Role Playing Game
Top class titles for the Wii have been relatively few and far between in the recent times. Whether this is down to the fact that developers have decided to hold off and instead release their games for the forthcoming Wii U, or simply that the relatively poor sales for games on the system has proven to be a stumbling block when it comes to getting games green lit by money men is questionable, but fortunately Monolith Soft haven’t faced any such problems.
Xenoblade Chronicles is not only one of the best RPGs of the past year, but also one of the few absolute must-haves for Nintendo’s little white box. On first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that this is running on the Xbox 360 or PS3, such are the quality of the visuals and the responsiveness of the on screen action. If ever proof was needed that the Wii has enough poke under the hood to deliver gorgeous looking titles, this is it. Unfortunately it may be one of the last AAA quality games we ever see on the system.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the JRPG, Xenoblade’s excellent progression within a genre that many felt has stagnated in recent years truly is a joy to behold. Everything in the game is so finely balanced that you can’t help but feel in awe of the quality of the project. While it is tricky in places, it never frustrates, and even though it’s got a much faster pace than most JRPGs, it retains the ability to draw you into the game world and tell an involving narrative that is sure to get you hooked.
The action begins on Colony 9; a city at the end of the leg of a huge titan known as Bionis. Colony 9 is the home of our main protagonist, Shulk, and is currently engaged in a battle against a group of mechanical enemies known as Mechons. Following a brief, yet excellently constructed, tutorial you’re ready to jump in and start exploring the visual and narrative delights that the game has to offer.
With the battles taking place in real time, you immediately feel much more involved with the action. Rather than taking the old fashioned approach of allowing you to select your party member, item and then action, everything is done on the fly and the game really feels so much better because of it. In fact, the control system in general is one of the most intuitive and straightforward that we’ve come across in a JRPG for quite some time. Those of you who usually shy away from this kind of game are urged to reconsider your stance and instead give Xenoblade Chronicles a try.
Where the game really excels, though, is the storyline. It has been masterfully crafted and tries its best to avoid the usual pitfalls you might expect from an Eastern RPG. The usual saccharine sweet nonsense that has often felt so out of place in games so focussed on large scale multi-member party combat has been disposed of to the extent that the game even goes so far as to throw you a few genuine curveballs that will take your breath away.
The structure of the game leaves how you are going to play it entirely up to you. You can simply race through the main quests as quickly as possible in order to finish the lead story arc, or you can take your time to explore the gorgeous game world and learn more about the mythology of the Xenoblade universe. While you’ll still get your money’s worth from the former, we strongly suggest that you put as much time into this title as possible in order to ensure that you can get the full experience the way it was intended.
On the surface it may look like a title that has taken the graphics over gameplay approach, but as you ease yourself into Xenoblade Chronicles you’ll be rewarded with a rich tapestry of quite obvious genius, interwoven with fantastic storylines, interesting characters, an intuitive inventory system and the most enjoyable JRPG battle system we’ve come across for many years.