(Nintendo for Wii)
By Mike Delano
It takes all of 30 minutes to know that there’s something special about Xenoblade Chronicles. Even in the first few steps of this epic RPG, you know that you’ll want to spend time in this awe-inspiring foreign world, taking on quests out of desire rather than necessity as the rousing music eases the sun down behind the cliffs while you explore the enormous first hub location. This is the kind of polished, expert work we’ve come to expect from developers at the end of a console’s life cycle, from PS2 swan song God of War II all the way back to Chrono Trigger. After years of studying the hardware to really make it sing, only now in the twilight days of the Wii does something like Xenoblade come along. It eschews motion controls or top-selling trends in favor of simply a fully-realized vision of a modern RPG. That singular focus allows the game’s creators to incorporate the best of this generation’s design standards, from the lush vistas of Final Fantasy to the combat depth of MMOs to the varied questing of recent fantasy adventures. The end result is a game that is both complex and user-friendly, and one that is consistently rewarding for players willing to roll up their sleeves and get hands-on with everything it has to offer.