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Shaking the heavens of RPG clasics
Going through the small crack between sci-fi and religion, Xenogears soars high, and brings us this epic RPG. With over 70 hours of gameplay, character development is at its max, while the gameplay finds itself a steady place on any RPGammer's shelf. One of the greatest RPG's to ever come out of squaresoft, soars new heights in the realm of plot complexity and foreshadowing in RPG's Creating a whole new religion, science and a unique world, satire is abundant in the creaks and crakes of this masterpiece. If you don't have this RPG in your possession at this moment, and you have a PS2 or a PS1, go of to your local retail store now!
The beginning starts off lightning quick leaving many unanswered questions and bewildered minds. The basic story line is, between two rivaling countries, a wanted criminal is kicked out of a village for having strange powers. This is as basic as it gets with absolutly no spoilers. In the beginning, the producers throw many unanswered questions by using foreshadowing in hazy FMV's. This gives you less time to actually analyze the pictures and creates an even deeper foreshadowing then if it was within a book. Also by using the FMV's to establish the main foreshadowing, the events flow faster and more fluidly creating a greater atmosphere, more emotion and a more realistic feel. The events in the game are also paced extremely well with the use of plot twists and moving to different time and space, all the time. The events are divided into chapters with foreshadowing in the beginning and then the actual event. It is easy to tell when these chapters end and beginning as the individual events have dramatic climax's and resolutions. As I said before this RPG doesn't just create a world of its own it also creates a completely different and unique religion and science of its own. The new religons inside are shown thourgh little snipits and pieces throughout the game. This in adition with the complex and unanswed plot should mind-boggle many of those who play this game. And it isn't just one religion, it's a host of conflicting religions created to marelously blend together. There are also a ton of themes in Xenogears, from every situation and every event. Some of them are obvious like "The human spirit will always prevail", or "Always follow your dreams" but some are harder like "Blaming others is not going to solve anything" or "Ordinary people can be heroes". The list goes on and on as there are so many things to learn from this game, for example "Never kept hate locked up inside", or "love always prevails" In every nook and cranny, there will most likely be a theme about if you look hard enough. The second disk is always criticized for its lack of gameplay and to the restrictions placed on you. But the producers needed to do this to present the ending in a sort of book, so they can use literary techniques and poetic writing. By doing this most RPGamers are put off with this section since they can't follow the plot and the themes arn't being produced as easily as they before. If you take a deeper look into the second disk you will see all the different attributes of the first half just in a different light. The unanswered questions and the constant foreshadowing from every direction is like the glue that hold together everything fluidly and economically. The producers used movies, books and RPG's to move the plot forward brilliantly in this masterpiece.
In my opinion, Xenogears has the best character development in any RPG. Everyone has a riveting past developed by a whole sub-plot of memories. From the most annoying characters like Chu- Chu and hammer to all of your party members, everyone has a dramatic past. Almost everyone is a round characters all the way down the succession to the most obscure of characters. The only character that is not a regular person that doesn't have a past is Big Joe, who is more like a joke then a character. Even the Wels as a group are round and have detailed pasts. Chu-Chu is also a very effective foil character to everything in the RPG, before you get Chu-Chu everything is tense, mind-blowing and bleak, but once you can actually play as her the whole mood lightens too the point that everything but chu-chu seems even more tense and mind-blowing. Your choosing of characters is based upon the characters past more than their strengths. The writers cleverly undermined the battling capabilities of the character and emphasized the past and personalities of the characters. Sticking to there character personalities they truly defined reality of characters in an RPG. Because the plot and character development have seamless integration created by the fluid maps the writers trick you into reading the speeches as if it were part of the complex plot. By using the fluid feel to an advantage the writers jam-pack this piece of artwork with tons of character development.
