8 September 2003 | jaywolfenstien
Typical RPG in non-typical shell
I could go on about how this game's desire to be a movie bugged me, how the polygonal acting and animation bugged me since animators have yet to nail human expressive gestures and lip syncing. And I could criticize the voice acting, the unrealistic and poorly flowing dialogue, poorly paced cutscenes bugged me . . . but I won't. I will say that while this game wants to be a movie and though game cutscenes have come a long ways over the years it still is light years away from its cinematic parents.
Supposedly XenoSaga was this deep intricate RPG with a mature plot and scope, but I didn't see any of that when I played. It came across as an ensemble of goofy or cliché characters backdropped by a collection of typical plot gimmicks getting stuck in `clever' dungeon sequences.
I stopped playing because I found myself waiting for the damn cutscenes to end, and if not that I was playing just to get through the dungeon/towns as quickly as I could to advance the plot since nothing was grabbing my interesting and making me want to play. I wanted to get to the `deep wonderful RPG' I'd heard about. After getting a good 75% into the game, I flat out gave up wishing I had stopped much earlier but everyone kept telling me it gets better.
I didn't like nor could I buy into hardly any of the characters (supporting or playable). Everyone came across as childish avatars of what's supposed to be individual traits, like Namco's team talking down to its audience, `Allen is the nervous geek you're supposed to pity and sympathize with,' `Virgil is the pointless guy you're supposed to hate who rambles for 15 minutes in the middle of life-or-death situation,' `chaos is the character you're supposed to like because he's quirky and powerful.'
Namco, I can make decisions for myself. Give me non-hideous character designs, please. MOMO, Ziggy, 'Little Master' (aka Jr), the Elsa & Durandal's crew. No thanks.
I didn't mind KOS-MOS so much despite her being equally as cliché as the rest of the cast. She actually came across as believable with her mechanical, webster's dictionary-defining all key terms in her speech, actually fit (every character talked like that, but only KOS-MOS had reason to). And I don't now why, I just found her straight forward programming and resulting naivety providing desperately needed comic relief, and fortunately, Namco opted not to explore KOS-MOS too deeply. I have a feeling that would've ruined that character for me as well.
The plot was explicitly explained, leaving no room for individual exploration and interpretation; thus, no real room for intellectual stimulation. Nothing important implied for the gamer to figure out for themselves; if anything, they leave irrelevant details to the gamers. And not only do we get a giant glossary of used terms but in mid-conversation characters will stop and define things for us. People don't talk this way. If you're going to have a glossary let the gamer view it, and most terms the gamer already knows or can figure out what it is by the context of the conversation. Wake up, Namco. You have intelligent people playing your games.
Maybe it would've helped if XenoSaga I didn't come across as a children's book that looked at a Stephen King novel for a few buzzwords and a plot point or two to create the illusion of sophistication.
In the end, I didn't find the characters likeable, the plot did not intrigue me, and the gameplay bored me. And it just goes to further discourage me from playing RPGs anymore and wasting 20+ hours on an unimaginative plot with boring game play. And once the Suikoden series loses its shine, I have a feeling this RPGer will hang up his Role Playing controller for good.