If only I’d check my mailbox more often…
When I was writing my article about getting Xenosaga today, the game was already lying in my mailbox for some hours. Anyway: When I found it, I’ve started up my beamer and the playstation and began playing the game. Be prepared for a first kind-of review (nearly no spoilers – I could not really give some as I’ve only played 8 hours so far):
First of all: I like it.
Second: I don’t like it as much as I liked Xenogears (which is not very surprising given the fact that Xenogears is the best RPG ever created ;-)
As usual I am first providing you with the things I dislike:
- Story: Please: You can do it better than this. The whole thing is much to clear in the first place. Where is the slow unfolding of events I liked so much in Xenogears? And: Misterious Plate floating through the unsiverse – androids freaking out – lunatic professors working for the goverment: That’s nothing new at all. I hope there is more to come and I hope it’s less obvious.
- Loading times: Too long. It’s not that there are loading screens all over the place – there are no screens at all. I am currently on this ship of space trash collectors (what have I told you about the story??) and where the loading times when changing rooms in previous games by Squaresoft were not really noticable, in Xenosaga, they are: About 30 seconds waiting before a black screen just for entering the passengers cabins? That’s too long.
- Stupidity: This is related to my complaint about the story and actually I’ve only once came across the problem: On said spaceship, the sequence of events is as follows:
- From the citchen, go all the way down to the cargo bay where KOS-MOS and the commander are.
- From there go all the way up to the bridge just to learn that there may be a problem with the catapult which of course is again all the way back down in the ship.
- When I’ve finally reached the damn catapult (that’s no spaceship. It’s a labyrinth), there seems nothing to be wrong, so I am ordered all the way back up to the bridge where the next story sequence awaits me. Note: Till’ this point, going back and forth did involves nothing more than going back and forth – no enemy encounters at all, so no fights, so: boring.
- Of course, although nothing seemed wrong, the catapult actually malfunctions during the story sequence (talk about non-obvious story) and I’ve once again to go all the way back – but this time *with* enemy encounters.
This is boring, stupid and not what I expect from a successor of the best RPG ever.
- Movie or game? I really like story sequences. I also like long ones with much content. But those in Xenosaga are too long. Many times in those 8 hours the play counter is displaying me, I sort of forgot that I am playing a game instead of watching a movie.
- Camera perspective: No. It’s not nearly as annoying as in Kingdom Hearts for example. After all, the camera is fixed. And this is so much good at it is bad: Many times I am thinking that I don’t see something and I wish to rotate the scenario – but unfortunatly that’s not possible. However, I think, this is about getting used to it. Before Xenogears and FFX the camera has always been fixed.
So. That’s it. In all other aspects, the game is just great. Especially I’d like to note the following points:
- Music. Just Great. Mr. Yasunori Mitsuda did a wonderful job once again. And this time it’s even better as the Soundtrack is played by a real orchestra.
- Voice-Acting: We are not quite there yet, but it’s waaaay better than FFX or Kingom Hearts.
- Graphics and Animations: Great. I like them very much.
- Battle-Time-Counter: On the victory-screen after a battle there is a timer that shows you how long it took to finish the opponent off. This is nice (I’d never have thought that killing a boss may well take 20 minutes)
If you can: Go and get the game. I’ve not yet rated it relativly to the other RPGs I’ve played so far, but it will certainly occupy one of the top positions just because of the athmosphere, the good music, the balanced gameplay and the really good leveling-up system which is quite sofisitcated but understadable anyway (and does not have the same strange side-effects as the system of FF8 had where leveing up was actually a bad thing