If you are one of the people who actually have an internet connection, and have not lived under a rock for the past 3 years, this should sound very familiar to you.
Three games that are what became of this project of sorts, which are Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, games that were released in Japan , and subsequently, in Europe and Australia afterwards, but not in America. BUT, thanks to gamers bitc- I mean, pleads, two of the games have been released, and Pandora’s Tower is close to being released here in the states as well, helping achieve what Operation Rainfalll set out to do.
You are probably wondering ‘What does this have to do with anything.’ and to be frank, it matters, because most of us might have gotten this game late on the console’s life, or maybe you didn’t hear of it, since there wasn’t much of a campaign by Nintendo over it.
Anyway, this is the review for Xenoblade Chronicles.
The game starts you in the boots of character Dunban, who is in the middle of a war against a race of sentient mechanical creatures called the Mechon, and the only way to kill them, is by using the legendary Monado sword that Dunban has in hand. In any case, this is basically a tutorial level where you are taught the basics of the combat system, because as it turns out, he is not the main character.
Instead, you begin on the shoes of character Shulk, an unlikely nerdy hero, and you begin your adventure in Colony 9. From here you go by your everyday life, doing different mundane tasks, as is the norm with every intro stage for JRPGs. At least until the village is attacked by the not-so-dead Mechon, who end up killing your love interest Fiora, and thus, Shulk begins his quest to get revenge on the mechanical beings.
What is really interesting about the game, is that from the beginning, you are shown that you are not living in your normal round, or even flat world, instead, you live in a gigantic God-like being called the Bionis, who the characters reference quite often throughout the story, but you won’t only be hearing from it, you will visually witness the being as you roam the fields of Bionis, sometimes, if you look up, you will be able to see the face of the God itself, not to mention its counterpart, the Mechonis, who is another being from the same veil that houses machine like beings, these two beings were in a war of sorts as well, and they killed each other off, becoming lifeless husks where life bloomed.
It’s quite a thing to wrap your head around.
On the technical side, Xenoblade has beautiful environments, you can see that Monolift Soft did its best to account for the Wii’s lack of power, of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t suffer, as the character models look simply ugly, and will remind you of PS2 and Gamecube models.
On the sound side, well, even if I am a fan of Yoko Shimomura’s music from Kingdom Hearts, Radiant Historia, as well as other titles, ACE+ didn’t disappoint either in this outing. Including orchestrated tracks, and combining the classic style of music, with the newer sort of instruments to create a magnificent soundtrack; that in this reviewer’s opinion, has become one of the best.
In the case of voice acting, it’s filled with it, and will appear in nearly every scene, the European actors who voiced this were excellent, and their acting doesn’t make me cringe when I listen to it, so that’s a plus. But in case, if any of you enjoy the original voices, there is an option to listen to the original Japanese voiced track instead.
On the gameplay side, you have quite a few things to get used to. You control Shulk for the first part of the story, but you soon will be able to switch characters, and in fact, keep Shulk out of the fray completely by switching him out, you can even control other characters as well for a different experience, as each has different moves and stats that will make your play through different.
Your party is made up of three characters, the other two will be controlled by the AI, but they work well, and you can give them basic orders such as regroup, or fall back. Your offense consists of a basic attack that your character does periodically, usually by swinging its weapon at the enemy, and mainly by using “arts” based on cool down, which charges them right after use after a set period of time has passed.
Another thing to note is character interaction, which plays an important role here, especially if you want to get ahead in the game, and the more your partner likes you, the more chances to fill the chain meter.
What chain meter you ask?
The chain meter bar located in the top leftmost part of the screen, by filling it up and activating it, you can use multiple arts, combining them into a massive attack that deals a huge amount of damage to the enemy, keeping the chain is up to you, as time button presses are a must. You can also use this to revive one of your teammates after they have been downed, or a warning sign when the Monado predicts an attack.
Speaking of the Monado, this game implements something not seen before; you can see the future, as the Monado will allow you to see when the enemy does a powerful attack that may end up killing your party, and as such, you can plan ahead by healing or using other abilities from the Monado itself that can lower the damage or even nullify it.
As you can see, the intricacies of the combat are numerous, and might take a person not used to this to fall behind with the amount of management necessary for this game. One of the things that helps this is, well, there isn’t healing items to speak of. When the battle is over, you automatically heal, leaving the money you earn to buy stuff like armor and weapons, but the currency itself falls flat, since soon, you will find yourself with large amounts of money that you will probably never finish spending.
While the mechanics of the game are numerous, and slightly intimidating at times, you will find yourself understanding them soon enough.
Other welcome inclusions to this game are for one, the ability to fast travel from literally anywhere in the world to key areas anywhere when you are outside of battle, making travel between areas much easier for anyone, the ability to save EVERYWHERE is also included, along with the ability to change the time from day, to night, and vice versa, as well as minor details like actually changing your character’s clothing by changing armor (a minor addition, but a welcome one).
Most of these might sound like minor additions, but the first two were welcome in case of backtracking and losing to a difficult enemy, of course, there is not a punishment for it, as you keep all of the experience and money earned.
In conclusion, if you are able to find it and I mean if, since the game is becoming somewhat of a rarity by now, this is a game that is worth picking up for ANY RPG fan, and to those who enjoy a good story, you won’t be disappointed, and it is eye candy for those who enjoy looking at the beautiful environments, just don’t pay attention to the characters themselves and focus on the music and beating that big monster on your path that might give you a hard time, and you will be having the time of your life.
Buying this game is worth it, while we wait for certain other game for the Wii U.