Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Note on Xenoblade Chronicles

So recently, this game called Xenoblade Chronicles was granted a quiet localization by Nintendo.  People wouldn't stop raving about it, so I convinced myself to dust off my Wii (which I had thought for sure I would never turn on again) and give it a shot.  I'm glad I did.

I'm not going to write a review for the game, because I literally do not have enough time to spare on it (it's a huge game; like Dark Cloud 2 huge).  But I wanted to take some time mention that it really is one of the better JRPGs of the generation.

From what I could tell from the couple of hours I put into it, Xenoblade Chronicles doesn't really try to do anything brand new, gameplay wise.  Instead, it takes traditional ideas and simply focuses on executing them well.  There's fetch quests, yeah.  But the game helps you separate quest items (even items that aren't actually quest items yet because you haven't accepted the related quest) with markers.  It also gives most quest givers a name and a bit of background.  Every named NPC shows up on a big ol' relationship chart that fills out itself as you talk to more people.  Small things like these add up to put a fresh spin on stale mechanics.  Xenoblade also adopts the modern JRPG trend of reducing player reliance on items and inns by not having items and having your health rapidly recharge outside of battle.

What actually hooked me, and what made me finally decide to give Xenoblade Chronicles a shot was the story and setting, however.  The game spans the bodies of two giant titans--Bionis and Mechonis--who have been fighting since the beginning of time.  One supports organic life, and the other machines, known as Mechons.  Just like the beings on which they reside, humans are locked in an eternal conflict with Mechons, who invade from Mechonis periodically to murder and kidnap people for seemingly no reason.  The story revolves around Shulk, who comes to possess a powerful, mysterious anti-Mechon weapon called the Monado, and decides to use it strike back against the Mechons.

It's not often you play a game with such a unique setting.  Hearing Gametrailers' review describe it, I found myself instantly hooked.  It doesn't hurt the characters and the way they interact with each other is well-written and feels genuine.  The game was originally localized for Europe, so the voice acting is permeated by British accents; but this only helps further separate Xenoblade from the rest of its contemporaries, as anyone who's played a fair number of JRPGs in English will know that the genre pulls from a fairly small pool of dubbing actors.

So I'm glad I gave this game a chance.  It's really neat and I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in JRPGs.  Unless you didn't like Final Fantasy 12.  It does feel very similar to that game.

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