Deserves more than it is given credit for.

User Rating: 8.3 | Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose PS2
Xenosaga is an RPG series split into episodes. Episode 2 starts where the first game left off, however if you do not know the story from the first game, you will be lost throughout most of this episode wondering what’s going on. Episode 1 did not see a European release. So when Episode 2 was released, they included a bonus disc covering the events of the previous game.

To those who played Episode 1, the first thing that you will most likely notice is the change in character designs. Gone are the manga style graphics, replaced by slightly more realistic looking characters. Some of the voice actors have changed too. Unfortunately that is as far as I can take the comparison between the two games as I have not yet been able to play Episode 1.

The first section is set up like a small tutorial, allowing you to sample most aspect of the battle system you will be using throughout the rest of the game. This section is set 14 years before the main game, on the original Miltia. Here you will get your first taste of the battle system.

Episode 2 has two different types of battle, both of which are turn based. You can start battles by running into enemies (no random battles here).
The battle party will comprise of a maximum of three characters. The rest of the characters are set on the reserves list from which you can swap characters at any time in the battle (provided the character hasn’t been affected by a status ailment which prevents them from having a turn).
The battle system may seem a little bit dull and complicated at first. However, the battles become increasingly fun and somewhat addictive once you get the hang of it. The first aspect of it is being able to stock attacks (up to three can be stocked) to use for future attack phases. On its own this is nothing special, but coupled with the Boost ability, you can build up very large combos which can deal a huge amount of damage. Boost enables you to use a character before his/her turn, meaning you can chain several characters attacks together.
My favourite part of the battle system is the air/ground combos. Each enemy has a break code. This means that if you do the right attacks in the right order it will break their stance/guard. When this happens you’ll be able to knock an enemy into the air or down to the ground depending on which character you use. In this state enemies will receive more damage per hit. This system coupled with the aspects stated earlier work very well together as you may well be able to imagine.
The last major part of the character battle system is the inclusion of Double Attacks. When unlocked, two characters can unleash a devastating joint attack on an enemy.

Another type of battle you will be faced with in the game is E.S. battles. In these battles you can have a maximum of two suits, with the other suit in reserve. Though not too dissimilar to the character battles, there are a few differences that set the two apart.
Like the character battles you are able to stock your attacks, but instead of being able to use multiple attacks during one combat round, Special Attacks become available. The attacks you can use depend on which character is your co-pilot. For example if you put Chaos in the E.S. Zebullin, the attack called Ice Rondo is available, whereas if you put Shion in the same suit, the attack will be Starlight Arrow.

After battles you gain experience and skill points. As usual, experience goes towards level ups for your characters and skill points towards learning skills and abilities. The skill system allows all of your characters to learn the same skills but in the order of your choice, so you can choose which character learn healing or attack based Ether first.

If there is one thing I can safely say about this game, it’s that there are a lot of side quests. You can choose to join the Global Samaritans early in the game, and it is well worth doing as the game itself is very short in comparison to most other RPG’s. Though some of these tasks are a bit dull, there is a lot of variation in the types of tasks you will be asked to do.

Upon completing the game you unlock some extra dungeons which will keep you occupied for quite a while, especially since you will most likely need to level up before attempting the final area.

Overall I found this game incredibly fun, once I had gotten used to the varying systems used throughout the game. Personally, I enjoyed using the combat system, as I believe it adds a tactical element to the game. However I only enjoyed it after I learned how to use it properly.
The graphics were solid, though not incredibly detailed. On the other hand, they suited the feel of the game and made the characters who they are.
The music didn’t make an impact in the game like so many other soundtracks have done in the past. However, if you don’t notice something, it just means it goes well with the game.