Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (The Will to Power) is a fun RPG that combines a lengthy and engaging storyline with a fun and intuitive battle system. Characters can be customized a variety of ways including special attacks, ether powers, skills and equipment.
One player, requires 165K per savegame, 99 savegame slots (depending on space available), vibration and digital and analog control.
No widescreen support.
Rated T for blood and gore, violence.
The back of the Xenosaga Episode I box says the following things:
I completed the game in just under 60 hours, not including the cinematics, so I think the 80 hours is fair. It certainly felt like a long game, but in no way was the game slow. In certain areas it was downright hard which fit perfectly with the surroundings.
The graphics, cinematics and levels were very lovely. Cinematic cut scenes were highly detailed including movement on fabric, bending, hair movement, etc. The levels had a wonderful cohesive feel, where everything in the environment made sense.
The music was nice. I was usually concentrating on killing things, and it didn't bother me at all. The music during the final boss fit perfectly.
There is one very annoying feature of the game. The circle button is accept, and the X button is cancel. When switching between, games, this gets frustrating, since typically the X button is accept, and the circle button is anything-but-accept. I've almost deleted my Metal Arms game a couple of times due to the circle/X switch. I don't know why they couldn't have followed the same settings that the PS2 dashboard uses.
I didn't play much of the mini-games, but you simply can't get certain equipment without playing them. The four games are an A.G.W.S simulator, drill game, poker, and a card-battle strategy game.
The drill game is like the prize machines with the claw, where you have to guess where your drill bit will be over a box in order to destroy it.
Poker is, well, poker, and the card-battle strategy game is a card-battle strategy game like Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh or whatever else is popular these days.
(I really need to go back and play some of these games to get whatever it is they give you.)
A.G.W.S. stands for Anti-Gnosis Weapons System and is pronounced like "eggs" with the "e" sound midway between "eh" and "ah" (not that that's important). That may not be clear enough... The Gnosis are these half-imaginery beings from another dimension that got called into our universe fourteen years before the game starts. Some of his actions touched off a war called the Miltian Conflict which led to a variety of horrible things (I think, its really not well described in this episode).
Back to the A.G.W.S. An A.G.W.S. looks like a mech in high-heels, even the one the men pilot around. They can cary all kinds of heavy weaponry like giant machineguns and rocket launchers and things. In the mini-game, you get to fight another A.G.W.S. in a battle arena.
There are five ways to customize a character: attributes, equipment, skills, ether powers and tech attacks. After winning a battle, you will earn so many tech, ether and skill points. Tech points can be spent towards your upgrading character attributes or tech attacks. Skill points are used to extract skills from equipment. Ether points are used to evolve or transefer ether powers.
Character attributes are the standard fare, Strength, Vitality (damage resistance), Ether Attack (power), Ether Defense, Dexterity, Evasion and Agility (cannot be upgraded). Tech points may be spent to upgrade these attributes, but only so far depending on character level.
Tech points may also be spent on tech attacks, which are unique to the character. There are three attributes for a tech attack, its Tech (power), speed (Action Points required), and Wait (how often you can use it). Tech attacks are equiped, and may be accessed during battle depending on the order of physical attacks given. Some attacks are capable of hitting multiple enemies or inflicting status damage.
One weapon and up to three items may be equipped on a character. Each item has an associated effect, and these effects may be extracted by spending skill points. Certain skills give double power when equipped along with the appropriate equipment. (My favorite equipment is the Swimsuit (+25% tech points) the Double Buster (two tech attacks) and whatever it is that gives you +1 AP per turn. The combination of Double Buster, +1 AP thingy, and Speed Shoes is absolutely devastating, because you get to whip out devastating attacks like crazy.
Ether powers including attacking, healing, status damage, stealing, etc. Each character has a tree of unique ether powers, and most of them may be transfered to other characters. This allows you to share important ether powers like Life Shot, which is a cheap mid-level healing power.
The combat system is simple and intuitive. The order is chosen based on the agility and speed of the combatants. As you attack you may cut in line by using a stored up boost, which you gain through attacks. There are four battle effects in play, rotating once per turn, from more criticals to more boost to tech/skill/ether point multiplier on kill to no effect. Killing an enemy during the point multiplier phase gives you x2, x4, or x10 the standard amount of tech, skill and ether points you would normally earn for that character.
During a party member's turn, they have the choice of performing a short or long range physical attack (including tech attacks), invoking an ether power, using an item, moving, guarding or getting into an A.G.W.S. Performing an action consumes Action Points, and you can save up action points to perform special attacks, or to get a bonus tech attack.
When a character is in an A.G.W.S. they can attack with their left, right or shoulder weapons, get out of the A.G.W.S., or guard. When a pair of W-act capable weapons are equipped, by guarding you can use both weapons at once to inflict bonus damage. Unfortunately, if an A.G.W.S. reaches 0 hit points in battle it becomes useless and the character is unable to leave. Equippable equipment includes a module that lets you recover some hit points while guarding.
The story follows Shion Uzuki in the far, far future. Shion is a scientist at Vector Corporation and is developing a battle-android. Very few androids are built due to Realian technology, which are manufactured humans. One of the characters you meet up with is MOMO, a special Realian designed to fight the Gnosis.
Throughout the story you uncover a tiny bit about how the Gnosis came to be such a problem in the galaxy and why, but only a tiny bit. You meet up with Junior, captian of the Durandal, a special Gnosis-fighting battleship built by the Kukai Foundation who's charter is to figure out some solution to the Gnosis problem.
Mixed into the story are references both German and Christian lore, including the names of the Zohars, references to Earth, and the battleships of the Vector corporation.
Cinematics involves a special section, because there is something very ammusing about all of the cinematics. The realians like MOMO are made in the likeness of 12 year old girls wearing short dress-like sailor uniforms. I mean short. Short as in this is the century of the mini. Even Shion wears a very short dress.
Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a problem, but after watching enough cinematic sequences, I noticed the camera angles always seem to give you a panty-shot of the Realians (who, remember, look like 12 year old girls, no matter how old they are), while camera shots of Shion never reveal anything between-the-legs.
Its not as if MOMO is accidentally leaving her legs open, the camera angle is chosen to reveal this. Only in Japan, I suppose.
Oh, yes, and cinematics can be paused and skipped! So if you need to get up and answer the phone, just press pause, and press again when you get back, its wonderful!.