Anyone who’s an RPG gamer with years of experience with the new age Final Fantasy series and the like will certainly love this new RPG for the Nintendo Wii called Xenoblade Chronicles. This is a preview of what to expect when the game is released (hopefully) in April.
The story is a fairly standard man vs. machine where man (or Bionis it’s called including animals and plants it would seem) is living peacefully until they are suddenly attacked for no apparent reason by the machines (or Mechonis they are called) one beautiful Tuesday afternoon. So then of course it is up to you, the hero named Shulk, to bring the Monado blade (the red one in the picture) back to life in such as way as to not get hurt by it so you can use it to defeat the machines. The other character, Dunban, used the Monado before to defeat a bunch of Mechonis but it left him pretty badly hurt. The female lead, Fiora, had to nurse him back to health so there should be plenty of jokes in the story line about that.
There are a few ways this RPG is similar to what we’re used to and ways it differs slightly. It’s similar in that we have the voice actors for all the cut scenes instead of text boxes for us to read out ourselves like in the “olden days”. It has the same “add a magic crystal to my equipment to make it better” we’ve all learned to love and hate. Then there’s the sidequest / open world paradigm that’s sort of the same but a little different. You are free to roam anywhere in the world (I’m sure the farther out you explore from the first town the harder the enemies will get) in order to either follow the main story arc or find your own sidequests or secret areas. Other RPGs have had this open world type concept but the developers of Xenoblade Chronicles are touting this as something setting it apart. We’ll have to see exactly what they mean after it is released in April. Read more to see some of the new things this game has to offer.
A few things that makes this game different, according to the developers, are the Affinity between the player and non player characters. The choices you make and even the equipment you choose and character options to make your character look a certain way will affect how the other characters act during the entire game. Even the real time system of morning, evening, and night will affect every character’s Affinity such as night bringing out the worst in some people. This is one aspect I can say I am really excited to see how it works out.
The sidequest / full world exploration seems to be done with a ton of extra scripting and story written in for almost every single non player character in the game. By talking to random strangers you will learn about all their problems, “worries and desires” in order to “change the world around you” and “enjoy the story on a deeper level”. I’m not sure exactly what this means but I’m sure they will sprinkle some “Timmy fell down a well again can you go save him plz k thx?” type side quests in there somewhere.
They were nice enough to give us an Achievements page to let us monitor just how much of the hidden stuff and story line we uncover as we explore. They say you can find achievements in the strangest of places so that means to do this game to full completion could take a scary amount of hours! Getting your money’s worth from this game will surely put the most battle hardened of us RPG gamers to the test.
The battle system is a bit like Star Ocean and Phantasy Star Online where the characters and enemies are free to move around constantly the whole time. You do have a nice “lock on” feature that keeps the camera centered on the enemy you want to beat up. Go ahead a get ready to be annoyed by all the comments the voice actors make the whole time. You’ll hear something every few seconds like “Yeah!”, “I’m not doing so good”, “A little help here”, and of course shouting the name of all the “arts” and special chain attacks everyone does. All of your special moves and powers are called “Arts” and can be chained up and chained with the other characters once your party gauge is full. We can probably safely assume the party gauge fills by attacking and being hit by enemies. There also seems to be a “topple” action your party can make once you’ve stunned an enemy which actually knocks it down on its side, etc. so every attack does more damage while it’s down. Another really cool and different part of the battle system is the Monado blade has the ability to see into the future! So during battles (not sure if random or an Art or power you can control) you get a “vision” with the wavy lines on the sides and everything that shows what the enemy will do next. It even shows you getting your lunch bag packed and handed to you by the enemy’s next finishing move so you can dodge, run away, or interrupt it with a counter of your own. This is going to be neat to see how this works and if they stole any ideas from the game, Braid, and how you can rewind time just a little if you fall in a pit or get your bags packed by an enemy.
Did I mention the whole game takes place on top of two huge, continent-sized Titans that got stuck when they hit each other’s swords together eons in the past? Yeah that’s right. A giant Bionis and a giant Mechonis (is that plural? Should it be Bioni and Mechoni?) were fighting a long long time ago and they both did their finishing move at the same time and it made them get stuck in that pose forever. Then a bunch of small people and animals just starting flourishing from the Bionis titan and a bunch of robot people and animals built up out of the Mechonis titan and lived and built cities on their backs. Then one day the Mechonis decided to go beat up on the Bionis. What? Why? We’ll have to play to find out!