The battle system is also something to marvel about, as it is the most visual of its kind that I have played. With a clever AP system with up to 7 bars of attack per turn the producers created a system that allows for many tactics and techniques. You can ether chose a soft attack that costs 1 ap and has great hit%, a medium attack that costs 2 ap with good hit % or a heavy attack that costs 3 ap with the worst hit%. There is also a deathblow system where you learn death blows by training one combo of soft medium and heavy attacks. At the beginning, there are so many possibilities for deathblows and they take so long to master that new deathblows are scarce at the least. Also there is a combo system where you can string deathblows together to create a disastrous killer of an attack. To do this you must conserve your AP by not using it on your turn. Lastly there are super-deathblows, which are overly powered, element based and visually awesome. The battle system then requires you to change your tactics at many points in the game making it seem fresh and original even at the end. The producers cleverly used this to create some monsters that make you switch back and forth between the previous techniques and obviously from magic to attack. The deathblow sequences are long and absolutely some of the coolest looking attacks in an RPG ever. These attacks have made me jump out of my seat with satisfaction and glee. The gear system is rather realistic with fuel and limited moves. The producers used an attack level scheme were you attack to receive a better level and use your levels for deathblows. The deathblows correspond to those when you were fighting as a character forcing you to have many training locations, some for leveling up your deathblows, levels and gold and so forth. This also makes character fighting useful, as you can't master new deathblows in a gear. Also you can customize your gear by putting on new equipment like a new engine a new frame. The fuel often makes you decide if you want ether defense, more fuel, or more power when new gear parts are available. This low difficulty and major customization renders leveling up obsolete for beginners since "hard bosses" can be easily tackled with the proper equipment. But with a high max. Damage cap. and the ability to fight gear-sized units in character form offers a limitless pool of challenges for hardcore RPGamers. A balanced system for this balanced game.
The graphics are just to my likening. With a full 3-d world and massive towns that can actually be called cities exploring never was this fun. With a completely rotatable background treasures, people and places can be hidden even better. The every thing from the atmosphere, to the music to the festivities can all is taken in better with this realistic look. Going through dungeons are a lot less stressful as you can make sure not to miss anything with the rotatable camera. Like Chrono Trigger you can jump up but Xenogears takes this to its full advantage by having hiding places high and the ability to jump over objects and go off without finishing a conversation. By using the 3-d maps, during plot points and turning points the right angle can be found without having to change that much around. Also the turning points are seamlessly integrated because the maps don't need to load anything-just change the angle. Also they included many platforms like jumping mazes throughout the game. This breaks the mood of the incredible dark plot and atmosphere of a dungeon. Many have been stuck for hours and hours in these mazes like within Babel tower, but I say without this there was no challenge for the hardcore gamers and acts as an equalizer for the beginners and the hardcore fans to have some difficulty in the game. The world map visuals and the inner city visuals are smeared together to say the least. By using the pixels and not polygons the cities can run smother with the rotatable camera. Also it was a contrast to the greatly detailed gears to show how much bigger and shinier the gears were in comparison to the characters. Flashbacks are incredible well done with more tint and a scattered movement to indicate a sketchy memory. Xenogears has created a great visual masterpiece with seamless special effects and a fully 3-d world.
From deep, and tearful music to a festive bizarre sound, Mitsuda creates a memorable masterpiece. Striving off of emotional and deep music styles this clearly portrays the characters and the mood. There is also classic one hit theme songs that will be humming to every time you here it. But sadly with such a long game there needs to be more music to take the place where others just signals a specific mood. The track can be heard in its almost entirety at the end of the game in the fighting arena, or at the snowfield hideout. But after three plays through the music still doesn't get boring as If I played it again I would still hum it loud and proud. There is very little I would want more from the music of this excellent game.
A plot that rivals Final Fantasy Tactics and the visuals to boot alone should be worthy of the name of a classic. With stellar character development and memorable songs this game is a definite shoe in for one of the greatest games of all time. But with a mind-boggling battle system and thousands of unanswered questions this RPG is almost number one on my list. The only problem others may find that I will tolerate is that it's a quasi-love story or that the platform mazes were annoying. But these are tiny little things that in my mind shouldn't affect the overall score at all. I tried really hard not to make anymore high ranked RPG reviews but I couldn't tear myself away from giving this a perfect five. I really tried hard for a four but I couldn't denounce an okay score for such a perfect game. Any one who doesn't have this game right now should buy it any way possible, now!
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