Rich Lanci | Staff Writer
The Wii hasn’t gotten too many RPG’s, and the ones it did get were good but nothing special or memorable. Xenoblade Chronicles is a turn based RPG made by Monolith Soft, a company known for great RPG’s such as Xenosaga, the prequel to Xenogears (unfortunately this game has no relation to either of them despite the “Xeno” in the titles). It follows the story of a young man named Shulk, who lives on continents in the shapes of titans. On his quest, Shulk must unlock the power of the mysterious sword, The Monado.
The graphics for the Wii are impressive. There are a fair amount of jagged polygons on the character models and the environments, but the game does have a humongous world and lots of detail. The way the giant titans represent the world is interesting enough, but the characters are also engaging. The jagged models are forgivable given the hardware. The art has an interesting half futuristic, half primitive appearance to it. It may not be an incredibly original style, but it still has its own charm, and a small bit of Xenosaga’s style shines through.
One thing that is instantly noticeable about the voices is that all the characters have British accents. That is because the game was originally never intended to come out in America, only in Japan and Europe. After large amounts of fan demand, the game was finally released in America, but since the language was already English, there was no need to give it new voices from the European version, hence the British accents. As odd as the voices can be coming from multiple Japanese styled characters, they match well and sound good. It is also refreshing hearing voices that aren’t as commonly heard in American voice acting. The music is good to listen to as well, due to the various battle themes that have a very intense feel to them, along with a nostalgic tone as well.
The gameplay is reminiscent of RPG’s like Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic or Final Fantasy XII, in the sense that once battle is engaged, it is constantly engaged. The enemies keep attacking. The player gives the command to the characters, and they carry the commands with little movement. Another really interesting thing about this game is that during battle the player can still manually move the character. This does not only make the battles more immersive, but it is also used for positioning for the game’s “Arts” system.
All RPG’s have abilities to be used in battle like casting spells or doing more extravagant attacks. This game’s abilities are called arts, and some characters (or at least Shulk) have arts that allow them to inflict more damage depending on what side of the enemies they’re on. This was a really cool and innovative idea that is not seen in many modern RPG’s.
As mentioned before, the world is huge, and even though it may not be quite as big as that in a game like Skyrim’s, it may have more diversity in the landscape and locales. Japanese RPG’s tend to be better than most western RPG’s. Every town is filled with many citizens to interact with and it should also be mentioned that there are a plethora of quests that the citizens can assign. At least two people per town will probably have a quest to perform, which can really increase the replay value. There are no time limits for the quests, and they can be done at the player’s leisure, which is fair and not worrisome.
The game also uses somewhat of a social link system, where characters form bonds with other party members to deepen character development and make them stronger in battle. Along with bonds with main characters, it is even possible to form bonds with NPC’s. Getting to a certain bond level will allow players to see other sides of the characters through deeper conversations.
Overall, Xenoblade is a very in-depth and innovative RPG with its battle systems, and interesting characters. The story should keep players hooked with its “change the future” theme, and has tons of replay value. This is a must have for Wii owners and RPG lovers. One thing that should be mentioned is that the game is only available for purchase at Gamestop. Final Score: 9/10