Review by Sandylecuistot
"Xenoblade will make you enjoy one of the most complete adventure out there"
Introduction : 10/10
After a beautiful and starting screen that invites you in this giant world, the game begins to unveil its secrets. To say the truth, the introduction was for me is quite perfect. Not too short, not too long because it shows and explains what should be said and the music helps to be absorbed immediately in the world of the game.
Music : 10/10
There are three names to remember : ACE+ , Manami Kiyota, Yoko Shimomura. Even if the lattter is well known compared to the others but don't let this fool you, most of the tracks were composed by ACE+ and Manami Kiyota and this is a pure win. It just fits perfectly every situation, place or battle. The Ost is probably, like the game, one of the best from years. Yasunori Mitsuda only did the music for the ending.
First, the controller. I played with the nunchuk/wiimote (I only have this) and there's no problem. When you first take control over the hero just go in the menus, move the camera... I believe the game gives tutorials, anyway it becomes intuitive really fast. The camera can be moved freely around characters and you can zoom in and out, it's quite convenient. Characters run quite fast and can jump if you want. You can save everywhere every time and "teleport" to a lot of locations instantly, making the exploration less tedious. There are no game over, when you die you respawn at the previous "teleport point". I have already seen people complain about this, but It doesn't take away anything from the game. You won't have to play two hours you lost because you stupidly died against a monster 30 level higher than you.
Story : 10/10
The world is set on two giant gods. The first, kyoshin, could be compared to our world, with people, animals, vegetation. The second Kishin, is a machine god, so it's more about metallic stuff and gears. There's a war between machines and Humans (Homs). The Homs try to drive back the machines attacking their colonies. Machines have strengh and number, Homs have... well, their will, but they also have a sword named Monado which seems to be the only effective way to fight against machines. I won't say more about the story because the more you'll discover, better it will be. It's an epic story with fun and tragic moments. It evolves around this war and Monado. I can't remember any instant where I was tired about the story. I really can't say exactly how many time it would take you just to see the story because I wasn't even in the middle of the game at 100h, but I can assure you it's pretty long. The story is "at you own will paced" because you know where it continues. This way, you can avoid the next scene if you don't want to continue yet and you won't get lost if you waited to long before advancing.
Environment : 10/10
The world, in Xenoblade, is huge and quite beautiful, mainly thanks to the idea of the "giant gods world" and the the depth in each places. From towns to "dungeon" you'll have your share of exploration. But, honestly I didn't felt each place like "town" or "dungeons" just pieces of this vast world where you can't wait to see new lands, listen to new musics... You won't see a lot of "loading screen" at all. Areas are automatically completely loaded when you go/teleport in it. There are no chests to find in these huge place, but, instead, you'll have to find items you need by killing monsters or, of course buying at shops all around the world. In each area you'll see monsters more or less near your level but you'll also cross some others with (a lot) higher levels than you, or "unique monsters", tougher than casual monsters but also giving better rewards
Characters (and NPC) : 9/10
All the playable characters are quite interesting. Sure, there are not all especially originals in every aspect but I loved them all. Each of them gives something to the story and it's impossible to really dislike them at all. And at the point you can make a team out of all the characters it's not that simple. You can elaborate quite a lot of strategies, selecting the party members and customizing them. If you want to see more interaction between your characters there are a lot of "kizuna talk". During these, you can see discussion between 2 characters and you'll have two make choices for two questions in each "talk" and this changes the rest of the discussion . It's a plus into character development. For the non-playable characters, there are all different, some are more original than others too. There are a lot of them, from extremely important, to the villagers everyone have something to say and enough background to make the game even more alive. In Xenoblade, Bonds are very important. Between you characters, bonds will affect the battle. Between villagers, bonds will affect the side quests and things they say.
