It all started on the Playstation when a little gem called Xenogears came out. The gripping story and the great characters made it one of the most liked RPGs on the PS; also one of the best RPGs that not many had the chance to play. Thankfully, fans of Xenogears will get another taste called Xenosaga. Xenosaga is neither a sequel nor a spin-off, but instead, a prequel to Xenogears which is also titled as the 5th Xeno episode (according to the TGS video displayed early in 2001). Although it's distantly related to Xenogears, it's uncanny at how similar the two are. The director of Xenogears, Tetsuya Takahashi, is back and ready to start off the series. Takahashi's science-fiction story is planned to have six episodes in all--divided into three major parts. Xenosaga's full name, Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Wille zur Macht, is quite a strange to put it lightly. The subtitle, "Der Wille zur Macht", is actually German for "The Will to Power". Then of course, "Episode 1" signifies that there will be more parts to this story. As I said before, six episodes in all (perhaps a next-gen remake of Xenogears?).
As the story begins, sometime in the 21st century, the Zohar is discovered. The Zohar is an infinite energy generator that will play a big role in the rest of the series. Also, Earth is no longer the only planet being lived on. Actually, Earth has been abandoned for quite some time, as life progresses on other planets for an unknown reason at this point. This is also the period when the Galactic Federation is established--an alliance of more than 500,000 planetary alignments--as well as the a time warp navigator that connects the star systems, the Unus Mundus Network. There's also the Gnosis forces who are the sworn enemies of the Galactic Federation. The Gnosis is a ruthless army that will stop at nothing to destroy the humans and they have the numbers to do it. When you meat up with these guys they'll either be in battle droids or space vessels. You thought that was it didn't you? Not yet, there's still one more group, called the Vector Corporation. This group controls most of the military and supplies the human race with the artillery to use against the Gnosis. This human group that fights off the Gnosis are called the AGWS--the Anti Gnosis Weapon System. The AGWS use mechs to try to fend off the Gnosis.
One of the main characters is a 22-year-old female named Shion Uzuki. Although she lost her parents and her love, she has the will and perseverance to prevail over the Gnosis forces. Another lead character is also a female who controls one of the KOS-MOS androids. Yet another major character is Chaos, a 16-year-old boy, who is quite mysterious. These three characters will all play different roles and need the help of each other to become victorious.
The animations and visuals are also a plus. The fluid character animations are something you'd see out of an anime, not a video game. The way their hair moves and sways freely is also something to mention. The characters also have voice actors which makes the whole story seem better, almost like an anime on TV. Two types of graphics are incorporated into the game--both of which are in real-time 3D. During movie scenes a higher quality character models are used, while the actual gameplay (battle scenes in particular) uses a lower ones. Additionally, the camera angles are all set views which the developers purposely added to pull of some of the events easier.
You won't find any random battles in Xenosaga which is a major plus in my book. All enemies are visible on screen as well as your radar. Each enemy has a certain range and once you enter that range they will start pursuing you. If you want to fight, then let them catch up, but if not, you better high-tail it out of there. In addition, their range will be indicated on your radar at the bottom of the screen.
Xenosaga is shaping up into a very well rounded RPG. The game is right around the corner in Japan but a US release date has yet to be announced. So stay tuned to PSXE's news section for the latest news on it's US release.
12/27/2001 Joseph Comunale