Impressions: My First Hour with Xenoblade Chronicles

So far so good.

A little thing about myself: I’ve never played a JRPG before. The Dynasty Warriors games on PS2 and Zenonia games on iOS are the closest that I’ve ever gotten to the genre. Which is why I sort of panicked when I got Xenoblade Chronicles for my birthday. Am I really going to enjoy this game? Or am I going to woefully regret it? Xenoblade being “the best JRPG of this generation” according to pretty much everyone all over the internet, I knew this was going to be a turning point. If Xenoblade fails to satisfy me, I’d probably never pick up a JRPG ever again. Or at least not in a long time. And if Xenoblade exceeds my expectations? I might just explore the genre even more.

I come with good news. I quite like Xenoblade.

It’s apparent at the start of the game that Xenoblade is different from anything we’ve played. In many ways, it is a mix of Dynasty Warriors and Final Fantasy. You live in a world full of long-haired boys and fantastical beings, yet battle sequences are cleverly overlaid into the exploration parts of the game, making entering battle totally seamless. And that’s one thing that I hated about traditional JRPG’s; the battle sequences are oftentimes separated from the overworld, effectively segmenting gameplay, destroying any kind of flow that may have been present. Thank goodness Xenoblade is different.

Another thing that I noticed with my short experience with Xenoblade is that it does a good job tying plotlines together. The cut-scene that concludes a particular story element often opens up a new one, which kinda forces me to keep playing. Not that it’s a bad thing, though. The story, though based on a world on top of two giant robots (or whatever they are), feels very real. Or should I say the characters make the game feel real. You can tell that the devs really had a lot of fun with this game when each character packs so much personality. In many ways, Xenoblade feels more like an interactive movie, or rather a cinematic experience, than an actual JRPG. And that I like.

I didn’t expect to get sucked in so quickly, but I can honestly say that I’m in love with Xenoblade. The story, the characters, the plotline… it gets good quick, unlike certain other JRPG’s that get good only after you reach the 20-hour mark. Hopefully this game just keeps getting better.

One more thing I want to touch on before I go: the visuals. For the Wii, Xenoblade looks pretty great. Every blade of grass, every Bunnit, every dragonfly… they all look quite pretty. The fact that most of the cut-scenes feel like movie sequences should tell you enough. The one small thing that I have against the game though is the character animations. They’re a bit clunky, and the facial animations are horrid (though I did spend most of the time laughing at the characters’ inability to sync English voices to Japanese lipspeak). But that’s just a small aesthetic issue. Overall, Xenoblade is still a great game (at least so far). Here’s to hoping for more good things to come.

And those are my quick impressions after playing an hour of Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii. Are you guys liking the game so far?


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