Xenoblade Chronicles – Initial Review

Title: Xenoblade Chronicles

Genre: RPG

System: Wii

Developer: Monolith Soft

Publisher: Nintendo

This review is based on the early part of the game. An additional post at a later date will be created with my final thoughts.

“[People who play RPGs are] depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games.” These are the words of ex-Nintendo CEO, Hiroshi Yamauchi. He went on to call the genre “silly” and “boring”. But Mr Yamauchi only thought this because he had never played Xenoblade Chronicles. If he had then his assertion would have been proved extremely wrong. No-one who has played this game would call it a depressing experience. Xenoblade is never boring and it goes a long way to refining the RPG formula to something that is accessible but no less tactical. It is fast paced but not rushed. However, Yamauchi was right on one thing; it definitely is a silly game – but that’s just part of its charm.

The game oozes charm, from its collectopedia to its affinity charts and battle system. The collectopedia records things that you collect, which is awesome and quickly becomes compulsive. The affinity chart records the named characters that you’ve conversed with and your relationship with them. The battle system is similar to Final Fantasy XII – normal attacks will happen automatically, but you also have special attacks, referred to as arts, which each have a ‘cool down’ time and are activated manually. It works well and can become viciously tactical while still accessible.

The game also has plenty of nifty features to prevent the inaccessibility that many JRPGs suffer from and make the experience less, as Yamauchi would put it, “boring”. For example, you can save anywhere and you can change the time rather than waiting for time sensitive monsters. You are also rewarded for any sidequests that you complete instantly so there’s no need to trudge yourself back to the person who gave you the quest rather than advancing on your journey. You can also take on many different sidequests at once. EXP is awarded for visiting landmarks as well as defeating enemies which encourages you to explore. The game contains no annoying random battles and is impressively non-linear. Warp points also allow fast navigation around the world. And man, the world is epic. Brilliantly realised and beautifully crafted. It’s one of the most impressive spectacles on Wii.

The plot is gripping and focuses on Shulk, our protagonist who must save the world from evil with an oversized sword called the Monado. It’s brilliant, if a little predictable to begin with. The controls are also awesome and very easy to grasp. One of the most noticeable aspects of the game is the English voice track, which will undoubtedly split people’s opinions. Some will find the English accents brilliant or at-least amusing, while others will find it cringe-worthy and most likely switch to the Japanese track. But what’s great is that you have that choice.

Xenoblade Chronicles is an instant classic. It is firmly a JRPG but without many of the flaws that has dogged the genre. It is currently the best game of it’s type and it is great to see such a game come out at the end of the Wii’s lifespan. I hope that it will find its way to the US someday. Xenoblade Chronicles is charming, vast and has plenty to keep you occupied. With in-depth gameplay, it will keep you going for hours. Yamauchi’s description of RPGs can certainly not be applied here.

Joe’s Score: 9/10

Quick Fire Review: Xenoblade is a joy to play. It’s as accessible as the genre comes and is an absolute master-class in how to make a JRPG. Buy this now!

Second Opinion: 

Leon – Guidance on how to progress may be inadequate at times, but the beautiful story, visuals and music make for a truly compelling experience. 9/10

Special thanks to Student and Programmer Leon Byford (Twitter name: @Yirba) for contributing his own Second Opinion!

Xenoblade Chronicles is out now!

Comments
2 Responses to “Xenoblade Chronicles – Initial Review”
  1. Yirba says:

    Nice review!

    Xenoblade Chronicles is a very fun game and I recommend anyone who may be interested to check it out. I’m sure everyone can enjoy this, even those who are generally not into RPGs.

    Like

  2. Neo says:

    I also had a chat with a Gamestop store manager, and he told me that Sonic Generations 2 would be reaseeld in February 2012 and have twice as many stages as the first. Then Sonic Generations 3 around this time next year to round off the trilogy, featuring an epic battle between all characters, classic and modern, in super form, versus classic and modern Eggman, also in super form. He played them at a manager’s conference.Knowledgeable people, these Gamestop managers.

    Like

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