Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse (2004 Video Game)
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Maybe it's just that I don't mind being told a story. However, it bears mentioning that, while the original had more gameplay than some give it credit for, the second episode boasts even more. This is something of a dubious gift when fighting Margulis or the Patriarch, but it's welcome. The only really plodding times are at the very end, where the game indulges its FFX side and presents several bite-size cinematics in a row. The grand finale, over which the dirge-like "Sweet Song" plays, is another triumphant close. Between this and "Fatal Fight," it's just about enough to make me miss Mitsuda's score a lot less. Of course, I liked the music in the .hack series, so...
In essence, the game isn't perfect (the sometimes blocky hands detract from what is otherwise a graphically pleasing game), but it is very well done. It's not for everyone, and many will pan its tendency to tell you a story rather than be immersive 100% of the time. However, the epic scope and grand storytelling are more than enough to keep this gamer occupied. The melding of the personal and space-opera aspects create an, if not unique, certainly flashy piece of work that present a solid experience. Even if the religious and philosophical references aren't necessary, they at least seem to have some bearing on the actual storyline (the implication that the Zohar emulators, named for the Apostles and "Mary's Child," are the solution to the Gnosis (gnostic) and heretics is an undercurrent). All in all, it was immensely enjoyable.
While there are still many fans who stubbornly cling to the hope that Xenosaga will follow a course of events that will eventually lead into a retelling or even a remake of 1998's Xenogears, Episode 2 doesn't do much to bring us any closer to that. Notice that I didn't say that it doesn't do ANYTHING to bring us closer to that. However, I remain firm in my belief that if Xenosaga does have any relation to Xenogears, it will tell the untold stories that took place in episodes 1 and 6 in the Xenogears epic, as these are the only two episodes that weren't completely outlined and fleshed out in either Xenogears the game or the book Xenogears Perfect Works. In other words, these are the two remaining parts of the 15,000+ year story in which the authors still have the opportunity to be as creative as possible without contradicting the events told of Xenogears.
In any case, Xenosaga Episode 2 continues to follow the same path as Episode 1 did: This is a relatively small, sensibly sized RPG. It isn't the grotesquely bloated epic that Xenogears was, and fans who were hoping it would be are bound to be disappointed.