My Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) impressions.
First off, let me start by saying holy shit. Holy shit. Ok, now that’s out of the way it’s time for a very short history lesson. Part of the “Operation Rainfall trio”, Xenoblade Chronicles was one of three games that nearly didn’t make North American localization. Perhaps due to vocal community activity, Nintendo brokered a deal with GameStop, who would be co-publisher for localization of this Wii exclusive RPG. That’s the reason why this game was continues to be very rare. Copies are were sold exclusively in GameStop locations in North America in a limited print run and that dried up pretty quickly. That’s why you’ll see prices of upwards of $80 for used copies, even at GameStop itself. That’s why I totally understand why this game isn’t in more people’s hands.
But here’s why it should: For my brief time with the game so far I can already say that Xenoblade Chronicles is fantastic. Monolith Soft, who has worked on other “Xeno” games like Xenosaga and Xenogears as well as the highly under appreciated Baten Kaitos has really pushed the limit here. The graphics are a little tough to get used to, being mediocre even for a Wii game, which means players who frequent games on PS3 and 360 will certainly write off the graphics as being PS2-esque at best. It’s a fair assessment, sure, but let’s not judge a book by it’s cover aye? While the graphics themselves aren’t anything to write home about, the character designs are pretty top notch. Add in equipment that changes character appearances (even in cutscenes) and the game does have quite a bit of redeeming visual quality to it.
Then comes the gameplay. The game plays very reminiscent of games like Final Fantasy XII where there is no transition between the overworld and battle. And just like Final Fantasy XII felt like a single player version of Final Fantasy XI, so too does the world in Xenoblade Chronicles feel so full and alive it really could have been an MMORPG. Unlike Final Fantasy XII, the game’s characters all have a very unique roll to fill in battle, while remaining customizable with equipment and a “talent tree”. Shulk for instance can fill roles that are very close to what we’d associate with both a healer and a rogue class. You can gear him for a proficiency in one over the other, though both abilities remain accessible at all times in a way it seems closer to games like Dragon Age or Final Fantasy XIII where characters can preform different roles based on your customization. The only thing really missing to make this battle system perfect in my eyes is the ability to switch between characters (which may exist, I may just not have gotten there yet.)
So after a good six hours I’m wandering around, marveling at the size of the opening area… a grassy creature populated world where you can complete a multitude of quests, explore, hunt down rare monsters, upgrade equipped items and more… all within minutes of the game starting. Xenoblade Chronicles thrusts you into this world like a child in an amusement park… so much of what you can actually do will surprise you. And to top it all off the premise of the game’s world is one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. You and everyone you know literally lives on the back of that can only be described as a dead god.
And the first major plot point will blow. your. mind.
So if you can possibly add this to your Wii collection you should. Because it is great. It is really a game that is satisfying from the get-go, and promises to only improve upon that as time goes on. Seriously. Do it. Do it now.