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Xenoblade Chronicles Review

The best Japanese RPG for a decade

Xenoblade Chronicles is the best console RPG to come out of Japan in a decade. It is a game that routinely touches upon the great titles of the JRPG golden era while modernising many of those areas that have increasingly turned contemporary audiences away from the genre.

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Perhaps this should be no great surprise. Tetsuya Takahashi, the man behind the game, is a designer whose credits include Final Fantasy V, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana and Xenogears.

This really is a jaw-dropping game to look at and it's a huge game world to lose oneself in, even before the story gets its claws into you, pulling you through its landscapes until it's complete, 60-odd hours later.

The Incredible Shulk

You play as Shulk, a wiry man who wields an improbably large sword. He's one of the Homs, a race of people from Bionis. While Bionis is a green land, filled with lush flora and fauna, it's far from pleasant for its dwellers who suffer relentless attacks from a vindictive robotic force known as the Mechon.

Shulk is supported by a growing cast of other characters, from Reyn, a muscle-bound cockney childhood friend, to Sharla, a rifle-bearing healer who is searching for both her missing brother and her fiancee. Together, this ragtag group seek to uncover the truth behind the Mechon invasion, while working to free those who have become enslaved by it.

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As you explore the world your motivations are varied, from the big ticket story objectives down to the optional quests for characters you meet along the way. Very often these side missions can be as exciting and engaging as the core story.

Fight Club

The battle system may seem a little confusing at first, but soon becomes second nature. You control just one of the characters in your squad (Shulk, by default), leaving the other party members to largely get on with it by themselves, although they can be given some basic commands.

To attack you need to position your character in the proximity of an enemy. As soon as he is near enough, he'll start striking at the targeted foe with his weapon automatically. Where you come in is in deciding which of your character's special attacks to trigger at what point. Along the bottom of the screen a panel holds all of your chosen character's 'Arts', special moves that can be executed at any time, but which also have a cooling off period before they can be used again.

Arts range from powerful attacks that can break an enemy's armour or daze them, to healing moves that restore your team's hit points, to special 'buffs' that temporarily increase your skills and 'debuffs' that temporarily decrease your enemy's skills.

While your party will generally fend for themselves, you can issue general commands to your teammates, requesting that they focus their attacks on the foe you are targeting, or rally around you.

Likewise, there is a party gauge that slowly fills as you work together. Once this is full, you can issue a 'Chain Link', which stops time and allows you to queue up a specific Art for each character to execute, even if the Art in question is still cooling down.

The Mechon themselves require a bit of extra strategy as normal weapons won't effect them. At the start of any battle with a Mechon, Shulk must cast one of his special Monado arts to enable everyone else's weapons to damage the target. The game can be tough in that, if you forget to do this, sometimes you'll be unable to progress.

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34 comments so far...
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  1. samus_killer Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 13:56

    I managed to get this yesterday after work, but only had an hour on it. I'm hoping to get into stuck into this tonight.

  2. rinalicat Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 15:03

    I ordered my copy off Amazon last week and was expecting it to come tomorrow. It came this morning...1 hour and 30 minutes after my classic controller turned up (THANK YOU ONM FOR RECOMMENDING IT!). It was like a sign...but at the same time I'm confused. Regardless, IT IS AWESOME!!

    But due to Fiora and Reyn's protectiveness for Shulk, I have started to think of him as a princess. Well, he DOES have the hair of a faery princess...

  3. omegoku Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 16:02

    I heard there is a 2 and a half hour long boss fight in it?
    Can you save during that? I have not had that long to play a game non stop in a long time!
    I won't be getting this game for a few weeks but I have heard nothing but good things!

  4. Jabaxaro Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 16:06

    I myself preordered the bundled version roughly a month ago, and so far I have been roughly 5 hours into it and I love almost every single bit of it :D

    Small issues I can forgive really, but so far I have had plenty of fun with this :D

  5. Toadmaniac2 Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 16:47

    While it looks great for a Wii game, it looks horribly dated compared to a PS3 or 360 game. I know it's a stupid comparison to make, but honestly, I wish I could buy this on the PS3, and I do hope it gets ported.

    Note I didn't mention anything about game play. I haven't played it, i'm going by various videos and what-not. I know game play's what matters, but you can't deny graphics make a game much nicer to play.

  6. Snarafe Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 16:57

    I may just buy this because Shulk looks like Stocke from 'Radiant Historia' :wink:

  7. shy guy 64 Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 17:41

    I wish I could buy this on the PS3, and I do hope it gets ported.

    fat chance, from what ive heard nintendo own monolith

    anyway i plan to buy this as soon as i can

  8. goldbricks Thursday 18th Aug 2011 at 21:29

    I have it pre-ordered with the red classic controller pro bundle. I now have black, gold and red from various bundles. I don't even know if I need them all but at least they will work with the Wii U. If Nintendo bring out an upgrade for the classic controller pro for the Wii U I will be annoyed.

    Anyway this game seems to have nothing but good reviews written for it- can't wait!!

  9. pokemaster Friday 19th Aug 2011 at 07:09

    To anyone who is interested, you can get the soundtrack for free if you register the game on club nintendo before 30th September. You download it from the treasures section on your account. :)

  10. RubbishGamer Friday 19th Aug 2011 at 08:53

    Off to game now to get the special edition with red controller. Hoorah

  11. sciqueen Friday 19th Aug 2011 at 09:18

    Would this game be suitable for someone who has never played a JRPG? I might be a sheep and buy the classic controller bundle!

