Xenoblade Chronicles is the latest Japanese role-playing game
(JRPG) to arrive on the Nintendo Wii that not only contains one of the best
stories of this genre in quite some time but also boasts some
impressive gaming mechanics. The highlight of this
game for me, is that the developers have actually tried to challenge this
genre and as opposed to making another Final Fantasy clone. It's
easily one of the most engaging games of 2011.
Given that, Xenoblade Chronicles
is also quite a dynamic and streamlined experience that does not
require the player to get lost in convoluted menu systems but rather
get straight to the action with its almost flawless control system. It may
be a turn-based RPG when it comes to combat but there is plenty of real-time action to be
found in the middle as well!
a world ravaged by war, destiny demands a hero... will you answer
the call? That is the catch phrase of this game and story plays a
key component to the gameplay. From the very first moments of the
game, you immediately know that you are in for a treat with its epic
introduction. The story begins with a thoroughly entertaining
introduction that sees two ancient Titans, the organic Bionis and
the mechanical Mechonis locked in mortal combat.
As the aeons pass,
these two Titans become worlds to new denizens and in essence, they
have been turned into planets that have been populated with life. Whereas the Homs (humans) occupy the
forested world of Bionis, the Mechons populate the mechanical
surface of the other. Needless to say, it's obvious that these
two species don't see eye to eye.
From there, we are introduced to the main protagonists of the story
which include Shulk, Reyn, Fiora and Dunban. Unfortunately for these Homs,
they are caught up in the middle of a Mechon battle which is the
catalyst for their adventure and fuel for their revenge.
Although the cast is quite colourful, they are quite likeable and
with that said, it makes it easier for the player to be part of
their RPG universe.
As the game system is not your standard JRPG fanfare, the
first level of the game is actually a tutorial which teaches you the
basics of the game. One aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles that I
enjoyed is that the learning curve is relatively quite low as
to more traditional JRPG titles. For example, the tutorial levels
teaches you enough of the basics to be "dangerous", however as you
progress through the game, the developers have been careful not to
inundated the player with far too many complications early on in the
game. The balance is perfect!
Another cool aspect is the Monado, an ancient sword of tremendous
power which has the ability to slice through your enemies like a
knife does butter. This sword also has a premonition ability which basically
informs you of potential dangerous attacks. By knowing this, it
gives you the chance to enable your defences and change your
strategies. Fortunately this feature is used rather sparingly. Leveling for your characters allows the player to access three
different branches of skills, allowing your characters to be
multifaceted as opposed to locked to one particular class.
Apart from the engaging story and characters, combat plays an
integral part to the game and is a combination of turn-based
strategy with a touch of real-time action. The great aspect about the combat is
how fluidic it is and it doesn't feel like traditional turn-based
combat games such as Final Fantasy. Another element that is taken
into consideration is where your characters and enemies are the on
the field of battle.
For example, if you manage to flank one of your enemies from behind,
you will inflict additional damage as opposed to a direct frontal
Although not unique to Xenoblade Chronicles is that you can
chain attacks together with your characters in order to unleash a
deadly string of attacks as opposed to just your characters own
special attacks. There are also a variety of controller options
to player from classic control to the more traditional Wiimote and
Nunchuck. For me, the classic controller worked best as it gives you
quick access to everything and feels more natural, especially if
you're playing long gaming sessions.
Even though you have the main quests in the game, there are a variety
of side quests that you can also engage in which really helps flesh
our this world. If you do decide to purchase this game which I
recommend that you do, especially if you enjoy RPG titles, than
the side quests will give you a better insight into the lives,
characters and histories of Xenoblade Chronicles. It happens to make
exploring this world even more enjoyable when you get lost off the
One interesting fact about the side quests is that you do not need
to return to the NPC who gave you the task in the first place which
does make for a much smoother gaming experience. Some grinding does
come into play with Xenoblade Chronicles, especially with the more
difficult monsters and boss battles that you fight but it's all part
of the staple diet of a well made RPG. If you do happen to die in
Xenoblade Chronicles, the game restarts you back at the nearest save
point with relatively little or no loss to your characters at all.
There are a plethora of items in the game available to the player
from hundreds of different weapons and armour plus other goodies which
does encourage the player to explore. The only downside to the game
is probably the inventory system as it can become a little cluttered
at times, especially with the amount of items that can be discovered
within this world. You can also upgrade certain items such as armour
with gems in order to boost the capabilities available to your
players. As the game encourages the player to explore, there is also
a real-time map that gets updated as you advance. This helps for
completing quests, especially with map markers.
Graphics & Audio
Graphically, Xenoblade Chronicles is easily one of the best looking
RPG titles on the Nintendo Wii with some amazing attention to
detail. As the worlds that you explore are actually built on ancient
Titans, you can actually see part of their bodies as the landscapes
which makes it quite even more magical. The environments are also
quite different as you explore various facets of these ancient lands
from forests to swamps and plenty of more in-between.
Add in a variety of special effects from realistic lighting and
weather effects (the waterfalls in this game are to die for) and
sights of battles and this game comes together rather well. There is
also an element of freedom added with these environments and even
though you do revisit certain areas again, it's actually a joy to
explore this world. As the game uses a night/day system which looks
amazing, this can also be changed by the player in order to assist
with completing quests and sure does beat that ridiculous "sleep"
method employed by other titles.
Music is just as majestic as the story and changes depending on what
is happening in the gaming world from exploring to battles and
cutscenes. The voice acting is quite professional, albeit a little
clichéd at times but it does suit the premise well.
Even though the Nintendo Wii has a successor on the horizon, it's
good to see that developers are still supporting this console with
Grade-A titles and Xenoblade Chronicles is easily one of the best
Japanese RPG titles in quite a few years. Not only do they give the
genre a much needed 21st century facelift but the gameplay is quite
fluidic and dynamic as opposed to many older Japanese RPG titles. With a rather easy learning curve, this game can be played
by a variety of people and whether you're a newbie or veteran gamer,
Xenoblade Chronicles provides an immersive world filled with
action and story that easily allows you to play it again and again.