Thursday, 18 August 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles - Wii

Finally, after years of waiting, the Wii has a quality RPG to call its own.
While some Wii adventures such as Opoona have flirted with greatness, Monolith Soft have finally battered down the door and delivered a brilliant Japanese RPG.

Executive director Tetsuya Takahashi has worked on some of the best-loved RPGs over the course of the last 20 years, including Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger and he has drawn on all his experience to make Xenoblade Chronicles sparkle.

The world that protagonist Shulk and his ragtag cohorts inhabit is beautiful and unique. There's no sprawling sea chart punctuated with dollops of land to be found here. Instead the game is set on the fossilised remains of two hulking titans - frozen for eternity in the middle of an epic battle.

The art design is excellent, with visually stunning environments to explore. Huge expanses of land open up as the journey progresses, giving the player a sense of freedom as they tramp through the majestic scenery.

The struggle between good and evil is represented by Shulk's band of adventurers, who are up against the destructive mechanical might of the Mechon, who are ravaging human colonies.

The storyline, while a little cliched, remains interesting, despite the English voice acting which is average at best. Thankfully, the option to switch to Japanese audio is available, which at least does away with the repetitive and cringeworthy battle cries.

While the visuals raise the roof thanks to great attention to detail and a wonderful sense of scale, it's the solid combat system which steals the show. It borrows heavily from PlayStation 2 classic Final Fantasy XII, with timed hotkey commands used to dust up foes. But added strategy now comes from finding the best place to position your character to inflict maximum damage.

It seems every game these days has talent trees to pour over and Xenoblade Chronicles is no different. However, they are simple affairs and easy to navigate, while new combat skills are introduced at regular intervals.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies on DS shook up the standard JRPG formula by visually representing new weapons and armour on the main characters and Xenoblade Chronicles continues this feature.

A staggering assortment of stat-boosting gems can be forged and fused on to individual items, all of which gives the game a wide and varied range of customisation.

Even when you're not stomping through the main adventure, there are plenty of optional side quests to keep players occupied. Fizzing turquoise globes lie scattered across the enticing environments, each representing an item. Collecting sets of these rewards the player with gems and useful bits of kit, while colony residents are always quick to dish out hunt and gather quests.

The only fly in the ointment is that battles against bunches of foes can be confusing, as the special effect-heavy attacks often makes it hard to know what's going on. But despite the occasional stumble, Xenoblade Chronicles is utterly captivating.

It's an epic and hugely enjoyable quest, with quick thinking replacing mindless button mashing and a truly wonderful game world to explore.

A real gem to add to your Wii collection.

1 comment:

NintendoLegend said...

Darn/Bless you. I now must own the Xenoblade game.