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Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose [PS2]





Episode 2 brings several changes to the battle system, some for the worst. Story saves it though!

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Easy
Time Spent:
100 or More Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Almost, but not quite"

Summary

Episode 2 is an interesting dilemma to me. They changed a lot about the game play in this one, I particularly hated the new battle system. I preferred the one from episode 1, it was semi-unique, but now we have a one button press to do this attack, can't combine buttons for different special attacks, watered down AWGS battling.

The story, however, saves it from anything lower then an 8 from me.

Honestly I loved the story as it explains the background behind Albedo, Negriedo, and Rubedo. How they came to be, how Albedo go so screwed up, and exactly what U-DO was.

There is a slight bit more background explained about Chaos and Jin as well.

And we also meet Cannan for the first time.

The music is good as usual, and it is nice to see the quality of the game getting better, ie better looking CG and cut scenes. This game sets up the last episode fairly well, especially since 3's battle system is way better.

Over all, I gave this one an 8 out of 10.




Xenosaga 1 all grown up and not as fun

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Mixed reactions"

Summary

I really enjoyed Xenosaga and of course it predecessor Xenogears, clearly the grandfather being the best of the bunch. I was initially turned of by the more realistic look of the characters and prefered the cartoony look of the first game. Battles are long events and require a bit of strategy. Each turn has a particular event that can boost criticals, build up your reserve to either attack more quickly or attack with more force. The type of your characters attacks, ether or physical, has a huge impact on the damage you can deal to the enemy, making one or two members of the party your go to guys for putting the smack down. Developing your characters abilities involves completing Global Samaritan Quests, tracking down people and items, besically fetch quests. While both battle systems were complex, I felt the first game was more fun, and its story more interesting and less disjointed. The Xeno series has always had overly complex and drawn out narratives so while I thought the game was well done, it could be skipped without missing anything of particular value. If you're looking for a good RPG, I recommend this title, but there are probably better games to invest your chunk of hours into.




Unbalanced, yet with compelling story!

7.5

Great
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Total letdown"

Summary

Alot of reviews have been given for this game as "REALLY BAD." I'm one of those people who lets things slide. I'm a big RPG gamer. If you're just looking for fighting in a game. Stay away from this one. This needs alot of role playing consciousness. It has a FANTASTIC storyline (surperior to alot of other RPGs), but the game should have been a movie if you ask me. This game goes back to the past, alot of flashing back and forth and alot of surprises. On "The Trio" as I would say. Jr. Albedo and Gaignun. Don't worry about other characters. They're not as important here. But don't let that get you down.

It summerizes everytime I turn the game on to back where I left off, (loading from memory card) so that should help people who dooesn't game much. I couldn't understand why people wouldn't get the storyline if the UMN at the beginning of the game allows a feature to review what has already happened. I'm guessing people are giving irks about that.

I would probably complain about the voice actors and battle system, alot of people would probably say the same thing. I do not mind KOS-MOS' voice actor as much as Shion and chaos. chaos (Yes no caps) is too stoic for me, after playing Xenosaga I (over and over in order to get his character down, hey he's not human!), I'd say he doesn't add much to the action in the beginning where all the cool fight scenes are. The beginning of this game, IS AWESOME. Yes AWESOME. (Voice actors killed it.)

Shion, I would say, is a mess, her attitudes and momentum throws me off everytime a new situation becomes bad. How can she sound so perky all the time? I would definately go with the voice actor in Xenosaga I if I were to choose between the two. And the old voice actors are wonderful as always, Albedo, Jr., Gaignun, and Captain Matthews. Yar they're the same.

