39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
One of the best games of our time.
, 21 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) (Video Game)
Stunning. Simply stunning. If you ever think of your top five or so video games of all time, it is not often a game comes along that can disturb the list. Here is one.
Whilst I am only about fifteen hours into the game, I felt I had to write a review as this game needs more positivity.
The basic premise is that you are living on one of two warring giants frozen in time before the world began-they now are the world you inhabit- and your colony gets attacked by Mechons who reside on Mechonis. You are part of the Hon race, which live on the other giant Bionis. The main character is Shulk who can wield the Monado-a sword which can damage Mechon and also enable Shulk to see the future. Inevitably the fate of the world rests on Shulk's shoulders, and along with his good friend Ryen, and other characters met along the way, they must together venture out to defeat the Mechonis.
Ok so the story sounds pretty average so far, but it is the way in which it is told that lifts this to the upper echelons of video games occupied by a select few. It really is a heart wrenching epic seemingly influenced by movies such as Star Wars-the Monado-, The Matrix-the Mechonis-, Lord of the Rings- the journey and setting- but has a tale itself that easily holds its own.
The graphics are beautiful, some of the best ever seen and when augmented with the story really do enhance it so much more. You can be questing in the dark recesses of a mine only to emerge back on the flushing meadows of the mainland and never feel disconnected. The day and night synchronise perfectly with major story elements, as do the weather effects. There is also a time changing system so you can move to whatever part of the day you wish. All the while you never seem to forget the land you traverse is actually that of someone's body. The world and environments are truly expansive, and I feel I have only touched on it despite being fifteen hours into the game.
The sound is momentous. It complements the game superbly, and arguably is the best part of the game. The stunning simplicity of the title screen music coupled with the Monado stuck in the grass really sums the game up for me: once you start playing, it evokes the visceral significance of the adventure. The voice acting really adds to the experience. When I first heard the English actors, I thought they sounded awful and had planned to play it using the original Japanese dub, with subtitles. But actually, they have grown on me and I think it is a very good job. Of course there are repetitive phrases which can grate after a while, but overall I think the voices represent the characters personalities very well: The cogitative Shulk, the rowdy Ryen, just to name two.
Gameplay, at first takes a little while to adjust to, mainly the real time battles, but the game does ease you into it, although information about gems and each characters arts seem overwhelming. However the more you play the more you get used to it, and personally I prefer the real time battle system to the monotony of turn based randomness. The fact that you can choose to play as each character also adds to the variety, as it feels right to change to the person who the story centres on at that time and offers new perspective as each individual has different skills and attributes. The side quests, while often (so far anyway) being just simple fetch quests, or monster disposing, again are really brought to life by the pleas from the people you help, and the genuine emotion they foster for such simple desires in such dire times. I feel they run deeper then what I have done so far and they are plentiful and a great way to earn money. There is armour and weapon upgrading, but this should be expected in this type of game, and is actually not at all complicated. The affinity and character developments are more detailed, but as with anything, understanding will come with time and practice. Elements of the game seem similar to Monster Hunter Tri (or the other way around) and as praiseworthy as Capcom's game is, this is head and shoulders above it in my opinion, and does everything so much better. It has much more character.
To our friends across the pond, I don't know why NOA are making you miss out on this seminal release-import it. To anyone else who wants to appreciate an original, epic and so far, game of the year-don't hesitate in purchasing this game. Nintendo, although they own Monolith (partly?), could take a few sycamore trees out of this book-If Link (from The Legend of Zelda) spoke, you would expect a game as epic as this. Skyward Sword has a lot to live up to.
In January 2010, the game was renamed from Monado: Beginning of the World to Xenoblade to honour Tetsuya Takahashi, "who poured his soul into making this". Show some appreciation people, a man has lost his soul.
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