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: