As I dust off my wii I think about the last great RPG that I got excited about on a Nintendo console and I have to think a long way back to Tales of Symphonia which took me 7 years to complete although I wish I never stopped playing it. Xenoblade sounded amazing and was one of those games that caught my eye the first time I caught wind of it in Japan and then the exciting news that it was being released into the UK.
After over 115 hours of gameplay and 4 replacement batteries later I have to say this is a major contender for my game of the year and that includes Skyrim & Battlefield 3.
The graphics are simply stunning; it’s the best looking game on the Wii console by far, not only is it great to look at on a Nintendo console but it holds up well against some of the HD games on the xbox and PS3 too. They open world is absolutely massive and reminds me slightly of Final Fantasy 12 apart from the fact you are actually running around a giant Titan. Not only is the land a joy to look at but it also has its rewards, secret area’s and XP bonuses are given when a new location have been discovered along with hidden and special items.
The music is fantastic and some of the best I have heard on JRPG. I have found myself at times just walking around for a couple of hours doing nothing but exploring and still humming along with the background music without getting boring once! It really does suit the game perfectly and that includes the music when fighting which can change tempo depending on how you are doing.
The story is very strong and will draw you in from the very beginning and only gets stronger the more you progress. There voice acting isn’t too bad, at first it’s a little strange hearing British voices but you will get used to it and failing that you have the option to change it back to Japanese, a nice option Final Fantasy should take on board.
The battle system is a cross between FF12 and 13, you control 1 member of your party which is the lead but this can be changed. When in battle you will automatically fight with whatever weapon you are equipped with but you have a few extra attacks, guards and spells you can use along the base of the screen, once used these will fill back up in time. Your other characters will attack or heal on their own and the way they behave can be changed pre battle. One other way of fighting is the ability to see the future, your main character will see what will happen before it does allowing you to change the future in whatever way you wish to stop the event from happening. Great trick but can become annoying when viewed 10+ times in one boss battle.
Another thing I love about this world is the way ever level monster is walking around the same area, you could be fighting a level 10 monster one moment and a short walk later and there is a level 80 one just around the corner waiting to ruin your day! Luckily you can see them before they see you and if the game deems them too hard to fight they will be marked in Red! If they are orange then it will be a tough battle but one you should win by a scrape. This brings me onto another great thing in this game and that’s dying! I know this doesn’t sound like a good thing but when you die in Xenoblade you keep all the items and XP you have gained up until the point you died. No more wishing you had saved before you took on too many enemies and no more saving after every two or three enemy victory’s, you can go about your business and if you happen to lose against the next enemy you face then maybe a little leveling up wouldn’t go a miss before you face them again.
After you complete the game it allows you to replay the whole game keeping certain items, weapons and your characters XP levels to allow you to go over missed steps.
This has easily been the best game of the year for me and as it’s on the Wii it will unfortunately be one of those games that will remain a hidden gem to many. If you own a wii and love JRPG’s I promise you that you will not be disappointed.