Review by PUhler

Reviewed: 12/27/00 | Updated: 01/11/01

Stand Tall and shake the heavens with your uninteresting story and terrible gameplay!

Oh my. What happened Square? What happened to you? You used to be an incredible developer, consistently crafting masterpiece after masterpiece. You could do no wrong! It seems as though you're faltering a bit on Sony's little wonder-box. Sure, you have Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy Tactics on the must-have masterpiece list for the 32-bit era, but nothing else. For all the time you spent on the PSX, I was hoping to see more out of you. Alas, you're merely a shadow of the behemoth you once were... and Xenogears is one of the biggest blemishes on your filthy, decrepit hide.

''...And here comes the hate-mail...''

''What the hell is wrong with Xenogears?! You just don't know your games! I bet you have ADD, and you can't read at all!'' The following is some of the likely things I'll recieve from others, as they congratulate me for my hard work I've put into this review, explaining why the game everyone loves is just so bad. There are a multitude of reasons that people purposedly over-look, so they can call the 'best Square game ever' (Yeah... right) so absolutely perfect. I've seen many people just ignore some of the flaws; I've seen people flame me and insult and laugh at me for not liking such an extraordinary 'experience'; I've seen somebody actually call me a heartless bastard because I didn't find myself caring about the characters' plight.
Well, you people (you know who you are) better warm up those fingers, cause you're going to have alot of fires to start when you're done reading this. Hell, you probably have already, after seeing my score (which I'm being generous with, by the way). As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for the fact not many people are going to be rading the Xenogears reviews anymore, I'd probably suffer the same fate as my fellow reviewer Marvel Man, who recieved a boat-load of nasty flames for simply telling it like it is. Unlike him, however, I relish the chance to recieve flame-mails. It's always fun to respond to belligerent idiots with their heads so far stuck up their a... ahem, back to the point.... I'll just put it simply: if you really feel you must blabber vile things about me and my well-being, be my guest in sending me an e-mail and voicing your complaints.
Ok, so it's established I hate Xenogears, and can't understand why so many people call it a 'life-changing experience' (really, is anyone that crazy?). Well, why do I hate this abomination so? Read on (if you havn't stopped already in disgust)...

''The greatest story in the history of gaming.''

*snicker* Yeah, what an absolutely amazing story. It was so amazingly gripping that I stopped paying attention to it not to far into the game. Hell, I really didn't even notice much of a story. Some will lambast me for that, saying that I have no reason to speak badly of the game because I didn't see the game through to the end, where the story really picks up. That's bull. If an RPG doesn't have a story that at least mildly grabs your attention by the 10th hour, it's doubtful the story will suddenly become a fantastic epic within a few hours.
The story begins with your main character, Fei, in the town of Lahan. Ummmm... after about an hour of mind-numbing talking, some Gears (Gears being big robots, one of the only cool things in this entire game) come and trash the town. Wow. Fei gets in a Gear and kicks some ass though. The story is basically a mindless jumble after that, not really even existing for awhile. The story literally seems to disappear.
That's one of the main problems in Xenogears. The mind-numbing drudge called the story. The fantastically dull writing doesn't help either. I can remember nary a line from the whole game, it was that forgettable. All the characters' seem to speak the same, in the same manner, and everything is just dull. You certainly won't be smiling in this game, thanks to the crap dialogue and sleep-inducing 'story'.
However, Xenogears could've redeemed itself somewhat with some intresting character's... fat chance. Every character you see is just plain bland. Nothing seems to be the least bit intriguing about a single character in the game. Man, if there's one thing I hate in an RPG, it's terrible characters. You can have your cliched story if you like; you can have a bad battle-system for good measure; heck, go haead and flub the writing a bit too. Just make sure to have a few likeable faces. Squaresoft hs gone off the deep end, however, so you won't be seeing that here.

''...And the hits keep coming...''

