Review by Calamity
Reviewed: 07/21/08 | Updated: 04/27/11
Stand tall and shake the very foundation of gaming as we know it.
Xenogears is a RPG made by Squaresoft for Playstation 1. It was a excellent game, but was overshadowed by more well known RPG's such as Final Fantasy VII. It's very unfortunate several overlooked this gem though. Due to Xenogears being one of the greatest games ever created on the face of the planet. There are several reasons why Xenogears is a excellent game, but here's some of the key ones:
Graphics:7/10:I'll admit, this is the game's weakpoint. Sadly, the graphics aren't that great in Xenogears. The graphics primarily are a strange mix of 2D and 3D. Despite this though, they don't really interfere with the game. To add on top of that, the attack animations in battle are quite nice. Plus, the character designs are beautiful. Despite this though, you can't ignore the poor quality of the graphics. The graphics definitely have not aged well. Ultimately, I give the Graphics a 7/10. With graphics out of the way, it's onto the gameplay.
Gameplay:9.6/10:Xenogears is pretty similar to most RPG's in terms of the gameplay. Especially, when it comes to the progression. Which typically consists of going to a town and doing whatever you need to there, and then triggering the next storyline cutscene. Afterward, proceeding to the next dungeon and traversing through it to the end. At the end, fight a boss fight. Exploring and battles are done with a three man party. Exploration is non linear usually. You're not really on a set track and sometimes, you must explore to find out what to do. The World Map works like a typical old-school RPG World Map too. You have to explore around to find areas. As for dungeons though...When exploring in a dungeon, you'll notice that battles are randomly encountered. You take a few steps and then randomly get into a battle.
Once a battle begins. you'll notice the battle system of Xenogears has some unique features. That help it stand out from the crowd. For starters, when you do a physical attack, you have to press buttons as you're performing the attack. The reason for this, is to initiate a combo. As the game goes on, you learn Deathblows. Which are powerful attacks that every party member acquires by leveling. By entering a specific button combination during a combo, you will perform a Deathblow. So, generally most battles come down to using Deathblows. Aside from Deathblows, you have Ether(Magic), Defend and a few other typical RPG options As with most RPG's, each party member has their own strengths and weaknesses in battle. I have to admit though, Citan is overpowered. He gets an insane amount of HP, is the quickest out of everyone, does massive damage with his attacks and can heal. Enough about character battles though. Later on, the battles become more awesome once you acquire Gears(Robots of Xenogears).
Upon getting further into the game, you begin traveling/battling in Gears. The battles change a little when in Gears. First off, Gears consume fuel every turn. Run out of fuel too, and you're pretty much doomed. So, you have to keep an eye on that. In addition though, you also gain a new option in battle which allows you to activate your Boosters. Activating the Gears's boosters, makes you gain your turns far more quickly. However, at the expense of costing more fuel every turn. Aside from these minor changes though, the battles are still mostly the same in Gears. Just that generally the stats you get are higher(Going beyond 9999) and you are fighting in awesome giant robots. Some may be wondering about the difficulty of Xenogears and the game's length by this point. Well...
To be frank, Xenogears is a pretty easy game. There are a few tough boss fights, but overall it's simple. The random battles in the game rarely ever put up a fight. As for the length, Xenogears is an extremely long game. At the minimum, expect this game to take 55-60 hours to beat. Now, the last aspect of the Gameplay people probably want to know is the flaws of the Gameplay. Well, I'll be honest...There's really only one thing that irritated me.
The final dungeon. Xenogears has probably the worst final dungeon of any RPG ever. It's horrendously designed. Literally, the definition of a maze. It's a labyrinith of ridiculous complexity filled with the same repetitive designs path after path. You can hardly distinguish where you're going in the final dungeon. Sadly, I got lost in the final dungeon due to this, and ended up wandering for hours before stumbling upon the right path. I just don't know what the developers were possibly thinking. It's absolutely baffling that they would design such a poor final dungeon. Ultimately though, I don't really have any other problems with the game aside from the final dungeon's terrible design. So, I give the gameplay a 9.6/10 overall. Next up, is the Storyline. By far, the strongest aspect of Xenogears.
Storyline:10/10:Xenogears has an amazing storyline. Easily among the best storylines of any medium ever. To start off, the game has an incredibly intricate plot that is filled with deep well developed characters and numerous plot twists. As you progress along the game, you will be surprised at how complex the plot quickly becomes as you get further and further into the game. What may have seemed one way before, may end up becoming ambiguous and open to much interpretation. To add on top of that, the storyline does an excellent job of foreshadowing and keeps the player on the edge of their seat wondering what's going to happen next. One of the qualities that makes Xenogears's storyline so incredible are the characters.
All of the characters are extremely well developed in Xenogears. Each with their own individual attitudes, backstories and traits that distinguish them from one another. Throughout the game, you learn a lot about all of the main characters. Heroes and antagonists alike. Both are incredibly well developed throughout the game. The dialogue is written so well, that you actually are able to connect with the characters and relate them. There aren't really too many stereotypical characters in this game either. Xenogears manages to do a great job of avoiding generic character archetypes. Does this mean there's no generic aspects? Of course not! However, the characters are still a nice breath of refreshing air compared to the typical stereotypical characters we see in several other RPG's. So, how does the plot start off?
It begins with Fei who is living peacefully in his village. Until one day, a catastrophe strikes. Afterward, he's forced to leave and from there on, an epic journey begins. Where he'll meet up with several other allies and go on a quest to save the world. Now, the plot seems generic at first, but don't be fooled! It's merely the tip of the ice berg. As the plot goes on, it quickly goes from being relatively simple and generic, to original and amazingly intricate. There are numerous incredible plot twists that will completely turn the storyline upside-down on it's head and have you wondering what happens next. What seems simple at first, will turn into a complex series of wonderfully well developed events that manage to immerse the player into Xenogears's world from the perspective of the characters. To wrap things up, the storyline of Xenogears is epic.
I'm going to give the storyline a 10/10 easily. The plot of the game starts out generic and simple at first, but as mentioned, quickly turns into an intricate well done plot. Aside from that, the dialogue in the game is excellent and the game captures the atmosphere of certain events perfectly. Which helps to immerse the player into the role of the characters. Furthermore, every character in the game is extremely well developed and interesting. Both heroes and antagonists get plenty of development throughout the game and even side characters still get nicely developed. Ultimately, a 10/10 for the storyline of Xenogears. Last, is the music. Another incredible aspect of Xenogears.
Music:10/10:Xenogears has a amazing soundtrack. It has among some of the best battle songs, dungeon songs and World Map songs of any RPG. The game has some minor voice acting in addition and it's terrible to be honest, but it's a PS1 game and the Voice Acting is extremely rare. As for the sound effects, they're fine. Overall, the Music acquires a 10/10. The soundtrack is definitely Yasunori Mitsuda's greatest work. So, how is Xenogears overall?
Overall:10/10:Easily one of the most incredible games of all time. Regardless of if you are a RPG fan or not, this is must-play. This game excels in every single category aside from the graphics. Which are still fine. Xenogears's gameplay is extremely well done. The game is a lot of fun to play, has a fairly unique battle system and is a pretty long length. So, it'll last you a long time. As for the storyline, it's incredible too. The plot is amazing and all of the characters are well developed. Plus, the dialogue is well written. Last, the Music is incredible. Easily one of Yasunori Mitsuda's greatest works. In conclusion, I give Xenogears a 10/10. This is truly one of the greatest games of all time. If you haven't played this yet, what are you waiting for!? Go play it now!!!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Xenogears (US, 10/20/98)
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