Xenoblade Chronicles Wii Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Xenoblade Chronicles
Reviewed by
Peter Bourke
on
Xenoblade Chronicles Wii Review Xenoblade Chronicles provides an immersive world filled with action and story that easily allows you to play it again and again. Recommended!
Rating:
4.75

Gameplay 9.5
Graphics 9.5
Sound 9.0
Value 9.5
Distributor: Nintendo
Classification:
 M15+
Reviewer:
Peter Bourke

9.5


Xenoblade Chronicles

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!

Story

In 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.

Gameplay

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 opposed 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 assault.

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 available 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 beaten path.

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.

Final Thoughts?

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. Recommended!






 
 



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