A Thread for Xenosaga

I thought since Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter and Dark Cloud 2 both got their own threads I’d go ahead and start up one for Xenosaga. OK, mostly I’m just too lazy to go back and find the other threads where we talked about the game before. I also figure more people will have had a chance to play it now that it’s actually available in stores. I checked for Xenosaga at Best Buy Tuesday when I picked up my copy of Dragon Quarter, but it hadn’t come in yet. I went back after work tuesday and bought myself a copy and started playing last night.

At the moment I’ve only put in about 4 or so hours into Xenosaga. That’s a little less then I’ve played BoF:DQ, so I don’t think I yet have a basis to fairly compare the two. Both games have really nice art direction and look good, but I think Xenogear’s style playes to the PS2’s strengths better giving it a considerable edge. Xenosaga’s presentation is very clean and smooth. One thing that has struck me is how brilliant the effects can be in Xenosaga. Great use of things like motion blur and what I assume must be FMV explosions overlayed on realtime 3D in some shots.

Another advantage Xenosaga has is how much easier the game makes it for the player to learn the various systems. BoF:DQ just kind of throws you into the fire. I killed about 3 hours just to figure out what the hell I was doing in Dragon Quater. I ended up killing that save and starting fresh once I sort of knew what I was doing. I still haven’t figured out how bombs work. I can throw them or set them on the ground, but I don’t know how to make them blow up and hurt things. Dynamite works all right, proximity bombs, fresh meat, just not the bombs (incidently, it took me a while to figure out how to throw stuff vs setting stuff on the ground. The manual is no help with the traps, nor is their an in game tutorial, nor do anyone’s tips shed light on these subjects. Xenosaga starts the game off with a tutorial in the form of a kind of Virtual Reality diagnostic. Effective as a plot device while simulatneously letting you come to grips with combat before it counts. Another cool thing is the way simply exploring the ship you start out on (it’s big, and easy to get lost in) trains you for what to do when the shit hits the fan. For example a couple guys will ask you to play tag which helps you know what to do to evade unkillable mosters later on.

The combat system is pretty cool. A lot deeper than your basic Final Fantasy stuff. Actually, the combos work in a similar fashion to those in Dragon Quarter. You just can’t move around like you can in Dragon Quarter, though it isn’t as much of an advantage in BoF as it should have been. It would have been nice if outflanking monsters meant something, but the direction you attack them from never makes a difference. But it can make a difference in using the envoronment to you advantage. I was able to get big monsters stuck so I could run up, hit them and then retreat far enough away that they couldn’t hit me during their turns. I haven’t been playing long enough to form a form an opinion of the Mechs in Xenosaga. In fact I even forget to use them. I realised right at the end of a boss battle, oh yeah, I could have just called up the mech for my weakest character making her less vulnerable and actually useful for dealing damage. The boss died before I even got a chance to attack once I had the mech called up. But that’s my fault, not the game’s.

Another interesting aspect is the kind of Internet interface you can use in game. You get emails from other characters, or the companies who make the equipment you use. You also have an agent thing that you talk to who gathers info for your database. That’s handy for figuring out what all the stuff everyone is talking about is. Lots of it may not be that important to know, but if you care they’ve fleshed everything out for you. Some crew member on the ship even told me he had secret info for me so I gave him my email address. And he sent me an ad for a Namco game! (Ninja Assault)

I’m enjoying the story so far as well. Although I should mention I loved Xenogears, and I’m not bothered by cutscenes. But make no mistake, there are lots of cutscenes. Some are pretty long, but you can pause them and skip them if you want, though you might not know what you’re supposed to be doing then. I don’t know how Dragon Quarter’s story compares, but that’s mostly because I’ve put 6 or 7 hours into it and have yet to even get to where my first mission is supposed to be. In a lot of ways Xenosaga just engages you more readily, you can get into it a lot easier. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quater is a bit more standoff-ish, but it appears to reward tenacity and persistance.

Well, those are my first impressions of Xenosaga and, coincidentally, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. I swear, I didn’t mean for this to become a Xenosaga v Dragon Quarter thread, but it proved to be a handy measuring stick. They’re really different kinds of games. BoF emphasises combat and exploration while Xenosaga focuses on story and characters. I’m still aways off from feeling qualified to compare the reletive merits of things like equipment management and character development.

