Let me open up by stating; I don’t like console Role-Playing Games. I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them either. I’ve tried, time and time again, to get into them, because so many friends preach about the awesomeness of these games, so I try and get it, understand it, and play it. Time and time again, I am left disgruntled and disappointed, and not wanting to try another RPG again. With all this in mind, I opted to try Xenoblade Chronicles, because it was being touted as an amazing RPG, and I wanted to see what the hype was about, and if it would lure me into liking any type of RPG console game. Would it succeed?
To begin with, I played this game completely with the Classic Controller. There’s the option to use the nunchuck and wiimote combo, but I feel games like this should be played with a Classic Controller, so that’s what I did. The opening of the game thrusts you right into the story, where you take control of Dunban, with his Monado weapon, and he’s backed up by Dickson and Mumkhar, in a fight against a load of Mechon, who are the main antagonists in the game. The Mechon use Homs (the human looking people in the game) as food. The opening battle is intense, and gives you a decent beginning tutorial on how battles work in the game.
Once you get into the main part of the story, after you find out that the opening of the game and the battles you get in happened a year prior to this point in the game, you meet the other main characters of the story; Reyn, Shulk and Fiora. Game time wise, the story itself ranges between 50 to 100 hours, depending on if you choose to do any of the side quests, and there are a LOT of side quests should you want to do them. The upside to doing the side quests are that you gain a lot of experience, which will level up your character(s) and you’ll be better prepared for a lot of opponents and villains that you’ll have to encounter later on in the game. If side quests aren’t your thing, you can easily stick just to the main parts of the story, but if you choose to do this, you’ll more than likely be hurting later on when you face some huge monster who hates you. And believe me, there are a lot of monsters who’ll be hating you in this game.
While you have little animals and flying bugs and what not that are around the world of this game that you can battle just to help gain a little experience and boost your stats, it’s the Mechon who are your main enemies. There are many different types of Mechon but for the most part, they’ll all be hating you, and if you get in a fight you’ll have a good chance at killing them if you’re in a party and they aren’t. However, many of the Mechon, and even the animals in the game, have certain properties that make them dangerous and make you have to pay attention to what you’re doing. Some animals and Mechon had properties that make them aggressive if they see you, so they’ll attack. Or, if you’re running by them, they may have the property of attacking when they hear something, so they’ll hear you run by, and proceed to swarm you. These properties give a new facet to the game that I’ve never dealt with before, and it’s pretty cool. You can sneak by animals and Mechon who can hear you, and you can find ways to hide from those that will fight you if they see you. It’s all about what you feel your best approach is, and if you want to battle or not.
Xenoblade Chronicle’s battle system is interesting. What I’m used to, when it comes to RPGs, is turn based battling. I do an attack, opponent does an attack, and you hope you deal more damage before they do. In Xenoblade, it’s all real time attacking, where you have a menu at the bottom of the screen with several different attacks or power ups, which are dubbed Arts and Skills, and you use these Arts and Skills to do the majority of your big damaging attacks, and attempts at regaining life, or powering up your party. I really like this type of battle system, because it’s fast paced, but not so much that you’re left trying to think of what attack to use while the opponent is wailing away on you.
While battling may not be something you can avoid, getting killed can be avoided, or at least slowed down. There is a lot of customization in this game when it comes to defense, and offense. I’ve mentioned the Arts and Skills before, and when leveling up, these can be upgraded during the course of the game, but there are also other things that can help you in battle. Things such as armor and gems. Gems are power ups that can be equipped to certain clothing/armor, or weapons to give you some good power ups to both your offense and defense. Armor and new clothing can be acquired through battles, or through shops as you go through the game. It seems the better stuff gets dropped in battles than from shops, but sometimes you got to just work with what ya got. Also, some clothing comes with a gem already attached to it, and can’t be removed, and these are usually extremely helpful.
While you travel through the game you’ll reach certain markers dubbed Landmarks. The upside to these is that if you have a battle and die, you’ll re-spawn at the last Landmark you reached. Also, each Landmark you get to gets listed on your map of that area, and you can fast travel through the map to the Landmarks to get around quicker. The downside to these is that, if you’re rushing through the area, you’re not going to reach every Landmark. A lot of Landmark’s are reached through exploration, and accident. Landmarks really come in handy when you defeat a boss in one area of the game, and for story purposes you’re taken back to another area, you can travel back to near the site of the boss fight through the map, really quickly.
As far as the look of the game, you have to remember that this is a Wii game, so the graphics aren’t going to be high def, and they’re not going to dazzle your pants are. It is what it is. For a Wii game, I think the graphics are pretty awesome, and a lot of the maps, levels, whatever you want to call them, look beautiful. Certain parts of the game have changes to weather, and there’s a constant clock going on which will change from day to night. This clock can also be changed manually so you can do the whole game during the night if that’s what you’d like, thought in fairness, the monsters and such that you encounter in the game get tougher during the night, but there are always certain creatures that can only be seen during certain parts of the day, or during certain weather. I find this to be a fun little quark to the game, as it changes up the way you play it depending on what time of the day you’re at in the game.
Another thing I really enjoy about this game is the soundtrack. The music is amazing and fits this game so well. It can set up the feel of fights, warn you of danger, or just accompany you while you go around on your adventures, and it just sits the moods so well. I’ve actually left the opening screen on just to listen to the music, it’s that awesome. Aside from that, the voice acting is all pretty well, a lot of British accents, almost reminds me of old Kung Fu movies where they dubbed in English voices with British accents over the original voices. It doesn’t sound out of place, but it does add a nice bit of flavor to the ears.
Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles is a very good RPG game on the Wii. If you’re not hung up about graphics, you’ll more than likely enjoy it. If you’re not into RPGs I don’t think this game will really change your mind, but it might. Personally, I find it to have an interesting story, and decent battle mechanics, but it’s really not my cup of coffee. There’s a lot of tedious things that I don’t like to do, and the only way to travel around quickly is using the Landmark’s through the map. If you’re a RPG fan, and enjoy grinding and running around finding everything, you’ll love this game. If you’re not into all that, I won’t say you’ll hate the game, but I can’t say you’ll enjoy it either. It has a good story, and it can grow on you if you let it. If it’s not your thing, you’re not going to like it.