personality and dealing with the whole ratatosk (no idea if i'm spelling it right... it's been years since i played TOS2) thing.
It's neat that they are trying to give me a bit more control over how this character acts but wow he is just so dull, and he always looks like a wounded puppy which makes me dislike him even more.
For me Character trumps everything.
character is more important then plot, music and gameplay combined for me... this goes for all entertainment. if i don't like the protagonist then i will not enjoy what the rest of the thing has to offer.

Still the supporting characters are fine.... i guess... they kinda feel fanservicy for the most part cause it's like "look they are the same but slightly different.... you shouldn't need to accuse one character of betraying you again... granted now he has no personality but hey he's got a beard.... neato right?"
Elle is cute but other then "i need to go to cannan" she doesn't do much... i'm still pretty early in though so that should change when it's revealed that she is or is related to a certain character who has been mentioned lots lately.

but all that is not why i'm starting to write this early.

ok... side story:
Back in the day my father came home one day with a game i had never heard of "Evolution Worlds" for the Gamecube.
the graphics were terrible but the plot was lovely and is a game i still think about and remember the good times.
that game had a debt system.... if you payed off your massive debt then you got something special.... if you played again and paid off your even bigger debt you were treated to something even better.
however the game didn't care to much if you never paid any of your debt off.
it was up to you. (side side story, the game took away my best character for the final battle... boy was i pissed)

So.... coming back ot this game... you have to pay off your debt.... but apparently no you shouldn;t
you should just wait for the game to say "hey you have to pay this off to progress the story!" because otherwise you are going to be stuck doing fetch quests and bullshit gametime padding crap that doens't further the story and above all else IS NOT FUN.
i play games for fun.... why would i want to play a game for work... i shouldn't be forced to do quests if i don't want to and giving me a stupid paywall blocking my progress... what is this a mobile game?

however... it's not all bad.

one thing that made Xillia a little enjoyable was trying to connect it to Phantasia.

this one practically confirms is... i'm pretty sure Aska (like maxwell) has only appeared in one other game... phantasia...
also Elle's last name is Mal Marta
marta is the other character is TOS2 which is canonically in the phantsia world.
still... a few nods to my fav Tales of game will not win me over...
i just gotta beat it before Tales of Hearts R arrives cause i know if i stop playing Xillia 2 i will never pick it back up... it's just not enjoyable enough right now.
still... lets see where it goes from here.

Now since writing up my little rant i have looked up a few things.
I wanted to see how fast the game could be beaten...  and i saw around 12 hours. i tend to explore a bit so i figure it'll be closer to 15-20 but i am aiming for 15.
i am halfway through the story (chapter wise) and i only have done one side chapter (and i didn't know thats what i was getting into when i started it)
I also remembered my most favorite part from Xillia 1... i can put Glasses on ludger... and alvin... and gaius... and jude...
prety much all the male characters now wear glasses and i gotta say my enjoyment of the cutscenes has gone up.
the story is still stupid and pointless but hey... glasses...

But now i have to talk about Milla.
did she change voice actors? like it's bad enough that they took all the charm and sweetness of her character and made her really annoying. when characters only whine and complain and blame others without actually trying to do anything to make it better... it's just annoying. I know too many people like that in my real life i don't need that in my games.

Lastly I want to go up to the person who decided you could only change your party in towns and smack them... the best feature of Xillia 1 was being able to change party members in the middle of a fight... now half the time the game doesn't even give me a choice of who's in my part when.

maybe i don't wanna have Gaius, milla and leia in my part.... maybe i want alvin instead of milla.... but nope... can't switch simply because the game has told me no. the others are there with me... but nope... plot says no.

oh... and the Slash/smash/pierce fighting dynamic is just making me wanna play Ys 7 or 4 instead of you... it does the system so much better.

Okay... i was wrong... not even glasses can save this game... the novelty wore off the instant i hit another "you gotta pay off your debt!" chunk.
the way i've been paying off debt is find elite monsters... kill a few.... pay off debt.
but night now i'm just feeling like i can't find any of them.
I head to the areas that i think it said they were in but really it was a different place and i wasted time looking around.

It's not that earning money is hard... even if you don't do any quests it's possible to fight enough monsters in a decent timeframe to pay off the debt.
On the other hand if i wanted to play an MMO where i needed to grind/do fetch quests to proceed then i would play an MMO.

