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Old 04-10-2003, 09:54 AM   #131
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550
Aim for the dump

Xenosaga ~ Der Wille zur Macht - Playstation 2 - Rating 1
I finished Namco's Xenosaga, and I think it sucks. I watched it about as much as I played it (a 40+ hour trek ...Star Trek rip-off that is, as well as Star Wars and a few other things). For those of you who have played Squaresoft's Xenogears you already know that Xenosaga is supposed to take place before Xenogears. Both games play and--to an extent--look similar, with much emphasis on sci-fi/religion, and mech (A.G.W.S.) battling. So does Xenosaga live up to the standard Xenogears set before it?
In a word, no. Let's begin with the characters. Shion is the lead female protagonist, and KOS-MOS is hers and Vector Industries' creation; a female android with very apparent combat skills. She was created to destroy the Gnosis (supposedly), and you find out much more about her as the game/movie progresses. There's also Ziggy, MOMO, chaos, and Jr. who come into the equation within the first 8-10 hour framework of the game (basically the first quarter). Also, there is an assortment of other faces/names you'll be seeing and hearing about all throughout the game. Problem is, there's TOO MANY. To help you cope with the ridiculous amount of names, terms, and characters there's a special feature you can pull up that explains what this or that means. Shion is kinda annoying in my opinion; her sympathetic attitude towards androids "They have feelings just like everybody else!" drove me up the wall, but some may take a liking to her bubbly, geeky with a hint of attitude personality. What really got on my nerves though was Allen. Boy is he annoying. All of his failed attempts to tell Shion how he feels about her are not executed to even mildly amusing effect because there was no backbone on his character to make me feel interested in the least. With Xenosaga we're given a phony sugar-coated attempt at love that falls flat on its face. Anyway, Xenosaga is filled with enough plot twists and betrayl to keep you interested, if you're interested in the characters to begin with. The character models all look great for the PS2 but they usually have a funny look and movement to them that somehow reminds me of the mortifying cast and crew of the old TV show Thunderbirds (oh boy....). Something that I truly didn't like was the layout of the Subcommittee on Close Encounters meeting room which is obviously stolen from Star Wars ~ Episode 1 (which I'll have you know right now I could care less about).
Enough about the characters/story. How about the game? Yes, how about the game? Seriously, you'll be playing for 5 minutes and all of a sudden here's this 20 minute cinema out of nowhere. The battles play similar to Xenogears (when you're actually playing it) in that you can perform combos and such, but Xenogears had better gameplay due to a more varied mix of Tekken-ish button combos and more interesting characters/moves. You can choose to perform a two-hit combo or store up for a three in Xenosaga, but in Xenogears you could do much bigger combos at will. As for the A.G.W.S. (pronounced 'eggs' by the characters) mech battles, not everybody can use them, but they are capable of different combos depending on what weapons you've equipped on them. You can equip your 'eggs' with shoulder missles, submachine guns, beam arms, etc. and you can find hidden weapons throughout the game. About midway into the game I was pleased to find a lot more emphasis on exploring/battling, but even here the game falls short because there's not much to explore and much of what's hidden requires you to backtrack using the EVS (Environmental Simulator) plug-in module at any U.M.N. save point. Instead of exploring new, different areas to get special hidden things, much of it has to be found by backtracking through areas you've already been through. Another problem is the fact that you have to keep pulling up the damn menu screen to keep building your characters' skills, attributes, etc. Why didn't Namco make that all come with leveling up?? So now, instead of the game doing it like it would in most every other RPG I have to do it for each and every individual character... Now I'm going to be straight with you. I'm generally a busy person, and besides the tremendous amount of time I've had to hold in peeing to sit through some boring "You don't mean..." "Yes, the prototype 100-Series Observational Realian." cinemas that rear their ugly head every 10 minutes, I don't want to waste even more time not playing the game by having to sit through tedious, boring stat-building!
The graphics are some of the best 3D you've seen coming out of your PS2, and they'd better be seeing as you're going to be watching it quite often. I personally don't care too much for sci-fi, 'futuristic' Star Trek-ish space ships and that sort of thing. If you do you're in for a treat. You'll be impressed by the space battling that takes place throughout the game (which is FMV mixed in cleverly so as to make it look like the PS2 is actually performing the graphics ;)). The cut-scenes steal the show graphically. Battling and exploring look ok but not quite as good. The enemy count is low (about 100 total) so that should tell you how little variety they thought about giving us battle-wise.
The music is by Yatsunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger/Xenogears fame. This is his weakest effort yet with only a select few pieces here and there being of any merit and the rest just sort of being there. It sounds like a typical sci-fi action movie soundtrack to my ears. Uninspired material. The annoying bossa nova-wannabe stuff that plays during certain parts of the game (to try and make it like an anime perhaps) just makes the whole experience feel too goofy. The sound effects are done pretty well. Then again, with a PS2 they'd better be done well.
If you're looking for something interesting in RPG land you (like myself) will be disappointed. There's too much time spent watching the game, causing me to wonder if I paid $50 for a game or something else. I hope all of those "It's gotta have plot" babies out there are satisfied with Xenogears for the remainder of the decade; long enough that game developers can focus on making real games. You know, one of those things you actually control and not something you watch. That's what movies/shows/books are for.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 08-03-2004 at 10:18 AM.
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