Review by ocissordei
Reviewed: 08/05/02 | Updated: 08/13/02
The Best RPG Ever? No, but pretty darn close.
Xenogears is one of those games that makes you think. Unlike the mindless storylines of the Final Fantasy (which follow the teenage kid kills the big scum of the Earth storyline), Xenogears follows the ''disturbingly religious and psychotic'' storyline. With a gameplay system unlike no other and anime sequences during high points in the game, Xenogears is a serious contender for the best RPG ever.
Xenogears has two different battles systems (that are very similar). One takes part when you are in your gears (Mecha), and one takes part when you're on foot. Both of them are based on the order of buttons that you hit (Square,triangle, circle or X). As you try different combos you wil eventually learn a ''Deathblow''. Each character gets a plethora of these extremely powerful (and extremely cool looking). For example in a deathblow of Fei Fong Wong (the main character) called Hagan, Fei jumps up in the air in a matrix like fashion and kicks an opponent tons of times. Deathblows aren't limited to just kicking and punching, if the character fights with a weapon they'll do a deathblow with the weapon. One of the most memorable of these is one of Billy Lee Black's deathblows in which he shoots an opponent multiple times with his handguns, and as they're flying up in the air, he slides under them and shoots them with his shotgun. The only difference between the gear battle system and the on-foot battle system is the fact in gear battles you must charge to a certain level to do certain deathblows. These two systems are almost perfect and do make up the majority of the gameplay. However, there is one huge flaw in this game. At many points this game wants to become a platformer. Outside of combat, you'll have to run and jump to get to certain places in order to continue on in the game. This is overly frustrating because if you fall or miss a jump you usually have to start all the way at the beginning of the ''puzzle''. For example, in one area you must jump on a rope over a deep hole, swing for about 3 seconds and then jump off onto the other side. IF you fall off or miss the jump you head back to 15 more minutes of getting just back to the rope. This can be so frustrating at some points that you just want to shut the game off. There is another time in the game where you can use your gears. The Gear Battle mini-game is extremely fun and is essentially a 3d fighter with a virtual outside backdrop. After playing this for a long time you can get good items and at some points well deserved money. Although it doesn't really count as gameplay, the storyline makes up for more than the frustration of jumping. Religious undertones fill the text (but they intentionally surround them in with dashes i.e. -lambs-) and enhance the storyline. Anyone that says that the game has no religious content ask them the meaning of the name of 2nd to last boss in latin. Although the rest of the storyline might be basic (teenage boy tries to deny opression of another country in order to stop war, and eventually has to save world from giant monster), it really isn't. Sure that might be the backbone, but does that basic storyline include going to human slaughterhouses, viscious backstabbing, or being falsely accused of crimes. I don't think so.
Yet again, extremely simple controls in battle but super cruddy controls out of it. In battle you make selction with X (i think you can do it with other buttons), and attack with a set number of button presses with the Triangle, circle, X and Square buttons. The control in battle is top notch (worthy of a 10), but the outside control is just atrocious. It may seem simple just using a run (circle), jump (triangle), and move (d-pad) system, but you have to remember RESPONSIVENESS. Jumping in gears is quite possibly the hardest thing to do accurately. In the rope example above, it might take 3-4 tries just to get across the rope. You'll probably be pressing the jump button at just the right time but you'll fall off anyway because the game won't recognize what you're doing fast enough or at all!
Come on, give the game some slack it's 4 years old! The in game graphics are pretty good for the psx, but in the CG and anime sequences you really see the greatness of the graphics. The brightness of the explosion near the beginning of the game, the massive bulk of Fei's first gear Weltall. Simply breathtaking.
There's nothing i can really say about sound, except that the music is good gets annoyingly repetitive. It is good that the music is catchy enough to remind you where you are near the end of the game. For example, in the Ygdrasil (flying ship), you hear this good music that eventually becomes really annoying music, but whenever you get in the ship it'll welcome you.
Overall: 9 (wish i could give 9.5)
IMHO this game is the 2nd best RPG of all time (behind Chrono Trigger). You really have to see it for yourself. A lot of people don't like it because of its hard to follow storyline (I disagree with that comment), and because a lot of the game is the characters talking. I still say that this game is worthing buying because of its great gameplay and storyline.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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