After being stuck in localization limbo for what seemed like an eternity, Shulk and his friends finally arrived on North American shores earlier this year. The payoff was definitely worth the wait, as we were immediately captivated by the vast, unusual world of Xenoblade Chronicles. The breathtaking locales of the Bionis are a pleasure to explore, and a nuanced real-time combat system lends a sense of danger and excitement to every step taken. Propelling the action are an intriguing story and a cast of likeable characters, who may not be wholly original, but interact with one another in enjoyable ways. In addition, hundreds of side quests and collectibles ensure that completionists will see their hours invested shooting into the three-digit range. Voluminous, creative, and unlike anything else on the Wii, Xenoblade Chronicles is the evolution of the traditional RPG that many of us have been pining for.
Serah and Noel's time-traveling hijinks may not have been the adventure everyone was hoping to embark on, but we can't deny that it improved upon its predecessor in several ways. Final Fantasy XIII-2 features a superb soundtrack, reduced linearity, and a refined combat system. The ending left us hanging, but now that Lightning Returns is on the horizon, perhaps Square Enix can close out this trilogy in the spectacular fashion we know they are capable of.