Review by windycornertv
"One of the best things that ever happened to the JRPG genre. Developers could learn a thing or two from this masterpiece."
Being a gamer in Australia and Europe can be tough. Constantly games are delayed or denied a release, whilst America always seems to get the better of the stick. But once in a blue moon the reverse becomes true and this time America is really jealous. Because Nintendo's Xenoblade Chronicles isn't some cookie cutter type product, but a revolution for a lagging genre. In fact this game is so good, that fan campaign designed to convince Nintendo to release this game in America now stands 10,000 strong. Making it the biggest gaming related fan campaign of all time. As an Australian gamer all I can do is swing on my chair and smile.
The story of Xenoblade is set in a fictional world where all life exists solely on the dead bodies of two giant gods. However life isn't easy for the human colonies, with powerful robots constantly killing and eating their people. Humanity's only hope is a young soldier called Shulk that welds a mysterious sword called the Monado that can easily cut through robots and offer visions of the future. It's a clinched set-up that expands into emotional tale told through action heavy cut-scenes. But personally it's the British voice acting that made story so enjoyable. Because it's not every day that we get a game with a non-American voice cast. If you desire the original Japanese dub you will be please to know that Nintendo has included it on the same disc.
While the criticism of Japanese Roll Playing Games has been exaggerated in recent years, there is no denying that many developers of them are living in the past. However this is not the case with Xenoblade which addresses all the problems that plague the genre. Those linear, corridor like environments that you know and hate are replaced with a massive free-roaming universe where all the battles take place in the same screen. Surprise enemy encounters that happen at random? No such thing exists in Xenoblade, in fact every enemy is visible to the player and the option to retreat is always available.
Of course fixing problems like these mean nothing without an engaging battle system, fortunately they have nailed that as well. Each battle happens in real time and you control one of the members in your three person party. You are given the choice between a variety of different skills and each character has their own unique skills. The highlight of these skills is Shulk's visions of the future that give warning of fatal incoming attacks thus giving you the chance to defend yourself.
Unfortunately the computer controlled characters can be suicidal in some situations, but this single yet minor annoyance can be forgiven when the amount of management, customisation and depth in these battles is beyond anything I have seen in other games from this genre. It's also one of the longest games ever made with some players reportedly spending over 100 hours to complete everything that the game has to offer.
Obviously some players will fear about becoming lost in such a massive game, but please don't worry because the game constantly maintains an organised log of every quest that you accept. In fact there is no time limit for any quest, allowing you to play it at your own pace. Better yet is the ability to teleport to any previously explored part of the map and the option to save anywhere at anytime. Provided that you are not engaged in battle of course.
Admittably the Wii isn't the most capable machine when it comes to graphics. But the beauty and unrival sense of scale created by the game's universe had my eyes melting onto the TV screen. The stunning landscape is complimented by the game's stirring orchestrated soundtrack and if you manage to grab a first print copy of the game, you will find a bonus CD that contains a selection of the game's finest musical tracks.
Xenoblade Chronicles will most likely be remembered for the press surrounding its controversal absence in America. Those who do get the chance to play it will look back upon as one of the best things that ever happened to the Roll Playing genre. I can't recommend this game enough.
+ Massive free roaming universe.
+ Superb British voice work and inclusion of the original Japanese dub.
+ Lengthy story and a tonne of side quests offer over 100 hours of gameplay.
+ User friendly interface and mechanics.
+ Save anywhere feature.
+ Beautiful landscapes that create an unrival sense of scale.
+ Powerful musical compositions.
- Companion A.I. can be suicidal in some scenarios.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/07/11
Game Release: Xenoblade Chronicles (AU, 09/01/11)
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