Xenogears - Reader Review

Another step up from the traditional RPG

By Stewart Bishop

Review Breakdown
   Battle System10
   Replay Value9.5
   Time to Complete50+ hours 

   Xenogears is the kind of RPG that appears very dull and lifeless at first glance, appearing to lack depth and having unimaginably horrible character sprites. In actuality, if you truly look into the game, you'll discover one of the most fascinating, original, entertaining games to ever be released. Should you decide to give this game a try, be prepared to isolate yourself with your Playstation; this game is long and highly addictive.

   Xenogears true strength lies within its originality. Xenogears has the most unique elements I've ever seen in a game. The most notable of these unique elements is the battle system. Depending on the circumstance, you may fight as human characters or as Gears, huge robotic suits that allow for more versatile and interesting fights.

   Xenogears replaces the battle menu of the traditional RPG with its own unique system. When you attack, you can use combinations of Triangle, Square, and X (Weakest to Strongest) to create MK3-Like string combos. Each kind of attack you perform drains a certain amount of AP (Ability Points) from what you are given at the beginning of your turn. Should you decide to store all these AP, you can use the "Combo" option to release vicious Deathblow combos that can only remind you of Killer Instinct. As a Gear, you are given a limited amount of fuel, which acts as your AP. You also receive the special "Booster" skill, which speed up your AT gauge at the cost of excess fuel per turn it is in use.

   Graphically speaking, Xenogears botches slightly. The 3D environment and the Gears look beautiful, but the character sprites tend to get pixelated, making them look very ugly (Though if the characters were polygonal, the camera would spend a lot of time "inside" characters, and that wouldnât be very pretty). I found it very nice that Square decided to use a "zoom in" feature instead of load screens. When you leave an area, the picture freezes, zooms in, and fades out as the new area fades in. I found this to be less bothersome than a blank screen or load screen.

   The one thing that made my Xenogears experience more enjoyable was the inclusion of the "Battling" mini-game. Square, famed for making some very interesting games within games, has made a fighting mini-game that challenges the likes of the most popular fighting games. In Battling, you move around in a totally 3D environment, shooting Ether Bullets and performing 3-Hit link combos against an opponent uses X and O. It comes free with a practice and a 2-player mode, just like the more recent fighting games.

   The music works well with the environments you are placed in, however, they repeat each music sequence so much that you can literally predict what track will be played and when. Another gripe I have with the music is how most of the songs have segments that are merely remixes of other Square games, mostly Final Fantasy Tactics. Aside from this, the music is great, and could easily get stuck in your head (perhaps from the repetition of each track?) for aeons.

   The sound effects are the typical Square dings and beeps, which aren't unbelievably astounding, but never get annoying. The anime sequences included are some of the most horribly dubbed I've ever seen though, and during some times I found myself burying my face in a pillow or laughing out loud at the pathetic dubbing job done. As well as the speech in the FMVs, some voices were irregularly placed in the game. Youâll be reading text for the first 4 hours or so, and suddenly you hear your character cry out "Jerk!" or other idiotic phrases during plot-setting text conversations.

   The plot is one of the most suspenseful and complex plots to ever inhabit an RPG. Square did an admirable job of keeping you in suspense, and with 50+ hours of gameplay, each time you discover more about the plot, youâ ll feel a feeling of success. It is also very complex, and for many people, it may not all fall into place until very late into the game.

   All in all, Xenogears sports amazing polygon use, emotional music, an interesting plot, addictive mini-games and the most unique battle system I've ever encountered. Square seems to be taking their games up from the traditional RPG with the inclusion of more 3D environments, allowing more in-depth exploration while going even further to advance the battle systems enjoyment and versatility. I was astounded by Parasite Eve's battle system, and now that Xenogears is around, its battle system simply blew me away. Xenogears is a masterpiece, well worth your hard-earned money.

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