Review by skinner49
"What a game."
This is one of the few games that dares to try to be more than just a game. This is the type of game that everyone should get at any price no matter what. I am fortunate enough to be able to get this game when it first came out and I still remember it even though I haven't played in over a year.
But I digress; the question you're probably asking is, Should I get the game?
Yes. You should. It is not very often that a game of this quality comes this often. The story, the battles, and the effort are all excellent enough to recommend a play-through to experience a truly fun game like this.
Now, what are the things that are so great about this game?
Of course, the story is the main reason why you should get this game. The remarkable part of the game is that the game never forgets to give you a driving purpose in the game. None of the characters really annoys you (well, maybe one character does, but that's just me), and always delivers a convincing performance that will make you want to keep going. This game is great in the aspect that you want to keep pushing to get to the next part to find out what happens. There are some twists in the journey to keep it interesting and to help get down to the real reason why you are there.
The other part is also the "Heart-to-Heart" functionality in which you can hear the concerns and desires of the characters and to flesh out their history, provided that you increase something called "Affinity." This helps maintain an attachment and an emotional investment into each (or just your favorite) of the characters. You also have the option of developing a relationship with each of the major cities in the game, with their citizens, and also watch relationships between their citizens grow (or break up, if that's more your thing).
It also helps that this is pretty much one of the most open like game there is on the market. On one map, it took me at least 10 minutes to get to one side of the map to the other. You pretty much get to choose where you want to go, when you want to and how you want to get there. Yes, freedom of choice plus large explore able maps equals greatness. On a side note, one cool effect of this is that you can also find several secret areas (some of which I didn't even see until near the end of the game), and some nice views of the world. And to top it off, there are some quests that are sort of self serving in that way.
Also, due to the large amount of space that you are given, there are also tons of collectables, treasures, secret areas, and lots of side questing to do. That is the biggest (or weakest, depending on your view point) selling point of this game. The ability to go on a variety of quests helps you discover things in the game that you may not have known or seen is such a delight. But some of the secrets are not so nice, for example, getting crushed by a two enemies a couple levels above you, just moments after completing a quest. That is true sadness right there.
The battle system is also interesting in that you are free to move where ever you want as long as you are not performing a special move. Now that I think about it, the battle system reminds me of playing MMORPG's in that you are auto-attacking and moving around. Your special moves are also not limited to a MP or a counter system, but rather a cool-down system. You are also given another special move as long as its prerequisites are met. It is a very intuitive battle system that once understood, will be a very powerful tool in defeating your enemies.
Now the music is also noteworthy in this game. Its original soundtrack bounces around in your head for days at a time and sometimes you can't help but to return to a certain area of a game just to hear the OST. It's that good. The voice acting and sound effects are also superior to most tracks on other Wii games. It's probably the second best thing about this game. Through the usage of an acoustic arrangement, it gives you an all encompassing experience. Even after a long period of time after the game, listening to the OST will give you fond memories.
Now, unfortunately, because of the amount of stuff in this game, there are a few things that suffer. Three things suffer the most are the graphics, the inconsistent load times, and cheap production tricks. Now, when you look at the graphics, it's pretty much on par with games that came out last generation, and maybe even with the best stuff off the PS1 or Dreamcast. Some of the lack of details sometimes makes it hard to tell where the path ends and a mountain start and the very angular mountain sides and the lake side looks very unappealing.
The slow in-game loading time also serves as a personal pet peeve and possibly as a result of stuffing the heck out of the disk. Yea, there were a few times when I almost yelled at my Wii to hurry up, but I guess it's the best we can hope for with the Wii.
The third problem is the combination of the above mentioned problems coupled with cheap production tricks to try to fit as much things into the game as possible. I feel that the somewhat less than crisp animation and sometimes the disappearing and reappearing acts of monsters in attempt to make this game bigger was a bad trade off. From the first couple hours of the game, it had me wishing that the Wii had more processing power in order to bring up the weakest parts of this impressive game to a magnificent experience.
But I guess I'm just nitpicking.
All in all, this is one of the few must have games for the Wii. Yes, even more so than Mario or Zelda. This game, more often than not, makes up for all its flaws, whether intentional or not, and gives life into a seemingly stalled out RPG scene on the Wii. It isn't often you see a game of this caliber on the Wii. So now, go on. Go get this game. I'll bet you'll love this game.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/14/12, Updated 05/20/13
Game Release: Xenoblade Chronicles (US, 04/06/12)
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