The last time I pre-ordered a game on the Wii was Mario Kart which was over three years ago. That run was broken by Xenoblade Chronicles. The question is has Xenoblade managed to live up to the high expectations I had for the game?
It’s a simple question but one I was almost not able to answer. My pre-order arrived a day late (obviously this was no fault of game developers Monolith Soft) and when I inserted the disc I was informed that I needed to download a Wii update. After this my Wii restarted…and couldn’t read the disc. I’d reported on this problem the day before and now I was being troubled by it. Fortunately though after restarting my Wii once more the disc was read and the game began.
And what a game! Regular readers may have noticed I didn’t make a single post to Gamers Corner over the weekend and that’s because I was so absorbed by Xenoblade Chronicles that I didn’t want to put it down.
You play as Shulk, a young man researching the powers of the Monado. The Monado is a sword of immense power with many abilities locked away. The one ability it does have at the start of the game is the power to cut through Mechon who are the mechanical enemy terrorizing the homs (humanity).
Shulk, along with his friend Reyn, set out to gain revenge on the Mechon who have wrecked their hometown and killed a close friend. Along the way you’ll travel through an expansive world full of a wide variety of enemies and as the story progresses so do the abilities of the Monado.
There are four ways to gain EXP to power up your party. The first is the tried and tested method of beating up enemies. Some enemies will leave you alone unless you initiate combat while others will strike first if you walk into their line of sight or if they hear you running passed them. The battle system is the finest example of the ATB system I’ve ever played. When combat begins you control your lead character (you can choose in the menu who this is) and at timed intervals you will hit the enemy with a regular strike, however there are also special skills called arts that you can use. Arts are stronger attacks but after you use them once there is a cool off period before you can use it again.
The two other ways to gain EXP are by completing quests. Every town and camp have a multitude of NPCs who’ll ask you to kill X amount of an enemy or find a certain item for them. What I liked about the quest system was that in most cases once you’d completed the objectives of the quest you were automatically rewarded – you didn’t have to traipse back into the town, find the character, and talk to them to get your reward.
Discovering new areas also grants you EXP. Its not a large amount but it does give you an extra incentive to search every area of the Bionis for landmarks and special places.
Xenoblade Chronicles also contains achievements. I’m on the record as saying that I think achievements and trophies are dumb because they have no in-game effect but in Xenoblade for every achievement you get your characters also receive EXP. This is something the PS3 and Xbox 360 would do well to take note of.
Some hardcore RPGers may complain that the game is a little easy but for anyone below that level the game does present a challenge without being frustrating. If you’re struggling defeating a boss, for example, go and achieve a couple of level-ups and you’ll be good to go the next time.
On top of the excellent story, combat and levelling, the graphics are the best I’ve ever seen on the Wii. Even stretched across my 40-inch TV the graphics didn’t suffer. Finally a game developer has pushed the Wii to its graphical limits and the results are impressive. Of course it’s no match for the PS3 or Xbox 360 but compared to every other game I’ve played on the Wii Xenoblade leaves the rest in the dust.
Overall Xenoblade Chronicles is probably my favourite game of 2011. If you’ve been deliberating whether to buy it or not do yourself a favour, stop reading this review, and order it now.
Xenoblade Chronicles is the game that Final Fantasy XIII wishes it was and an example of what the Wii should have been doing long ago.
BUY XENOBLADE CHRONICLES FROM ZAVVI