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By: Mugsy Max

Xenogears is a game by Squaresoft/E.A. that was released as an independent title from their mainstay series. It features an incredibly thick plot, and a very different battle system than any other that Squaresoft has presented to their gamers.

The graphics in Xenogears are very good for the world map, towns, and dungeons. The characters in the game, however, lacked this quality. The sprite-based characters lack the appeal that the 3D-rendered characters from Final Fantasy VII had. They look pixelated, and they don't look as smooth as the 3D graphics do when they move. To compensate for this, the FMV's are fantastic, hand-drawn Anime-style graphics. They convey the story quite well, and the addition of voice actors to them add in a new level of depth to the game.

The sound in Xenogears was quite an upgrade from the sound in Final Fantasy VII. The sounds actually tend to make sense, and the quality is far better. Music is also great in the game, and the themes range from intense battles to romantic encounters. I have no gripes on them.

The story of Xenogears, while complicated, can only be described as amazing. This game is the first I've ever played with so many plot twists and hidden aspects. By far, Xenogears was made to tell a story, and that story is told in a way that has yet to be copied. That the translation was excellent certainly helped it's port to the US. I've yet to see a translation that matches Xenogears, either.

The gameplay for Xenogears is interesting, if a bit drawn-out. It can be difficult at times, as the controls are "rotated" in comparison to Final Fantasy VII, but that can be gotten used to. The battles can get tedious at times, but a patient player will not mind this. Deathblows seem at first to detract from the gameplay, until the player realizes that new Deathblows cannot be gained by using current ones, and the newer ones are more powerful. The system was well done, but requires a player who will be patient enough to enjoy it.

Graphics: 7

While the FMV's and 3D objects are great, it's hard to deny that the sprites look horrible in comparison, and detract from the gameplay.

Music: 9

Great music! Never seems to be inappropriate for the situation.

Sound: 9

Also great. Only rarely does a sound not make sense for the situation it's used in.

Gameplay: 8

The gameplay is excellent ... for those who are patient enough to experience it. The complexity of the game requires the player to wait quite a bit, and read a lot of dialogue. Xenogears is more of a story game, but its gameplay is still good, if tediously long.

Replay Value: 5

This game is very long, and most wouldn't want to replay it. Although the story is great, it doesn't change if you play it again, so it just becomes frustrating to do so. The only reason to play it again would be to enjoy the battle system again.

Story: 10

By far, the story is the best I've ever seen in a game. The complexity and intensity of this story are unparalleled by any other game currently available in America. Most novels can't match this game's deep plot.

Translation: 10

The translation is excellent. I've yet to see a misspelled word or grammatical error. Obviously, a great deal of effort was put into this game's translation.

Overall: 8

The game stands out, but requires a patient player who likes a good story. I recommend it to anyone who wants a new experience in this genre, or anyone who wants to see an innovative story that is told in many plot twists and fantastic turnarounds.