Sunday, September 17, 2000

Xenosaga Episode III | 9.0

Having played through the trilogy I feel that somewhere along the way the direction was lost. Xenosaga episode I introduced a vast and promising universe full of interesting concepts and characters and the promise of an in depth and interesting story. The first installment introduced everything from Realian rights, to discrimination; you even knew that the Seraphim Sisters were a popular girl group, giving you a feel of the setting that the game was to take place in. Sadly the universe that was introduced in the first installment has been methodically chipped away so that by episode III it has become the size of a person and that person is Shion Uzuki. A fair ninety percent of the game is focused on her and her far reaching effects on the world. The atmosphere of Xenosaga episode III was, I believe, supposed to have an apocalyptic feel, however, the impact of that was lost on me from seeing something that allegedly involves the fate of the entire universe from one person's point of view. There is too much going on in XSE III to be focused on one person for so long. Not only that it seems like an incredible waste to introduce so many interesting characters in episodes I and II only to shove them aside to focus on one and then to not only neglect characters that could have added an extra layer to the story but to introduce new characters who contribute nothing to the plot. I spent a majority of the game waiting for something plot wise to suck me in before finally admitting to myself that it wasn't going to happen. "Plot twists", revelations, and explanations are given in such a rapid succession that instead of being amazed at what I had found out I usually ended up rolling my eyes and muttering so what or asking do you really expect me to believe that?

It's a solid game even though the direction and execution of the story makes it fall short of what I expected it to be. My disappointment with it however still doesn't allow me to label it a bad game because it isn't which is why I have given it four stars. The battle system was fun and engaging to the point where I actually looked forward to getting into battles and the graphics were gorgeous. I have to admit that this is one of the most visually pleasing games that I've played all year. The dialogue however, is a mixed bag between thought provoking and unintentionally hilarious. While I was underwhelmed with the story it's still interesting enough so that if you're a fan of story driven rpgs that this is definitely something that you would want to look into, if you aren't already an initiate into the series.

Xenosaga does have a rather engaging storyline, but it didn't live up to the expectations that I formed upon playing episode I and even II. Perhaps my expectations were too high or perhaps I was led to expect something that never developed. Personally I felt as if it wasn't worth playing three games to get such an ambiguous and unsatisfying ending. I've played three games and not once have I ever gotten anything that even remotely felt like completion at the end of any of them. This doesn't however mean that I hate the game, but I wasn't impressed with it either. The writing, pacing, and direction felt too uneven, as if it was the result of a round robin with multiple people changing and adding to what had already been stated than as if it was a consistent campaign. Before any die hard fans get up in arms and decide that I didn't understand the story, let me assure them that I did. I just didn't care for the direction that was taken when there were so many other directions that the game could have gone in and left a more fitting conclusion than what was presented.

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