Game Spotlight: Xenoblade Chronicles X
I consider Xenoblade Chronicles, the original Xenoblade for Wii, to be one of the best games on that system and a must have game for anyone who owns a Wii. Everything about Xenoblade is so well done and while it does have some rough patches here and there, everything else about that game fits so damn well together. I consider it do be a crowning achievement for Monolith Soft and it blew my mind that Nintendo, initially, didn’t seem to want to support such a great game outside of Japan.
Years later, we’ve got Xenoblade Chronicles X, a game that, as it turns out, doesn’t have all that much to do with the original Xenoblade, but does use many of the same concepts in story and gameplay from its predecessor… and it’s disappointing. I wish it wasn’t, but I can’t deny what it is and it is just plain disappointing.
The presentation, the logic behind the game progression right down to games ability to motivate the player is all wrong. Anyone who is familiar with this game knows exactly what the issues are and depending on who you are, you are more willing or less willing to ignore these issues to play on to the end.
I, however, couldn’t overcome all the various issues throughout the game and I’ve just given up on finishing it completely. At some point, at around the 40-50 hour mark, after I finally got the mech that so many people drool over, I got bored.
For the sake of consistency, let’s make a distinction between the two “Xenoblade” games in this entry by stating that the original is called Xenoblade while Xenoblade Chronicles X is called Xenocross. It’s just easier that way.
So, let’s ignore the fact that while the games music is brought to us by Hiroyuki Sawano, who is known for creating some pretty epic music for the anime, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn and live-action TV drama, Iryu: Team Medical Dragon 2, the sound design for the game is atrocious. We have music played during inappropriate moments and sound mixing that sounds like it was done by mashing someone’s face to a mixing board and calling it a day.
(Seriously though, if you haven’t heard the soundtracks to either of those two shows, you should go listen to them, I don’t exaggerate when I say they’re epic.)
Let’s also ignore the fact that this game is in stereo and has no option for a 5.1 surround sound mix despite being a game that is trying to dazzle us with its vast exotic environments. Hell, even Xenoblade had Pro Logic II surround which was a good compromise, but apparently, with Nintendo cheapening out on the Dolby licensing fees for Wii U, apparently Monolith Soft couldn’t seem to make Xenocross work with 5.1 Uncompressed PCM work with the game for whatever reason.
Let’s ignore the fact that the structure of the game is downright stupid, making the player go through stupid conditions before they can progress the story in the most unnatural way possible, to the point where the game is fighting against its own gameplay mechanics and ruining its own structure to create an artificial barrier of conditions…
Let’s ignore all this asshattery and just go right down to the point that gets me the most.
I had a tonne of fun exploring in Xenoblade, it was the thing that I truly loved about that game and it is the thing that kept me coming back and exploring every crevasse and alcove trying to find all the games little hidden gems and secrets.
I was hoping to have more of the same with Xenocross and hoped it would expand on exploration and the sense of wonder of each discovery that I had from Xenoblade… but it didn’t. What Xenocross gave me was a constantly nagging parade of NPCs telling me what I needed to do, where to go, and plant probes in the ground everywhere I went to do a whole bunch of bullshit that I had no interest in doing because it was hindering my exploration of the game.
There was one point in the game where I couldn’t progress through the story of the game unless I had explored a certain percentage of land… so I went exploring, but I wasn’t exploring for my sake, naturally as I played through the game, going from one area to the next, I was exploring because the game told me, if I don’t have this percentage, I’m stuck at this point in the game and cannot progress.
So I explored… rather, I ran through the entire map, trying to squeeze out as many sectors explored as I could to get that percentage level high enough to unlock that mission. After a while, I finally did it, but only after I had successfully explored ever single area that I could while on foot, and this was long before I even got my mech. The game had gotten me to rush through the entire map to fill as much of it out as possible early into the game.
Then, it got worse when I finally got my mech and realised, I can go pretty much anywhere I wanted without any restrictions.
I got bored.
I got bored and I couldn’t be bothered going through and finding out what happened in the story because, well, the story of Xenocross is pretty lacklustre to begin with. The create-a-character I created is mute to an absurd level and the other cast of characters are nowhere near as interesting as the ones in Xenoblade, I had nothing left in this game to make me want to go on.
So it’s at this point where I conceded, that perhaps Xenocross isn’t a game that was made for me. I’m sure there are many others who enjoy it, but it doesn’t hit any of the same notes that made Xenoblade so good.
Sorry Monolith Soft and Nintendo, but this one’s a miss for me. Better luck next time.
Also, yeah, I freely admit this is a really lame and rushed Game Spotlight… it pretty much sums up how much I can’t be bothered with this game. It’s a real shame.