Xenogears
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9  |  Xenogears
mr_jiggles_13 , 12/7/2003 1:20:18 PM
Xenogears Cover ArtAaarrrggghhh!!! This is such a hard review for me to do. You see, this has to be the most intelligent RPG I have ever played. The themes touched on here (religion) almost got it a pass when it came time to import the game to our shores. The cinemas are done by the people who did Ghost in the Shell and it shows, with probably the best (although Lunar's are pretty good too) cut scenes ever in a video game, combining CGI backgrounds and anime characters in the foreground. The characters are all very well done. The storyline is awesome. There's bare butts a-plenty. The music is very nice. And this is the longest RPG i have ever played (and I wished it was longer). So, why is this a hard review for me? two words: disc two...

You see, in Xenogears, you find yourself as Fei, a young man living his life in a small town after appearing on the mayor's doorstep bloodied and without any memories. On this particular day, it is the wedding day of your best friend and the woman you secretly long for, when the war between two nations invades your town, with results that will surprise you (in honesty, to give any of the plot after the first half an hour would ruin the game...you must play this for yourself). And before you reach the end, you'll discover the origins of god, find a reference to a Charlton Heston movie, and pilot a giant mech known as a "gear."

Now, as I said, the story during all this plays itself out brilliantly, each layer of the character's personalities being slowly peeled back until they are fully fleshed out and you care about them. When you find yourself at the fifty hour mark when it says "insert disc two," you don't mind. You want to play as these people more...

and that's the problem. you see, for most of disc two, instead of actually playing in a traditional RPG manner like disc one, you now find yourself playing what can only be described as a Cliff Notes version of the story, where you are told what happens but are not allowed to actually participate until a particular important part comes up. For example, say plot point A happens, right? Now, a whole bunch of text will fill the screen and tell you what is happening in plot point A. Then you'll be able to play through a maze, fight a boss, and then be back to the narrative screen, where plot point B will be described to you. This is stupid. I don't know why this was done. I don't know if it was done to try to keep the game under 100 hours. I don't know if there was a budget problem. But this is wrong! I wanted to play these parts, figure them out on my own, not simply be told what was going on. This almost ruined the game for me.

But I say almost, as all it did was drop a game that would've been a 10 out of 10 to an 9 out of 10, as this game is so worth playing. On the technical side, the graphics are great-Grandia / Breath of Fire 3-type rotating polygons with hand drawn sprites for characters (until you get to the 100% polygonal mech battles). The battle system is a cool combo system (you'll have to play it to see what I mean). I mean, yeah, dual shock vibration would've been awesome, but hey, what can you do, right?

So, in closing, buy this goddamn game, now!!! you will probably be annoyed at the Cliff Notes disc, but that, too, does pass, letting you get back to the actual game play again towards the end. It’s not only fun, but the theories it puts forth as to religion, are really worth hearing (even though I don't believe them).

I give Xenogears a 9 out of 10

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