Xenogears is the epic RPG from Squaresoft, makers of the incorrectly named Final Fantasy. Squaresoft published the game at the end of 1998.
While this game is perhaps a favorite for many hardcore RPG fans, it is a different game. This is not the same game as Final Fantasy 7. They are like the sun and moon for RPGs.
Xenogears was a sprite based game. With out three-dimensional models the sprites do tend to look outdated. The amount of characters and sprites do make up for it. The game also has the ability to rotate around the main characters and the environment is created in full 3d models. The camera can look behind objects and discover hidden rooms, doors, chests and many items.
The major draw of Xenogears is the storyline. Without finishing the game, the true story of Xenogears can't be told, discussed, or mention as any mention of the elements will tend to be a spoiler. It can just be said that the storyline of Xenogears has more twists, turns, and bumps then any game out there. It is far better then any RPG that comes to mind in that the story could have been written out and made into a best-selling book.
The first draw back of the story is that there are large scenes that can take huge amounts of time, some as long as 30 minutes the first time through the game. The sheer number of scenes is amazing and annoying at the same time. The story will take you a large chunk of the game.
When the second problem with the story is that when the game reaches the second disk after 40 or so hours, the game basically stops. The whole second disk is to finish the game. It discusses the major secrets that remain but most of the beginning of the disk is a discussion to explain how the game progresses and then the game open up again into a world map with a few sites. The only problem is the game becomes a searching game where you can go for the final boss or find new areas and equipment. The story tends to lag a little bit after the large story section of the second disk. This can be offset also if one was told that the second disk is less then a third of the told game.
The game play of the game is quite unique. To start with the normal combat is similar to Final Fantasy. Your fighters square off against the enemy fighters. You can choose your attacks from 3 levels. Each level takes a little more stamina. The character gains a higher max stamina every few levels. There are many special attacks that do more damage using skills. Each character first special attacks are done in the same way but most of the final special attacks are done by only one character. An example of a special attack is a Triangle and Cross combo, also known as a light and heavy attack. Any character can do this attack and for almost all of them they will learn it after repeated a couple times. Each characters attack is different though.
Soon after the beginning of the game the character gain gears or mechs. The character can call the gear, but can't disembark during battle. With the power of a gear one would not need to normally. With the gears the characters gain large amounts of power. The abilities learnt as a character enables the gear to do more powerful attacks. The gears also have three attacks, light, medium, and heavy. The gears can only do one attack normally. Instead of the stamina the gears have fuel lines. Each gear can get more fuel and armor at shops. The stamina and fuel are different as are HPs and armor. The gear can power up and gain power to use techniques to damage enemies more severely then regular attacks. These techniques appear as the regular characters gain special attacks.
The real world also has ways to damage your gears or characters depending on screen or where you are. The damage comes in the form of various dangers, from rolling rocks, to sludge.
In addition to regular gear fights and regular human fights there is "battling" a small side event. The battling side event is similar to a fighting game. It only requires a small amount of time but can be played over and over. The battling involves shooting bullets and hand to hand fighting with the other gears.
Other then the fighting and the battling system, the game has a large amount of social interaction that is vastly superior to many other games. There are normally at least a couple of side quests with NPCs that can be accomplished in the game. There is a large amount of major characters. The characters tend to appear many times and each character is quite unique.
The music to Xenogears is quite well written. It complements the game and isn't always able to be distinguished but the final product shines because of it.
For an RPG Xenogears is quite well made. The story is beyond belief and the game play is extremely well made. If the player can get over the slightly lacking graphics, the game is truly great. After about six hours of game play the game takes control and makes the player want to see the ending. This point is approximately after the large fight in Aveh.
This game will take a large amount of time. It takes about 60 hours to play through once and the amount of story and writing included with it does make one want to replay it.