So far I’m enjoying both games, perhaps Xenosaga more at this point. That’s all for now.

But make no mistake, there are lots of cutscenes. Some are pretty long, but you can pause them and skip them if you want, though you might not know what you’re supposed to be doing then

Terrific! This information is what has sold me on the game. It’s not the prospect of watching a long cinema that bothers me; it’s having to re-watch it after the post-cinema boss kills me.

Have you played the card minigame? Some screenshots from way back made it look pretty cool. The little details like opening virtual foil packs really caught my eye.

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Xenosaga one of those typical Japanese RPGs where random encounters jump at you out of nowhere every two steps?

No, in this one it’s every 1.5 steps.

I hope I’m not hijacking your thread, Brad, but RE: Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter…

I still haven't figured out how bombs work. I can throw them or set them on the ground, but I don't know how to make them blow up and hurt things. Dynamite works all right, proximity bombs, fresh meat, just not the bombs 

Has anyone figured this out? It’s a bomb, for crissake. Why can’t I make it explode? Is it just supposed to scare the monsters?

(incidently, it took me a while to figure out how to throw stuff vs setting stuff on the ground.

Do tell. I could have sworn I was throwing things, but now I can’t figure out how I was doing it.

 -Tom

I’ve beaten Dragon Quarter already and it was phenomenal. It became a bit too devious late in the game when most fights devolved into an AP rush/heal affair, and bosses just stack on ultra cheap defenses that are kind of annoying to work through over and again. But building up an arsenal of mixed weaponry with unique skill sets was wonderfully paced and engaging especially the farther you play.

Anyway, bombs are one of the most useful traps in your entire repretoire in those early hours. They can only be destroyed in battle through the use of the L2 menu when standing nearby the thing laying on the ground. (Push L2 and USE when standing over it and anything within the radius of it’s blast feels intense pain. Try and do it on the Extra turn to get some crazy kill bonuses on lots of grunt enemies near the beginning such as a group of bats) You can throw up to three different traps at enemies to use during combat. It’s kind of fun to experiment with it early in, as it becomes largely unnecessary the farther in you play and the more powerful you become which is unfortunate.

Basically you have to press the button and be working the left analog stick in the direction you want to throw. For a little bit I thought maybe it was an analog button thing, but those experiments proved fruitless. But throwing is still touchy and hard for me. Mostly cause lots of times I don’t want to be moving in the direction I’m throwing junk, but that ends up being the case cause I can’t do it well yet.

Nope, the enemies are visible in the environment and you can avoid most of them if you want, and are good at it. It actually can be almost a stealth game at times, early on anyway. You have a radar and can see which way they’re facing so you can figure out their patterns and try to sneak by. They can hear too, so if you run on certain surfaces the noice will call in the baddies. You can also manipulate the environment to you advantage. You have this vaporizer thing for blowing shit that’s in your way up. You can also blow up objects and get treasure. And there are certain things that when blown will damage, debilitate enemies near by. You can lure enemies into traps that way. And at other times you’ll be able to open airlocks and suck monsters into the vacuum of space, lots of cool stuff like that. No invisible, random encounters.

I haven’t. Just got to the first store that sells them. You can get a starter deck and then buy booster packs.

Xenosaga is pretty fun so far.

The story is exactly what you would expect out of a Japanese manga comic series. It’s pretty silly really, and built more to shock, thrill, and generally try to look really cool moreso than anything else. The saga isn’t a very complex one and it tends to generate false depth by limiting your knowledge with an overbundance of teaser sequences that serve no bearing on anything other than to confuse and raise more questions than are ever needed at one specific time. But it’s a soap opera, a sci-fi epic that you are meant to lose yourself in despite all plausability, and just enjoy the craziness. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself…

The presentation is top notch, so much so that it really is hard not to simply let your brain shut off and watch the flashy lights on screen. The cinemas are cut with extreme fluidity, and the camera has a very rough time ever staying focused in one position. These clips move and they move around fast. Very easy to watch and almost a pleasure to endure when the action really heats up for the heroes. Some of the sequences are quite mesmerizing. The audio really deserves quite a bit of credit, the mixing is phenomenal as the sound really pumps out at loud direct levels that gives life to the on screen action. Some spiffy separation effects for a Stereo Logic production. It’s very tight stuff.

During downtime though, in those several sketches that solely develop the interactions of your crew, those banal pieces of relationship fluff just don’t really add moreso than they take away your time watching them. A blemish on the flow.

