Wilfredo's Reviews: Xenosaga

OK, I recently finished playing this game, and I felt the need to review it, so please bear with me. XS came out a year ago, and I found it for sale somewhat cheap, which makes me feel that it may have been overlooked somewhat. That would be a pity because this is a GREAT game. Perhaps this review will motivate more people to try it. Please note:

*This review contains NO spoilers.

*This review uses no rating system. (What’s the point? What is a “10” for me might be a “0” for someone else.) I just describe what I can and let the players decide if they want it.

*This is a PERSONAL review, I’ll try to be unbiased but no promises.

THE STORY: 4000 years in the future, humanity has left the Earth and now live in another galaxy. They have a galactic civilization but are being attacked by the Gnosis, monsters from another dimension, for unknown reasons. As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s a conspiracy going on, involving a mysterious artifact called the Zohar. Several people (who turn out to be special in one way or another) find themselves caught in the middle of it. XENOSAGA is the first part of a multipart story; it is said that it holds continuity with XENOGEARS but so far, other than Giant Robots and references to religious stuff (mostly Christianity) there is no obvious one. Note, at the end you’re asked if you want to clear the saved data- obviously there are plans to use it in the sequel.
Comments: I really can’t opine on the story yet because XS is just the first chapter, and it ends in such a way that the story MUST continue, unlike Golden Sun II (where it is hinted that there may be a part three, but things could be left the way part two ended and it would be OK.) I felt I HAD to point that out, for the sake of those of you who do NOT want to buy a game without a clear-cut ending. (I don’t mind, as long as I’m TOLD the fact before hand… I wasn’t about Golden Sun #1, and it pissed me off.) However, I must say this about the story: it succeeds in making you CARE about these characters. They’re well-developed, and all have secrets that you WANT to find out. The dialog is a BIG help; even casual NPCS like the people in the streets have funny and/or interesting things to say. I recommend that you take the time to hunt everyone down to speak with them, if you have the patience. You end up really wanting to see what happens to the heroes, which is how a game with sequels should be.
Note: this game is FULL of literary references. There’s even a “dictionary” section (that fills up as you discover things) that explains them. (I recommend you read it, it is a great help in understanding what’s going, and it’s even fun to read!)

GAMEPLAY: There’s no random battles in XS. Combat is turn based and you can only use three characters (out of six) at a time in battle (no, you can’t switch in other characters during battle.) Characters can switch into their giant robots (tho’ they aren’t THAT big) during battle (except two characters who cannot use robots, for some reason- but they have cool weapons to make up for it.) Each character has: multiple physical attacks (activated by button combinations- Xenogears had this, too) spells (here called “ethers”) and super attacks that take points to trigger (ala limit breaks.) In addition to experience points, you also earn points to improve your Ethers and points to learn “skills” (combat abilities.) Note that while you earn your attacks by leveling up, you can only learn Ethers by buying them with points. And skills are learned from items. Don’t ask me why.
Out of combat, there’s a LOT of things to do, from several subquests (including a few to gain some amazing extra powers for your characters) to a whole set of minigames, from simple casino game to an actual COLLECTABLE CARD GAME based on the game!
Comments: Combat was fairly standard, but I wish there were more games were you can switch in others at will (ala FFX) -it just makes no sense that you lose the game if only HALF your party gets wiped out! I must point out that there ARE differences in robot and non-robot combat, so it DOES make sense to switch sometimes. My only real complaint about the system is that there are TOO MANY things to keep track of. Some players enjoy this and others hate it- I LIKE it, usually, but in XS there’s just too much. Next time, use just ONE type of expendable points, people!
Also, there may have been TOO many minigames. I ended up not playing all of them. But I DID complete all the sidequests, and TRUST me, those extra powers are a BIG help in some of the boss battles!
That’s another thing: level of difficulty. This is one game where things get proportionally more difficult as you advance; you’ll NEVER complain about the battles getting TOO easy on later levels. In fact, maybe the normal battles should’ve a wee bit easier, because completing each dungeon took me hours! On the other hand, this game features the ability to return to ALL previous dungeons (even destroyed ones, via “holodecks”), so you can easily level up your characters or return for unclaimed items.
GRAPHICS AND SOUNDS: XS is done entirely in computer graphics, instead of the traditional Anime-like ones found in most RPGs. This includes both the story sequences, the combat scenes and even the normal just-walking-around sequences. It simulates 3d rather well. The game also features voice acting, and at least one song.
Opinions: Short of FFX, XENOSAGA is THE most realistic-looking game I’ve played, and that fits well with the story. The voice acting and music were cool too. There’s only ONE failing:
…The EYES!! In an attempt to resemble Anime, they gave everyone those huge Anime eyes- which I wouldn’t mind, except they failed to animate them well, for some reason. As a result, the character’s eyes looked expressionless, which in my opinion took a LOT away from the the emotion of several scenes.

IN CONCLUSION: It’s obvious the NAMCO people want to create, with the XENO series, their own “big” RPG franchise, ala Final Fantasy, and they pulled out all the stops to do it. And, aside from the few defects I pointed above, they succeeded. I eagerly look out for part two, which I hear is coming out soon (this fall, or early next year.)

Expect more WILFREDO’S REVIEWS in the future. :mwahaha:

I don’t have the attention span to sit through 40 hours of cinematics. And I remember at the beginning, it was said that the plot was revealed throught the cinemas. That was my only problem with Xenosaga.

Its an RPG. You used to read it, now they talk to you. And its not 40 hours. The game itself’ll last you approx 30 hours total. I seriously don’t get what you’re saying by you don’t have the attention spam to watch the CG when there are much longer games out there with a lot more text that this sucker. Unless all you play are fighting games and you just got lost on the internet and ended up here.

