xenosaga II's Alernate Trailer
The original Xenosaga broke new ground in the staid field of role-playing game narrative upon its release with its singular, intense devotion to storytelling through cinematic sequences and its memorable cast of characters. Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose ("Beyond Good and Evil") shares the same spirit as its dramatic predecessor, incorporating new factions, new intrigues, and new faces into a universe already teeming with complex history. The series' momentum adopts a more leisurely pace, however, taking the time to more fully develop the characters and their relationships, to both each other and to the danger represented by the strange artifact called the Zohar. At the same time, this game is shorter than its prequel and features a much more simplified, less robust character advancement system. However, improvements to the game's turn-based combat engine, graphics, and its still-captivating plot ensure that fans of story-driven role-playing games and the Xenosaga series itself will still find much to appreciate about Episode II.
Your party members now unleash strikes on enemies according to a specific "zone" on that enemy, such as zone A, B, or C, as well as their ether "magic" attacks. All zones will do some damage, but each enemy has "weak" zones which, if they are struck in a certain order, will inflict break status on them. Breaking an enemy causes that attack to do greater damage, and if you use the boost command to give your party members initiative, you can chain attacks on vulnerable opponents for bonuses. Also, enemies in break can be hit into the air or onto the ground, at which point they can be flayed by party attacks for even greater injury. Each turn taken in battle tends to have a random attribute associated with it, so you can try and time your attacks for critical bars to get bonus damage or to get extra skill points. This sounds like it would make battles almost trivial, but the enemies on offer in Xenosaga Episode II are of a hardy sort. Mindless button mashing will likely get you a dead party of characters, particularly with bosses; careful usage of boosting and breaking are the keys to success. But that's not all.
Your characters can also store up to three extra attacks by "stocking" their turns in battle. Someone who gains stock cannot act in that same turn, but then they have an additional attack saved up that you may use when you wish. Stocking is often necessary for double attacks, which are a combined offensive launched by two characters that are acting together. You can also stock when piloting one of the giant mecha robots in the game, which are now known as E.S. robots instead of A.G.W.S. These machines are controlled by two characters at a time, and the robots' abilities reflect those of their pilots. For example, only an E.S. driven by MOMO can use ether spells.
Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose isn't wholly on par with the original, but it retains a rich narrative and a lot of soul. The battle system tweaks are a welcome addition, along with the updated look. Despite its shortcomings, fans of the series (or those fond of character-driven RPGs with a lot of wordy introspection) would not be remiss to give this game a try.
Xenosaga(R) EPISODE II Jenseits von Gut und Bose &(c)2004-2006 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. All rights reserved
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