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Review: Xenoblade Chronicles (3D).

Now I know this review is late. But since I have a personal life it didn’t allow me to play this game constantly and this game is long. How long? Well let me tell you.

Note: this review is for the most part for the original version if you want to know about the New 3ds port scroll to the end of the review.

 

When Monolith Soft’s Tetsuya Takahashi started on Xenoblade, he said he wanted to make a masterpiece within the JRPG genre, and damn if he didn’t. Xenoblade is without a doubt the best RPG of the last generation and it coming to the New 3ds hasn’t made it worse, even if it didn’t make it better. The people behind Xenoblade also made Xenogears (a cult classic masterpiece for the original PlayStation), Xenosaga (an albeit less critical received cult classic trilogy for PlayStation 2) and Baiten Kaitos(same as the previous two except for the GameCube) and all of these have great story and philosophy, amazing music and a unique combat system; Xenoblade is no exception.

The Design philosophy actually feels like it was back in the days of the original PlayStation. It feels old-school in the way they designed things like music,noncombat mechanics, character, environment and monster design, narrative and even their need to make a special battle system.

The monsters look like the wildlife you would see in old-school RPG’s and the Mechon and Telethia look like something that come from the classics like Final Fantasy and such. The narrative has a specific philosophy behind it as was the style at the time And there are more things that make it feel like this is a game that was made in a time gone by.

Xenoblade’s battle system is unlike anything out there. When people see the game they just don’t get it, until they play it. You engage the enemy you see in the world by locking on to it and selecting an art which is this games special attack. You can move freely in combat because most of the moves increase in effectiveness depending on where your and the enemy’s position is(e.g. some moves do more damage from behind or some put a debuff in a fan shape in front of you). It’s one of the more creative and certainly unique ways to make a JRPG, the combat never get boring  or drags on. The longest a battle might take is around five to seven minutes tops and only for unique monsters and bosses. Combat features some insane mechanics like, agro, visions,buffs,debuffs enemy and player placement, arts, tension,chain attacks, conditions depending on the time of the day and way more it’s insane.xenoblade review 6The combat never gets old.

Outside of combat there are a lot of other mechanics, and with a lot I mean A LOT. There’s gem crafting, item trading, side quests, the rebuilding of a town, an affinity chart, skill trees and more. As for the side quests there are about 480 quests so that’s a lot. These quests are usually standard stuff like kill this monster here to talk to this person there but you won’t mind that since the game make it as hassle-free as they can by adding quick travel or even warn you about items to keep for future quests. But make sure you don’t do too much side-quest because you wont be able to finish the game.

xenoblade review 2The gem crafting game is the most video gamey thing you will ever see.

The story and setting of the game are amazing. Xenoblade takes place on the lifeless body of a titan god called the Bionis who died in battle against it’ enemy the Mechonis. This is what makes this game my favorite setting in any game ever. You walk on the corpse of you ancient dead god. That’s sick. At almost any time you can see the Mechonis staring at you as you travel to several places on top of the titan. Its red eyes feel menacing and it’s just enormous, it’s one of the most breathtaking things you will see. It has a powerful feeling. And while the game is technically linear the environment are absolutely ginormous. It’ might take you 10 minutes to cross one area in a straight line and if you reach something like a cliff and look down you see a river and you think “oh that’s just part of the skybox, if I jump down I will die and respawn at the last checkpoint”. But when you actually jump you keep falling and falling and falling until you actually falls in the river and realize this is another entire area to explore. It’s just massive and the environments are all varied each sharing great music and a unique color scheme it’s gorgeous.xenoblade review 3You can actually go down there. The world is ginormous.

And if you are interested in a story in your JRPG you won’t be disappointed. Xenoblade’s story focuses on a young man named Shulk who set’s of on an adventure to fight the Mechon after an attack on his colony. While the story sounds predictable, nearing the end of the game things take an interesting turn, to say the least. While the philosophy of Xenogears philosophy was heavily inspired by Freudian and Jungian psychology and Xenosaga based its entire story on Nietzschean philosophy. And while Xenoblade still has its story elements from Monadology and Taoism it is more subdued and hidden. Still, the game like the other Xeno games likes to ask questions like: do we have a need for gods, do we accept fate as it comes or do we fight to change the future and much other religious questions. It’s really smart stuff that’s gripping and interesting.

And as far as Taoism goes a lot of the game shows the concept of yin and yang. The Bionis is the yang made of flesh and blood to the Mechonis which is the yin made of steel and mechanics. Just as the Mechon are metal but need Homs of flesh and blood to survive. However, the third story arc is a bit heavy on the cutscenes and dialog which makes the problems in the dialogue stand out more.

While the voice-acting is good if not a bit goofy (Everything Reyn says is pure gold) it shows that the writing itself is lacking. Specifically, the third arc gets very anime in its dialogue by holding speeches that start awkward and go to basically yelling DESTINY IS DESTINY.

The Music is amazing and an instant classic. Every song again feels like it was made for a Square PlayStation game. The event music while very strong never overmastered the scenes and dialogue. And the music that plays in the areas fit perfectly and you just feel the need to stop, take in the view and listen to the music. a good example of an event theme is engaging the enemy and of course there is ever so catchy the Gaur plains theme. It’s one of my favorites.

xenoblade review 7
As said before, you can see the Mechonis at any time.

So that’s the game itself but what about the New 3ds version.

Well while it’s still great the New 3ds version suffers from some problems. One problem is that the game looks a bit blurrier than the Wii version but after playing for a while you don’t notice it that much. another problem is that the game’s audio on the New 3ds can get kinda glitchy, during the crafting game the audio starting crackling. The new vault feature is a nice addition but I doubt a lot of people will actually use it or try to complete it.

So would I recommend the New 3ds version or should you get the classic version? Well honestly I would recommend the New 3ds version. Xenoblade on the Wii is pretty hard to find for a fair price and the game actually fits almost perfectly on a handheld. Except for the cut scenes the game is a perfect fit for the New 3ds with relatively short battles, easy quick travel and the ability to save everywhere. So maybe if the game comes to Wii U trough the Virtual Console I would consider the Wii U version, but for now definitely get it on New 3ds.

xenoblade review 4The vault feature while neat feels underplayed.

closing note:

Xenoblade is the best JRPG of the last generation. With old-school philosophy design, Monolith Soft truly made a masterpiece within the JRPG genre. An amazing story, addictive and unique combat system and a masterful soundtrack you can’t go wrong. If you’re an RPG fan this game needs to be in your collection and if you’re not, while the game can be a bit overwhelming it might be a good start to jump into the genre if you’re interested.

                                                                                 9.5/10

But for the Wii version:

     10/10

 

 

 

 

 

I'm a fun loving guy who like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and long walks on the beach. I work hard, I play hard. Must like cats. Ugos need not apply. If you want to ask me anything you can contact me at yordi.verhoene@gmail.com