Game Comment: "Xenosaga Episode II – Jenseits von Gut und Böse" (PS2)

8 Mar


The first part in this series, Xenosaga Episode I – Der Wille zur Macht– didn’t get published in Europe. To make up for that, we got a DVD with cutscenes from the first game so we would know what happened before. I put the DVD into the player and settled down to watch. After one hour, The Boyfriend asked if I was playing yet. – “Nope, not yet.” This repeated itself a couple of times and after five hours* I watched the last cutscene.

“Are you playing now?” – “Nope. I have enough of this game for now.”

I played the next day.

Because of the important role, story plays in this series, I just quote from the back cover of the game:

“To save the future you have to uncover the past

In a future shaken by wars, earth was abandoned and mankind is fighting an epic battle for survival against the merciless Gnosis in outer space.

The destiny of the human race is at stake and so begins the chase for the Zohar, a legendary artifact, allegedly able to beat the Gnosis.” (free translation)

What I liked:

  • story: The story pulled me through the game – it kept me playing when the actual playing got tedious and boring (levelling up, side quests), because there was always the urge to know what happened next. Compared to other video games, the story in this game is much more elaborate and complex. It’s more like a movie or a book in its scope and touches upon questions about religion and identity. The German subtitle – Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil – might tip players off that Xenosaga is an ambitious work (in fact, all three Xenosaga games have such subtitles).
  • setting: I liked the sci-fi setting – a nice change from the usual fantasy setting
  • style

What I didn’t like:

  • pacing: the balance between the parts you actually play (dungeons) and the cut scenes and the town visits was a bit off. This makes the game tedious at times and lead sometimes to a “is-this-done-already?” feeling.
  • sidequests: The sidequests in Xenosaga take up a lot of time because in most cases you have to walk from one person to another, ask questions, go on to another person, ask question, go to another town, ask questions, ask questions, change town, … and for most side quests you don’t even know which town to visit and which person to ask. Tedious and boring, very tedious and very boring.
  • battle system: At first, the battle system is interesting, even challenging, but after you get the hang of it, it fast becomes repetitive and boring. On top of that, the battles take some time to finish because of the way the battle system is set up to be most effective.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes, for most of the parts.

Would I recommend this game? For players interested in a good and complex story.

Grade: 3,5 / 5 (because of the story; otherwise 3)


* Later I discovered that if they had put all the cutscenes from Episode I on the DVD it would have lasted over 7 hours.

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