At a recent pre-E3 event held by Namco, we got to see a new cinematic trailer for Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose, the sequel to Monolith Soft's ambitious 2003 role-playing game, Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht. Though we were able to glean few hard details on the game's storyline from the sweeping shots we saw in the trailer, we can definitely say that this second game looks to provide more of the epic space drama that fans loved in the original.
This new trailer began with shots of several familiar characters from Episode I, including Shion (who apparently got lasik eye surgery after Episode I), KOS-MOS, Ziggy, and Jr., and then went on to present several action sequences cut together in a pretty rousing manner. In one thread we saw a group of star fighters swooping and firing amid a great space battle--no doubt a portent of the lengthy and involved cutscenes the game will use to tell its story. In another scene, giant robots (or AGWS, as they're referred to in the game) soared through a planetary sky, locked in battle. These piloted robots were a hallmark of Xenosaga Episode I (and its forebear, Xenogears) and will obviously figure into the new game's story and gameplay as well. Finally, a third and rather striking sequence depicted two characters--one of them, Episode I's villainous Margulis, and the other, a new character with long, black hair--engaged in an epic swordfight.
As you've no doubt noticed in screenshots and previous footage, the visual aesthetic of Xenosaga Episode II has evolved noticeably from that of its predecessor. Though it retains the same anime influence and sci-fi stylings used by Episode I, the proportions and facial features of its characters have become much more refined and realistic, giving the game a less cartoonlike, more dramatic feel that should lend greater dramatic impact to the storyline.
Though the Xenosaga Episode II trailer didn't reveal many specifics about the game's storyline (or indeed, its gameplay), we were pleased to see both a matured art style and the return of several familiar faces. A Namco representative on hand at the event confirmed that the first Xenosaga game exceeded expectations in terms of its financial success and that fans could expect more of what they loved about the first game in the sequel but that Episode II would be more streamlined in terms of both gameplay and presentation. Stay tuned for more coverage of this anticipated RPG sequel, hopefully including a downloadable video of the same trailer we saw, when GameSpot covers the Electronic Entertainment Expo.