So when exactly was the last time you played your precious Xenogears anyways? Yeah, we all remember that wonderful classic brought to us by the leaders in fantasy, Squaresoft. But, the title has changed hands in almost every sense of the phrase. Now brought to us by Namco and in Episode fashion a la Shenmue style, Xenosaga is the story brought forth before Xenogears. In a world of seemingly endless greed and corruption, the human race must pull together in attempts to fend off a new threat to their existence. So basically like every other rpg ever made…but hey, its not the idea that grabs us…its how the story is presented, and lemme tell ya, this story is presented in a very different fashion. Lets take a look at what Namco has done to produce one of the most immersive storylines ever created.
Shion Girl You Look So Good!
First off, lets take a look at some of the graphics Xenosaga is able to pull out of the now somewhat dated Playstation 2 system. By all means, if you thought the PS2 had reached its maximum abilities before…think again! This game is absolutely beautiful! The characters are extremely well animated and the effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen in any game! Each map is done with wonderful detail with a sort of a futuristic “doctors office” kinda feel to it. I can almost smell the stale air. No cheating here folks, almost every cut-scene in the game is brought to you via in-game graphics. Avid lovers of CG, don’t fret! The animation was good enough to hold my attention..and I LOVE my eye candy! All in all, graphics are wonderful! They really make this game come alive!
Bring That Beat Back KOS-MOS
So, we got a pretty good idea of what this baby looks like, now lets try to analyze how this baby sounds. To be perfectly honest, the sound track is good. Nothing spectacular, but it is good. I say not great for a number of reasons. Most of the sound in this game is just ambient ship noise of some sort. This can get pretty old when every room you go into has the same silly white noise in the background. But, when the music does kick in…DAAAAMN! Powerful and graceful! Some music is the lovely epic style ballad music Square made popular in so many Final Fantasy games, and yet other music has that techno-futuristic style. One of the menu themes is pretty funky. Everytime I get to that menu it makes me think my speakers are broken or something…wakky shit! As for effects and such…excellent! The game is really brought to life through these sound effects. Voice overs are also done very well! Some of the cutscenes can be a little weird due to the fact that Namco didn’t resync the animation with the sound, so sometimes it feels like something got lost in the translation, but overall the voice actors do a really good job with this one! Overall sound gets a good due to the undying ambient noise.
Leveling Up With Ziggy
With so many rpgs out on the market these days, its sometimes really hard to tell what separates a good rpg from a bad one. Usually the presentation of the storyline is the key to keeping a players interest, and Xenosaga has taken a step in the right direction of presentation! This game is more like an animated series than a traditional rpg. Don’t get me wrong, its got everything that makes an rpg traditional, but it adds a new element to the recipe. Extended movies that present the storyline in a more character interactive fashion. Yes, you’re probably all thinking..oh great, another Bouncer..but where Square messed up, Namco steps in. The cut-scenes are done almost entirely using the in-game graphics engine. They are long and deep! And when I say they are long..I mean it! 20+ minutes of cut-scene storyline at a time! When you play this game, be prepared to watch as much as you play! It really makes this game a cross-multimedia experience. I will admit that this may deter some rpg fans, but if experience and immersion is what you are all about, this game will have the godless praying for more! The flow of the game is wonderful and almost impossible to put down once you start!
The battle system in Xenosaga is much like the old school Xenogears battle system. With ability points that need to be saved up for more powerful tech attacks this game re-introduces that Xenogears style strategy to every fight! Experience is broken up into 4 different kinds. Normal leveling and 3 other kinds, each with their own ability to increase skills and attributes! This makes each character in the game extremely customizable! With a large number of abilities for each character it will take sometime to full load your party up!
Oh my, 2 paragraphs on gameplay and I haven’t even gotten to the mini-games yet! EEK! First off, there are many mini-games presented throughout the game. One of these games is called Xenocards…and let me tell ya, if you’re fan of any of the Final Fantasy card games…then this is gonna blow you away! I could seriously play Xenocards for months at a time (damn school for keeping me from my fix!)! I won’t go to much into the mini-games since they are basically another review in themselves…but I will say the card game is very addicting. You play against other characters you talk with in the game and over time accumulate more cards! You’re cards can also level up, though I don’t know exactly how this works..its extra cool. Upon winning card games you get prizes such as a pack of cards, which come in a shiny package you have to open to find out what you got. There are exhibition matches, tournaments and 2 player (user vs. user) battles. Although I have yet to understand how the heck you are supposed to play the 2 player mode without the other player seeing your cards…it seems like a fun add-on. “Hey Z, look! One of the Dead Or Alive chicks is washing you car in a bakini!!” *plays his turn*
Is There Any MOMO?
Overall hardcore factor of Xenosaga is high! I’ve not really had this much fun with an rpg for sometime! In my mind, much better than Final Fantasy X. I suggest anyone who is into rpgs to add this one to their collection! In fact, since this is such a new experience…I would advise basically anyone who is up for a good story/movie to go ahead and at least give this sucker a rent(5days at least)! As always, its best to rent before you blow 50 bucks on something you’re not sure of…but I would have to say you’re pretty safe here. This is Trippyliquid…trippin out!