Graphics: I want to start with this because this doesn’t have any effect on my either way. But for the benefit of other people, I will say if you’re into super-graphics, this is not the game for you. Like, the in-game graphics when you’re messing around on the overworld are absolutely fine. But the cut-scene graphics when the camera zooms in on the characters aren’t so great. It looks really great where it needs to, however. There are some really great shots of the Bionis and the Mechonis at the end of the game. But yes, if you are obsessed with graphics, it isn’t for you. XD
Gameplay: absurdly fun. It works a lot like Dragon Age and Knights of the Old Republic in the way that it’s like real-time strategy. As the gameplay rolls, you pick out moves for your character to do from the menu, and it’s just a really fun, fast-paced system. All the characters are useful, and choosing your party wisely can amount in the success of a particularly tough fight. I remember there was a really tough robot near the end of the game, at first I tried it with Melia, Reyn, and Sharla--because they were behind in levels—but when it just wasn’t working out, I switched to Riki, Shulk, and Sharla and everything worked out. Another nice thing is that it isn’t always necessary to have a healer in your party. Even though I usually like healer characters, sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to take them out and try someone else, but games don’t usually allow for this. XD The gems you make can also make battles easier for you, and it’s a lot of fun playing around with different gems and equipment. For those of you who have OCD like me, you might get stuck doing a crap-ton of quests, but they made quests very doable and not so cumbersome in this game. The ability to warp around wherever you wish on the Bionis is a bliss! (doing quests on Dragon Age could be a pain because you didn’t have this ability and the load-times could get bad) and sometimes when you’re doing quests you don’t even have to return to the giver and you just get the reward! It’s wonderful. My one complaint is that it might just be a smidgen too easy. Like, not so easy that you don’t die at all (like on Twilight Princess….) and it probably is just me… I don’t know why but I seem to like painfully hard games. XD Oh, but a nice thing is, is that when you die, you don’t lose your data and you get returned just a few paces back. It sometimes sucks when you forget to save it on a game and you lose A LOT of data because of it. So this is really nice.
Sound: Very excellent. The sound the Monado makes when you slice into things is really great. shhhk. But, the most shocking thing is, they actually got a really decent dub for this game. For some reason, it was dubbed by the British, and they did a pretty good job. Particularly with the cut-scene voice acting. My favorite thing is when you learn a new art and it says ‘art learnt!’
But, even more shocking than the fact that the dub is decent is that they actually included an option to switch the language back to Japanese! Which I did readily. The one problem is; there are no subs when you’re killing enemies, so you might miss some cute quips between party-members. There’s a cute one between Shulk and Fiora where she says something like, ‘I’m feeling pretty good!’ and he says, ‘looking good too, Fiora!’ and I was just like 0_0. The real killer for the English version though is the in-battle voice acting. It doesn’t sound terrible, but this sort of thing always sounds better in Japanese. There are some really great battle-shouts in the Japanese version that just sound a little lifeless in English. I found that a lot of characters lost a lot of personality in the English version, too. Particularly: Alvis, Riki, and Zanza. Especially Riki. Riki is the cutest thing ever in Japanese, and in the English version, I’m not even sure what they were going for. He sounds like Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter though.
Music: Woooow. Don’t even get me started on the music. It is so wonderful. I find it interesting that there are a lot of female musicians doing music for videogames in Japan, and I’ve never heard of an American female musician doing music for videogames or movies in my life. Music often lends a lot of tone to stories, and the music in this game lent a great feeling of the mechanical mixed with the biological perfectly. The piece ‘Xanthe’ is a grand example of this. Notable pieces are: Confrontation with the Enemy, Satorl Marsh, Xanthe, Mechanical Rhythm, and Agni Ratha. There’s also a really nice range in music in this game. There’s rock n’ roll and music with more classical instruments in it, so you never get bored of the sound. So, if for anything, this game is worth a playthrough just for the unique soundtrack.
Setting: This is another woooow moment in which I wish I had thought of it. XD Anyway, incredibly unique, imaginative setting; no other story takes place on top of a dead God’s remains. It also makes for some really great scenery. Backgrounds look lovely. This mixture of the biologic and the mechanic is something that was prominent in Baten Kaitos as well, and the two things are melded so well, it has this magical, fairytale feeling with a concept that could go very badly in the wrong hands. Really great level-design and all that jazz. No other comment other than just; wow.
Characters: Really great. One of my favorite things about this game is that it has a nerd for the main character and a jock is his best friend. How could you not love that? But seriously, they’re all really great—and they’re all really different characters—it’s a lot of fun watching them interact. (spoiler) One thing that could have gone terribly wrong in this game is that there was ALMOST a love triangle, but not really. When I saw Melia had a crush on Shulk I was just, ‘oh crap’. But, it turned out that Melia was cool enough not to be a bitch and she left Fiora and Shulk alone. In fact, there’s a really nice moment in the game where Melia sees how happy they are together and she just smiles and lets it go. I also find it pretty cute that Melia actually seems to admire Fiora. And there are other really great dynamics like that, too, particularly between Sharla and Reyn, Riki and Dunban, and Shulk and Fiora, of course. The heart-to-hearts are also really great extra characters-building assets. I suggest watching them all.
Now, I do have to mention the only part I didn’t like about this game. The face and body designs are fine. In fact, I think there’s a great range of shapes and sizes in this game. You have Shulk, who’s wiry, Reyn who’s ripped, and Dunban who’s toned. The costume designs though. It’s like Dragon Age all over again. The only two people who are (for the most part) relatively decently dressed throughout are Shulk and Melia. But otherwise, I don’t even know what to think of some these.