Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Xenogears

Due to lack of a better idea for a first post, I will instead post a partial review of Xenogears I originally sent to Brenden in an E-mail.

Xenogears is good, although I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes it is awesome, with a good, interesting story, fun battles, etc. Then other times it is dull, slow moving and monotonous. I have a couple issues with it:

1) The story is uneven, sometimes it is interesting, other times it just seems to drag and its like they threw a bunch of stuff in just to make things longer. And there is a LOT of story, sometimes I can play for an hour and never do anything but click through a storyline, and run from place to place to hear more conversation. In some spots, there isn't even a dungeon or anything so that you have random battles in between, its just like 'go find XXXX in her room', ok, now 'go to the bridge of the ship', ok, now 'go find XXX and YYY in the gear hanger', etc. That can be frustrating, especially when it doesn't advance the 'core' storyline.

2) Gear battles are retarded. There are two battle modes, the expected one where you are just a normal guy, and you do various strength karate moves on the enemies. You can combine different strength attacks together to do combos, and you can learn new combos by pressing the buttons in combo order throughout battles. So that is relatively interesting, if you don't feel like fighting, you can use combo after combo to just destroy things. If you have some patience, then you can learn new and better combos. The minor problem with that is that I have learned all the combos I can until later in the game when I get a 7th action point.
Anyways, gear battles are a whole different story. When you are in your Mechwarrior-like-gears, You have thousands of HPs. You can only do one action per turn, either attack strong/medium/weak, or charge and regain 30 units of fuel. Various strength attacks use various amounts of fuel (30,20, or 10 depending on the strength). Or you can use the same combo buttons as normal battles to execute different attacks at higher fuel costs. The problem is that you can only do combos after you've done some number of successful attacks. So you are forced to do say '1 strong attack, then one weak combo, 1 strong attack, one weak combo', etc. Or '1 strong attack, 1 strong attack, 1 medium combo', etc. There is no variety, and no way to speed the combat up. Plus there is no way to heal yourself until later in the game, and that costs tons and tons of fuel. Oh, and you can't even make progress on learning new combos when you are in a gear, so there is no motivation to do anything other then strong attacks.

Overall, the beginning of the game was great, it was a lot of fun, they had cool anime cut scene things, the story was interesting, but didn't dominate the action. The middle section (which I am in now) is pretty slow moving, a lot of very lengthy dialogue sequences with no anime, and I am having trouble motivating myself to play it. It is definitely a long game though, I am over 20 hours in, and still have at least that much left to go (from what I can tell glancing at walkthroughs).

Hopefully it will get better.

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