9.6

Off to a great start!

Game Summary:
Xenosaga is the first game in a trilogy chronicling (sp) the adventures of a woman named Shion Uzuki and the android she created, KOS-MOS. Along the way, more people become involved and they all begin learning things about themselves and those around them, discovering a dark plot afoot. Being the first in the series, this game sets up the rest of the games by spending the entire game throwing out pieces of the puzzle. Questions abound eveywhere with no answers in sight, and any answers that you do receive only spawn more questions. It leaves you hungering to play Episode II as soon as you've finished Episode I.

Gameplay:
Great, great, great. If you're a fan of classic, turn-based RPGs, then you'll have no problems here. There are no random encounters in this game, but the respawning of enemies when you exit and reenter a room means that you'll never run out of fuel when you're trying to level up. A large part of the game is spent in cutscenes, so if you're not a fan of sitting through them, then maybe you should steer clear of this game. The cutscenes are skippable if necessary and are greatly done. Leveling up has many levels in this game. Not only do you need to level up your characters, but you need to level up their Tech Attacks, their Ethers (spells), and their Skills. That's the only hang-up in the gameplay that made me deduct a point. While it was interesting to be able to customize your characters to that degree, the distribution of the points needed to level everything was painful. For a large portion of the game, money was hard to come by, so it was hard to upgrade equipment (which you had to do) and Tech Attack upgrades were expensive point-wise, so it was hard to keep coming up with the points to level.

Graphics:
The graphics were just beautiful. The characters were modeled in an anime style, but everything was still 3D and gorgeous. The style fit the game and everything looked polished and natural. You don't even notice the lack of prerendered FMVS because the ingame graphics are so smooth and detailed.

Sound:
The voice acting was great. There didn't seem to be any out-of-place voices and melodrama was minimal. All the voices fit the characters. As for the soundtrack, it was simply phenomenal. I loved every track in this game. It fit very nicely with what was going on. Even the battle music never got repetitive and boring.

Value:
If you've played the game once through, there's not much to replay value to make you play again. If you missed any items in your first run-through, you can always revisit the areas you've been to retrieve them, and you can't really miss out on any sidequests. The only real reason to play the game again would be to experience the story again. Not that that's a bad thing, but I figured I should drop a point for the lack of real replay value.

Overall Impression:
I loved this game. The story drew me in and kept me constantly wondering what was going to happen next and how all the pieces come together. I don't know how I overlooked this game for so long. I highly recommend it!!

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