To say that Xenogears has a rabid following would be an understatement. Fans have been salivating for a sequel for three years now, since Square released their mech-based RPG epic in 1998. Earlier this year, Namco confirmed the existence of Xenosaga, now subtitled Episode 1: The Will for Power, and that it is the first of six chapters (Xenogears is chapter five) in what is sure to be a tale of mammoth proportions. Development duties for the first episode fall on Monolith Soft, comprised of numerous members of Square's Xenogears team, including director Tetsuya Takahashi. For previously announced details, please check out RPGamer's Xenosaga page.
Namco held an official unveiling of the game yesterday, attended by a 900-strong crowd of reporters and lucky-draw winners (from 10,000 applicants), and fleshed out some details about the game. Japanese site Gpara.com was there, and RPGamer has extricated some information.
As previously reported, the game, which was shown in a non-playable video, is completely 3D, and the camera control has been removed from the user-side. The video shows lead character Shion Uzuki running around on what appears to be a spaceship of some sort. During Quest Mode the lower-right corner of the screen contains a radar-like display. Since battles are non-random, and there are attacks of various ranges, it would seem that it would be possible to discern from the radar when to attack enemies from afar.
Once a battle is initiated, a map of the battle area is seen in the lower-right corner. The map indicates what items enemies are carrying by means of annotations. No details were given as to the specifics of the battle mode, so what follows is conjecture based on screen shots. The map contains icons for each party member, and would seem to allow strategic use of attacks with different ranges. The camera appears to move around dynamically as attacks are used. In addition to physical attacks, magic can also be used, and AGWSs (Anti Gnosis Weapon System = gear) can be called in to assist. It was previously reported that the AGWSs could be called on only once, but it remains unclear whether they stick around for the rest of the battle or not.
The video presentation contained additional footage of composer Yasunori Mitsuda in the studio, and directing the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Mitsuda and Takahashi were on hand at the presentation and spoke about coming up with music for the game. Use has been made of Gregorian chants for some pieces, though whether this is for in-game or intro/cut-scenes is unknown.
Following this, the crowd was treated to an impressive CG intro video that details some of the backstory of the game. The intro shows an event that takes place 4000 years before the period in which the game takes place. An ancient technology is activated, leading to an enormously powerful event. A moment later, the scene shifts four millennia to the spaceship shown earlier in the battle system demonstration. The female android KOS-MOS is shown, as well as a blond boy named chaos (yes, in small letters only). KOS-MOS and chaos, both party members, seem to be antithetical characters, and apparently play a pivotal role in the series.
Details on this highly anticipated title will likely be surfacing at a more regular pace as the December Japanese launch approaches. Stay tuned to RPGamer as more information is released.