The battle system, yes it's a pain. You're not actually fighting. You spend most of your time "stocking up" and letting your enemies rag doll you most of the time. Stocks are like AP in Xenosaga I, except you can only add one stock each turn, or use an ether "Stock 1" to add a stock to another character. After you attain a certain amount of stocks you are presented a number of combo options. The more stocks, the better combo. It becomes an issue because I would have to run around and train in the same area in order to get enough levels or TM points (in order to get Medica All, it becomes valuable, trust me.) I was hoping that this game system would take a tiny bit from Final Fantasy X (because you can to switch characters in battle) however, unlike FFX, this only allows share of spoils (TM points EXP etc.) to the remaining three characters standing in battle. It becomes a real disadvantage if you have characters that have some abilities, but not others. (Medica, Revert, Refresh, etc. although they all have the same abilities to learn, such as Psycho Pocket.) I would suggest picking three main characters and if you do have a strategy guide, ignore the character reccomendations. I chose to maintain Jr., KOS-MOS, MOMO, or Ziggy. (Robotics addict.) Unlike Xenosaga I, tech attacks are only avalible with doubles. So say you have KOS-MOS and Shion, if you have the key for the ability Double X-Buster with a boost and a certain amount of stocks, you can do a tech a attack. Once per battle.

Also, alot of people are confused about "break zones." It's hard to explain in words, there are tutorials in the game. But it's something so that you think you'll always have to rely on combos. It's like suppose you have an enemy with a break zone of B, A.
On your controller there's a:

O which represents "A" or "B" (Some characters such as Shion and MOMO have only B as combos so you press O all throughout for a "B")
Triangle which represents "C"
Square which represents "B"

Those buttons represent letters. Characters have combos accordingly to the buttons you press. So you attack with Square and O. Then their zone is broken. You give more heavy damage by following the character with O buttons for "break bonus" this just means you successfuly broken through their break zone and you are currantly giving more than average damage.
This all comes down to your characters. Characters have different combos. It's much more simple to play it rather than explain it. There's more to it though. Battle slots are still there, and a few more quirks.

A few notes:
Jr. - A bit weak. He doesn't have a lot of enemies that has a weakness for him. But I use alot of skill upgrades so that he gets to make quick work of Albedo.
KOS-MOS - She's super strong against Gnosis. (Fitting of course.)
MOMO - She's a super valuable asset. I use her ALOT. Her ether bow kills.
Ziggy - He's good against anything. Like bosses.

Another battle system irk is the "Move" command. I use that command to do efficient back shots. But the stupid thing is that if I move to the other side, my character is facing his/her back towards the enemy. Then I'll have to wait next term to attack in order to make her face the enemy. (Confusing ya.)

Speaking of areas, the maps are smaller compared to other games I played, so there's fewer enemies to bash. A bit convienient but gets tiresome if you're trying to get treasures around the block. The UMN encephalon has changed. Now you don't have to worry about exiting through a plate. Just start menu and exit. But I really hate knowing that two disks can only contain about 30 maps. It goes by fast. I mean, really fast. Before the first disk was over I was halfway through the stradegy guide. (And I don't usually buy stradegy guides.) The only things that are making the game longer are the GS campaigns, I'd totally reccommend that you do it or else you won't get all the nifty stuff that would make gameplay a bit more "exhilerating." Like double tech attacks and all those other cool items. (Believe or not I haven't used any item in the game yet, not even a Med Kit.) I'm a thrifty person, knowing that there is no currency = no shops. And I hate the puzzles in this game. It gets on your nerves eventually. Even little tiny puzzles.

The maps are beautifully rendered. One thing I'm ticked off about is that there's no radar. You just have to wait to be ambushed unless you memorize every quirk in the area (which doesn't take a lot since you eventually visit the maps over and over.) Sometimes you can't even smash the traps before the enemy ambushes you.

Although I can't say the same for the characters, even though it's become all realistic, it's become too femme for me. KOS-MOS' new design throws me off, and that's why I put the bathing suit on her for battle, Shion is also a bit femme for me. But I would totally think guy gamers would fall for them eh.

I would also say the same for the guys, they grown cuter, but I still am not pleased with the new character design after I played it.

E.S.s I almost forgot about that. (I was reading other reviews.) Piloting the E.S. is like the A.G.W.S. only more bulky and cooler. The thing that pissed me off for the E.S. is that it's slow on the maps. No matter which E.S. you chose, Dinah, Zebulan, Asher. It's slow. Pathetically slower than the human lead characters. I would love it if they had more abilities and hope that they STOP STOCKING UP. I almost died because half-way I did not have Zebulan (that's the only E.S. that can use ether = heal). But I love the E.S. Much more detailed and beautiful things than the A.G.W.S.