Combat is yet another gimick laden turn based affair, rebuilt and reorganized with a new set of rules and series of ‘systems’ to learn and exploit. The boost feature and the relative harsh attack power of your foes give good enough reason to actually stay focused on the on screen action, (the game can kill you) but the tactics remain unchanghing really. It’s a very flashy combat system, fun to tinker with, but ultimately not really that exciting in the long run.

Xenocard however helps prove that card battlers very well may be superior to the combat systems that continually reinvents itself each and every RPG cycle. There is quite a lot of depth and fun to this optional mini-game. I never much played any Magic: The Gathering, and certainly have no clue how Yugioh works, but if the young’ins are hooked on card games with as much strategy and flow to these matches in Xenocard, I’d say they are definately getting a largely more fulfilling product than these new age RPG adventures offer. Spending some time with this minigame has made me a believer that this could have been a viable replacement and improvement for the current combat system.

It’s been a blast so far though really. I dig the semi-interactive environs, lack of invisible random encounters, and the pure cheese of the plotline and setting. It really is easy to lose yourself in it, not to the point of falling in love, but it succeeds in keeping my curiosity picqued at each turn. Taken for what it is, it’s pretty nifty.

Except for that Chaos character. Do they expect me to take that hideous thing seriously? Short shorts and orange pumps? :?

Thanks, sounds great! Unfortunately it’s no use to me… just checked Amazon and other pages, and sure enough it’s another great game without a European release date. :roll:

The battle system is indeed engaging, although fairly dull when you’re in the AGWS. I’m also surprised that, after all the complaints I’ve heard about the voice acting, the voice acting is actually top notch. Lots of Robotech voices in this one, and generally just a stellar cast. The problem is that the writing somewhat sucks.

The story, while not as bloated and ridiculously pretentious as the (awful, IMO) Xenogears, still plays a bit like a greatest hits reel of the creators’ favorite sci-fi stories. And it’s not like these scene elements are just “inspired by” movies and other games, they’re simply lifted and transposed.

SPOILERS
**********

When KOS-MOS shoots through the Marine asshole to kill the Gnosis on the other side, the ensuing scene with Shion had me expecting Shion to make KOS-MOS say “I SWEAH I WILL NOT KEEL ANYONE” in her best Arnold voice. Really, Shion’s a freaking weapons R&D specialist, she’s been all over this ship that has had something like 70% casualties from the Gnosis attack, and now suddenly death makes her nauseous? Why the hell would she even entertain the delusion that a combat cyborg (that SHE BUILT) would have a conscience?

Could the opening scenes have been more of a Stargate ripoff? I’m surprised the archeologist didn’t look like James Spader.

The Realian/android rights subplot is right out of AI, along with some scenes lifted from Ghost in the Shell. (The fact that Batou’s English voice actor plays Ziggy doesn’t help with that, I suppose…is that a Ziggy Stardust reference, BTW?)

I’m about 7 hours in, and while it’s more or less above average so far, I am kind of waiting to see if they manage to slip anything original in here at any point. Be interesting to see where this story goes if they make it through all six proposed episodes. I’d be particularly interested to see how Episode 5 (Xenogears) turns out, as several connections to Xenogears have been established but Monolith has said that the storyline would be somehow different since this Xenosaga reboot is a bit of a change from the original plotline.

At any rate, at least I can now say I have sat through an hour-long cutscene. Next time, just make an anime, guys.

~MJK

No, in this one it’s every 1.5 steps.[/quote]

You can see enemies skulking about, so if you want to dodge unnecessary battles, you can. But don’t let the facts stand in the way of baseless, smart ass remarks.

http://www.somethingawful.com/games/finalfantasy9/index.htm

Square Producer: “Sir, we’re past the deadline and the Ice Cavern is only 4 screens long! All the graphic artists are passed out from jacking off to scat porn all day. What can we do to make the dungeon longer?”

Hironobu Sakaguchi: (suddenly looking up and intense) “INCREASE AMOUNT OF RANDOM ENCOUNTERS!!!”

Square Producer: “Ok, we can’t figure out where to put the chest with the ether in it, can you help us out?”

Hironobu Sakaguchi: (turning around fiercely) “INCREASE AMOUNT OF RANDOM ENCOUNTERS!!!”