What a long, strange game it's been.
September 15, 2015

I've been playing Xenogears all year. I've clocked just close to 50 hours, but I started somewhere between Christmas and New Year, so I haven't exactly given it top priority. It's been my only console project though, in line with a promise I made. A little background: I was playing Persona 4 and having a good time until my PS2 stopped reading it. Wasn't the disc either, I bought myself another copy of it and it didn't work either. My console has no problems with other games (yet), but it's old, so who knows. At any rate, here I was 20 hours in and unable to continue.

But I borrowed a friend's Vita and Persona 4 Golden - would have to start over but at least I had a chance to play this game through, and a superior version while I was at it. He set me one condition for this - I own Xenogears and the three Xenosagas but had never given them any time, so he insisted I do so in exchange. So I promised, and so I came to start on Xenogears.

I hadn't expected it to take me this long, but for reasons I will write about later, it just would not hold my interest and it was mainly the promise that kept me coming back to it. The game and I just don't really click. I felt in fact unqualified to write for it. But as I'm finally nearing the end (well into disc 2 now), I'm beginning to feel that I *should*, if only to add my outsider perspective to a game that has received a lot of praise, but its share of criticism. If my voice is going to fall into the latter camp, then so be it. If it's not for the reasons people are used to hearing, so much the better.

Because the plot, while convoluted, is not what bothers me as much as the gameplay, which I was done with around halfway the first disc already. I just want it to be over with now so I can move on to Xenosaga, which I suspect will mesh with me better. But my experiences with this one scream for a review. First I'm going to see it through though. I'm a mad sucker for the sunk cost fallacy. I haven't come this far to throw in the towel now.

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overdrive overdrive - September 15, 2015 (10:52 AM)
Xenogears was an interesting game for me.

I first encountered it on a demo disc that came with FF8. The part you played through (the beginning part where you go through town, go through the surrounding countryside and hook up with Citan) didn't do much for me, but the cinematic (in-game engine) stuff that came after really intrigued me. It gave an aura of vastness that other RPGs of the time didn't really possess.

When I bought it, I was generally wow'd by the first disc. There were some slow parts. If I didn't like that first hour or so on the demo, having to replay it to get started for real was misery. There were a couple areas where there was little besides talking and plot advancement for an eternity. But it was vast, there was a huge plot that constantly had me wondering just what was going on and there were moments where I found myself staying up too late because I just couldn't put it down because BIG THINGS were happening and I had to discover the next revelation.

And then the second disc happened. A bunch of cinema followed by you being on rails sent to the next boss fight with little in the way of cohesion keeping things together. And then more cinema, more on-rails and so on until I was done.

I think I gave it a 7/10 or so. In theory, it could have been the best RPG of the PS1 era. In reality, it was a good, but bloated and uneven, game.

I never played the Xenosaga series (when it came out, my life was too complicated to deal with that much movie-watching during my limited game-playing time), but am going through Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. Truly the high point of the Xeno franchise.
sashanan sashanan - September 15, 2015 (11:29 AM)
Oddly, the second disc doesn't bother me much. Being told about a dungeon instead of playing it isn't so bad if you're at the point where yet another dungeon to get through with its endless random encounters is painful to you. I'm pretty Xenogears-tired at this point. It really hasn't helped that the game does have 3D environments with a rotatable camera, but no map. I get lost constantly - not helped by the fact that the constant encounters disorient me whenever I'm starting to get a feel for where I am.
overdrive overdrive - September 15, 2015 (12:12 PM)
The worst dungeon for that: those damn sewers under Kislev or whatever, where you fight Redrum or whoever. A bunch of corridors that all look the same where you have to wander aimlessly for an eternity. I did not like that place. So, of course, that gets followed up by the really epic battle in the city and your escape from the place because every time you got something really good in the game, it would be followed by a clunker of a segment...and every clunker was followed by something super-epic.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - September 15, 2015 (01:47 PM)
My problem with Xenogears is that it's a giant robot RPG where the giant robot combat is less interesting than the on-foot combat system. Also, the plot is too convoluted. Even today, I'm still not sure what the hell the game was about.
EmP EmP - September 19, 2015 (10:07 AM)
I did not care for Xenogears. At all.

Though that bit where they crucify a giant pink bunny creature thing and you're supposed to take it dead serious is unintentionally hilarious.
sashanan sashanan - September 23, 2015 (01:58 AM)
Since then they've crucified Gears. Not the pilots, the robots themselves. The impact is somewhat lessened.

Also, while the parallel with Jesus is obvious, its significance was lost on me - as was the case with most of the symbolism. Either I just "don't get it" or - and this seems likely TBQH - Xenogears' approach to symbolism is just to throw in stuff that seems deep but doesn't carry much actual meaning. Ohh, this review is not going to be my kindest. Soon, now. Final dungeon is now available but I think I want to do a few more preparations, by which I mean, grind out money to upgrade my gears one last time.

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