Tuesday, November 13, 2012

4 Year RPG Special Part 6: Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii review





Here we are at the end of this massive RPG special. I saved these two RPG’s for the last part of this special because of what they have done recently with the RPG. I will talk more about this in the next game, but I will say that it is pretty surreal still that we got these two games in the first place. The Wii is a great console and it does have a pretty impressive line of games that are amazing, but it suffers the same issue that the Nintendo 64 suffered, a lack of a good RPG library. This gen’s systems had some very good RPG’s, depending on who you ask. The PS3 and 360 are sadly, the ones who have gotten all of the amazing RPG’s. The Wii, on the other hand, has suffered from shovelware party games and huge amounts of terrible motion control games. There are RPG’s on it if you don’t count the SNES virtual console ports. However, those RPG’s are rather lackluster.  PS3 and 360 had games like Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Tales of Graces F, Valkyria Chronicles, Ni No Kuni, The Last Remnant, Eternal Sonata, and you get the idea. The Wii has um…it has uh….that Tales of Symphonia sequel? Um, Super Paper Mario is an action RPG I guess. You see my point? That was our situation over here in the states, while in Japan, they had a multitude of RPG’s that were well received over there. Then, around mid-2011, I found out about an online community called Operation Rainfall who wanted to bring over 3 RPG’s. These were Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower. Now, if anyone followed the news, both Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story made it over here while Pandora’s Tower was, I think for the best, left in Europe and Japan. I am not saying Pandora’s Tower is a bad game per say, but out of the three games Rainfall wanted to bring over, it was definitely the weakest and would have been the hardest to convince Nintendo of America to bring over. I have not played Pandora’s Tower, but from what I can tell it’s an interesting game story and character design-wise, but it is also super clunky-looking in gameplay and execution. Why not focus on the first two RPG’s since they came over here? Let us start with what is considered the best RPG on the Wii, Xenoblade Chronicles. 

Let us talk about the story, since the setting is pretty unique for an RPG. A long time ago on some unknown planet which I am guessing to be Earth, two huge, and I mean HUGE, beings duked it out and tried to kill each other. They were Bionis and Mechonis. They somehow killed each other at the same time and their bodies stayed stationary as life began to evolve on both of the giant bodies. One of the giant’s houses the organic life-like animals and the hom (this game’s human race). The other giant houses the Mechon, evil robots that want to devour the hom and acquire the only weapon that can hurt them, the Monando. You play as Shulk, voiced by Adam Howden. He is a young man who lives in a colony with his friends Reyn, voiced by Jay Taylor, Fiora, voiced by Carina Reeves, and Fiora’s older brother Dunban, voiced by Rufus Jones. While doing a job for the colony, the colony gets attacked by Mechon, led by a mysterious-faced Mechon. Shulk, Reyn, and Dunban try their best to defend the colony from the Mechon, but in the end, lose Fiora in the midst of battle. Shulk then decides to leave with the Monando in hand, with his friend Reyn to defeat the Mechon and save the world. Along his journey, Shulk and Reyn team up with other characters like Dunban, who was the hero of the Colony and ex-wielder of the Monando, Shala, a Colony 6 Hom who wields a sniper rifle, Melia, a magic user who is part of the advance hom-like beings known as High Entia, and Riki, a small furry animal-like being who is apparently some chosen hero of his people. While the story isn’t as epic as it wants to be, it is a pretty solid story with memorable, likable, and interesting characters from the beginning. I know that sometimes you have to make your characters a little less likable, so later in the game, they mature and then do become likable, but sometimes I enjoy characters that grab me from the get go and not 18 hours later. For me, make them interesting at the beginning and then keep developing them from then. 

