Xenoblade Chronicles has finally made its way to the United States.
As one of the most ambitious Wii games ever, it was certainly worth the wait, although it doesn't quite live up to the standards of such homegrown role-playing games as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or the Mass Effect series.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of Xenoblade is its vast menagerie of enemy beasts, starting with easy pickings like insects and rabbits and working its way up to towering robots. Combat is hectic. You control one character, while the other two warriors in your party are handled by artificial intelligence. This can be frustrating: There are just a few limited commands you can give to your partners, and depending on an AI-controlled Sharla to know when you need healing is a good way to end up dead.
There are a couple of innovations that make combat more interesting. Shulk's sword, the Monado, also gives him visions of the future, so the game will occasionally advise you that an enemy is about to unleash a devastating assault, giving you time to brace yourself or warn a teammate.
The main story in Xenoblade is fairly linear, although it has enough unpredictable twists to justify its length. And there are hundreds of side missions, from simple fetch quests to rebuilding an entire Homs colony. You can easily return to just about any site you've already explored, so you can always take a break from the high drama and go back to visit old friends.
RATING T for Teen
PLOT A role-playing man-vs.-machine obsession
DETAILS Wii, $50
BOTTOM LINE You won't want to miss this one