Following a number of classic releases on 8 and 16-bit platforms, Squaresoft made many new role-playing games and original titles for PlayStation. However, many of these games have never made it further than Japan and America, which is a shame for Europe. One of these games is Xenogears.
It is clear from the off that Xenogears is thoroughly Japanese, both in story and in style. There is a war going on between humankind and giant combat robots, but recently, a mysterious force has begun to turn the tides. A failed attempt to steal one of these weapons places it in the unwilling hands of Fei (you) and his skilled companions. The acquisition of this asset forces you to escape the clutches of military governments, royal pirates, spies and even his own forgotten past.
Typically, Xenogears is full of turn-based combat throughout, and here’s how the system works. When in battle, be it with one or more characters in your party, you will be given a series of combat options to choose from. You can attack, go on the defensive, use an item or attack with a special ability. Of course, the enemy has the same options too, and some of these can prove devastating. All characters in battle will have a set number of hit points and ability points, balancing the flow of the battles. Once the battle has ended, the player can reap the rewards of his efforts and benefit from items and level-ups.
Battles aside, the rest of the game is more like an exploratory fairytale. You will wander across a main world map, and visit many of the existing establishments, hoping to find clues as to your next destination. Thankfully, these environments have been rendered in 3D with fully rotating cameras at your disposal, giving the game a grainy but pleasant old-style feel.
Overall, Xenogears is a pleasure to play. It features two discs, endless hours of gameplay and a typically engrossing storyline. Brilliant.