Xenoblade Chronicles is the game that everyone has been longing for here in the United States. Following its release in European territories, a lot of Wii owners who love Japanese RPGs were enraged after finding out that Nintendo of America had no plans to bring the title overseas. Almost a year after the fan outrage and countless requests, Nintendo of America had a change of heart and finally decided to bring over, what everyone considered in Europe, the best RPG game to date.
With the release of Xenoblade Chronicles this week in the United States, has Nintendo of America made the right choice porting it over? Let’s take a look at what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of Xenoblade Chronicles.
Best Looking Wii-Game to Date
As we draw closer to the end of the Wii’s life cycle, only a few games have showcased the graphical power the system can output. That is, until Xenoblade Chronicles came out. For a JRPG, I must say that I’m impressed by the scale and depth of the environments that you can explore within the game. When it comes to JRPGs, one of the things that fans are looking forward to is how big the area is that they’re going to explore or if the game shows any linearity. In Xenoblade Chronicles, Monolith Software crafted the perfect formula when it comes to delivering the scope and non-linearity of the game. Previously, titles such as Skyward Sword were hailed as one of the best looking Wii games, but now Xenoblade Chronicles takes that spot.
Everything from the game’s environmental design, locations and characters are done phenomenally well. With some JRPGs, fans tend to get bored by how dull the areas and locations they’re exploring look. Thankfully, you will not experience that type of boredom here in Xenoblade Chronicles. In almost every location, you’ll see well-crafted towns, dungeons and a big open field. With so many areas that you can go to, the game’s pacing is good and there’s no chance at all you will get bored, even though there are points where it has a lot of back tracking.
When it comes to a JRPG game, it’s very important that it has an engaging story to keep its fans playing from start to finish. In the majority of JRPG games, you will notice that the story tends to get predictable even at the very beginning of the game. In the case of Xenoblade Chronicles, the story will hook you from the beginning to the end without feeling that the story is predictable. The mood and the setting of Xenoblade Chronicles feel right, especially when all scenes have British voice-overs.
Millenia after the titans – Bionis and Mechonis – faced off against each other in the middle of the ocean, their remains have become the place where humans and other species reside. Following the game’s opening scene where the people from Colony 9 are facing the mechanical machines that have been a problem for years, the thought that they’ve been wiped out by Dunban’s weapon called the Monado allows everyone in the world to rest easy. A few years after the war between the humans and the mechanical machines, called Mechons, the main protagonist named Shulk is determined to find out the mystery and power that Dunban used to wipe out the Mechons. With his curiosity and the tide of events that took place in Colony 9, the Mechonis disrupted the current peace and it’s time for Shulk to take the Monado to unlock its secret.
Throughout the 60+ hours of gameplay in Xenoblade Chronicles, you will go through the grandest story ever told in a JRPG genre. Mysteries and the powers of the Monado will be revealed and a chain of twist events will uncover the full story as Shulk sets out on an adventure to find a way to permanently stop the Mechons and unlock the power of the True Monado.
Combat System is Fantastic
Often times, JRPG fans are used to the turned based battle system. In Xenoblade Chronicles, a new type of battle system will be introduced and, for JRPG fans who played White Knight Chronicles on the PlayStation 3, you will find it very familiar. Instead of having a turned based system, everything is in real time. Some of the enemies within the field can be aggressive while others are passive. When you decide to fight a monster, simply pick from the series of attacks for each character and you can sit back and enjoy as it will do it automatically for you. In the case of regular attacks, you only have to highlight the icon for the attack and the character will automatically attack as long as you’re in range.
While it may sound easy, the combat system poses a challenge as you will have to move and think about what attacks will work best on the enemy you’re fighting – especially the big bosses. With a decent amount of artes that you can unlock for each character, you will have to pick out the best ones for your character and if it’s an advantage to your daily fights. From the JRPGs that I’ve played over the years, Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the games that provided a real challenge as I had to use tactics and plan my moves every time there was a boss fight. Those who are looking for a challenging game within the combat system will enjoy Xenoblade Chronicles.
Deep Character Customization
The combat may be fun in Xenoblade Chronicles, but in order to succeed in every boss fight, it’s important that you spend time customizing your character. Giving your character the best possible equipment is essential for your survival. With a plethora of equipment that you can create and buy, you will have an array of choices in equipping your character. Every time your character wears armor or wields a weapon, you will see the character sprite change its outfit. For every piece of equipment that you get, some will have slots for you to put the crystal gems in. These crystal gems will improve the base stats of your character to make them even more powerful in battle.
Making an embeddable crystal gem will require another line of work in the game. These crystal gems must be crafted by combining the crystal that you gain from enemies. Wherever you go within the game, you will find blue orbs that will contain materials and monsters will drop loot that you can use frequently. You may be overwhelmed by the amount of loot available within the game, but they’re necessary to customize the characters.
Lots of Things to Do
JRPG fans tend to complain a lot when the game is linear and there’s nothing to do. Well, that won’t be the case in Xenoblade Chronicles as there is always something to do, such as rebuilding a colony that’s been destroyed by the Mechons and taking sidequests from people. Regardless of where you go, you will always find something that will catch your eye. With an addictive combat system, you’ll most likely level grind or crafting gems to make your character stronger. One of the sidequests that stands out is the rebuilding of Colony 6 as you will try to reconstruct everything that’s been destroyed and make your own town. For those who prefer to just run through the story, you can finish it around 60 hours, but there is more waiting for you if you explore every inch of the game’s locales. Don’t forget that there are hidden bosses, weapons and all sorts of things that you will have to hunt.
Overwhelming Amount of Quests
As mentioned earlier, one of the ways to enjoy the game aside from doing the main story is taking sidequests. While that may sound like a good idea for replay value, you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of quests that you’ll take and the repetitive nature of it. Almost every town that you go to, or even dungeons, contains someone that will give you a quest. The types of quest that you’ll be doing will mostly rely on hunting monsters or getting an item for someone. It’s awesome that there is a huge amount of quests that you can take within the game, but I think Monolith overdid it a little.
Xenoblade Chronicles is the JRPG game that fans of the genre should buy no matter what. Since this generation lacks outstanding JRPG games, Xenoblade Chronciles has successfully become a memorable title by offering an epic story and the perfect formula that fans have been waiting for years. Those who have played other Xeno titles, primarily Xenogears and Xenosaga, you already know what to expect since it’s the same team that brought Xenoblade. As we mourn the remaining days of the Nintendo Wii, a great way to cherish the console’s success is by playing Xenoblade, a game that’s sure to resonate in the hearts of fans long after the Wii is replaced.
[Editor’s Note: Xenoblade Chronicles was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Xenoblade Chronicles Review,