Review by Oren Murasaki
This game IS the definition of "plot twist", gives new meaning to complex, and sets a standard for entertainment.
Xenogears, said to be part V of a V part saga. The game itself is called uninteresting by some, boring by others, and horrible by others still due to graphical standards at the time. This game is undoubtedly one of Squaresoft's best, a hit, and despite scattered criticism is considered a momentous achievement.
Regardless of the perfect score, this is a very fair review.
I wanted to get these out of the way, they are not integral in the making of an excellent game but you can't ignore the fact that they are there. Xenogears background can be rotated from eight different views, and the characters can be viewed from eight different angles. New players should keep in mind that these were the standards of 1998 and they haven't aged very well, but at the time (which is what I'm rating them by) they were quite good for an RPG. Characters resemble sprites, and when fighting large enemies or in the "gears" they are three dimensional. The graphics usually suffer from large pixelation because the environment isn't pre-rendered (such as in Final Fantasy VII) and is rotatable. The graphics take NOTHING from this incredible experience. However, the anime cutscenes are simply excellent and the characters and 'things' are extremely well drawn, making this game higher in the graphical bar. Overall, the graphics are enjoyable, but at this time if you are a new player that is simply crazy about graphics purely, beware.
The gameplay is very detailed and extensive both in battle and outside, however it varies from disk to disk.
On both disks:
You will be able to either fight with a character themselves, or a gear. The characters can extend their attacks into special combinations that end in X, and not only do they look awesome but they eventually deal a large amount of damage. This is an excellent addition that adds a twist to battle. The can also use items, escape, a sort of magic called 'Ether' etc. The environment can be rotated and the character can jump, opening up options for many more interesting puzzles involving this. On the field, one can be in their gears in certain large areas, but they will have to be out of them to access certain areas. This adds another twist. Gears can be piloted in battle, and any non-event battle, however, one must remember experience is less when the enemy is defeated outside of a gear, and only a small enemy. Gears can charge fuel, which they consume. A strong attack consumes 30 units, a medium attack 20, and a weak attack 10. They can also boost to speed up and use fuel. They are capable of using deathblows and combos on level 1-3, depending on how long you attack normally. This gives a tradeoff and many effective strategies, especially with an ATB gauge The gameplay is intricate, often times high in options, and gives one the ability to access a dimension of exploration that not as many other RPG's give.
On Disk One:
Gameplay is large and open, but there are many cut scenes. While they aren't often TERRIBLY long, they can get a bit lengthy. However the story is so gripping, interesting, and entertaining one is sure to drink up ever bit of it. One plays much of this long portion of the game.
On Disk Two:
VERY often spoken of because of the large base on story rather than actually playing. This is actually a smaller portion of the game. Someone who doesn't enjoy listening might not enjoy this, because you only actually play at set intervals, but before the last fights you have access to the standard airship and can go most anywhere in that world.
The sound is very realistic, the sound of feet on metal, flesh hitting flesh, and weird noises from strange creatures encountered every now and then. The height of this game's excellence in the sound department is in the MUSIC! The soundtrack is simply excellent, conveying every set of emotions, even to a point of being happy and sad at the same time. Yasunori Mitsuda truly pulled out all of the stops, because this is a sure hit. The tunes illustrate the emotions of each character, and even aid youin feeling the creepy feelings they wish to convey. This is definitely a plus in the overall experience of the game.
Surprisingly high! The story is so phenomenal that you will notice multiple things you didn't notice at first. Its long, but it doesn't seem as long the second time. The second time around you'll notice things that you didn't even remember. Value is a must, and this game has it in spades. Two times through is more than enough to occupy, and this game should be in the collection of any RPG player. Furthermore, at 20 dollars its practically a steal.
The strongest (and I mean strongest) aspect of the game is its stress on story. This story is so complex, intricate, pulling, twisting, and enjoyable that I'm having a hard time revealing any of it without messing something up (and running out of adjectives to praise the story) You start out as the 18-year-old Fei Fong Wong in the tranquil village of Lahan, and are violently separated from it due to a life-taking fiery incident that later becomes more and more mysterious. The incident was involving gears, the mechs, and later with doctor Citan Uzuki you leave to find answers to Fei's lost memory, violent past, and the truty about what's going on in the world. Warring nations Aveh and Kislev are fighting on the Ignas continent, but Aveh is aided by the city in the sky, Solaris, that appear to have something ulterior planned for the whole world . . .l it evolves into much more than that, and is extremely gripping. Furthermore, one can figure out many things in Xenosaga EP 1 from having thorough knowledge of this game, it is very story-driven.
Overall: Graphics: 9/10
Story: 10/10 (Wish I could go higher)
The story is phenomenal, the characters are all gripping, full of personality, and a part of the story. The value and enjoyability are high, and set the level of human comprehension. Squaresoft truly proves themselves. Overall, this game is rounded to 10/10
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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