LTTP: Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

LTTP: Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

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I don’t know why I was compelled to finish Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. I finished it in approximately 60 hours and enjoyed – at most — a quarter of that. I played the majority of the game while watching sports or listening to podcasts; I just used to keep my hands busy.

My MMORPG experience consists of Guild Wars, small stints with a few Korean free to play online RPG equivalents and listening to enough World of Warcraft stories to last a lifetime. I haven’t experienced an MMORPG first hand but, by all accounts, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is what I imagine an MMORPG would look like if it was taken offline.

Everything from the vast empty spaces, paper thin fetch quests, to the battle system and even the way the characters jump reminds me of an MMORPG.

By now it’s obvious that I use the term “MMORPG” as a derogatory term and I mean it. There is depth, complexities and joy within certain MMORPGs but there’s no denying that there’s a dearth of shallow experiences full of meaningless grinding.

Nintendo and Monolith pulled off quite the feat squeezing this huge open world into the New Nintendo 3DS. I was genuinely impressed with how big the world was and how well it ran considering the size. I braced for frequent slowdowns in the open world but was relieved to discover that wasn’t the case at all. The most severe performance issues arose when there were several large enemies on screen at once. Those moments occurred more than I would like but they were not game breakers.

Judging by the quality of the visuals, it’s obvious how Monolith and Nintendo managed to get the game to run as well as it did. I’m not kidding when I say it’s one of the ugliest games I’ve played in recent memory. The visuals did have a PlayStation era charm to them though. The character models were stylized enough to convey their intent but not quite enough to deliver the gravity of dire situations.

I was fascinated by the lore of Xenoblade Chronicles. Two titans frozen in battle with life flourishing on the surface of them after some time. What if the Earth was a living creature? The idea that I was traversing across the back or leg of the titan, Bionis, was an amazing spectacle. However by the time I made it across to the other titan, Mechonis, I was no longer wowed by this idea.

I was tired of running across giant expanses by foot. Fast traveling eased some of the boredom but only between known destinations. Every area was largely the same; it was vast, filled with blue orbs representing some nonsensically named collectible and full of the same handful of enemy types.

Every so often, I would encounter a town and the hopes for a break in monotony would be renewed. I slowly discovered that these towns fell into their own cycle of repetition as well. Outside of the big story beat, I expected numerous fetch quests and monster hunts. The reasons behind them were unsubstantial and did very little with regards to world building. I was better off tapping through the gibberish and just getting down to what I had to gather and moved on. Eventually, my quest log was filled with so much junk quests that I stopped tracking them down. If I happen to finish a quest, so be it. If I had to go back to town to turn it in? Who cares. I would have found or crafted a better reward by then anyways.

Early on, I found the cast of characters endearing but the more screen time each of them got, the less I liked them. The protagonist, Shulk, grew to be irritatingly selfish with his visions and worries. He had the power to see the future but for some reason he wouldn’t share what he witnessed despite others around him imploring he did so. I thought Reyn, Shulk’s hometown friend, would develop into more than just a meathead with good intentions. There were moments where characters like him and Sharla showed they were more than caricatures but those moments were too infrequent and were dwarfed by the blatant fan service.

Did I mentioned that I found the Moogle knock offs, the Nopons, annoying as well? I was particularly perturbed by their speech patterns and the party member, Riki’s, was undoubtedly the most irritating because he reminded me of Jar Jar Binks.

The threat based battle system was a surprise to me because I thought it would be the one aspect of the game that I would wear thin the quickest. I operated with the standard tank/healer/fighter lineup and stuck with it all the way through. I experimented with other setups but I was most content maneuvering Shulk for optimal attacks. I was waiting to see if this simple setup would fail me but it didn’t. I played the exact same way from beginning to end with just a small degree of variation in skills.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a game of quantity; there’s a whole lot of stuff to do in this game. There are dozens upon dozens of checkboxes to tick off and a giant world to explore. But I didn’t want to do any of it because it wore out its welcome at least twice over. The world was huge but it was mainly empty space. There were a lot of quests but nearly every single one them were frivolous fetch quests.

Towards the end of the game, I entered a town with two rows of computer terminals. The town was uninhabited, overrun by rogue robots. There were no NPCs to interact with but there were the terminals. There was a store terminal which contained useless equipment. As for the other terminals? They dispensed the same set of quests that I’d been given for each and every town up to this point. I was literally being given quests by terminals. Even though there was context, it was like they had given up but it was also the very essence of everything I disliked about this game distilled into one town.

Verdict:
I don’t like it

Ratings Guide

Game of the Year 2015 Day 2 of 3

Game of the Year 2015 Day 2 of 3

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

You can tell it’s a good year for games when I have more difficulty whittling down my list of surprises than my list of disappointments. I even had to cheat a bit and cut Black Ops III in half in order to give my list of disappointments three nominees.

