depressedhippie's Xenosaga: Episode I - Der Wille zur Macht (PlayStation 2) review

Days of a Thong Wearing Robot

The Ultimate fighting force against a hostile alien race is a... Thong wearing robot, and soap opera actors?

Xenosaga is epic. There is a huge roster of colorful characters joining you on your quest. Vast amounts of plot and subplots, and combat which is deep and complex. Xenosaga is so epic in fact that it is hard not to become completely lost and overwhelmed by the entire experience.

As with most RPGs, the story is the clear focus of Xenosaga. This tale of intergalactic woe starts off interestingly enough with Shion, a scientist who is working on KOS-MOS, a deadly thong wearing, alien slaying machine, who is humanities only hope against the hostile, Gnosis. This seemingly simple plot however doesn’t take long to become a convoluted mess, a by-product of the games story going in too many directions at one time. On top of an alien race trying to eradicate everything, we have past wars and conflicts to keep track of, mystical artifacts, replicas of the mystical artifacts, political turmoil, mommy and daddy issues, evil cults, strange slumber land like factions and much, much more. All these ingredients end up diluting the story rather than giving it texture and depth. Making maters worse is the characters are so overblown and overdramatic, that they put soap opera actors to shame in the overblown, overdramatic department. The dialog is filled with gruelingly long monologues at ill opportune times, along with political and technical jargon no one cares about. If brevity is the soul of wit, this game is clueless.

Like the story the combat also suffers from being needlessly complicated. Your character will earn skill points, tech points as well as ether points. All of which can be spent on multiple attributes, multiple moves, multiple attributes within moves, as well as being used for personal stats. Throw in a couple mecha, and you have a combat system which is extremely overwhelming to learn. This is particularly true since the game rarely stops its constant bombardment of cutscenes long enough for one to become acquainted with the battle mechanics. More maddening however is that all the tactical implications of a in-depth turn based system are never realized. This is because enemy encounters suffer from a lack of variety and planning. There is rarely more than two to three types of enemies in any given level, making all the scenarios feel painfully similar in any one area. This really diminishes any real depth or strategy the combat might of had.

Despite all it’s faults, it is hard to hate Xenosaga. The game is obviously a labor of love. To much thought and care was put into the creation of this world and its mythology to be anything else. Even with a poor plot, the game manages to have its share of moments. Seeing someone rip off there own maniacally laughing head, and then curb stomping it, is undoubtedly awesome. And there is nothing like seeing a giant spaceship land in a city as a skyscraper, taking it’s rightful place in the skyline of a futuristic metropolis. Sadly these cool and inspiring moments are far and in between. As it stands fans of this particular genre of anime may find some enjoyment, everyone else however should look for some one else to save us from the alien hordes… preferably not soap opera stars.

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