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This novel promises a yarn about two former student radicals, Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband Stephen, an environmental policymaker in the New York City Mayor’s office, as they deal with various racial and political issues compounded by the fall of a black student down a flight of stairs. In the brief preface, Bettina, the primary narrator for the story, warns not to take the gift of children for granted, and discovers a diary kept by her son Max when he was thirteen, the novel’s action beginning on October 7 at 8:45 pm. In the first main chapter, Bettina mentions that she is a morning person, her son Max is in eighth grade and about to take a class trip to Washington, D.C., and that she’s daughter to Holocaust survivors.

The main inciting incident of the novel is the plight by a black student named Cyrus Nightingale down a flight of stairs and consequential coma, believed by the police to be the result of students horsing around. The third chapter is the first time Max narrates the story himself, likely through his diary, when on Monday October 11, 10:20 pm, he’s freaked out by his friend Cyrus, whom he states was named by Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great. The coma victim is taken to the derelict Harlem-Manhattan hospital, and Max ultimately receives blame for his friend’s coma as he was nearby when it occurred. At first, life seems to continue normally for Max and his family, who are nonreligious in spite of Jewish roots.

However, thanks to the pressure of an activist named Marcus Hake, Max is eventually sent to a juvenile detention center faced with the charges of causing his friend’s coma, the issue of Max being white and Cyrus being black playing a significant role in the incarceration. Family and friends suspect a conspiracy, with the woven tale for the most part being enjoyable, a nice break from other racial injustice stories where members of minorities are typically the discrimination victims, this issue very much challenging the leftist leanings of the Grosjeans and their friends from college and beyond. There are some minor parts that this reviewer missed and which drove him to go back and reread sessions, although he would highly recommend this tale.
Child of Light (PlayStation Vita) - www.ebay.com/itm/231560335216
Tales of Xillia + Tales of Xillia 2 - www.ebay.com/itm/231567562315
  • Watching: iZombie - "Mr. Berserk"
  • Playing: Dragon Quest III, Final Fantasy VII, Xenoblade 3DS
In 2011, Namco released the latest entry of their Tales series for the PlayStation 3, Tales of Xillia, with an English localization coming a little under two years later, with the franchise’s golden age outside Japan continuing. Given the game’s success, it was unsurprising that a sequel, Tales of Xillia 2 was announced, also receiving an English translation. Direct sequels at the time were nothing new for the franchise, with several titles such as Symphonia and Destiny receiving narrative successors. The second Xillia itself provides an experience largely on par with its predecessor.

Like its prequel, Xillia 2 sports visible enemies on fields and in dungeons, with foes able to surprise the player if they approach protagonist Ludger from behind, although he and his party can get the advantage if he approaches enemies’ backsides. Since antagonists, however, tend to become aware of him when he comes near at normal travel speed, getting an advantage can be somewhat difficult, and compulsive gamers will typically need to have Ludger walk slowly to approach nemeses facing away, which is admittedly tedious, players most likely wishing to forgo an advantage for sake of time.

Fights themselves begin with Ludger and three allies squaring off against foes in real-time on a battlefield, with many features bequeathed from the game’s predecessor such as characters fighting in pairs for occasional added effects. A new feature is that the protagonist can equip three different weapon sets, a pair of swords, a hammer, and guns, with this providing an element of strategy, the player anytime able to view enemy strengths and weaknesses while switching targets, the action of battle pausing while players do so akin to most other entries in the franchise, always a welcome design decision.

There is also difference in the system by which players’ characters learn new skills, with allies able to equip orbs that allow them to learn abilities through the acquisition of special points, akin to the Esper system from Final Fantasy VI. Combat has always been a strong point of the series and continues to be in the direct sequel, with competent and adjustable A.I., and little complaint aside from the aforementioned tedium of the encounter system. Ultimately, those that play RPGs primarily for the gameplay will certainly experience minimal disappointment.

The controls also help the game well, with easy menus, shopping, navigation, and whatnot, alongside a largely-clear direction on how to advance the main storyline and the countless sidequests upon which players may wish to embark for extra rewards. One can also send Ludger’s cat Rollo to visited locations for supplementary items, a massive debt the protagonist receives playing part as well, with regular payment necessary to advance the main plotline, although this doesn’t hurt the game at all. There is a minor step backwards in that shops all across the world have differing inventories, a slight burden to those that wish to update their party continually with the best gear, but otherwise, interaction is solid overall.

The narrative is also a solid continuation of its predecessor, with plenty of old and new faces, the payment of a debt a nice break from the typical norm of RPG storylines, the protagonist regularly receiving decisions that impact the story and eventual ending, although the returning playable characters lose their abilities acquired in the first game, and elemental spirits continue to play part as well. Even so, the plot is a superb driving factor throughout the title.