There are two key things that can keep me playing a bad game.
1) If the story is good and/or just interesting enough where i don't care that the gameplay is a little dull or repetitive...
2) if the gameplay is fun enough to override a dull plot.

Had this been a game about Alvin's time pre meeting Milla and Jude... or perhaps about jude after the events of the main game and how he's dealign with that.... or about Gaius and Muset and their mindset... this could have been a really interesting story.
Instead we get a story of two brothers who can go into other dimensions and destroy them... are the ramifications of destroying a world brought up? occasionally but it always boils down to "well i feel bad but i kinda gotta do it so.... too bad"
oh and it has characters from the other game so we can call it a sequel... even though sequel should expand upon ideas or world elements and this just doesn't do anything.

The combat on the other hand actually annoys me.
In Graces F (which i shouldn't have played before i played this cause then maybe i owuldn't be so annoyed by the combat here) square is Dodge, side step and backstep. when you do these actions it feels like you are actually dodging attacks.
in Xillia 2 dodge and backstep are square.... Side step is some odd combo like L1 and X... while X is otherwise attack... and L1 is half of the button combo needed to switch weapons... it's just not intuitive... it has no flow and 99% of the time ends with me hitting X a bunch, maybe throwing a circle in there if i'm bored... and then waiting for the fight to finish.

Graces f came how many years before Xillia 2? why would you take a really good combat system and just not keep any of the elements that made it good (guard also being used for dodge, having to wait for your meter to fill up before you can attack again and figuring out if you should attack early or wait for it to fill all the way, having two strings of attack possibilities with a sheathed weapon vs a blade)

Part of me thought that if i can get to the end of Arc Rise Fantasia that i would be able to play through any terrible rpg....
another part of me thougth that tales of symphonia would always be the low point of that series for me..
i guess part of me was wrong.

I don't know if i want to finish it.
i mean i wanna finish it cause i bought it and i hate wasting money...
but it's not fun
i'm not having fun
i play games to have fun
this is just so damn dull... i don't even want to bother anymore.
oh well.. Hearts R in a week... if i haven't beaten it by then... then i probably never will.


Spoilers from here on cause i am just... beyond caring.

We you start up the game you see a character and my first reaction to him was "that is either Ludgar or Ludgar's father"
because tales of isn't always the best at being subtle... and knowing that ludgar was going to spend the rest of the game caring for her and their cooking was damn near the same and how he is so much like elles father like she CONSTANTLY reminds us.
but how it was revealed to me made me wanna throw my controller.

Ludgar never talks, you have to beat the game one to get his voice because otherwise the reveal would be too obvious.
Ludgar does grunt and occasionally say a word here or there...
it was enough.
When Victor spoke for the first time i was so angry. "you took his personality and his voice for a stupid reveal that i guessed when i booted up this stupid game?... all to hide this 'secret' that was confirmed the second the character in question spoke? Are you kidding?" like... it wasn't a surprised but i dunno... i think it's pretty obvious that it's the same voice actor.
he then proceeded to kick my ass so... who knows if i'll be able to beat him since i don't think i can grind at this point.
but yeah i just so don't care.
i am so done...
but at the same time i only have 3 more chapters after this.
so close to the end... but so done with this stupidity.

oh... and even if it hasn't been declared cannon as the same world as Phantasia and Symphonia... it is.
between Aska, mentioning the city of Thor, the look of the little spiryte, shadow, mentioning chamelion, focusing on origin and the two worlds thing... yeah... 100% same world just in the far future.
what about the tree? i'm sure it's there somewhere and even if it isn't it's withering away would make sense with the one world losing all magic.
and maybe elves/half elves were all killed off or something.
but yeah... being connected to phantasia didn't make me like symphonia and it sure as hell isn't making me like this one.

Also i'm done putting in effort for something that put no effort in itself... easy mode activated cause i just want this over and done with.

I didn't think this game could make me any angrier.
Boy i've been wrong a lot in this extremely long rant over multiple days.

So in Chapter 15 (which is the penultimate chapter as far as i understand) you see a scene of how ludger could have been
full of personality
not a sniveling mopey blank slate.
Why would they take that away?
i know why, i complained about why the other day but that reason doesn't seem worth crippling your main character.
he could have spoken the entire game and when victor started to talk most people would have just gone "oh!" instead of "oh you kept him from talking so we wouldn't figure it out even though it's pretty obvious"
oh well... in the end... i'm on what i believe to be the final chapter... i should be able to beat this before hearts r arrives... and then i will write my final thoughts as concisely as possible... cause i think this has gone on long enough. 

