Review by the_great_tidus
"The best videogame since Final Fantasy X"
Rarely does such a masterpiece like Xenoblade emerge amongst the videogaming landscape. Xenoblade is truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Xenoblade was released in 2011 in pal regions and received many positive reviews, after much fan outcry it was finally brought over to America in 2012 much to the delight of gamers and RPG fans everywhere. However the only place you can pick it up at retail is Gamestop. So what makes an RPG truly Memorable? Several key aspects such as storyline, battle system, characters, upgrade system, soundtrack all come together to make a truly memorable experience, and Xenoblade excels greatly in all of those aspects.
Storyline (10/10) - If you have ever played a Xeno game (Xenogears, Xenosaga) then you already know you can expect a good storyline. The world of Xenoblade consists of two gigantic titans known as Bionis and Mechonis. The people of the world live on the Bionis where as machines come from the Mechonis. These two groups are at war and the game opens with a fierce battle on Sword Valley which is a midway point that links the two worlds together. One of the games protagonists Dunban, along with armies of Bionis wage war against machines known as the Mechon. Dunban is the only man at the time to be able to wield the legendary blade called Monado. With this blade he hands the Mechon a great defeat but is badly wounded and loses the use of his arm. The opening is fantastic and captivates you right from the start. The story then picks up 1 year later at Colony 9 where we meet Shulk. Shulk is the main protagonist of the game and a very compelling character. He is nerdy and naive to the world outside of Colony 9 but an intelligent young man who is studying the Monado. The story starts a bit slow but picks up later on after Colony 9 is attacked by the once thought defeated Mechon. Being a Xeno game you can expect many twists and turns in the story, and a very deep narrative with wonderful characters to be met along the way. These are characters you will truly love hate, and the antagonists are not generic bad guys. They all have strong motivations, convictions and deep reasoning behind their actions. The storyline is a strong point for the game and a very memorable one it is.
Gameplay (10/10) - At first glance Xenoblade can appear to be similar to Final Fantasy 12(FF12). However where FF12 had faults in being a bit repetitive and without variety Xenoblade is the perfect bridge between action RPG and a more strategic RPG. Enemies appear on the map and you can initiate battles. There are no random battles. Parties consist of up to 3 characters with you the player controlling the main character who is usually Shulk. A.I controls the remaining characters which can be set to specific strategies where they focus on attack, defense or recovery. Where the battle system really gets fun are the Arts. These are special skills that have cooldown times and can only be used once they recover a set amount of time. These arts can deal more damage, break an enemies defense, heal, and be used to inflict negative status on enemies. Using arts really provides more strategy for battles. Also the Monado itself is a key element to battles especially later on. Shulk is given visions of what enemies will do and can respond accordingly with special skills exclusive to the Monado. For instance if an enemy is going to do a powerful attack shulk can cast Shield to greatly reduce damage therefore changing the future via the Monado. The game is very fun, and the difficulty is just right. Being skilled and having situational awareness is key not level grinding. Outside of battle Xenoblade features a rich customization system in which you can craft gems to provide enhancing properties for your equipment. You can choose to customize all your characters armor, and weapons as well. Your new threads actually show up in game too so this effects gameplay as well as the cosmetic application. There is also a huge gigantic world to explore with many sidequests, monsters, and just beautiful scenery to see. The gameplay in Xenoblade is the perfect balance of strategy and action.
Graphics (9/10) - Appearing on the Wii console Xenoblade has quite the task to look great. Though having to deal with the limitations of relatively weak hardware Xenoblade appears breathtaking at times. The environments are rich and full of color. The day and night cycles allow you to view environments in different ways that add beauty. Xenoblade paints a world that you want to live in, you feel a part of it, it's beautiful and very large. Playing a game like this makes me realize how much I missed colorful games of the ps2 era. It;s just very easy on the eyes and has such diverse environments from grass fields, ice mountains, caverns, floating cities, and the backdrop of a starry sky with a huge titan really creates a grand sense of scale. The only downside is the character faces. They look painted on at times and are the only negative point which hurts immersion. You won't find the technical beauty of PS3 games, but you will find an outstanding achievement in artistry and imagination with Xenoblade.
Sound (10/10) - The Xeno series has always had very well done soundtracks and voice acting. Xenoblade is no exception. The voice acting is great, all the actors fit their characters and give great performances. In videogaming immersion is important and wooden acting can take you out of a game, but Xenoblade you have characters that create intense emotions of anger, happiness or despair. The great voice acting in Xenoblade helps enhance the immersion and the storyline. The soundtrack is well done each environment has a good track, and exploring is very soothing because of some of the melodies. The faster pieces done during battles or cutscenes are great as well and really help to give a sense of urgency. The ending theme Beyond the Sky is beautiful. It really carries the game off on a high note after the thrilling conclusion. The sound in Xenoblade is superb.
Overall - 10/10
Xenoblade is one of the greatest achievements in gaming history. It's games like these that show what an artform gaming is. Xenoblade has a story that makes you think, and can engross you in its rich history and characters. It has gameplay that is fun but at the same time is unique and keeps you on your toes. Xenoblade has great artistic style and graphics that are like looking at beautiful paintings. Xenoblade has it all, it's a must have for RPG owners, and any gamer who appreciates meaningful quality games. If gaming had an oscars show this would be the game to pick up all the awards, it's that simple.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/09/12
Game Release: Xenoblade Chronicles (US, 04/06/12)
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