Music is a bit more techy. Very techy. I don't like most of the soundtrack. Gives me a headache. I love orchestra, but that's me. (like Chrono Cross, FFX, and Xenosaga I etc.)

Three stars, it's not the living saga, there's not a "true game" thing going on. Not enough for me to play over and over. If you're into SCI-Fi storyline, random philosophies, techy mechas. (Like me) This game would probably love you. But not as much for me. (And I ain't no star wars fan but I'm loyal enough to keep Xenosaga as my favorite RPGs)




Xenosaga 2 isn't that bad of a game but I advice everyone to rent it first.

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Rent it first"

Summary

Xenosaga 2 isn't that bad of a game but to me it was hard to beat. I faced hard times trying to defeat many bosses and enemies. I think that xenosaga 1 was way easier to beat then this game. I think that what made Xenosaga 2 so difficult is that you can't buy healing items for your characters so you have no choice but to collect items after you defeat enemies. Another difficult thing is that the characters don't start out with enough power to survive off of in the first place. I highly recommend that who ever that is planning on playing Xenosaga 2 you might want to consider on renting it first. Xenosaga 2 could never match up to Xenosaga 1 and Xenosaga 3 because there wasn't enough support for the characters to survive in many battles. Xenosaga 1 and Xenosaga 3 were very great games and i hope that there will be a Xenosaga 4 for ps3 and xbox 360.




Oh, how it could have been a good game, but no...

7.0

Great
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Total letdown"

Summary

Visuals - 8.5/10

After playing the first game, I was quite disappointed with how the second game looked. The game did receive an upgrade in graphics, but to me, this is undermined by the radical changes in character designs. In fact, Shion received such a radical change in design (no doubt an attempt to please male gamers) that is difficult for me to recognize her in some scenes. I can understand trying to make the characters look more realistic, but it should not have been done at the cost of the original character designs. Still, to be honest, this is all personal feeling and it does not affect the score I give it much. What keeps this score from being higher is the uninspired enemy designs. Gone is the diverse range of enemies Episode I offered. Instead, you will fight the same enemies, with different stats. The wide use of coloring is also gone as everything has a bland tone to it. Other than these gripes, the game looks good and some parts look great, notably the awakening of Proto- Omega.


Sound - 5/10

Character designs were not the only thing that Namco changed. The voice acting also saw a change as new actors were brought in. Shion, KOS- MOS, chaos, and MOMO all got new voice actors. In some cases, it worked, such as chaos and MOMO. In other cases, it failed horribly, as with Shion and KOS- MOS. KOS- MOS, a battle android, sounds like a human now as compared to her robotic sounding voice in Episode I, and Shion's voice has changed to a less dramatic voice. She fails to convey any emotion other than anger it sounds like. The music in this game also takes a hit. Episode I featured a classical soundtrack while most of Episode II features a pop/techno soundtrack. Perhaps if Episode I hadn't used a classical track, the pop/techno track could have worked, but the new soundtrack is annoying and doesn't fit the feel of the series.

