Byzantine Reality

Searching for Byzantine failures in the world around us

Xenosaga Episode 2: Greatest Combat System Ever? :(

I love RPGs. I love a good challenge in a video game every once in a while. But some of the stuff that goes down in Xenosaga Episode 2 is completely bullshit. I know, this isn’t a particularly recent game, but I picked it up recently since Episode 1 was good but not $50 good so I waited until this went down a lot in price.

That being said, I liked the storyline in Episode 2. Granted, some of the cut-scenes were long, and a couple were longer than a half an hour, but that way ok for me. What was not ok for me was the battle system. It has the standard RPG look (attack, use magic, use an item), but uses a combo system that provides an incentive to time your attacks very precisely. It and all the complicated features of the game (like team attacks) are explained in about ten seconds at the very beginning of the game and there’s no way to look back at it later, so you end up left in the dark about it even if you spend a decent amount of time leveling up.

The idea is that you can spend a couple turns “charging up” and then murder the living hell out of whatever you run into in a very methodical fashion. This was originally pretty cool, but after a while you realize that you need to have all three of your characters waste three turns EACH in order for you to do any kind of decent damage at all, especially during the end of the game. You heard it right. You must waste NINE turns before you can attack and do DECENT damage, and on top of that, you have to spend extra turns attacking to charge up your Boost Meter so that you will be able to perform combos off of your attacks with each other. Now it’s about 13-16 turns that get wasted, which gives the enemies you’re fighting free reign to beat the living shit out of you in the mean time.

Despite this bullshit, I actually almost beat the game. I came up to a point in the game where this trick stopped working and all the enemies went from being trivially easy to ridiculously hard, and a boss that took the cake, appropriately named the Patriarch. Performing the above trick lobs about 1/4 of this guy’s life off, so you’re going to need to waste about 60 turns charging up, and since he’s actually not that weak, he can kill you pretty fast. Therefore, you need to spend more time making sure he doesn’t kill you so that you can waste time powering up.

Once his life starts getting low, he calls on help from a giant planet destroying robot named Proto Omega. Why he just doesn’t use the PLANET DESTROYING ROBOT in the first place is completely beyond me, but hey, I didn’t make this game up, I just play it. Long story short, he kills me twice, each time taking 15 minutes. By this point I’m pretty pissed off and I look up how I should be killing him on GameFAQs, and I’m actually pretty close. Turns out you need to waste another 3 turns casting spells that will make you do Holy damage, and that this apparently works wonders against a Holy priest. For those not so much into the RPGs, you typically use opposite elements to do good damage, e.g., you fight a Fire monster with Water, not a Fire monster with Fire. I wasted another 45 minutes getting murdered three more times and then this became the first game I stopped playing without finishing.

I mean, what’s the point? He can team up with his robot and attack you FIVE times in a row, by himself, KILLING YOUR ENTIRE TEAM before you can do anything about it. And if he doesn’t kill you like that, you can bet your ass the robot will in ONE HIT.

At first I said “Well, I guess they just wanted to do an RPG a little bit differently than the usual Final Fantasy games”, and this is the only thing that’s really different than your usual Final Fantasy game. Then I played Final Fantasy XII and realized that was bullshit.