When it comes to video games, Xeno is a prefix that is more or less guaranteed to create sparks when uttered in conversation. Whether it's the debate that Xenogears' various development problems keep it from being the quote unquote "perfect" game (really, don't even get me started on this one....) or how utterly ridiculous it was for Nintendo to forgo releasing Xenoblade abroad when the demand was obviously there, the truth is Xeno games have a history as checkered as their acceptance by gamers themselves.
As ambitious as these games really are, the problem that some had with Xenosaga's lengthy cutscenes is well justified. Like any given Metal Gear Solid title, it seemed the player was left watching almost as much as they where playing. That said, while there's a bit of hyperbole in there it's not like these scenes were boring and flaccid. In fact, there are several scenes throughout the game that make it worth replaying. Yet the concept of honesty makes it necessary for me to admit that Xenosaga's gameplay undoubtedly plays second fiddle to its story.
Unfortunately, Xenosaga is a bit conflicted here as well. While its narrative is a lot easier to navigate than that of Xenogears, Xenosaga has the "unique" trait of having an NPC that's far more interesting than many of the player's characters. Who am I talking about? Andrew Cherenkov. When the game opens, we find come to see that Commander Cherenkov is second in command aboard the Woglinde, but what we learn about him from that point on challenges one's perception of good and evil and quickly overshadows anything the game tries to establish about Shion, the main character.
This is the main reason I tracked down Xenosaga Limited Edition Movie DVD. When you get right down to it all of the characters are important, but Cherenkov is something else entirely. You just don't run into an all-encompassing character like this very often and being able to relive his story with minimal fuss was of the utmost importance to me. Anyway, beyond a small hitch or two, Andrew's story is faithfully preserved on this pre-order bonus, as is the remainder of the game's narrative. Still, with so much material on hand there are obviously areas where this item falls short. I could get into specifics about the scenes that are included/excluded (trust me, I have some definite gripes) but can't due to spoilers and space.
There are few isolated instances where the video cuts out for fraction of a second. Nothing too grievous, but it does take away from the product's overall level of quality. There was also a small section where the audio dropped out in similar fashion. Still, considering this was initially a bonus item that didn't cost customers anything I'm more than willing to overlook such slight miscues. There are also no subtitles. The subtitles from the game are now absent and the video is now completely unobscured. Depending on what your looking for this can be good or bad.
Such issues aside, the further one gets in the DVD the less material they'll ultimately find sacrificed. Personally, I don't find the second half the game/narrative as exciting as the first (mainly due to the lack of Cherenkov) but it doesn't but too much of a damper on the proceedings. The only other real downer is the time since episode II's release has made the Xenosaga Limited Edition Movie DVD a somewhat uncommon item. Still, as most know it's somewhat hard to tell when or if these pre-order bonuses will end up becoming something down the road or if they are really worth procuring. In this case I have to say I'm hook, line and sinker. That said, fans of the series will probably have no problem in following suit.