Episode I: The will to power.
First of all, this time the game won't be published by Squaresoft. The refusal from Squaresoft to be involved in a sequel of Xenogears, has been probably caused by the fact that the game, even if it's considered by many fans a cult of the genre, it's not considered by critics and a big part of the RPGs players a good game, anyhow not as good as other well-known Square's RPGs.
It's Namco, with its subsidiary Monolith, to hold the reins of this project, that involves many prestigious names that have already worked on Xenogears. Is it necessary to reveal some names? Here they are: Tetsuya Takahashi (story and director), Kunihiko Tanaka (character designer), Junya Ishigaki (mech designer), Yasunori Mitsuda (composer). Add to them the names of Sei Sato (screenplay), Hirohide Sugiura (producer), Masaya Nakamura (executive producer) and the fact that the music composed by Mitsuda will be performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and you can have an idea of the importance of this game in the videogames industry.
The fact that the new game won't be published by Squaresoft has an influence on the connections between Xenosaga and Xenogears. Takahashi confirmed several times that with Xenogears he wanted to create a saga composed by six episodes (Xenogears was the fifth episode of the series). Xenosaga should be the first episode. Nevertheless, Takahashi has always affirmed that with Xenogears the team of developers created something that exceeded all their expectations. In brief, the message is that Xenosaga won't have many bonds with Xenogears: it won't be a sequel, as many players were supposing, neither a prequel, as you may think considering what has been revealed concerning the plot and the characters.
It seems the developers have the intention to start again the cycle. The fact that Squaresoft still holds some copyrights on Xenogears means the impossibility to use the characters and the story of the old game in the new one, and that's maybe the cause of Takahashi's choice.
The full title of Xenosaga is "Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Wille zur Macht", where the subtitle in German means “Will to Power.” The creators of the game found their inspiration on the thought of the well known German philosopher Friederich Nietzsche.
The story of Xenosaga is set in an undetermined future, during an era of great technological development, in which human kind has abandoned the Earth (called now “Lost Jerusalem”) for a long time and lives in a confederation (the Star Cluster Federation) composed by thousands of planets, connected by a system of space warps called UMN (Unus Mundus Network).
Nevertheless, it is not so simple as it could seem; in fact the Federation soon have to face terrible enemies, the Gnosis, a nasty alien race with a powerful army, that is a menace for the whole human kind.
For this reason the Federation has developed an advanced system of defence, based on the so-called AGWS (Anti Gnosis Weapon System). These machines are powerful mechs created with the purpose of locating and fighting aliens. The AGWSs are of two different typologies: AG and VX. The AGs are commonly used by the Federation, while the VXs are experimental models, used only in some cases and still in phase of improvement.
These are the premises but the story of Xenosaga, which is the first one of a series that will count six episodes, begins with the discovery of an unknown and mysterious entity, the Zohar, considered as an endless and powerful generator of energy, existing since the birth of the universe. The discovery involves the young heroin of Xenosaga, Shion, and the whole Episode I is centered on this discovery.
- Age: 22
- Height: 163 cm
- Weight: 48 kg
Shion is the main character of Xenosaga. Despite the coincidence with the last name of Citan, character of Xenogears, it seems that there are no bonds of any type among the two, this also because the story of Xenosaga takes place a very long time before the events of Xenogears. Shion has lost both her parents, and subsequently also her boyfriend in an accident. For this reason her only interest seems to be the job as a researcher in the project KOS MOS for the realization of a new type of android.
- Age: it has the aspect of a 18 year-old girl
- Height: 167 cm
- Weight: 92 kg
This girl with blue hair is in reality a new type of android, and in fact KOS MOS is just the name of the model of the android. It has been created with the purpose to fight the Gnosis.
- Age: 16
- Height: 169 cm
- Weight: 53 kg
Not much is known on this little boy, just that he seems to have lost his memory, or maybe he tries to not remember anything of his past. His role inside the game is still a mystery.
Novelties and gameplay
Xenosaga will bring some innovations to the game modes and to the style of Xenogears.
First of all, both the 3D environments and the characters will be rendered in real time by the graphic engine developed by Monolith, but the players won't be able to change the camera angle during the game. As it happens in many other games, every part of the game will have default fixed shots. From what we have seen in the early screenshots of the game, the characters seems to be animated in an accurate way, also in the facial expressions. Xenosaga will feature pre-rendered movies and real time sequences to carry out the story.
However, the thing that will make many players happy is the absence of casual fights during the game. There is no need to say that too frequent random generated battles are one of the most hateful elements of many excellent RPGs. In Xenosaga the enemies will always be visible on the screen, so that you should have the possibility to avoid them. It's wonderful, isn't it?
To sum up, Xenosaga won't be a Xenogears-part two, but a game with no direct connections with its predecessor, even if it will share many stylistic elements and the futuristic setting with Xenogears.
For those people that have been enchanted by Xenogears, Xenosaga will be without doubt a confirmation, while for those people who have not appreciated the complexity of the plot and the mixture of disparate elements of Xenogears, this game could be a new love. Xenosaga is an important step for Namco to gain further importance in the world of console videogames.