"A Wii RPG that Had a Journey to Get Here"
As an RPG lover and Wii owner, I was worried. Xenoblade was in danger of being overlooked. When the game was released in Japan, I looked forward to playing this game. As time passed and things looked grim, I started to relive my childhood of seeing awesome games in Japan failing to make it into my living room.
Thankfully, Xenoblade Chronicles' journey made it to North American shores. For Wii owners, the game is a great send off for their stout companion. Xenoblade Chronicles has all the characteristics of classic: an inspired art direction, an intriguing story, a colorful battle system, and awesome music to fill the air. Sadly, despite its arrival, Xenoblade's journey to America is controversial. It comes nearly two years after Japan's release and one after its "test run" in Europe. In light of this, we must ask, "Was the wait worth it?"
Xenoblade Chronicles starts off at a grand battle. The player watched two celestial beings colliding in combat. When their lives expire, players will be whisked onto their bodies to see another battle, but this time it'll be humans and mechanical creatures. Yes, the start of Xenoblade is constant combat.
The real fun starts off with Shulk, a tinkerer of sorts. The player will be running around fighting monsters, progressing through the story and taking upon quests given by NPCs. While Japanese style RPGs follow a more linear path, Xenoblade changes up the formula to create an engaging experience for the wanderer. There are a lot of side quests to keep one busy. The beautiful part of the game is being able go through the main plot at one's leisure. Players may spend hours performing odd jobs for experience and rewards. Thankfully, these side quests are finished the moment the player complete his objective. With tons of quests under the player's belt, it would be cumbersome to search for every NPC to complete each job. I applaud Monolith Soft for this small feature.
While accumulating quests may fill a player's time, the majority of play will be on combat. The battle system of Xenoblade mirrors Final Fantasy XII. Once combat is initiated, the party constantly auto attacks an enemy. In battle, the player may choose to activate a skill or "art" to perform special attacks. Once an art is used up, players are unable to use it again until time has passed. There is a limited amount of skills a character can perform, so players will have to modify their battle palette to pick and choose what to bring into the next fight.
Another feature added to Xenoblade's battle system is monster aggression or "agro", as MMORPG players would say. If a party member is a tank, the player can move Shulk into a position to get behind an enemy and do increased damage. When too much damage is brought out, the monster can turn their attention to Shulk so players must be aware of the enemy's behavior.
With side quests from NPCs and the battle system, one can only wonder if Monolith Soft played MMORPGs during Xenoblade's development. Quests serve as an important leveling tool and a nice method of achieving better loot. Combat closely resembles the MMORPG style of fighting with monster agro and positioning. With all these similarities, the game may grab a hold of some players and never release its grasp. Our Japanese and European counterparts have put in many hours into the game. For some, Xenoblade Chronicles will turn into a long journey of fun and loot finding. For others, it may be a nice ride, but a blip on their game radar.
While Xenoblade Chronicles may not please everyone, the game will please the ears. The music is top-notch, and the voice acting gives the game a lot of character. Nintendo made the right decision in keeping the European audio. The audio is certainly one of the highlights of the game.
If there is a downside to the game, it would be the game's visuals. For gamers used to the high-definition graphics, this game may not impress. Monolith does its best maximizing the Wii's resources, but it's difficult to ignore the capabilities of other systems. Despite these flaws, I will say that the art direction is gorgeous. Xenoblade is full of beautiful fields and lively towns. Even though, I cannot shake my own bias toward the Wii, it does not diminish the hard work Monolith Soft has done with the Wii.
In the end, Xenoblade Chronicles will signal the curtain call for the Wii. A test run in Europe and a fan movement helped bring this awesome game to North American shores. While this game may not match every gamer's taste, it remains a high-quality game. For RPG fans, Xenoblade is a must buy. The amount of content is staggering, and the game may take your attention for a long time. For those on the fence, I will say this: while the Wii has not received the best support from developers, Xenoblade is a high-quality game created by developers who put forth their best effort on this system. For that, I recommend Xenoblade Chronicles to all Wii gamers.
GameDynamo's Score for Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
Chris started playing games at the tender age of 5. Since then, he sees mushrooms, hearts, aliens, and spikey-haired blondes in his sleep.
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