Ok, sometimes an RPG can be a little light in the main areas, but be just so fun you'll forget about them (Star Ocean Story 2 being the perfect example). I ran into a battle. Sometimes, the gameplay itself will be so fun, that you'll forget about the lackluster characters, or average story. Star Ocean Story 2 was had pretty good characters, and a pretty good story, but it was the tremendously fun battles, and beautifully realized skills system that made it such a joy to play. Xenogears is on the other end of the spectrum. I ran into a battle. The gameplay is horribly unfun. Battles are turn-based, and consist of you pressing one of the corresponding attack buttons on the controller, until your fatigue bar fills up. Total bunk. It was a pretty cool idea, but it doesn't seem to be any fun. I ran into a battle. The player random battles are bad, but the Gear ones are even worse. I just found myself basically doing the same attack over and over again. Ugh, it's really hard to put into words how awful the battling is... you'd have to play for yourself. I ran into a battle.
You're probably wondering why I keep typing 'I ran into a battle'. It's meant to amply illustrate the absolutely sickening amounts of battles in Xenogears. The battle frequency is off the charts! I remember when a friend of mine told me to grab a treasure chest on the other side of the screen. I absolutely refused, but he insisted, so I did. I ran into battles just trying to get to a treasure chest on the same screen. He just laughed, and all I could think was ''This is absolutely unforgiveable''. The battle frequency, along with the piss-poor battles themselves, simply kill any chance of redemption this sucker had in my eyes.

A mediocre aural and visual assault on the senses!''

I've also heard alot of rambling about the wondrous soundtrack that accompanies this waste of disc space, along with the tasty visual blend of sprites and polygons. While it's a moot point to harp about the super-ficial features at this point, I figure I must.
The music itself is very mediocre, and unlike the smell of burning flesh, easily forgettable. I just can't understand whats so outrageously wonderful about it. The sound effects are your average stuff. It seems when you get in your Gears, though, the sound effects aren't nearly 'robotic' enough. When I'm ploddin around in a massive robotic beast, I expect some louder sound effects, and a little more then your average 'clunk clunk'. Sound effects simply don't vary enough in the mechs (or at least from what I remember).
Graphically, I happen to think the sprites aren't half bad, though they're pretty raggedy looking. Animation is fairly sparse, but at least the colors are alright. The game uses, as I mentioned before, a blend of polygonal environments and 2-D sprites in the field, which leads to sme rather akward moments sometimes when the camera hits a bad angle. Thank God it's rotatable, so it's really not a big problem.
The other time Xenogears uses polys is on the Gears themselves (those big old robots would probably look a bit 'weird' in 2-D). They look ok, but with tons of pixellation (hey, I realize this is the PSX we're talking about).
Lastly, I'll mention the FMV. It's well-done anime stuff, but probably the least important part of a game is the FMV, so it's really quite pointless bothering talking about it.
Overall, the presentation ain't bad, but the rest of it's so flawed, it's makes nary a shred of difference in my opinion of Xenogears as a whole.

''What an abberation.''

That phrase sums up Xenogears quite nicely. It's an absolute abberation, much like FF8 and Vagrant Story (to be fair, even Xenogears is better then Vagrant Story). Many people have made a very large fuss about tis game, and I can't understand why. Sure, some people got themselves in a tizzy because the game is supposedly loaded with religious over-tones (something I failed to notice), but so was Sunday Funday. What's that mean? Just because a game puts a religious spin on things doesn't make it good. You want religion? Go to a church. You want an RPG masterpiece? You'll have to go elsewhere too. I fail to see the religious aspects of this turd, and I just can't believe it has any sort of merits as an RPG masterpiece, destined to be mentioned with the classics like Final Fantasy 6, or the Over-God of them all, Chrono Trigger.

''Stand Tall and Shake the Heavens!''

Yeah, sure. All Xenogears can shake is my head, when I think about how truly awful it was. Mere words cannot articulate my disgust with this product, so I'll simply say this: I'd rather be playing Deadly Towers..

Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

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