Review by Ranma
Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 04/26/01
Take a jump into the future and control giant mechs in Square's newest PlayStation RPG
Take a jump into the future and control giant mechs in Square's newest PlayStation RPG, Xenogears. This game is seriously cool. Damn, Square can make the games.. first Parasite Eve, now this. Brave Fencer'll probably be even better!
The graphics, while not pre-rendered backrounds, are pretty damn good. I've heard people complain about the sprites, and the fact that there aren't any special effects FMVs, and the fact that there aren't pre-rendered backrounds, but hey - this isn't that type of a game. In this game, you control your character, who, instead of polygonal, are sprites. Everything takes place in a beautifully done 3-D world, from the World Map to the dungeons and fortresses. The 'FMV's in this game aren't like those found in Final Fantasy VII, Tactics or Parasite Eve. It's all nice, pure ANIME! That's right, folks - we get beautifully animated, uncensored, anime! Now THAT'S a nice change from the norm! Anime, for those who don't know, is short for 'Japanese Animation' - some of the best animation in the world. Some examples that you might have heard of include Ranma 1/2, Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, and Slayers. Well enough about that - back to the game. The polygons found in the game come in the form of 'Gears' - giant, humanoid, military mechanoids that can be used to crush your enemies in battle. The graphics (environment and characters) can become very pixelated and ugly at times, though, which is why the graphics dropped down to a 9. All in all, though, Xenogears is very graphically impressive.
Music/Sound: 10/10The music in Xenogears is simply excellent. Yasunori Mitsuda did a wonderful job with Xenogears - look for Chrono Trigger-inspired tunes throughout the game (he composed that game as well). The music in this game can get very emotional, and builds up suspense more easily than the relative silence found in Parasite Eve. And, when you get into battle, turn up the music! The battle theme is GREAT - I wish I had surround sound! One thing that particularly bothered me was the fact that there isn't really a Boss Theme. The sound effects are nice too, from the yells and battle cries your party makes when attacking, to the sound of huge gears beating the seven shades of crap out of one another. ^_^ Even the voice acting (in the anime) is good; my only beef with it is because it was originally drawn in Japan, the character's mouth movements are animated to fit the Japanese language, not the English language, so sometimes you're left staring at a character performing mouth movements even after their line was over. But, aside from that, the sound is great. Get the soundtrack. I am. Immediately.
Square kinda has me wondering about the controls. To bring up the Menu, you press the SQUARE Button; what's THAT about? In the menu, you press the X Button to select and the Circle Button to cancel. You can press L1 and R1 to rotate the camera. So, that why the Control loses a point there. But, in battle, the controls are a dream. The battles in Xenogears are like nothing else I've ever seen. When you select "Attack", you can choose to perform either a Light, Normal, or Fierce Attack. A Light attack takes 1 AP, Normal takes 2, and Fierce takes 3. Your character starts out with a max of 3 AP that he can use each turn. So, in essence, you could do 3 Lights (1+1+1), 1 Light and 1 Normal (1+2), or 1 Fierce (3). You COULD just keep pummeling your enemies with Fierce hits, but then you wouldn't learn any "DeathBlows", or, special combos that cause major damage to the enemy. And these combos look COOL. Anyway, back to the controls; you can also choose "Ether", which is the Magic in this game. Some characters don't have the Ether command; rather, they have "Chi", "Arcane", or some other ability suited to them. All these work basically the same, though; you learn new techniques at certain levels, and they either hurt the enemy or heal an ally. As always, you can "Defend", to reduce damage by half, or use an Item. But there's one other command called "Combo", which, in a word, ROCKS. When you reserve enough AP for two or more DeathBlows, you can choose this option. Say you want to use the "Senretsu" DeathBlow two times in a row. Each "Senretsu" DeathBlow uses 4 AP, so you need to build up 8 AP by shortening your attacks. Once you have, you use the Combo option and link together the two combos. And once you confirm it, just sit back and enjoy. ANYWAY, if I went on about the various things to do, this would be WAY too long, so that's all I'm gonna say.
As always, the story is a masterpiece. You assume the role of Fei, a young man suffering with amnesia. Fei cannot remember anything about his past, except for the fact that he was brought to where he now lives by someone when he was younger. Anyway, certain events cause him to leave town, and while he's gone, the town burns down due to an attack by "Gears" from the neighboring country. I don't want to spoil what happens next, but it's very unexpected. Anyway, along his journey, he meets some other people, such as Elly, whom he has some connection with, but that we don't know until later, Bart, a pirate who collects Gears, and more. Sound good? It is. Just be sure to say goodbye to your loved ones before turning on your PlayStation.
WARNING: The story in Xenogears has DEEP, DEEP religious overtones, and these overtones might, well, in a nutshell, piss off some people. It deals with the questions of evolution vs. creationism, has a lot of references to God, and has an Antichrist in it. So, if you are very sensitive about religion, you may want to avoid this game. I've warned you.
Fun Factor: 10/10
Just about everything in this game is fun. The battles are a blast, the story keeps you going, and the dungeons are deep and dark. There are a few things that get annoying, though, such as the view in the dungeons and towns; it can be EXTREMELY difficult to figure out your surroundings, and you can get lost easily. Also, the towns are so large that you can sometimes go an hour before fighting, and the fighting is so fun that you don't want to be deprived of it. People who don't like involving stories should stay from this game, because sometimes the story is told in VERY large chunks, and you'll be doing a lot of reading. I don't mind, though, and I found this game to be very fun.
You won't be dissapointed with Xenogears. If you want a full-fledged RPG for the PlayStation, this is your game. It's much longer thsn Parasite Eve is, and offers the standard "HP and MP" system. And, the battles are taken a step further. This game more than delivers with great graphics, a excellent musical score, pretty easy-to-learn controls and a great fun factor. Square has once again shown that they are one of the best third-party companies out there, if not THE best. If you're looking for a RPG to keep you busy until or after Zelda 64 and Brave Fencer, this is your game. Get it.
Hope ya liked it..
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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