  12. Violet Friday 19th Aug 2011 at 12:51

    Note I didn't mention anything about game play. I haven't played it, i'm going by various videos and what-not. I know game play's what matters, but you can't deny graphics make a game much nicer to play.

    Use your eyes, it looks beautiful to me outside of the cut scenes (which are admittedly limited, not really the game's fault). Its all about the art direction. The worlds in this game are HUGE and they look fantastic.

    Also this game will NEVER be ported, Nintendo owns it. Its lucky to even get a release outside of Japan as it is. Want more games like this? Support it and don't focus on HD so much. Having more pixels doesn't instantly make a game more beautiful.

  13. duffdude Friday 19th Aug 2011 at 16:31

    This game is amazing, i'm about 8 hours in and luckily I recieved 2 days before release and i am up to the marshes which look amazing, i am still discovering things in the first area and there is loads to do in each area, I hope for a sequel for the wii U

  14. kylewithaface Saturday 20th Aug 2011 at 11:24

    what a game i am not very far in it i.e i'm at colony six but i am level 40 and played it for 7 hours as i got it a day early from asda

  15. mafu1989 Saturday 20th Aug 2011 at 21:38

    Brilliant game. I'm roughly 11 hours into the game now, so much to do and every time I back track there just seems be more sub quests littered about. Loving the wide and open areas to explore, Have to say some of the music in the game is some of the best game soundtracks I have heard in a long time.

  16. starvigilante Sunday 21st Aug 2011 at 07:11

    I started playing this yesterday (I was way when my pre-order arrived), I'm only an hour in but I am really enjoying this game. The areas I have seen are beautiful, the battle system stat-heavy (like any good JRPG) but intuitive, and the characters are likeable.
    Would definitely recommend so far. :)

  17. Dragonite96 Sunday 21st Aug 2011 at 16:12

    It's a great game, but it doesn't work well with old TV's! :D I had to reset the brightness, resolution and sharpness on mt TV before I could read any of the writing,as some of it is far too small to be read, especially in the shops or when finding loot. I went through the first hour of the game relying on my memory of screenshots to select most of the options!

  18. shadow.x Monday 22nd Aug 2011 at 01:03

    I need to get this so badly. :(

  19. Raszero Monday 22nd Aug 2011 at 16:26

    I made a pre-order, but then realised I have about 5 PS3 games still to play, so I think I'll get though them before purchasing this. Price should go downa bit by then too, so win win.
    Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the time when I can finally play this :D

  20. saswatch Tuesday 23rd Aug 2011 at 23:17

    epic game

  21. Grovyle Saturday 10th Sep 2011 at 19:24

    I have to admit, I prefer Monster Hunter Tri. Still a great game though.

  22. Xord Monday 12th Sep 2011 at 06:50

    I just realised something.. If the Monado was used by Bionis, it would be the size of Colony 9 so... IT'S A FAKE!!

  23. Qyror Saturday 12th Nov 2011 at 18:52

    I've had the game for over a week now...did about 30 hours so far. IT IS AWESOME!! The graphics beat everything on the Wii other than Monster Hunter and Galaxy 2, plus, this is by far the best RPG I have ever played, and I've played a lot of RPGs. If you haven't got it yet GET IT NOW!!

  24. Bakerstudios Friday 23rd Dec 2011 at 15:11

    Just to clarrify: do I need a Classic Controller for the game or is it just the reccommended controller, as I wanted to use my shiny new Skyward Swords remote?

  25. Xord Friday 23rd Dec 2011 at 15:46

    It's just optional.

  26. jimbob555 Saturday 24th Dec 2011 at 03:37

    But I would recomend you use it.

  27. Xenobladeperson Saturday 28th Apr 2012 at 22:03

    This game is far better than Galaxy and Skyward Sword, give it 99%!!

  28. Xenobladeperson Sunday 29th Apr 2012 at 17:14

    I just realised something.. If the Monado was used by Bionis, it would be the size of Colony 9 so... IT'S A FAKE!!

    (SPOILERS) The Monado changes shape to suit its master

  29. Yaldabaoth Friday 13th Jul 2012 at 17:25

    Did you know that Xord was formerly Desirée's father? If you speak to her on a balcony overlooking the ether light she informs you that he owned a repair shop and was always "swinging his hammer around". :shock:

  30. stealth20k Sunday 2nd Sep 2012 at 17:37

    One of the best

    not the best

  31. stealth20k Sunday 2nd Sep 2012 at 17:37

    A genre that NEVER needed reviving

    This has been the BEST jrpg gen

  32. kirbysonic Saturday 22nd Dec 2012 at 19:28

    Found this at a cex store!

  33. kirbysonic Sunday 9th Jun 2013 at 18:09

    I got this in January. This is one of the best games I've ever lost myself in, no question. The storyline is epic, and keeps you in suspense, and the quests have storylines of their own. The game can last 100+ hours if you try to completely finish it. Love this game.

  34. kirbysonic Sunday 9th Jun 2013 at 18:17

    I just realised something.. If the Monado was used by Bionis, it would be the size of Colony 9 so... IT'S A FAKE!!

    The Monado's appearence is just an illusion. It is the real thing, but depending on how far you are in the game, I can't explain everything without huge spoilers.

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