Gameplay - 6/10

I feel like Namco told itself, "If it ain't broke, we'll break it." They do a great job of this in the gameplay aspect. The battle system takes getting used to with a new zone based system. Basically, every enemy (all 4 of them it feels like) has a weak zone. Some have a BB zone break, while others may have a CB or BC zone break. Your attack buttons correspond with the zones. Triangle is your C attack and square is your B attack. Enter the correct combination and you will break the enemy's zone and do significantly more damage than you would have otherwise. After the enemy is broken, you can knock them into the air or onto the ground and increase your damage even more. You can stock your character up to three times, and this will allow your character to attack up to six times in one turn. If everything is timed correctly, you can win battles quite easily. I actually liked this new system, but it's broken by the nightmare known as boost. Every attack adds to your boost gauge, which allows you to boost a character, whose turn is later, to attack the next turn. It's essentially the same as Episode I with one exception, the ease of boosting. Getting 3 boosts (the max limit) is way too easy for you and the enemy. This contributes to the mess that can happen in any given random fight. Sometimes you can kill the enemy without letting them make one move. Other times, the enemy will seriously hurt your party and inventory using the boost system. I sometimes found myself having to replay portions of the game because and enemy was forcing me to use all of my items to just stay alive. Maybe if I could buy items with money, but wait! Namco, for some reason that will never satisfy me, decided to get rid of shops and money. So the only way to get items in this game is to defeat enemies, which can easily suck away your inventory by abusing the boost system. Boss battles also are annoying. In the early boss battles, there is one way to defeat the boss and if you fail to find out the proper way, you're dead. There is too much emphasis on timing. If attacks are timed incorrectly in boss battles, forget being able to win that fight. Another issue I have with the gameplay is the leveling up. Everyone can learn every skill now. Instead of having a unique tree to follow, all of your characters can learn the same skills. While this can be seen as a good thing because of customization, I see it as a bad thing. Unless you constantly level up every character and always fight just for levels, characters just won't get enough skill points for you to be able to give them new skills. You may have three characters that have unique high level skills, but the rest of your party will have low level base skills. The AGWS from Episode I also make a return as ES Machines or AMWS. These machines now have a use. Some battles have to be fought with ES Machines and you don't have a choice in the matter. This isn't a bad thing at all and I actually found the battle system for machines to be quite enjoyable. So, to sum it up, a collection of little bad things add up to one frustrating experience in the gameplay department.

Story - 7/10

The story is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game. Episode I did a great job of focusing on everyone's (minus chaos) story while Episode II is focused on Albedo, Negrido, and Rubedo. This is not a bad thing but it left me wanting a bit more in the other characters stories. Luckily, there is a third game for this to happen in. Pretty much, Xenosaga Episode II picks up right where Episode I left off. The game opens up with a prologue that places chaos and a Realian named Canaan in the middle of the Miltian Conflict in which the song of Nephalim was played and the Gnosis first appeared 14 years before the events of Episode I. After the prologue is over, the attention shifts back to the present where the party is on the bridge of the Elsa after completing their mission inside Proto- Merkabah. MOMO is to go to 2nd Militia for a dive into her sub conscious to retrieve the Y- Data, the information left behind by the supposed architect of the Miltian Conflict. Albedo is also trying to unlock that information so he can open the closed gate to Militia and link with U- DO, a mysterious life form that awoke 14 years prior. Things go wrong very quickly as Albedo springs a trap to gain the Y- Data. Many new factions are introduced as well in the game. The story, as it does in most sequels, does not live up to its predecessor's story. The pace is slower and it feels like that much of the story is just filler. This can be backed up by boss battles. In Episode I, the bosses had stories and motives for stopping. They weren't just there to be a boss battle. In Episode II, the boss battles, at least until the end, feel like they are just there to be a boss battle. Most of the bosses have little to no story behind them and that hurts the story telling in this game. The whole Ormus Stronghold dungeon serves absolutely no purpose in advancing the story at all. It's as if the developers noticed the game would be too short and just added a dungeon to add time to the game. Again, I'm going to pick on Shion. Her attitude changes completely from the first game to this one. She was a kind, caring person but in Episode II, she comes across as mean and, well, a word that would violate the rules of this forum. chaos also changes from a cheerful character to a dark sad sounding character. This wouldn't be an issue if there was a long period of time between the two games, but there isn't. The second game occurs right after the first.

Overall - 7/10

The only reason I managed to finish this game is the simple fact that I wanted to know what happened next. The game is full of filler, sub par storytelling (for this series), bad voice acting, and poorly designed game play. Too much change can be a bad thing and this game proves it. I don't want you to think this game is terrible. Compared to the first game, it certainly is a step backwards, but compared to most games, this game still stands up as just as good if not better. Maybe my expectations were too high going into this game, but I feel justified with those expectations after playing the incredible first entry in to the series. I only recommend this game if you played the first game and liked it enough that you want to see what happens next.
7.8

Great
7.3
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