I think your review of the music should’ve pointed out the utter lack of music through a lot of the parts and the dorkiness of the happier themes (I found them un-Xenogears like, unlike the rest of the music, which fit the series AND game nicely).

Ahkeeyu: I DO feel that the cinema/action ration is higher than in other games, but not by much. However,The game gives you the option of skipping the cinemas, which is a GREAT option in case you HAVE to repeat a part and don’t feel like watching a scene again. If you skip them entirely you can play the game faster- just don’t expect to understand the story, which is VERY complex.

Sin: I intentionally avoided reviewing the music, as I’m not very good at that. I’ll let someone with a better ear do it.

eeeeeeeeeh…considering THE strongpoint of XS IS its story and that the cinematics and only the cinematics serve in the story telling, I really wouldn’t encourage anyone to skip. However, it is a useful feature if you want to skip pre-boss discussions when you’ve died 5-10 times trying to kill the bastard. Gameplay wise, XS has a very strange difficulty curve, which make it infuriating at times. “THE FUCKHER HAS 100 HP LEFT! 1 MORE STRIKE!” boss boosts and attacks multiple times and wipes you out before you can blink “…”

If you don’t like complex plots because you’re too dense to figure em out or if you don’t like hanging endings , I don’t recommend you play XS because this game will make you very angry. The ending itself makes you ask more questions than the first half of the game, which is disturbing considering how confusing the game is (on purpose). XS is a really good game, but it has its flaws, such as how it becomes tedious to fight until you bother to get some super techs very late in the game.

The graphics to XS weren’t bad, but they certainly aren’t as good as XS’ 2 which has more texture and realism.

There were hour-long cinematics. I was able to go and heat up a frozen pizza and eat it before half the cinemas were over. That’s at least 45 minutes right there.

Personally, I don’t see the point of complaining about the turn towards cinematics that many RPGs are taking.

I mean, what’s the difference between watching a computer animated cutscene, or something from an older RPG. A 5-minute CGI cutscene, or a 5-minute sprite and textbox cutscene? It’s still the same exposition that takes away from gameplay.

Now granted, most of the Xenosaga cutscenes got pretty freaking long, and the game has a lot more cutscenes than a lot of other RPGs I’ve seen. Still, there’s not much difference between the cgi stuff and the way cutscenes used to play out.

Cutscenes are one of the things to look forward to in RPGs. Especially in Xenosaga, where the endless level-building battles and 3-hour dungeons become incredibly monotonous. I loved the CG and most of the game, aside from the “Use the same tech over and over again” battles.

Originally posted by ahkeeyuu
There were hour-long cinematics. I was able to go and heat up a frozen pizza and eat it before half the cinemas were over. That’s at least 45 minutes right there.
I don’t remember any cinematics lasting over half an hour.

<img src=“http://www.rpgclassics.com/staff/tenchimaru/td.gif”> Man Wil, is there any structure in the words you capitalise? :stuck_out_tongue:

And I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Being European sucks.

I don’t think you need to be a music person to rate the music in Xenosaga. I mean, the complete and utter lack of music except in events, battles, and that one church screen on the asteroid or whatever it was was annoying. Really, really annoying.

It’s good to hear that the story is complex. I love complex storylines. Now I’m not sure whether I want this or Vagrant Story as my PSX/2 game for this Christmas…

I am one of those people who couldnt play XS. The cut scenes were just too long for me and RPG’s are about the only type of game I play.

The graphics were great, the gameplay was pretty good and the combat system was well done, but I just could not sit through all those scenes =(

Originally posted by Megaman984
I don’t think you need to be a music person to rate the music in Xenosaga. I mean, the complete and utter lack of music except in events, battles, and that one church screen on the asteroid or whatever it was was annoying. Really, really annoying.

Yeah, but when there WAS music… it was awesome. Didn’t you find the Song of Nephilim to be eerily haunting? Albedo’s theme dark and twisted? Green sleeves was a tad disturbing, but… <.< And personally, I think the silence itself was a reflection of some of the game’s themes… (but I’ll admit, it did get really freakin annoying sometimes. ;P)

Originally posted by ahkeeyuu
I don’t have the attention span to sit through 40 hours of cinematics.

There’s 8 hours of cinematics. :thud:

Originally posted by ahkeeyuu
There were hour-long cinematics. I was able to go and heat up a frozen pizza and eat it before half the cinemas were over. That’s at least 45 minutes right there.

So I grabbed an empty frozen pizza box. It said to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have an electric oven, that’s at least 15 minutes right there. Then you gotta cook the pizza for 22-24 minutes. So at least, that’s 37 minutes. If you didn’t let it cool, then that means you ate one entire pizza in about 13 minutes - if you had an electric oven. If you didn’t, then that pulls the preheat time down to about 5 minutes at most. Which means the actual preparation of the pizza took only 27 minutes at most.

Which means that eating this pizza took anywhere from 13 minutes to 28 minutes. Now, I used to be a pretty heavy stoner, and lemme tell you, eating an entire pizza in 15-30 minutes is a task.

The point? You sound full of shit ;p

Wow a stoner who sucks at math, who would have guessed?

I personnally LOVED Xenosaga. Music was great, Story is complex, Gameplay is good.

It’s just my type of game.

Not all games need long cutscenes to make a great plot (Deus Ex, for example). I personally thought Xenosaga was okay, but got annoying due to the cutscenes. And the process for skipping them was even more annoying, if you ask me.

That, and my brother refused to level. Ever. He was only about level 20 for a good 2/3 of the game, until I finally forced him to level after he bitched and moaned about a boss for a week.

Originally posted by ahkeeyuu
Wow a stoner who sucks at math, who would have guessed?

How so? Looking back I see my math to be accurate.