I admit that I haven’t played very far into Sands of Destruction. Maybe 25 minuets at most. But what I’ve seen has really turned me off. I feel like I should play further in and give the game a chance but what I’ve played is so aggressively odious that it’s all I can do to not wrap it in newspaper like an old fish and abandon it for some alley cat’s dinner.
Which is a shame because there are some interesting and likeable bits around the edges. I bought the game because it’s being called Xenogears 2 and I do have some fond memories of that flawed but fun game. I figured I could get past the anime bullshit in Sands of Destruction and enjoy what looked like an interesting battle system. Upon booting up the game I discovered that the character designs were fairly appealing–as far as anime bullshit goes (assassin teddy bear withstanding). Things were looking good.
But then the game begun for real and I was treated some of the worst storytelling I’ve ever seen in a RPG. The game starts with a bunch of “ferals” (normal looking (for anime) guys but with pointed ears and tails) in the “feral” city discussing how humans are rebelling and that they need to tighten up defenses. Then, explosions! And a super perky human attacks. She claims that she is here to destroy the world and then dukes it out with a couple feral badasses. The game finally cuts to the main protagonist who needs to search a cave behind his small village for herbs. Just like how every other crappy JRPG starts.
The whole of this intro cut scene is inexplicable. It also has that un-realistic and stilted dialog that anime does so well. This, combined with the painfully bad voice acting, would have been enough to sour me on the game but to top it off is a design decision so bad that I’m incapable of conceiving how it ended up in the game.
Like Xenogears the game has 2D sprites in 3D environments. During the cut scene the camera would zoom in and out on the characters to punctuate revelations in the dialog. It’s like a spazzy kid is behind the camera thumbing the zoom switch back and forth as fast as he can. Not only is it incredibly distracting but it is also one of the most amateurish attempts to inject drama into a scene that I’ve ever seen. This hyperactive camera made me deeply ashamed of my hobby. Don’t worry, Imageepoch Inc., I’m embarrassed enough for the both of us.
Things got a tad better once I had control of the main character, which gives me a little hope that the rest of the game won’t resemble it’s opening. However, the battle system is so convoluted and left me so confused that the second random baddie (a pallet swap of the first) killed me–leaving me in prime position to watch the intro again. Fun!
As much as I want to give the game a fair shake I feel I made a deep mistake in purchasing it. I could press on, digging for hidden goodness, but the wise solution here is to simply return the game for something better.