Review by stingers135

"Xenosaga Episode 3 - The Best Game of the Series, and the Best Game of All Time?"

As I'm sure many of you who are even reading this review know, Xenosaga 3 is the last game in the Xenosaga series. The planned Episodes of 4, 5, and 6 are gone and never to be made again (Pending the sales of the game, but lets face it; they probably won't be all that great.) As such, the entirety of the Xenosaga story will have to be wrapped up in 1 game - and what a game it is. Everything about the game, from the Gameplay, to the Story, to the Graphics, are amazing. If you're a fan of the series, I'm telling you right now to stop reading this review and go get the game. If you aren't a fan of the series, read the review and decide if you want to get it for yourself. If you have never played a Xenosaga game in your life, then I advise you to go and read some of the Xenosaga 1 reviews to see if you would like it. Now, without further Adieu, here is your review.

GAMEPLAY: 10/10

This is easily one of the best things about the game. Before I get In-Depth, I'll tell you 2 things: First, this is a different style of Gameplay then the other 2 Xenosaga games. The first 2 used a System that was like Xenogears, for example, you would hit X for one attack, or Square for another. This game, however, uses a more Final Fantasy-like style of battle, where you have a Menu and you can select your choices from it, Like Attack for Attack, or Item for Items, etc. Second, in this game, like all of the others, Magic is called Ether. From here on out, any time I say Ether, I mean Magic. Okay then...

First, we'll deal with the on foot battles. You can have up to 3 characters on the field at a time, and you can switch in any of the other characters (there is 7 total) at any time during a battle. Each Character has Hit Points and Ether Points. Xenosaga doesn't have Random encounters, so you can see your enemies' right on the screen. To fight, you run into them. The loading times are amazing - It'll take about half of a second to a second before the battle starts. As I told you earlier, you pick your choice for the turn from the Menu. You can select Attack, to Attack, Obviously. Tech, for skills that use the Physical Stat. These usually have effects - They might do extra damage against Mechanical Enemies, or some might increase the opponent's Break Gauge more (which we'll get to in a moment.) Ether: The Magic, which has the Elemental Damage Spells, Healing Spells, Buffing spells, and stuff like that. Special Attack, which uses Boost (which I will also get to in a moment) to unleash Attacks that are much more powerful then normal attacks. If you use a Special Attack to kill an enemy, then you get a Finishing Strike, which nets you extra Experience and Money. Items, to use your items. Guard, to Guard yourself and take less damage from attacks until that characters next turn. Change, for switching the character out for another one. And finally, Escape, to run away from battle. As you deal damage to your opponents, their Break Gauge will build up. The Break Gauge is a Bar beneath the HP bar that shows how much Break has been accumulated. When the Break Gauge becomes full, the enemy is unable to act for a few turns until the Break Gauge empties itself and it starts over. While the enemy is broken, attacks also do more damage, making it a good time to unleash Special Attacks. Your characters have a Break Gauge as well, so you have to be careful when dealing with the Break. Also, when you attack, you'll build up Boost. Any time you hurt your enemy, you'll build up a part of the Boost Bar. You can have a maximum of 3 total Boost Bars filled up at the beginning of the game. Boost can be used in two different ways: First, you can use the Boost in Special Attacks. Special Attacks usually use 2-3 Boost each, so it's important to conserve your boost if you want to use them often. Second, you can use it to Move a characters spot up, so their turn will come next. If the character you boost is already going to have a turn soon, then that separate turn will not be affected. So, if you wanted, your character could go 4 times in a row (The turn they originally had, plus the 3 boosted turns).

