I currently am on my ~10th play-through and I've come to appreciate many things that I didn't notice 15 years ago. I even found some short scenes that I had never seen before (talk about replay value!!) Here are the few aspects that make Xenogears a time-less masterpiece for me: - Visual Style, Graphics & Cinematic Effects So many vibrant colors and memorable locations! The fully-rotatable camera helps deliver the feeling of being in the game. The cinematography is fantastic. It feels like a very visual story on the PlayStation and always feels fluid and animé-like with a dark and menacing vibe with so many camera angles, zooming in/out, fading, panning, rotating and tracking. The low quality graphics make everything look like Impressionism art which adds to the innovative visual potential of the gamer's experience. - Sounds & Music This time around is my first play-through with the Wide Stereo option turned on with a proper 5.1 setup around my living room. If you haven't played Xenogears with this kind of setup, you are missing out BIG TIME!! Sounds such as waterfalls and the humming of computer hardware follow your movements around the room; it sounds very detailed and alive. Deathblow and gear sounds that we always loved sound so much fuller and richer, and the music is just enhanced that much more.
I'm taking a few months off work to recover from a recent surgery. With an excess of time on my hands, I just played through Xenogears for the 2nd time, and for the first time in 12 years. I have found myself fully immersed in the game and have found it to be extremely enjoyable. The most obvious reason I like this game is the story. Some have complained about its complexities, calling it "confusing, convoluted," etc. I disagree. The story is more complex than most but this game was made for a more mature player to be able to understand it. While the dialogue might not convey it perfectly this game delves into some of the deepest themes ever covered, even in classical literature. The balance of politics and religion is reminiscent of Dune by Frank Herbert. There was as much depth in the field of psychology as my college Psychology-101 class, if not maybe a little more. You often find themes of loss of loved ones, betrayal, forgiveness, and of course, love. These might all be covered in the plots of many other RPGs, but none to the extent of Xenogears and none were done half as masterfully. Parts of the story will have you furious and half will have you holding back tears. The sheer length of the game lets you immerse yourself in a game twice as long as Final Fantasy VII with twice the depth, character development, and substance. I found myself completely immersed in the game and its story. It also had a very good and fitting ending. Another great thing about this game is the character ensemble. I found most to be very genuine and not too much of an RPG cliche. Again, depth and character development is a huge factor here. You will find many Freudian and Jungian theories and principles worked out in the lives of Xenogears' characters. I also liked that there was no whiny, emo-esque, grumpy hero (ie Cloud, Squall, Lightning, etc). Some events in their lives you will be able to foresee, but for the most part, they will surprise you time and time again. Gameplay was revolutionary. There are two different types of battles: fighting hand-to-hand and fighting in your giant, Mech-like "Gear." It offered plenty of variety and challenge. There are dozens of different attacks, combos, and "deathblows" your character can perform. Bosses are challenging and fun to fight. The menus were easy to navigate and FAR less complicated than Final Fantasy VII or VIII. The game's music was outstanding. The individual songs/tracks were always appropriate for the situation at hand. I believe they did a better job with the soundtrack than most any other game. I would rank the composition right up there with Final Fantasy VI, VII, and Chrono Trigger. A couple of the tunes fit so well with the game's melancholy overtures that you may find yourself getting a little too emotionally involved in the game. This is intended. Replay value is another factor in my praise of this game. The average RPG takes 30-50 hours to beat without cheating. Xenogears takes much longer. I believe I read the average time to complete this game is 80 hours. For $10 on the PSN store, that is getting the most for your money. Did I mention the depth of the game blows any RPG I've ever played out of the water? Let me emphasize that again to make sure.