#Xenoblade #Wii Impressions

Xenoblade Chronicles…
…is one of the most beautiful games ever. Anyone who believes otherwise is quite simply, nuts. Never mind it’s not in 720p. If anything the choice of hardware just shows how much of an achievement it is, and how much effort the developers monolithsoft have put into getting these astounding results from the wii. You can see from my screenshots (which were taken just using my iPhone camera) how pretty the environments are. There’s occasionally some slowing in the frame rate when battles get hectic and some of the textures did hurt my eyes from time to time, but this is probably more down to me not being able to tear myself away from playing. The voice acting can also be shocking in some places, but most of the time I welcomed it and felt it added to the story. 
Xenoblade is also astonishing value for money. I eventually poured over 90 hours into the game by the time the end credits rolled. In a time when most single player campaigns seem to be getting shorter and shorter, Xenoblade is refreshingly old school in it’s approach and throws in the side-quests left, right and centre, well situated throughout the engaging JRPG story with it’s many twists and turns. If anything the main story can be a little long. There were sometimes when I believed I was just round the corner from completion and uncovering the story in it’s entirety, only to realise I actually had quite a way to go. But this goes to show how good this story is, as I was compelled to keep playing regardless.

The gameplay is kept interesting throughout by a number of features - the battle system is similar to that of Final Fantasy 12; All characters in your team will attack automatically. You then control the positioning of the leader of the party, issuing special commands when you see fit. As such the combat is well paced and the special attacks of all characters are visually impressive. The protagonist, Shulk, is also able to see visions in battle thanks to the power of the cover star - a sword called the Monado. For the most part the visions are well placed, and allow you to change a sequence of events using a variety of techniques to preempt or avoid an enemies attack. Later in the game these visions can get annoying, when all you want to do is get through a battle to see what happens next. But that’s nit picking.  

The voice work during battles is some of the most annoying in the game, and get’s repetitive quickly - especially if you stick to using the same characters regularly. Fortunately, monolithsoft has strived to keep you mixing with the characters by using an affinity system; characters build affinity with each other the more they interact. This in turn unlocks conversation sequences that divulge little bits of the characters back stories and personality. The only way to see all these heart to hearts is to use every combination of team to build affinity between all characters. 

So, beautiful visuals, an engaging story line, an excellent battle system and good longevity. This game is great for the RPG veteran but accessible enough for newcomers too. I thoroughly enjoyed this game and believe it to be the best game on the Wii to date. I’m just glad I finished it before the release of Skyward Sword next week…

Thanks for reading! (originally posted Nov 11th 2011 on my old Tumblr)

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