In the world of Xenoblade, there were two gods - one of machine and one of flesh once locked in an seemingly endless battle. After their battle came to an end, lifeforms appeared on each of these dormant gods and a brand new war began between living creatures and machine. When Shulk's home Colony-9 is attacked, killing many of the residents and his precious friend, he carries the only weapon that can hurt these brutal mechanical enemies the "Monado" and sets off on a journey for revenge. However, as he meets a new evolved kind of machine that can communicate as well as other races that suffers the same fate, he begins to seek other answers.
Most of the game feels fairly much like an MMORPG. You can see enemies and you fight wherever you make contact with them. Any enemies nearby can end up joining the battle so a lot of the common rules in MMORPGs apply... You lure an enemy away to a clear area, setup the right party members (e.g. tank, healer, damage dealer) and fight away.
You can move around in real-time and choose the skills each party members can have but, you can only control one member at a time. The AI's not bad but you can't set a general strategy. You can only tell your party to focus on a certain enemy or not. When a bar's filled you can execute a combo or use it to revive party members. You can interact with them like help them up when they're down.
Perhaps the interesting thing is that the Monado can foretell the future and warn you if the enemy is about to pull off a knock out attack. You then have a number of seconds to "change your future" such as say running out of range. It's actually grows fairly irritating eventually because it's like a mini cutscene breaking up the otherwise fast paced battles every now and then.
It's fun listening to the characters interact differently depending who you chose to have in your party.
The great thing is there isn't much down time because your HP gets replenished as you walk around and you don't have to worry about healing items. If your party gets wiped, you instantly restart from the last checkpoint. Travelling around places is great. There's no transport but you simply select a destination you've visited from the menu and you're there! You also get labelled "lazy one" if you use it too much funnily enough.
However, the downside is that there's also a lot of level grinding and much like FFXI, some enemies can be a lot tougher than they look even though they're rated at the same level as you. In fact, some are even tougher than the bosses themselves! These unique monsters scattered thoughout the game are optional and do give the game some decent extra play time though.
Another thing I don't like is how you have to go to the right places to purchase skill scrolls to upgrade your party member skills. If you missed some, which you probably will when you lack money during the early part of the game, you'll probably have to resort to a guide to learn where they were. On the bright side, the enemies don't have some cruel drop rates when it comes to items you need.
Environments look grand and impressive for the Wii even though there isn't a great deal of variation. Mostly familiar sci-fi looking places but the amount of greenery swaying in the wind, water flowing and the way monsters are animated generally look lively. The characters themselves on the other hand, walk around like robots but the expressions they have during cutscenes make up for it.
Cutscenes are in real time and they look very ugly when they close in on the characters faces due to the low resolution textures but you eventually get used to it. The real time cutscenes also means they reflect whatever equipment the characters have equipped which helps add to the immersion.
As I mentioned earlier, this game is like an MMORPG. There's a day and night cycle where the visuals and music change appropriately. Day time, it's usually lively and night time's it's slower. Everything is fully voiced and voice acting is good. There's a number of nice music compositions by Yuko Shimomura, Manami Kiyoto and ACE+.
The story itself isn't too bad with many twists as learn about the history of the Xenoblade world.
Xenoblade is one of the rare RPGs on the Wii that looks good and plays well generally. However, it has more of an MMORPG feeling to it where you have to spend a fair amount of time level grinding mixed in with some rare monsters to hunt down for rare items. The game can sometimes be fairly forgiving, letting you jump between areas instantly, pick up where your party get wiped but at other times, it can also be brutal with bosses spamming the same powerful moves. The "Monado" that warns you when an enemy to execute a deadly move is a pretty unique idea but it also gets irritating. In the end, I think it was the story and presentation that compelled me to play to the end.
Time Completed 50 hours
- Little downtime between battles.
- No random encounters.
- Detailed visuals and generally excellent presentation.
- Instant travel and save anywhere.
- Don't need to return to quest provider for rewards.
- Some hilarious interactions between party members.
- Optional challenging monsters for extra play time.
- Monado future telling gets pretty irritating.
- Quite a bit of level grinding.
- Enemy level indications can be misguiding.
- Finding those skill books to upgrade your skills.
- Some bosses like to spam moves.