Xenoblade Chronicles 3D gives a whole new meaning to the term, “standing on the shoulders of giants.” This adaptation of the Wii classic has you take control of a young man, Shulk, searching for answers about his mysterious weapon, the Monado Blade. The game takes place on a world made up of the fallen forms of two titans Bionis and Mechonis. Bionis is home to the biological life forms and Mechonis is home to the mechanical life forms. The conflict between these races is at the core of the story.
For MMO players the combat will feel very similar to something you might find in a modern Asian MMORPG. The combat is real time and your characters make auto attacks. You will be responsible for positioning your character during battle and making use of your special skills called Arts. Some of your Arts are position based, such as getting behind the bad guys to pull of special attacks for extra damage. Also similar to MMOs is the presence of the trinity. Your party can take on a configuration where one of your characters tanks, another focuses on dealing damage, and the other can offer support, healing, and additional damage.
Xenoblade Chronicles also has an affinity system. During battle you can cheer on your compatriots. Doing so will boost their moral and erase negative status effects. As you raise affinity with members of the group you can take part in Heart-to-Hearts. These are deep conversations that take place in a cut scene between you and the party member. The first such Heart-to-Heart I had was with Fiora. I botched it so bad that I earned an achievement for getting the worse affinity reaction possible.
Not only does the game have a lengthy list of achievements for completionists to spend hours finishing, the game also has a collection system. Each area has sparkles littered across the environment that you have to touch and the game will automatically add the item to your inventory. You will then have to apply the item to your collections tab manually. Once you complete a collection you will be rewarded with a small item that could be a consumable or could just be a trinket to sell for money. If you have a slight touch of OCD you could quickly lose hours with the collection system. The items seem to be on a fairly quick respawn timer and there always appears to be one within eyesight of your character at all times. The fact that they glow can make them especially devious at night in the game because you can see them from far away along the horizon.
In some respects the game does make good use of the new hardware capabilities of the new 3DS XL. The addition of the C stick to help control the camera is a welcome upgrade.The game also does a great job of making use of the 3D technology. On the previous 3DS there is a relatively small sweet spot that the 3D works well. The new face tracking camera makes 3D enjoyable for those of you that may have never taken advantage of it before. There is one thing that can quickly become obnoxious in combat. The monsters names appear on a plate over their head and can be too large at times. This quickly eats up a good deal of real estate on the screen. This wouldn’t be an issue on the Wii but on a mobile device where you only have a few inches to begin with this can become more than a minor annoyance. These plates can also overlap other creatures on screen and have the adverse effect of hiding them.
Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii was a critical success and a fan favorite for that console generation. This adaptation does a great job of importing that experience to the 3DS but does not do a lot to add to the original experience. If you have already played this on the Wii there won’t be much that attracts you to this version unless you just want a portable copy. I also feel it is necessary to throw in the disclaimer that this game will only work on the NEW 3DS XL. It will not work on older 3DS, 3DS XL, or the 2DS.
- GAMEPLAY: 9 – All of the features you have come to expect from full feature RPGs crammed into a hand held.
- VISUALS AND SOUND: 7 – The system requires the new 3DS XL to run but it doesn’t look like they spent any of that processing power to improve the textures in the game.
- POLISH: 8 – The game makes great use of the 3D effect and the new 3DS XL face finding camera is a great improvement over the original 3DS 3d. It also has support for Amiibos.
- LONGEVITY: 8 – This game promises 40 to 60 hours on the first play through and up to 100 if you take the time to do all the quests the game has to offer.
- VALUE: 10 – $39.99 is the standard price on 3DS games and you get dozens of hours of excellent gameplay with the purchase.