So I put Tales of Xillia on my wish-list for christmas, but judging by the reactions in Dice's GOTY thread a lot of you seem pretty disappointed with it.
Do you still think it would work as a good starting point for the series? At least as a litmus test?
The only other game in the series I have played is Tales of Eternia, which was ok, but I found the combat to be a bit too button-mashy and simplistic. I wanted to check out one of the 3D versions, but I was having issues deciding on which one. After checking out about 5-10 minutes of Graces f on youtube, I don't think I could put up with that kind of story/writing for an entire game, but Xillia seemed tolerable.
I don't have a 3DS or 360, so at the moment Vesperia and Abyss are out. I suppose I could wait for the Symphonia HD rerelease if that is a better starting point.
Tales games are funny, they each seem to have a thing they're "good" at. That's sort-of why Xillia sticks out badly... because nothing is particularly impressive.
Combat was done better Graces, characters were done better in Vesperia, plot was done better in Abyss, music was done better Legendia, and dungeons were done better in Symphonia. Xillia is by no means BAD, it's just lackluster and sometimes incredibly lazy in other parts. I still put in 80 hours with Xillia, but it never really "hooked" me like you really want a good RPG to do.
I don't know how to go on, so I'll do this:
+ It is a good battle system, not Graces good, but entertaining.
+ Simple and effective weakness system that makes linking characters a lot of fun and making each character useful in unique ways
+ Lovely towns
+ Two POV characters (YMMV in how varied their point of view is though)
+ Tons of sidequests and surprisingly interesting B-plots (ie; sidequest plots)
+ Finally the Tales world takes on Asian motifs and design
+ Pretty cool villains
+ Rowen, Leia, Alvin
- One of the worst RPG world map/field ever. Most of the locations are boxed-in fields where the most intuitive thing you do is climb a vine. The Xill world is a succesion of box-canyons with a new coat of paint... Winter! Fall! Nighttime!
- I know I said the villains were cool, but their motives are foolish, two of the sort-of supernatural bad guys you meet later are especially dumb
- Shop system is a hit or miss
- Dungeons are fucking awful. Symphonia had wonderful puzzles in each dungeon. This game has, literally, nothing. The most intuitive thing you do is hit a switch or jump off ledges. They basically feel like an extension of the world map.
Lilium Orb isn't very inspiring
- Occasional frame rate issues in battle...
- Jude is a lame MC.
If you really want a good battle system, many Tales fans love the hell out of Graces and it can become easy to look past the bland and "fluffy" plot and characters in exchange for a really fresh and in-depth battle system. Graces simply gives you a TON to do even if the story isn't impressive. You will probably get a bit more plot out of Xillia, but you'll have to deal with a lot of other cons. So the question is: Are you gameplay-oriented or story-oriented?