[ return : true > paper ]

Episode I is done, now for 1.5.

After finally dragging himself out from behind his trusty Playstation 2, our local master of gaming writes about his experience with part one of the Xenosaga series, "Der Wille zur Macht".

After playing through for 40 hours, I can say that Xenosaga Episode I: "Der Wille zur Macht" ("The Will to Power") was a great game in nearly every way I can think of. Sure, the game had a large number of cut scenes that seemed to take large amounts of time to watch, but they were great looking cut scenes. The story and the game play of the game were excellent. The music was also spectacular. It was a shame that the only time there was any real music was during those cut scenes. I spent most of the time in captivation of the game. However, now that I've beaten the first episode, all I seem to be able to do now is to wait for Episode 1.5.

Now, one might be thinking that I might have miswritten the above. After all, the next part in Xenosaga is not an Episode 1.5, but an Episode II. The reason is that I felt that "Der Wille zur Macht" left not at a convenient break, but more like in the middle of a story. I was still trying to make out all of the details of what exactly was happening in the game, then boom, the story just stops. At the end of the game, players are also asked to save a file that they cannot open, so this adds more to the feeling that the story is stuck in the middle, and that the company has something like an Episode 1.5 planned. Of course, I can see why Monolith Software (the Developer of Xenosaga) would do something like this. Monolith is not a very large company, and has very limited resources. A lot of those resources were spent to make Xenosaga. I can say, however, that I'll be perfectly happy to wait for Monolith to make money off of this game so that they can finish up Xenosaga and really finish up this episode.

(Ed. Note: If some out there who haven't played Xenosaga still think this sounds eerily familiar, it's probably because the same strategy is being used with another popular game. Bandai is using this strategy with another highly anticipated RPG: .hack. Bandai has split .hack up into 4 volumes, each leading to the next, with saves carrying from one game to the next. If Xenosaga is in any way similar, Jeff will be stuck with this feeling of an incomplete story for about 5 more volumes, since Xenosaga has been promised to be 6 parts. Maybe Jeff should call the next part Episode 1.1667 instead ~nishi-kun).

Now that I'm done talking about the few bad points I found with the game, I can just talk about how I felt about the first part of the story I've seen so far. The story has held to the level of the original Xenogears game very well so far. There are a large number of simultaneous plots going on through the game. As the story unfolds, the player learns about the world of Xenosaga, and how everything is not as it looks: some of it good, and some of it not so good. I will avoid going too far into depth about the details of the game, since I obviously don't want to spoil anything for those out there who haven't played through the game yet (although I'll just say one thing: KOS-MOS [the main female character that's used in all the advertising for the game] kicks ass all over the place ^_^).

All of the characters in Xenosaga stand out. Sure, some of the characters spend much more time in the spotlight than others (namely, Shion and KOS-MOS). However, all of the characters will have some time to shine. The player gets to learn a lot about Shion in this episode, and the other characters will probably have their details revealed over the course of the next few games. The crew of the Elsa also shares a great deal of screen time in this Episode and proves that not all NPCs are useless. The guy that's madly in love with Shion, Allen, is also good for a few laughs in this epic story.

Up to this point, I have to say that my favorite characters are KOS-MOS and the robot Sakura, err, I mean, M.O.M.O. The reason why I love KOS-MOS is because she's just about the coolest killer android in any game that has been released up to now. She has a wicked set of weapons that she can call on at any time to destroy anything that stands in her way. As for the reason I like M.O.M.O... Well, she's like Sakura from Card Captor Sakura in nearly every way I can think of. From her appearance in her school uniform, to her wand, has powers with outfits like Sakura's outfit, and acts like Sakura if she were stuck in the same situation. All she would need is Kero-chan and no one would be able to tell who is who anymore. (Ed Note: as an add-on kicker to the joke, apparently M.O.M.O., which stands for Multiple Observative Mimetic Organicus, was designed by Joachim Mizrahi and his wife Yuri after the physical appearance of their late daughter named... Sakura. Let the in-jokes run free, free! ~nishi-kun).

The game play for "Der Wille zur Macht" was good. There was nothing groundbreaking in the game play. However, it is a solid game with a good combat system that forces the player to think and figure out how to handle a particular fight. The game system is based on four stats that the player needs to accumulate: tech points, skill points, ether points, and normal experience points. Experience points for Xenosaga work the same as one would expect for a standard RPG. The remaining points are not hard to understand either. Tech points are used to upgrade tech attacks and ability stats, like dexterity, strength, health points, and similar. Skill points are used to allow a character to take power from another and use it. Ether points are used to grow ether skills and transfer the skills to other. These points allow for some cool custom characters in the game. The mech (A.G.W.S.) is cool to look at in the game, but is rarely used (at least, in this episode). The enemies are visible on the screen, and there are things the player can shoot at to give the characters a boost. The game also has a number of mini-games to keep the player interested.

I could continue ranting on and on about Xenosaga, but I'll leave it at that since I've expended all my energy just playing the game. All I have to say is that Xenosaga was definitely the best $60 I've spent this year thus far. I had a lot of fun with this game, and am hopeful that the rest of the Xenosaga episodes will be as excellent as this one was. All I have to do now is to avoid killing myself by avoiding any more games that could be too hard and drive me mad like Xenosaga did (of course, I already know that I can't wait for the next episode, and so .hack will have to hold me off until then).

Until the next time I pick up a great game and am not too lazy to write something about it, I'll see you all later. Have a good time, and get some rest every one.