~Hearts R arrives~
Dammit... ok... still i wanna beat this so Hearts R will be my reward for getting through Xillia 2..
unless i cave
i may cave.
i have less then no will power.


I'm going to keep this as short as i can... i have gone on more then long enough.

This game doesn't need to exist, which is kinda fitting since if i were to tack on any central theme it would have to be Existence.
However unlike other tales of games it really doesn't have a point.

Theres talk about fractured dimensions and the fact you may just be another 'fake' world and you are essentially murdering thousands of people left right and center. Is this ever explored? not really.. you get a bit of "oh boy i sure feel bad about this" as you are crushing worlds.

Theres talk about bonds and what it means to protect someone... but in the end it doesn't really matter because as much as i tried to protect people it was just shoved back in my face as none of my choices even mattered (well none of the choices before the 15th chapter as far as i can tell)

Theres the slightest hint at what it means to be family.... but according to the game what it means is that you have to kill each other to get ahead... sacrifices must be made and all that.

I dunno maybe had they done something with the fact Ludgar is essentially a blank slate and what it means to actually be an individual and the weight of a choice it could have been a really interesting concept. but instead they just hide his voice to 'hide' and insanely obvious plot twist.

This had potential and i think thats what pisses me off so much about this.

It feels like a blatant cash grab
it feels like they weren't even trying
it feels like they were trying to pad out what should have probably be an expansion on the first game.

When i first beat the game i was positive i got the bad ending cause of the weak sappy music.... and i was okay with that cause honestly i had stopped caring about this somepoint after the charm of putting all the male characters in glasses wore off.
i got the normal ending.... which was cute i guess but still very normal.
apparently i made the right choices in chapter 16 for the true end but not 15... oops
now that i have watched the true ending (cause i will not replay this, even for the 'joy' of actually listening to ludgar talk) there is still no point. there is no central theme... there is no bigger message.

Oh well at least in the credits i got to see the same name attached to Phantasia, symphonia and xillia.... (and vesperia but ignoring that for now)  so i say thats confirmation of same world... at least it's close enough in my eyes.

To be honest.... i was hoping the cat would be a more important role... why else would it be there the entire time.
oh well.

Still i shouldn't be completely negative...

The good:
Elle is adorable, if the story had been even more about her and her dealings with being away from her dad i would have been happier.
you get to have gaius in your party... thats kinda neat.
Oh! the intro song is nice, makes a good theme through the game. (i mean... it's not as good as Karma but what is)

The bad:
Debt system thats just meant to pad out the game
has little to nothing to do with xillia 1 other then returning characters.
combat system is crippled.
during all but one main chapter stories you don't get to pick your party (which i loath, don't give me a wealth of characters and then not let me pick)
The returning characters have no personality... this one i may come off as a little unfair since i didn't do any side chapaters (other then 1 for jude and boy was i annoyed that happened, i just wanted to get through the game as quick as possible) but seriously Alvin is no longer fun, Jude is just whiny, Millia was always kinda flat and seems to have lost what littler personality she got at the end of the first game. Elize and rowan play no part in the main plot at all in any way.

I didn't like this game....
I never thought i would dislike a tales of game more then Symphonia.
But i hate Symphonia cause i hate Lloyd... he was just so annoying.
Not to mention it was insanely predictable, my friend (who i was playing with) punched me every time i guessed the next plot line.... i got punched a lot.
Where this it's the complete absence of any personality... the plot happens around them... and they just happen to follow.
in my opinion that isn't good storytelling and it sure as hell isn't good for a game thats main draw should be it's story (again i may be alone on this one but this game doens't have good game mechanics either).

So yeah.... my Tales of list!

1. Phantasia
2. Graces f (specifically trails and tribulations)
3. Abyss and Vesperia
4. Symphonia 2: Dawn of the New worlds
5. Xillia
6. Destiny (cause it didn't work on my system)

9. Symphonia
10. Xillia 2

NOW... i got Hearts R earlier today and i'm hoping it'll be better then Xillia 2.

also if you read all this then thank you very much for dealing with my angry ranting... it made me feel a lot better to get it off my chest while i played.

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