Now then, the gameplay is very interesting. To be honest, I was hesitant to pick up this game because of the gameplay. The gameplay is basically a huge somewhat open-ended action RPG. Even though I said this is an action RPG, it is more like an MMO. Think of Final Fantasy 12 if it took more of an MMO combat menu design-wise. You will be visible over a huge expansive overworld with two of your allies in a party of three. The main meat of the game is using a thin horizontal attack menu to choose your attacks to tackle each encounter with. Each attack in the attack menu does have a cool-down timer, like in other MMO’s, but your character will always be doing a normal auto attack without any command to be given. Each battle will require some strategy from time to time, since not all enemies act the same. For example, about halfway through or so when you meet the winged hom-like beings, you fight two bosses that cannot be hurt by the Monando, so you have to choose a different character to play as. Not all of the characters in your party play the same. Melia is a magic user and is probably the weakest of the main heroes, Reyn is more of a character you use to break down your enemy to make him more vulnerable to attacks, and Riki is more of a trickster character. When you are playing as Shulk, you are able to use the Monando, which has many abilities, from doing heavy damage to the robot-like enemies, making characters faster, taking down a unique creature that is seen in many forms throughout the game, having shields around everyone, to making everyone able to do more damage to the robots, and you get the idea. You only get three people in your party, so choose who you want to fight a monster or boss with since the fights can punish you if you have the wrong characters in your party. Outside of the main single-player game, you have many side quests and things to do. Sometimes these side quests are random, some are story-based, so if you don’t do them during that part of the story, they will be gone for the rest of the game, and one side quest that includes you rebuilding Colony 6 in a town-building simulator thing. If you like this kind of side quest, you probably should play games like Actraiser, Dragon Quest 7, Breath of Fire 4, and Dark Cloud. You have a huge map to explore and I mean it’s HUGE. It is probably one of the biggest maps in any game. If you see somewhere you want to explore, you can probably get there. This game takes many hours to complete with a total of 70 or more hours. It is, oh my goodness, big! 

The graphics look great! While they can look very blocky and pixelated up close and trust me, they do, the art style is unique. I love the design of the Mechon. They are truly unique looking robots that have a certain flair and personality to them. The monster designs are also great. They remind me of The Last Remnant and Final Fantasy 12 by design. The voice acting is also topnotch. Sure some character voices can be a bit annoying at times, but I like the idea of a British cast of voice actors giving the characters life and personality. The music is amazing! It is one of the best things about this game and it is just so oh so good! One of the composers for this game is Yoko Shimomura, who has composed for games like Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve, Kingdom Hearts, and Legend of Mana, to name a few. Some of you may also know her for her work in the Mario and Luigi GBA and DS games. Another huge-named composer is Yasunori Mitsuda, who composed music for great games like Chrono Trigger and Xenogears. There are two others, but I couldn’t get any info on them. The two that I do know of do a great job in giving this game one of the best soundtracks of this console’s generation. It is truly one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. The developer should also get credit, Monolith Soft that is famous for games like the Xenosaga games, Namco X Capcom, Project X Zone, and Baten Kaitos. They are truly one of the great developers of the game industry. 

Sadly, as much as I want to praise this game, there are some minor faults, but they are, to be honest, minor things. One thing is that while I do love how much there is to do, maybe they could have cut a bit of the side quests away. I do love having huge games to purchase, but sometimes there can be a bit too much to do. I also don’t like how the platforming and jumping is done. It is a bit clunky and it’s no Super Mario or anything like that. Then again, the creator of this game did put the same annoying platforming issues from Xenogears in this game, but they are not as annoying as that game’s platforming. Other than that, the complaints I have are just extremely minor and not worth bringing up. 

All and all, this is a great evolution of the RPG genre. Just like how Valkyria Chronicles and XCOM Enemy Unknown evolved the turn-based tactics genre, Xenoblade Chronicles, just like Xenogears, evolves the RPG genre to new heights. If you have had any mean-spirited thoughts towards the Wii as of right now at the end of this console’s life, I say shoo them away and go get this game! You can play this game with the classic controller, which is the superior way to play the game. You better get this game now since a limited amount of copies were made for this game and Nintendo might not make more of them in the future. The game’s price will skyrocket and unlike House of the Dead for the Saturn or Action 52 on the NES, the game’s price tag will be big, but worth it, since this is truly a great and fantastic RPG. It is one of my all-time favorite games and RPG’s and I highly recommend you getting it now before the price hits the triple digits! Let us now move onto the more ambitious, mature, and final game in this RPG special, The Last Story.
This game gets a perfect 9 out of 10

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