fatuous_waffle's Xenogears (PlayStation) review

great game, but only for the hardest of the hard core

With storytelling reminiscent of The Watchmen, and...  OK--I'll stop right there.  The Watchmen?  Really?  Look, I'm among the first guys to call Cloud emo, Tidus gay, and Advent Children ridiculous, but hear me out: Xenogears is one of those few games you can really nerd out on.  I've heard a rumor, but haven't actually seen it, that the game's main bad guy actually has pseudocode written for him in a companion book to the story arc.  Pseudocode is sort of a flowchart that maps out how a programmer is going to write a program.  Think about it for a moment.  Someone actually wrote a fake program for a bad guy as kind of a plot device.  That should give you some idea of how insane the world this game takes place in is. 

Fortunately, you don't need to be a programmer to understand the story, but you might need to be a philosopher.  Indeed, perhaps the star of the show is actually the story more than the gameplay.  Perhaps Xenogears was Metal Gear Solid 4 before MGS4 where the line between videogame and interactive book and/or anime got blurry and one could levy criticism as a result.  You're going to see a lot of reviews singing the praises of the plot, and probably recommending it simply because it spins a good tale.  Which it does.

But the question is: is it worth your money?  JRPG fans will find plenty to love about this game.  People who like their games more, y'know, gamey like me...perhaps not so much.  I loved all the giant robot action, as many quasi-otaku guys do, but the game remains inexorably a JRPG, which I don't necessarily like.  The game is so interesting, however, that I picked up the strategy guide and plowed my way through to the bitter end just because I wanted to know how the story concludes.  Had this been any given Dragon Quest game I would have thrown it in the trash within a couple of hours. 

One of my nerdy gaming fantasies is this game redone as a Devil May Cry-style action RPG with cel shading, or a series of manga.  Honestly, I don't view this game as a game, but a think piece.  And I think that's the crunch: how much damn sitting around reading dialogue can you tolerate?  How much of a difference is there between playing the game and reading the game script?  The gameplay seems like an interruption of what would otherwise be an incredible experience, even though I love some of the dungeons (Tower of Babel, anyone?) and I generally like the combat, thus the 4/5 stars.  But I just can't push it over that 4-star mark because as awesome as this game is, it's just not awesome enough.


Other reviews for Xenogears (PlayStation)

    The RPG that Final Fatansy 7 was meant to Be 0

    Xenogears is probably one of the best RPGs that I have played. Though sadly, I played the game almost a decade later. Reason why? It was because whenever I saw the game, I put off my purchase and got something else. It was a good thing that I wanted to play the game until I was more mature. Mentally mature that is. As for the game itself, it was one of those games that slowly sucked the players in. When I first played the demo, it was so cool that there were giant mechas in it. During that time,...

    3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

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