Series composer Motoi Sakuraba as usual does a nice job with the soundtrack, although some areas fly a bit too much upon ambience, and the voice acting, like the game’s predecessor, is easily top-notch.

The graphics also look nice, although there are many noticeable visual glitches such as NPCs magically appearing on-screen when the player comes to their map locations. The occasional anime cutscene, however, rounds off a general visually-pleasing sequel.

Finally, breezing through the main storyline can take around thirty hours, although there are plenty of sidequests and extras such as paying off Ludger’s debt and achievement trophies that can easily supplement this time.

In conclusion, Tales of Xillia 2 is a solid direct sequel that hits most of the right notes, what with gameplay that excellently builds upon that in its predecessor, an engaging narrative and characters, great aurals, good graphics, and plenty to boost playing time. There are only some minor imperfections such as the mentioned graphical glitches, although players who enjoyed the first game and others in the franchise will likely enjoy the sequel, with the future of the series outside its Japanese homeland very much likely to be a bright one.

The Good:
+Great Tales battle system and control.
+Engaging narrative and characters.
+Nice soundtrack and voice acting.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Some graphical glitches.

The Bottom Line:
An enjoyable sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 3
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 30-60 Hours

Overall: 9/10
The author of this novel split from the longer Guy Erma and the Son of Empire was born in England, but spent time in school in France and Monaco, ultimately turning an old manuscript into the full-length novel, and ultimately made the decision like the Aoléon series to split it into multiple volumes, with the chapter numbering continuing from its predecessor akin to Brent LeVasseur’s series. The author herself dedicates the novella to her parents, David, and “the girls.” Since the action of the second entry continues from its predecessor, reading the first book is highly recommended, and things can be somewhat confusing to those that haven’t read the first entry recently.

The novella’s action takes place in a single day, which is the second of the trilogy, beginning in the morning, moving to midday, and ending in the evening. The story begins with Karl Valvanchi having a dream of flying, near the crashed shuttle Mezzatorra, with the Dome Elite of Freyne attacking the ship. Prince Teodor is at the time in captivity, during which the races known as the Magnolia Stakes occur, with Guy Erma setting up a stall near the racecourse. An election known as the Dome Debate occurs, too, with incumbent Chart Segat squaring off against Regent Sayginn in a discussion of who will control the Dome, the former promising the Prince’s freedom. Towards the end the Prince faces off in a series of Blades matches with Guy Erma, with some occasional plot twists as well.

A few illustrations are also present, the first of which depicts a Dome Medallion from various perspectives, the second of which appears to be a charcoal drawing of Guy Erma, the third of which depicts a feline goran, the fourth of which clearly depicts Chart Segat, and the final of which shows a clearer portrait of Guy Erma, an untinted version of the cover art essentially, with these images definitely giving readers a look as to what characters and things in the novella’s universe look like. The appendix at the end is very much helpful to those unfamiliar with the franchise’s mythos, and in the end, this reviewer would very much recommend the second novel to those who enjoyed the first, whose reading is definitely recommended before readers dive into its sequel.
  • Reading: Echo by J.K. Accini
  • Watching: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - "S.O.S."
  • Playing: Dragon Quest III, Tales of Xillia 2, Xenoblade 3D
Child of Light (PlayStation Vita) - www.ebay.com/itm/231560335216
Tales of Xillia + Tales of Xillia 2 - www.ebay.com/itm/231567562315
  • Watching: iZombie - "Mr. Berserk"
  • Playing: Dragon Quest III, Final Fantasy VII, Xenoblade 3DS

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jmg124
J. Michael Gallen
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
United States
I'm mostly a writer and RPG critic, but occasionally an artist.
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:iconsolidmars:
SolidMars Featured By Owner May 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Wave by chil96
Thank you kindly for the watch. I hope you'll keep enjoying my work as long as I keep on terrorizing dA :giggle:
btw, you're an awesome person. Have a great day :heart:
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:iconjmg124:
jmg124 Featured By Owner May 15, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks, you too.
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:iconsexystevensakuma:
sexystevensakuma Featured By Owner May 2, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks for the watch !
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:iconjmg124:
jmg124 Featured By Owner May 3, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome.
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:iconmrtwerk:
MrTwerk Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I have an annoying question.
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:iconjmg124:
jmg124 Featured By Owner May 1, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay?
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:iconmrtwerk:
MrTwerk Featured By Owner May 3, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Would it ever offended you that some dudes like to look at your diapered cub art in a lustful manner?
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:iconjmg124:
jmg124 Featured By Owner May 3, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Not at all.
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(1 Reply)
:iconlyza2000:
Lyza2000 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015
Thanks for the watch x3
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:iconmrtwerk:
MrTwerk Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch. Alla hu achbar.
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