Xenogears Review

By: Ace Sky

Video games, these days, are starting to resemble movies more and more. The gap between the virtual movie and the projection movie are narrowing with each game put out for gamers to play. Xenogears is one of these virtual movies. The game deals with a heavily religious plot and does so with a great maturity. Xenogears is one game that the die-hard RPGer should not be without.


Through out Xenogears, there is a common theme. This theme holds the game's complex plot together and never fails to be proven. I won't give the theme away but it will be fairly evident by the time you finish the game. The story revolves around a young man by the name of Fei Fong Wong and his adventures on his planet; which, in classic Square fashion, has no name. Along the way, Fei meets various characters that assist him on his quest or are just added for comic relief. Many characters have even stranger names than Fei's. Hard to believe, right? By the end of the game, Fei learns what he really is and what his purpose in life is. The ending of the game culminates all of the plot elements and finishes with a bang.

The music adds to the atmosphere of Xenogears and keeps the mood just right. Yasunori Mitsuda hits the right notes and creates an example of what can be done with a limited amount of system resources by creating one of the best soundtracks on the PlayStation yet. From the opening theme to the battle music to the credit theme, the music helped take Xenogears to the limit in mood and atmosphere.

The easily mastered controls let casual gamers enjoy the game to its full extent. The control layout is easier than Final Fantasy's in more ways than one. The run and jump buttons are kept close together, which is helpful due the amount of jumping this game makes you do. Since it doesn't make use of the Analog controller, Xenogears is limited to the D-Pad, which creates sore thumbs from the constant maneuvering you do with your character.

Alas, all is not Heaven with Xenogears. The graphics look like they were done on the Super Nintendo with poor skills. The only way that you know that you are actually playing on a 32-bit system is the wonderful anime cut scenes. The fifteen-minutes worth of the scenes are drawn beautifully and are placed at important events throughout the game. The English spoken is matched up with the animation, which is a plus.

The pixilation through out Xenogears looks appalling. It makes you wonder whether Square cared about the game at all. The character sprites have little animation and tended to blend with other character sprites in a pixilated mess. Needless to say, the sprites needed to be worked on. The frequent clipping through out Xenogears' polygon background distorts the game's graphics even further. The nontraditional polygon environment seems like a good idea but the poor construction makes you think otherwise. Buildings sometimes mesh together, thus making it hard to see your character sprite, who is all ready hard to see. The lack of effort put into the graphics can make for a poor gaming experience.

The abundance of text and lack of major CG scenes may scare some gamers away from Xenogears. The constant scrolling through text boxes seems like the game was rushed in some way or another. In one scene, I spent over an hour wading though text with one or two battles as breaks. This and the length of dungeons can be a painful process. Many dungeons involve a good amount of jumping. If I wanted Crash Bandicoot, I would have bought it. One dungeon took me almost three hours to finish because of the constant jumping and falling. I had to retry one jump almost twenty times. The poor graphics make the precision of the jumping horrible, leading it to be a pain. The dependency on jumping as puzzles becomes tedious and just plain boring after awhile.

With all its flaws, Xenogears is a good game for anyone not looking for a flashy RPG. The plot makes the game worth playing through once. Casual gamers may be scared away by the lack of flash but Xenogears is still one of the better RPG's I have played. I recommend it to anyone looking for a deep, Anime-like story to be wrapped up in.






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