Review by KFHEWUI
"Xenoblade Chronicles is a breath of fresh and is over flowing with endless amount of content to see and do"
Xenoblade Chronicles looks amazing, and the fight between the giants (opening scene) is well animated. The graphics are one of the strengths of the game, and each area has its own distinct look save for forests and caves. This really helps pull the player in because reaching the next area is a real treat, and it feels like the player is actually exploring a real and breathing world rather it is from village in a massive tree, an ocean with floating contents above it, or even a mountain covered with snow. A nice addition to the graphics is the dynamic armor system, and each piece of armor and weapon has its own distinct look. Different pieces of armors and weapon can be combined together to make an awesome looking suit.
After the fight between the giants, the game leaps a head by many years, and it shows an ongoing war between humans and the mechonis (machines). Monado is a powerful blade that is the only thing which can hurt the mechonis, and this is where the player gains control which starts off with combat. Xenoblade Chronicles has an interesting combat system. Pressing "Z" locks on to an enemy, and a bar will appear at the bottom of the screen. If the player is not in combat there will a symbol in the middle with crossed swords and selecting it will initiate combat, and the button will be replace with a green symbol which activates the Monado. The other symbols in the bar represent skills that the player knows, but after using the skill once the skill will have to recharge. Characters will attack automatically once combat has started, and a successful attack will charge skills faster. Also in combat there is some strategy that can be used, and by holding down "Z" the player can tell allies to either attack enemy x, protect the leader, or attack any enemy. This is usually mainly used during boss fights.
In the upper left side of the screen there is a bar above the characters health bar, and this bar fills up slowly after attacks and depending upon how much damage is done affects the rate at which it fills up. Once the bar is filled up, chain attack can be performed, and this allows the party to combine their attacks to do greater amount of damage. The chain attack usually lasts for two or three attacks however sometimes "B" will show up on the screen and hitting it will allow another attack. Importantly it is best to note that each attack has a different color on the skill button and selecting skills that are of the same color will also build up a chain that causes even more damage to the enemies. Secondly the bar has another major purpose which involves reviving players, and it costs one bar (three bars in all) to revive a character. If the player dies, the partners can revive them if there is at least one bar however if there is not, the game will respawn the party at the last visited landmark.
There is a box on the left side of the screen which shows the player's health and experience, and there is also a picture of the character. The picture of the character will represent one of five different moods which range from panicked to focus while the player is panicked they will miss a lot more however while focused they are more likely to do critical attacks. Raising the mood of the character is simple and sometime during battle "B" will appear with a ring around it. The ring will move in towards the center of the "B" and hitting "B" at the right time will raise the player's moral. Also after reviving a player, "B" can be hit by them to reassure them which will raise their tension this can also be done if the characters have been afflicted by a status attack like sleep, paralysis, etc.
Over the course of the game, there will be a total of seven characters that will join the party, but only a total of three can be in a single party. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses like Sharla is great for healing but her weapon overheats quickly. It is best to find the characters the player likes that is well balanced.
Using the same party over the course of the game is not really advisable thanks to the affinity system which rises when the characters praise each other, side quests, and give items. Throughout the game there are events called Heart-to-Heart where two characters can talk to each other, but these events can only be seen if the characters affinities are high enough.
Not only does the party have affinity, but each city has an affinity which is low at the start of the game. Raising the affinity is done by doing side quests and talking to people in the village, and as the affinity in the village rises, the player will be able to gain better items from trading with the inhabitants.
After the battle with mechonis, the game skips a head one year, and this time the player gains control of Shulk, the main character. When the game starts, Shulk can explore the village of Colony 9, and the place is large. Hitting "1" will bring up the map of the area, but the map is incomplete. To fill up the map, all of the landmarks must be found in the area, and most of them are not too difficult to find, some of them are hidden or out of the way.
There is a time system in Xenoblade Chronicles, and this is a unique feature that helps in creating a living world because some of the villagers can only be found during the night or day. The time system also affects some areas of the game like Satorl Marsh where the trees glow during the night, and secondary affect is the monsters. Some of the monsters only show up during the day or night, and even some enemies will only show up during certain weather conditions like rain or meteor shower.
Talking to certain people will give side quests, and if a person has a red "!" above their head, it means they have a side quest. Most of the side quests are fetch quests, kill x amount of enemies, kill enemy x, or collect x amount of items, and there is a whopping 400+ side quests. Completing the side quests will gain items and experience, and it is very easy to level up solely on side quests alone. Also the player will gain skill points which can be used to level up skills.
In Colony 9 there is a man that owns a gem stand, and he allows the player to craft gems. Gems can be equipped to either weapons or armor to boost stats like poison resistance, HP up, MP up, attack up, etc. Later in the game, there is a side quest the gem man gives that allows the player to get a portable gem crafting machine so that way the player will not have to keep on traveling back to Colony 9 to craft gems. This is very useful since the areas in Xenoblade Chronicles are massive, and travelling can take a while. The player can fast travel (warp) to landmarks that are scattered around the map (can only warp to landmarks that have been discovered), and in the menu there is option for map that allows the player to select an area they have been to and warp to landmarks in that area.
After a little time, Colony 9 is attacked by mechonis and after some events, Shulk and his friend Reyn decide set out to kill a certain mechon. Xenoblade Chronicles is well written story even if the plot is not original, and along the way there are several plot twists some of which are shocking. A few of the plot twists I saw coming, but I still found them surprising.
Music is absolutely beautiful for Xenoblade Chronicles from the flute track that plays in Frontier Village or the fast piano track that plays for scenes of attack, and this is a game that definitely deserves an OST (official soundtrack) to be released for it. Not only do all the tracks felt the moods right, but I did find myself time from time humming along with the game or at random times.
Shulk and Reyn will pass through a cave to reach a valley, and while passing through this cave, Shulk discovers that he can see moments from the future due to the Monado. Not only does he see scenes of characters in trouble, but in combat Shulk will sometimes get a vision of a powerful attack from an enemy. Once Shulk sees this, he can warn other players of the attack and selecting a powerful attack can force the monster to redirect or even cancel the attack which does help add more strategy to the combat.
Control wise Xenoblade Chronicles is solid, and there are no motion controls at all. Every action is mapped to a button, and the layout is great. This is a game where the classic controller would be worth using.
Xenoblade Chronicles is a massive game, and it will easily take over a hundred hours to explore the entire world. Even after beating the game, there is still so much more that can be done in the game from rebuilding a colony, item encyclopedia, heart to heart moments, gem crafting, side quests, large areas to explore, and even achievements. Xenoblade Chronicles is like the energizer bunny as it keeps going and going and going.
In an age where the game industry is dominated by a slew of endless FPS and RPGs becoming stale, Xenoblade Chronicles feels like a breath of fresh air that is a most have for every Wii owner. With massive amount of content along with a great story, Xenoblade Chronicles is flawless to me, and I went into the game without seeing any game play footage and having no expectations at all, I was completely impressed with this game.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/29/12
Game Release: Xenoblade Chronicles (US, 04/06/12)
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