Next, we have to deal with the E.S. Battles. In this game, you can fight inside of Giant Robots, which there are 3 types of: A.W.G.S, A.M.W.S, and E.S's. Your characters only have E.S's, however, so this will be the topic of discussion here. You can only use the E.S. in the specified E.S. dungeons however, like Xenogears. While in the E.S. Dungeons, you will also be walking around on the E.S., not on foot, allowing faster movement. In the E.S. Battles, the attack system works differently. Each turn, you have an allotted amount of Energy to use. Different Attacks cost different energy, and you have to use up all of your energy (assuming you attack) before that E.S.'s turn finishes. So, if your E.S. has 500 Energy, and you wanted to use Missiles, which costed 250 Energy, you could use Missiles 2 times before you had no energy remaining. If you don't have enough Energy left to make another attack, then that E.S.'s turn will still end as well. For the E.S. battles, you have different commands to select from the Menu. Attack, which is explained above. Anima, which is like a Special Attack for the E.S.'s. Your Anima level starts at level one. You build up your Anima gauge until it reaches the Level of Anima you want to use. You can unlock more and more powerful levels of Anima throughout the game, so you won't be stuck with Level 1 Anima throughout the game. When you use Anima, you'll enter Anima Awakening mode. You can then use the Special Attack that corresponds with the Level of Anima you used. The next turn your E.S. has, then it will be in Anima Awakening mode. It won't be able to use a special attack, but it will be able to use any of the other options. When you attack, the energy costs are reduced, and the damage goes up. Special Attack only appears when you're in Anima Awakening mode. Explained above. Items, to use Items. Charge, which raises the HP of your E.S. a certain amount. And Escape, to Escape. As you might have noticed, there is no Ether option. None of the E.S.'s can use Ether in battle - you're stuck to using Items.

A new edition to the non-battling part of the game is the Style Line. It is kind of a copy of the Sphere Grid from FFX – You move along the Line, getting new Skills, Techs, and stat boosts as you go. Its much better then the system from Xenosaga 2 – where everyone could learn the same skills.

STORY: 10/10

If you went up and asked any gamer you know one thing that they could name about Xenosaga that they liked...I can guarantee you that all of them would say the Story.

It's just too damn good. Everything about it: The Characters, the Main Storyline, the Backstory, even the History of Random Planet #11 is just amazing. Filled with deep meanings and hidden clue's everywhere, Xenosaga was probably the best game at making you wonder what is going to happen next. When you find out who the Red Testament is, you'll be amazed. Finding out what exactly caused the Gnosis is no less impactful. And by the time you beat the game, you'll be so confused, you'll probably need to take a nap before you can think about it. There have been numerous plot guides and paragraphs upon paragraphs written to help people even understand it. Without the story, Xenosaga would only be a mere fraction of what it was. If you like deep, interesting stories, then you need to play through all 3 games, as soon as possible. I see no reason for you to keep on reading the review. Just go and get it.

GRAPHICS: 10/10

The Graphics…are amazing. These are probably the best graphics that are on the PS2 to date. The Environments are breathtaking, the in-game characters look real, and the Cutscenes are stunning. A new cutscene technique in Xenosaga 3 is the Text Boxes – Most of the “Cutscenes” in the game are actually Text Boxes that are fully voice acted, with In-Game Character Models acting out the scenes. There are, of course, normal cutscenes too, but they aren't as prevalent as they were in the previous games. The E.S.'s look spectacular... I haven't seen better Mech design in any game. While Xenosaga 1 went for the Anime look and Xenosaga 2 went for the realistic look, Xenosaga 3 is a happy blend of both – and it looks amazing. I can't stress it enough, Xenosaga 3 has some of the best graphics on the PS2.

SOUND: 9/10

The music in this game, all of it, is excellent. Some of the pieces might not be a candidate for the Best Video Game Music Ever, but none of it is bad. Pieces like Godsibb, Promised Pain, and Hepatica KOS-MOS are the best Video Game music I have ever heard from any game, ever. If you like the music in this game, I urge you to buy the soundtrack, it's excellent.

The only thing wrong with the sound in the game is the walking noises. While you're running around, the noises your feet make are…a bit too loud. It can even get so loud that you can't even hear the music in the background – and that is a major problem.

REPLAYABILITY: 6/10

There really isn't much you can do after you beat the game. The only reason it gets anything greater then a 1 is that you'll probably want to play through again just to make sure you got everything. Plus, the game is so great, it would be an honor and a privilege to play it again.

RENT OR BUY?

I'd say to Buy. However, if you have never played any of the past games of the series, I would say to buy the first two before you buy this one. If you are a fan of the series, then you should buy it without hesitation. If you really need to, you could rent it and read a summary of the first 2 games from the In-Game Database…but it really isn't as good as playing them with your own eyes.

OVERALL: 10/10

No matter what you like, you can find it in this game. Killer Gameplay, Mindblowing Graphics, AMAZING Story, and Fantastic Sound…you should cherish your copy of the game. Tell everyone you know to buy Xenosaga 3. They'll be glad they did.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/05/06


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