Battles : 9/10
When you roam on the fields you'll come across a lot of monsters. First thing, there are several types of detection. Some will let you run around them like you don't even exist, others will react when they see you, hear you, attack you because you annoyed their friends or will react when you attack with ether (magic). Two choices, run until the monster forget about you, or attack it. By pressing a button, you aim at the nearest monster(you can of course change the target easily) , then you can decide to draw your weapon or not. The fights take place exactly where you are. When you draw your sword you can run freely around the monsters. Depending on what you do, one of your member will have a red circle (the hate gauge) around him/her which is the monster's target.(which is more important than it seems) Characters do normal attacks by themselves more or less quickly but if you really don't want to attack just go out of weapon's range or make one of you character's attack. These attacks, gained after certain levels after executed have a "waiting time" before you can use it again. some will hit more in the back of the monsters, other will have bad effects on monsters, good on characters, recovery, protection and so on. Each character is really different from another and you can play with anyone while the others are controlled by the AI, but you can quickly give three useful orders : everybody on the monster I'm aiming at / everyone spread / don't attack. Depending on which character is targeted, it's really useful to use these to your advantage. But at the top left of the screen, you can see a gauge divided in three parts "resurect" an ally count for one part. But after some good hit (criticals are important, but there are other things that makes the gauge raise) you'll have access to an extremely powerful group attack. Depending on the affinity between characters this attack will be more or less important. When you use it, each characters will attack next to the other, except that you will select the attach each time. The more bonds you have between them, the more you can attack. Attacks have different colours depending on the types and "white" attacks count for any colours. If you manage to chain the same type (or colours) of attack, then it makes the next tougher. The counter-part of this attack is that it consumes the three bars. Anyway, it's not really hard to fill it, especially later in the game.
Systems : 9/10
Each characters have a skill tree. When you kill monsters and when you discover new places you earn Skill Points that will help characters learning new skills. But, you can also allocate skills from one character to another depending on the number of "kizuna coins" you have. These are obtained when you level up and after killing a rare monster. Items, Weapons armors and things like that are shows on you character and each will be different, in colour or in form from one to another. This is really well implemented in the story. There are gems you'll find or create, each one carrying an effect, raising stats, resistances, adding effects... Gems can be put on weapons or gears if you have slots on it. So it add customisation and strategy along with the skills and attacks. Speaking of the attacks. Each of these begins at level one and can be raised to ten with points you obtain more or less like the Skill Points. But you'll also have to find books for higher levels. There's a system called vision. Sometimes you will see something that should happen in the future and because of this you'll have the possibility to change this, or you'll know in advance that a certain item is wanted for a quest and so on... You'll see it in battle, story and on the fields.
Difficulty and Replay Value : Variable
The difficulty depends on if you grind a lot or not. Having more than 4, 5 levels less than a boss can make a fight a lot harder. And rushing through the game seems pretty impossible without fighting at least a little. The Replay value is somewhat good I'd say because of 2 things, the simple new game plus, where you keep a lot of things and if you want to play again but, if you made all the side quests (which is hard) the game is easier, so you might want to try doing just a few ones for more challenge or, on the contrary, do the quests on a second playthrough to make the most out of the game. Or even, replay because the game is excellent. You'll find approximately 400 side quests in the game, most of them act on non playable characters bond, changing relationship between townspeople and sometimes give really interesting rewards but also all kind of items, experience and money. So it might add some replay value (or play time) if you wanted to complete the these.
Unpleasant points :
You can't change the volumes of the sounds/voices/musics. Sometimes you want to hear music over the rest, sometimes voices over sounds, and so on. During fights, characters often like to scream, which sometimes seems to annoy some people. On the contrary I like it because it adds tension to the battles. Plus, voices are really good, I don't remember of a character having an embarrassing voice, but I remember characters having awesome voices though ! It seems there are problems with inventory, probably because it ca be difficult to decide which item you keep or not and, you have to regularly sale some stuff. And according to an other review I saw, the items dropped by monsters (tail, claw, or things like this) are just useful for quests and this is hard to know which one you have to sale or not. I didn't have this problem since there are no dropped items that cannot be found again and after some time, the "vision" (seeing the future) marks some items you need to keep. The clock stays at 99,59 so you don't know how much time you play after this limit. It's weird but, it's secondary anyway.
Overall : 10/10 :
The reason behind this 10 is that the game is really well shaped and quite complete. The story doesn't let you be with dozens of questions, just a feeling of plenitude. Even if some (playable or not) characters are not always completely original, you'll like most of them. Just remember that the game is pretty deep in every aspect and I played enough game to know what complete means. And I salute the developers for their work. Hoping to see a new one in the next years. Thanks Monolith Soft !
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/17/11
Game Release: Xenoblade (JP, 06/10/10)
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