Most Disappointing Game of 2015

Winner: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Box Art Logo

Dear Esther was one of my first forays into the “Walking simulator” genres. It was beautiful, fascinating and I felt encouraged to explore a space. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture seemed to following down the same path as Dear Esther but it became the deliberately slow movement speed and ugly performance issues ballooned to the point where I just didn’t care if I finished it or not.

The plodding movement speed ran against the exploratory nature of the game which is insane when that’s the only means of interaction.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s campaign was a significant step down from Black Ops II’s which was surprise considering Treyarch’s track record. However, I wasn’t as bummed out by it as others because I played it in a co-operative setting.

As for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D? It’s my fault for even buying this game. I knew it had MMORPG trappings but I felt compelled to buy a New Nintendo 3DS game after picking up the refreshed handheld earlier this year. The surrounding praise didn’t help but I should have known better. I’m more disappointed at myself than the game, really.

Runner ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Campaign), Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Most of Surprising Game of 2015

Winner: Rocket League

Rocket League Box Art Logo

Soccer with cars. I heard rumblings about Super Acrobatic Rocket Powered Cars being a fun game I didn’t bother pursuing it. Rocket League was given away through the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection and if it wasn’t for the slowish summer season and the fact that it was “free”, I may have missed out on this simple and incredibly deep game. It’s a game that comes closest to matching the spirt of soccer. I wasn’t controlling a player who manipulated the ball based on his dribbling ability, I used a car and exerted force to manipulate the ball; it was my skill (or lack thereof) that determined if I scored, how well I blocked, how accurate I passed or how fast I dribbled a ball. It was both frustrating and satisfying.

Hitman: Sniper looked like the myriad of other Silent Scope knockoffs on iOS but since it was Square Enix Montreal, I gave it a try and discovered a surprising amount of depth and challenge. I even made my way onto the top 100 or so.

I didn’t think Life is Strange was my kind of game but what did I know? It didn’t matter if it starred high school girls, a heartfelt story was great no matter what.

Runner ups: Hitman: Sniper, Life is Strange

Checkpoint: NFL Divisional Playoff 2016 Edition

Checkpoint: NFL Divisional Playoff 2016 Edition

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All we want are competitive playoff games and the 2015-16 NFL playoffs have delivered thus far. So far, every game aside from the Kansas City @ Houston game was a competitive down to the last possession or so. Last night’s Green Bay @ Arizona game was the highlight game of the playoffs thus far with an incredible overtime win by the Cardinals. It’s always heartwarming to see veterans like Larry Fitzgerald make game winning plays.

The Seattle @ Carolina game could have been another embarrassing blowout game but Seattle showed resilience and made it a bit of a nail biter. I don’t know how the vaunted Carolina defense gave up so many points in the second half but I’m glad to see a new face in the NFC Championship game.

I’m cheering for New England to come out of the AFC but I wouldn’t mind them losing in the Super Bowl if it means Arizona wins. It would be amusing to see Carson Palmer win after all he’s been through in his career. I would also love to see Larry Fitzgerald win silverware before he retires as well — especially because he stuck with one team throughout his career. It’s rare to see that and I would like to see that kind of loyalty get rewarded.

I finished Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. I’m relieved that it’s over and will be sharing my thoughts on it later this week.

I started Undertale. It has its moments but I’m not digging it yet. The random battles are tedious. I love the music and I keep hearing it gets better in the latter half which is why I’m going to keep with it. I also started the intriguing Puzzles & Dragons on the Nintendo 3DS.

Checkpoint: 3-months of Lazed Eyes Edition

Checkpoint: 3-months of Lazed Eyes Edition

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I’m nearing the 3 month mark for my laser eye surgery, so here’s a little progress report.

The two nagging issues following the initial two weeks of recovery were dry eyes, new floaters and still believing I was wearing glasses at times. The dry eyes ceased to be a regular issue around the 1.5 month mark. It was only at my workplace and its horridly dry environment where I would experience dryness. Nowadays, it has to be a particularly dry day at work for me to bust out the eye drops.

Unsurprisingly, there are new floaters in my vision. I always had floaters in my eyes but the surgery (as foretold) brought new ones. These new ones are more distinct but I believe they will either fade away over time or I will become accustomed to them. The most distinct ones have already begun to fade away.

The “phantom glasses” feeling mostly went away after 1.5 months as well but I caught myself reaching to adjust my glasses after I started wearing my beanie for winter. I’m guessing that’s the last of it though.

After 3 months, the benefits outweigh the above annoyances. Just being able to wear my choice of sunglasses without needing a prescription pair is a huge boon for me. And, as my brother pointed out, I can see how filthy or clean my standup shower is without wearing glasses. (All that means is I have to clean it more frequently).

I started Axiom Verge. It’s an enjoyable Metroid expired game but that main character sprite is leaving a lot to be desired. Simply put: I think it’s ugly and does the game a disservice.

I’m also chipping away at Xenoblade Chronicles 3D which is wearing out its welcome. I keep falling into the trap of believing this game has worthwhile side quests and that I’m not just doing the same fetch quests over and over again.

 

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