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Xenogears: Things I Don’t Like

July 20, 2011

Since I was, in my opinion, overly positive with the game on first impressions, 5-6 more hours have left me jaded and bitter. Kidding, of course, but the game has some definite flaws.

1. Amnesiac protagonists may not be in style, but if you’re going to do it, please do it right. Xenogears does not do it right. I’m tired of hearing about how he can’t remember anything, and how he doesn’t want to fight but then has to, etc. This is exacerbated by the game’s length and pacing: it is SLOW, with all caps. I am 7 and a half hours in, and I still have next to no idea, only vagues gestures towards lingering plot questions. I know it’s a long game, but it doesn’t have to feel long, if you get my meaning.

2. The battle system was cool for a bit, but if you read yesterday’s entry, complexity is key – so far, I haven’t had to employ much strategy in battle, with Gears or without. Basically use an attack, then use a combo attack, rinse and repeat – use Wild Smile to lower an enemy’s accuracy, begin the pummeling. Granted, it’s well animated, but I haven’t had a single problem with any fight. Enemies don’t deal enough damage, and the party dishes out way too much – dissapointing, to say the least. To add to this, the battle system doesn’t really integrate its concepts into the plot too much. Why can I do Chi magic? It’s explained in passing, but totally ignored otherwise. Why do Gears have combo attacks? Think of this relative to Materia, or any special ability in Final Fantasy Vi – there was a reason why those abilities were held by the characters in question. Maybe it’s just because things are still in the “murky and mysterious” phase of the story, but usually games either have this, or don’t. I hope I’m wrong.

3. Some rooms are too dark, and jumping is a pain. The former is a weird problem, but navigating dark rooms can be a pain – since the area is usually surrounded with black anyway, black on black means…it’s black, and you just stumble around. More realistic? Maybe. More fun? Not really. The latter becomes a problem because the camera isn’ analog control, but that’s a anachronism of this particular game, not a fault in itself (1998 was a great year, wasn’t it?).

4. I really like the dialogue in this game, I really do! It’s smart and effective, and I can tell how people speak just by reading the text – that is the work of a good localization, to say the least. Citan doesn’t use any contractions, for example, and I picked that up quickly in contrast to Fei. However, the cutscenes have English voicework which is jarring with these characterizations. Part of the reason is that textual interaction forces you to engage in the story, since you have to read what’s going on. As a result, you begin to develop your own personal voice to the characters when reading (even if I’m not actively attaching accents, there’s a particular attitude my mind lends to each character as he/she is written). Thus, the anime cutscenes, while nice to look at, really break the game flow and bring me out of the experience. First, the voices are B-movie grade at best, and two, they’re REALLY short, and they have to LOAD (the agony of load times!). It’s all a flow breaker, and it really bugs me.

Still, I am giving the game a chance. I think the whole idea of God being “weakened”, having a destined slayer, some mysterious Space Emperor, a friend who is not as he seems, and Grahf (awesome, awesome character) to be extremely intriguing; I just hope the game delivers on its promises.

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From → Video Games

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