The Wii has been a system that just sits up on my dresser and collects the much annoying dust while the Playstation 3 gets all the attention. For the first time since Skyward Sword I decided to make use of my handicapped console and picked up an anticipated game of mine-Xenoblade Chronicles. For the next 3 months and 60 hours overall, the Wii reigned supreme.
The Game opens up with these two Giant structure-like creatures battling it out over an endless ocean. Equipped with swords in hand they exchange fatal blows until they become frozen in time. It fast forwards "eons" later to a time where these humans (later known as Homs that live on one of the fighting giants known as the Bionis)are battling an enemy called Mechons (Machines that live on the other Giant, Mechonis). Their objective is to obtain a magical and powerful sword called the Monado. This sword gives it's user unimaginable strength and the ability to slice through the Mechons. The once called hero, Dunban, wields this sword and end the war between the two races....for the next year, at least.
The stories progression is based off a primitive emotion, revenge, as one of the main characters (Shulk) witnessed his friend (Fiora) dying in a preemptive attack on one of their colonies one year later. As mentioned, Shulk is the main protagonist in the story and is dubbed the true heir to the Monado. With Dunban no longer to wield the magical sword, Shulk takes it into his own hand and presses forward to kill those who attacked their Colony. As you progess, you learn the true nature of the Monado and the history of the god like giants that did battle. The whole plot it's quite hard to explain since the events,motives and story are continuously changing but that is the jist of the first 20 hours.
Xenoblade Chronicles doesn't waste much time getting you into the action and learning it's (seemingly) complex gameplay. One thing that I loved about this game was being able to do things on the fly without having to take detours. Some games will have you visit a place where they then teach you how to do battle. In this game however, you do battle and learn at the same time. Tutorials are short and easy to understand so that enabled me to grasp the battle system fairly quickly. There is a bar at the bottom that holds all of your "Arts" (9 customizable slots) which have different abilities; Heal, Attack, Provide Defense, etc. You can upgrade these arts using points you gain in battle. You can buy books or find them that enable you to further level up these Arts to it's maximum potential.
You can also learn skills that give your player special abilities and then you can share those skills with other characters in your party based one how many affinity coins you have (gained by leveling up and beating special monsters) and your affinity with that specific character. You can raise Affinity between characters by presenting items to each other, battling together a lot, or viewing heart-to-heart moments.
Now I touched up on how convenient everything is presented and it's true. You know how side quests sometimes require you to check back with the person when it's completed? Yeah well that's pretty much done with. Once you accept a quest you will never have to check in with them again. You'll get a notification on top whenever you get an item needed and how many more you need. Once you have everything you are automatically given your reward.
Traveling is also extremely simple. Whenever you traverse through the many locations on the Bionis you will encounter landmarks. These Landmarks act as a form of transportation between place to place. One you discover a landmark you can teleport back at any point in time, and since the world is huge, I couldn't have seen it done in a better way.
When you're traveling you will grow ever so frustrated with the Wii's inability to provide clear, High-Definition graphics because the environments you come across could have been absolutely gorgeous. Some scenery changes whenever it's day or night and one of the most noticeable difference was the Satorl Marsh. During the Day you would see a hazy and foggy-like swamp but during the night, the trees light up like crystals, purple like vapors rising from the ground into the sky...mix that in with the beautifully composed music playing in the backround created a wonderful artistic environment. I didn't want to leave.
Speaking of that soundtrack, it reminded me at times of Kingdom Hearts with it's prominent piano and violin playing in the back. Most of the times it had a distinct sound combining all sorts of instruments to create well composed pieces. As mentioned with the scenery, the music also changes with the time of day and it's cool little details like that that makes you appreciate the little things and makes your experience that much more enjoyable. If you want emotional, peaceful, upbeat or something to get you into that mood to destroy things, that's what you got depending on the situation. I have played a lot of games with great music but there are few that I would actually purchase to listen to and Xenoblade Chronicles would be one of those games.
I am very glad that Nintendo of America finally decided to release it here in the States other wise I would have never been able to experience it. The Wii desperately needed more games like this but unfortunately it took this long in it's lifecycle to produce such a masterpiece...I guess it's better late than never!
If you are looking for a game to take up 60+ hours of your time, Xenoblade Chronicles is for you. If you are looking for a deep JRPG experience, Xenoblade Chronicles is for you. If you are looking for a game with a great story, characters, and music...this game is for you. It's a wonderful piece of art and enjoyable on every level. Be sure you have some free time though because this is a looooooooooooooooooong game.