|Dev: Monolith Soft|
|Release: April 2, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Blood, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence|
The British voice cast in Xenoblade lends a ton of personality to the game, and is excellent with the exception of token non-human party member Riki, who sounds like a Muppet with broken vocal chords. The characterization and emotional nuance given to each character by the voice actors is well above the usual level of video game voiceovers, particularly those found in translated Japanese games. The music is no slouch, either, with pumped-up battle themes and a score that suits the game's environments well.
Of course, Xenoblade isn't perfect. The game's side quests are mostly fairly uninteresting item collection or monster-slaying affairs, though a few have good storylines behind them, and one side area that has the player rebuilding a ruined town is quite interesting and fun. There isn't a good way to find specific NPCs with the information given in-game (though their general locations and schedules are listed, at least), leading to occasional frustrating searches through the game's larger towns. The characters' in-battle banter is fired off a bit too frequently, causing the battles to be a wash of chatter that can grate at times—though many players will find themselves repeating regular character catch phrases like, "It's Rhyne time!"
Finally, the armor sets on some of the female characters are frequently too impractical and skimpy for the game's generally serious tone. I found myself sticking with sub-optimal armor sets on some characters simply because I didn't find buttless pants or bikini tops to be particularly appropriate for the situation or for those characters' personalities. While there are silly and skimpy armor sets available for the male characters as well, they're far less frequent and easier to avoid than the ones for the women.
These complaints are quite minor, however, given Xenoblade's impressive scope and high-quality setting, story, characters, and gameplay. These features combined with the tremendous amount of heart and tedium-reducing gameplay elements make it an excellent game in general and one of the best JRPGs of this generation. JRPG fans who have been disappointed by this generation's offerings should not hesitate to play Xenoblade Chronicles, but gamers who aren't always enamored of JRPGs should give it a try as well. It will, however, take a major chunk of time to complete. Although it's possible to finish Xenoblade Chronicles in 40-60 hours, a completionist playthrough will approach 200 hours due to the huge number of side activities, areas to explore, and seriously challenging late-game enemies.
Xenoblade Chronicles is such a huge, complex, and epic game that I can't possibly cover everything it offers in a single review. All I can say is that it has earned the first 5.0 score I've given, and I've had the honor to play quite a few excellent games for review. Xenoblade just has something special—a full package that will appeal to a wide variety of gamers and has thrilled thousands who have played it since its European release. If you're even remotely considering getting this game, I encourage you to go out and buy it. Chances are you will not be disappointed.
Date: April 6, 2012