Video game review: Xenoblade Chronicles
You might have to jump through some serious hurdles to obtain a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. Hell, being beaten with flaming tree branches would be acceptable if the end result was being able to play a game of this calibre.
Here’s the backstory: Nintendo of Japan announced a new, epic role-playing game under the direction of Monolith Soft. The game promised gigantic landscapes and thoughtful game design that hearkened back to the fundamentals of the genre that director Tetsuya Takahashi himself helped to create (specifically as the director of the similarly-titled Xenogears and Xenosaga).
A year passed, and Xenoblade Chronicles was released to wide acclaim in Japan. Encouragingly, Nintendo of Europe announced they were going to localize the game. Surely this meant something for North American gamers, no?
But if you go through the trouble of importing it, you’ll find those first few moments are worth it. Xenoblade Chronicles is a gorgeous game, and not just in terms of visuals. This is a game that oozes refinement from every aspect of its being – a complete and resounding statement of intent from a genre that often founders in the face of innovation.
The game tells the story of Shulk, who is doing research on a giant blade that is the only weapon humans have against the machines that invaded and tried to conquer them a year previous. Along with his friend. Reyn, he sets out to stop the mechanical invaders from destroying their homeland.
The setup is somewhat cliche, but the execution absolutely is not. This is a game with something to say about the world we live in, as the game is essentially an examination of terrorism. This is also a game often so shocking in its plot twists. that no aspect of your perception ever feels entirely safe, which instantly sets up the need to plow through the game’s ever-spiralling web of danger and desperation.
The technical shortcomings of the Wii have allowed Monolith Soft to focus on creating a complete world and, in that way, Xenoblade Chronicles deserves to be considered in the same echelon of Nintendo classics like Zelda. It’s everything that Nintendo of America isn’t: confident and assured of its own success.