Taking a break from the retro reviews for a moment, I’m going to share my thoughts on a title a little more modern. Back in April, I purchased the long awaited Wii RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles. And I am so glad I did. This game has been a breath of air.
For the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve really neglected my single player console games and focused more on online multiplayer titles. It’s been a while since a single player game has hooked my the way Xenoblade did. This is a classic JRPG is every sense of the word. The storyline is deep and filled with twists and turns. The characters are memorable, the locales are exotic and beautiful. The music is simply top notch. The soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time. It has all the elements that a true role playing game should strive to achieve.
The game takes place largely on a world known as Bionis. You see, the Bionis is really an enormous sleeping titan. A titan who is engaged in an eternal struggle with another titanic entity, the mechanical Mechonis.
The peoples of Bionis are constantly on defense from invasions by the forces of Mechonis. It is in this world, that the game begins. The lead character, Shulk becomes entrusted with a legendary sword known as the Monado. This blade is the only known weapon actually capable to doing real damage to the Mechon attackers. As the game progresses, Shulk and his friends learn more about the reason for the Mechon invasions and discover some real earth-shattering secrets behind the struggle between the two world-titans.
This game features a vast world filled with what seems like endless content. Aside from the main storyline, there are more sidequests that you can imagine. On top of that, your actions can affect the relationship between non-player characters. These affinity levels can have a major impact on the game as time goes on.
I’ve never played this type of game on the Wii before. At first, I was a bit confused by the control scheme and by all the options the game had to offer. However, after a while things started to click and when they did I found myself in a world so immersive that I was truly impressed by the sheer masterpiece that the developers were able to put together. This is truly one of the greatest games I have ever played.
Xenoblade was one of the games responsible for the Operation Rainfall campaign. If it is any indicator of the types of games we are missing out on here in the west then for goodness sakes, we have no idea what truly fine gaming is all about. In my opinion, part of the wonder of this title is discovering it for yourself. That being said, I shall say no more and leave this review with the following breakdown.
Difficulty: Hard – Most of the base game is fairly straightforward. However, towards the ends there are a handful of boss fights that can be extremely brutal unless you take some time to really think out your strategy. Many of these fights will require shuffling around your party members and making sure they are geared to match the situation at hand. A lot of the optional content in the game, requires A LOT of patience and the will to go above and beyond the normal grind.
Story: One of the greatest stories I have experienced through a video game. The basic set up is fascinating as it is, but just wait, you will be amazed at how the plot unfolds
Originality: This is not your standard RPG. Everything about this title seems to be re imagined from the ground up. The combat system is designed specifically for the Wii, regardless of what controller you choose to use. The affinity system provides a new take on interactions between your characters and the “fluff” NPC that typically populate a game world.
Soundtrack: This soundtrack is a must have. It rivals anything from the Final Fantasy series. The song selection seems appropriate for the various areas in the game. Often, the music will change depending on the time of day. Songs fade in and out as you switch zones, making everything seem to fit into place. Listening back to the theme from Makna Village on my iPod, triggers memories of the exotic little Nopon village. I can almost feel the warmth of the little city in the trees 🙂
Fun: This game is a great way to pass the time. The only drawbacks are that a few of the boss fights seem to be much more difficult than called for. This will lead to some frustration for some. Also, the game is EXTREMELY big. I fear that some players will grow impatient.
Graphics: By Wii standards, this is a work of visual art. Even when compared to other consoles with more graphical power, it’s not too shabby. Despite being a bit pixelated, the developers have managed to create some truly beautiful scenes.
Playcontrol: Overall, the playcontrol is pretty much spot on. There are some frustrations with the camera, so I can’t give it a perfect score, but overall this is not a really big problem.
Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 Stars – If you like RPGs and own a Wii, this title is a must have. This is probably one of the top three RPGs I’ve played in my lifetime. Definately the best in the last 10 years or so.
Available today on: Wii