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Xenogears was first released for the original Playstation system in 1998. Although not as popular as the Final Fantasy series, the RPG received critical acclaim and a large cult following. The only way to previously play Xenogears legally is to purchase the disc version at a ridiculously expensive price. Fortunately, it was recently re-released as a PSOne Classic on the Playstation Store at a much more affordable price of $9.99.
So how well does the 12-year old RPG hold up by today’s standards? Find out in this review of Xenogears (PSN) for the PSP and Playstation 3.
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The pixilated 3D polygons did not age gracefully throughout the years. Fortunately, the game did feature a unique art direction with 2D character sprites that gives it plenty of charm. Although it was never a looker, the game’s visual gives it plenty of personality in the past and present.
The shine may have worn off long ago but the visuals can be tolerated as long as you keep your expectations in check.
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Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the music contains soothing yet memorable tracks. Many of the tunes will be stuck in your mind for years to come. It easily stands the test of time. In fact, Square Enix recently released a new orchestrated album for the game titled “Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album." The music is timeless in every sense of the word. On the other hand, the English voice-acting is below standard. Fortunately, they are limited to brief anime cut scenes that are few and far between.
Xenogears (PSN) may have lost some luster visually, but the game is still an absolute pleasure to listen to.
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In the story of Xenogears, you play as Fei Fong Wong, whose village was destroyed during a conflict between two warring nations at the beginning. As you progress through the game, you will experience many unforgettable twists and turns as the plot begins to unravel. The story is told almost completely through the use of text, however, which will test your attention span in some of the longer exposition scenes.
Even with the somewhat shoddy translation by today’s standards, the ambitious sci-fi story of Xenogears is still its biggest asset.
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Gameplay - Combat
Xenogears (PSN) has two types of combat systems: on-foot and with giant mechs called Gears. Both have active time bars (similar to the Final Fantasy titles) and Attack Points for you to perform combination “Deathblow" attacks on your enemies (you can also conserve these points for the next turn). The biggest difference between the two is that you also have to manage the fuel consumption in Gears battle.
Since you need to utilize attack combinations to be effective, you must constantly strategize your moves and plan accordingly, especially when it comes to boss fights. Ultimately, the combat proves entertaining aside from a few seemingly impossible fights that may have you looking for a guide for help.
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Gameplay - Exploration
You also have a massive world to explore outside of battle. The towns in the game are intricately detailed with many inhabitants and structures. You can literally take up to an hour fully exploring some of the bigger cities in the game. The dungeons are also quite massive compared to other games from the same genre.
Unfortunately, Xenogears (PSN) does not support the analog stick. As a result, moving around in the 3D world can feel clumsy and archaic with the directional pad, especially in instances where you have to jump from one platform to another. With a high encounter rate to boot, some of the dungeons can really become a nuisance to explore.
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Xenogears is one of the biggest role-playing games on the Playstation. In fact, the developer ran out of money due to the game’s ambitiousness. Because of this, much of the story on the second disc is told via text. With that said, you will still get more than your money’s worth with at least forty hours of gameplay from the epic adventure.
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Aside from a few outdated elements, Xenogears is still an excellent game by today’s higher standards. The $9.99 price tag to download it for the PSP and Playstation 3 is an absolute bargain especially considering how rare and expensive the disc version is compared to the digital release. Whether if you are a RPG fan or not, you should give Xenogears (PSN) a try.