Sunday, September 17, 2000

Xenosaga Episode III | 9.0

Xenosaga: Episode 3 (Also sprach Zarathustra) brings back the magic of Episode 1 and fixes the vast majority of the problems that occurred in Episode 2. The story here, as rich and complex as ever, is brought to an appropriate and moving close as Shion and company battle to uncover a deep-seated conspiracy unlike anything else they've ever encountered. The fabric of the story itself, the voice acting, and the cutscenes are all truly superb - it's remarkable that the makers at Namco/Bandai managed to pull all of the loose ends together to make the story finally make sense. To boot, it's a pleasure to watch and listen to -- who could ask for more?

As for the battle system, it finally regains its fun in Episode 3. I simply wasn't a fan of Episode 2's system, so the return to "basics" was a blessing in my mind. The characters still do battle in their unique ways, as each has his/her own customizable skills to obtain, but long gone are the days of ridiculously long battles against painfully weak enemies. Here, in both ground and E.S. (mech) battles, your ability to strengthen and customize your party shines through and you are always rewarded for your hard work. Replay value is moderate-to-high as well, since your party consists of all the familiar players for most of the game; if you have a habit of using the same three or four people (like me; yay for chaos!), you can always play through again with a different group.

Shops return in this Episode, making buying and selling your merchandise once again possible. The only thing lacking is this game is a little more in the "extras/side quests" department, of which this game only offers a handful. While some of these take longer than others, a few more side quests would have been nice, particularly since this is the last in the series.

I can't rave enough about how impressed I was with this title. It rivals Episode 1 in every way possible, and the trilogy's epic story outstrips other RPG competition without question. If you're looking for fun battles, a fantastic story, and beautiful graphics, then look no further; Xenosaga: Episode 3 is for you.

I can only hope that someone changes their mind and decides to make another one -- after this exceptional closing Episode, it's hard not to wish for another game to come along in the future. Very highly recommended.

Story: A+
Cutscenes: A
Graphics/Rendering: A
Battle/Skill System: A
Extras/Side Quests: A-
Replay Value: Moderate-to-High

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