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GI Reviews

November 1998 Issue


On the 7th Day, They Created Square

  • Size: 2 CD-ROMs
  • Style: 1-Player Role-Playing Game
  • Special Features: Anime Cutscenes; Real-Time Cutscenes; Both Character & Mecha Combat; Unique Combo & AP Attack System; Spells; Upgrade & Tune Up Your Mechas
  • Replay Value: Moderately Low
  • Created by: Square Soft
  • Available: Now for PlayStation

    As you power up your PlayStation with Xenogears inside, as you witness the opening sequence and the battle actions that sweep the screen, as the action finally calms down and the hero Fei is seen painting a picture, Square fans instantly know they've been here before. A chill consumes the spine, a smile braces the lips, and a remix of the Chrono Trigger theme blares out of the speakers. Yes, yes, yes, Xenogears is everything you'd expect from Square, and is deeply rooted in the company's tradition of storytelling, cinema, and hardcore gameplay.

    The story in Xenogears will basically blow your mind. Sometimes you'll say, "Hey, that's straight out of Star Wars"; or "Wait a second, that's from Star Blazers"; or most often, "C'mon, that's a story from the Old Testament!" Xenogears draws from so many popular stories and religions, plus so many Square games (both past and present), that it's instantly a game every RPG fanatic must play. There is a Battle Arena (like that in FF VII), a carnival (like Leene Square), a tournament (like in Robin Hood or Ivanhoe), a desert city (just like Jerusalem), the list of recollections seems to go on forever. The story itself surrounds questions of religion, of theocracy, of evolution vs. creationism, and the return of an Antichrist. For some, the religious overtones in Xenogears will most likely strike the wrong chords and should be avoided (note: this stands as a warning).

    People who grew tired of the long story in FF VII may also want to avoid Xenogears. There is so much story, and the towns are so large, that some segments of talking and interaction last well over two hours. But the battle action is worth the wait, because Xenogears (like parts of FF III) lets players explore and fight in huge mecha outfits (called Gears). The Gears can be equipped and upgraded just like the characters themselves, and through the game Gears will learn more advanced techniques and spells. There is no "Materia-like" system. Like in most RPGs, attack combos and spells are gained solely through experience. The attack interface is extremely inventive, and for the sake of space, please refer to the Xenogears Play To Perfection (pg.88) for a complete breakdown.

    So how can we possibly explain a Square RPG in one page? It's impossible. If you love RPGs, or if you're just now trying to get into the RPG world of gaming, just make sure you place Xenogears near the top of your must-play list. It packs months of gameplay, an excellent battle interface, and a mind-blowing storyline.

    Andy, The Game Hombre

    Concept: 9
    Graphics: 9
    Sound: 9.25
    Playability: 9
    Entertainment: 9
    OVERALL: 9
    "Xenogears is the role-playing event of the year. While it isn't as good as Final Fantasy VII, it has just about everything you could want from an RPG. Then throw in the awesome hand-drawn animations to relay the story, plus the Gears, and this game really packs a wallop. The battle interface is also one of the most entertaining to come to RPGs in quite a while. Besides the standard attacks, the use of the combos adds an extra dimension to the gameplay. About the only complaints I have about Xenogears are its somewhat linear quest and slightly cheesy look when moving around on the maps. Otherwise, this game offers lots of quest and story to keep gamers playing for hours on end."

    Jon, The Greedy Gamer

    Concept: 9.25
    Graphics: 8.25
    Sound: 9
    Playability: 8.75
    Entertainment: 9.5
    OVERALL: 9
    "From the minute I heard the Chrono Trigger music, I knew this game was for me. Then, the story kicked in, with all its talk of God, the Antichrist, creationism, a race of "shepherds," the excavation of ancient mechas - I knew right away I'd be playing Xenogears through to the end. I mostly play RPGs on my spare time, and Xenogears is the must-play RPG this year. I hate the camera, because you're constantly fighting it to achieve a proper view, and the graphics overall can't touch FF VII (the polys are really muddy), but man, you get to cruise around in mechas! Now that's cool! Like the Lifestream segments in FF VII, sometimes the story segments in Xenogears can be very taxing, but you sit through them because the story's so amazing. If you love RPGs, you should be waiting at the store for this game to arrive."

    Reiner, The Raging Gamer

    Concept: 9
    Graphics: 9
    Sound: 8.75
    Playability: 9
    Entertainment: 9.25
    OVERALL: 9
    "Xenogears is a story-intensive RPG that presents stunning Square artwork and graphics, and a massive quest filled with combat innovations and fantastic scenarios and cutscenes. Xenogears also weaves a fascinating tale that takes you deep within the characters' personalities and even deeper into the conflict at hand. But will you approve of it? Xenogears relies heavily on controversial religious content. The question is, do you want your children running around the house calling themselves 'the slayer of god'? The rest of the game is as you'd expect - another brilliant work of art by the RPG masters. From general gameplay to combat, Xenogears is very user-friendly and nothing short of a great time. It gets my vote for RPG of the year."

    The Bottom Line: 9

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