Xenosaga Episode III Part 02: What’s the Entire Galaxy Been Up To?

Previously on Xenosaga: ScientiaLeaks led a daring digital siege on Vector to gain more information on the UMN. Then Shion went to the beach! Or… was always at the beach. The UMN apparently has killer wi-fi.

There are going to be a lot of talking heads this update, and Juli Mizrahi expresses her dismay at that prospect.

So remember how Ormus was a secret society last game? One Jin spent fifteen years investigating? Well, since then, Ormus has come out of the shadows and declared war on the Federation. And they conquered Michtam, that planet from the opening. And, apparently, this is just like what happened during Pied Piper/Ziggy’s original timeframe. And Helmer… looks good in purple.

And then Juli and Helmer prattle on about philosophy for a little bit.

And now for more interesting information! Some jackass decided to build (rebuild?) the Merkabah, aka that giant space station The Brews destroyed during the finale of XS1. Also, apparently Dr. Mizrahi didn’t build that thing from scratch, it was based on designs from “ancient times”. Retcon everything important in the plot to be “ancient”? Sure.

And Dmitri Yuriev, Junior’s clone daddy, is the one building it! Is somebody writing all of this down?

Apparently Yuriev got his hands on the Y-Data… somehow. We spent two games trying to protect that information, and now everybody’s got it!

As you may have guessed from the events of XS2, Juli is now a very dedicated mother, because emotions and attachments in JRPG universes work on the same principles as light switches.

Nobody cares, but if you remember from A Missing Year, Juli was transferred to the military wing of the Federation. This apparently may have been a tactical move to have a friendly within spitting distance of noted maniac Dmitri Yuriev. Or it’s just plot convenience.

Helmer makes mention of “The Salvator Faction”. Long story short (it involves a century of “designer children”), these are Yuriev’s followers. When we see Dmitri later, he’s literally wearing their logo on his coat. Subtle machinations.

Helmer signs off, and Canaan swings by.

Rennes-le-Château was mentioned last update, and we saw inside its crypt, but here’s a teeny shot of the actual place. It looks like a Miyazaki flying island, but in spaaaaaace.

And it’s believed to be a chunk of Earth. Spoilers: it totally is.

And it’s heavily guarded by space ghosts. Hope they’re getting enough oxygen.

“I called those guys that have handled every problem we’ve had for the last year.”

It’s good to see the auxiliary characters are starting to acknowledge Shion as the center of the universe.

“So hacking into their servers is morally pure… yeah… that’s the ticket.”

Just a subtle reminder that Canaan, like KOS-MOS and Allen’s balls, is technically Vector property.

To the Durandal!

Junior, Gaignun, Mary, and Shelley are having a conference call. Miraculously, no one has yet noticed that Gaignun has been hiding an ulterior personality that has been practically running the entire Federation military for the last year.

As you may have guessed, Junior and his buddies have been asked to investigate Rennes-le-Château. And, yes, naturally we’re going to run into U-TIC/Ormus.

Again, no one questions this, and no one has questioned this for a year. Bad brother.

Though Mary and Shelley get easily distracted anytime he turns up the charm.

As ever, we’re not taking the big honking warship because we have the small, easily endangered Elsa and its dramatically more relatable crew. The captain is a boozer!

So… close… to… things… happening…

Bah! Now these idiots. It was just mentioned that Ormus conquered Michtam, and you can go ahead and compare this shot to one from last update to confirm that this is the same planet from the intro. How long could a planet burn if no one was around to put out the fires?

It doesn’t matter how this sentence ends. Richard and Hermann are dealing with a particularly difficult tangle of HDMI cords. Who cares?

What’s important is that Richard and Hermann now have ESes like the rest of the big boys. Of course, we won’t see those in action until practically the end of the game.

Here’s where some Pied Piper information comes into play. Remember how Voyager was seeking people that resonated with the Zohar? Well, this is confirmation that those “people” were Immigrant Fleet descendants, and thus ancestors of Ormus folks. So, technically, there are good odds Margulis and Ziggy are distantly related. Also: the majority of the cast.

Yes, yes, we saw the flashback.

Probably enough salt to make my cardiologist plotz.

There is some dissent in the ranks over Ormus’ goals. Unlike with old, dead Space Pope, Margulis is a true believer when it comes to Heinlein, who is apparently now solely responsible for the organization. Hey, you gotta have faith.

Rennes-le-Château is regarded as prime real estate by Ormus. Hey, isn’t that where our gang is headed?

Bad news, Pellegri, Blue Virgil has been sniffing around your “blessed Saint”.

“Incoming that one ship that keeps ruining all our plans, sir.”

There she is. The Elsa is pretty much unchanged from its Episode 2 overhaul.

And she’s currently flanked by three different ES crafts. ES Asher, ES Zebulun, and Jin’s new ES Reuben.

There’s some discussion over what everyone is looking at. Incidentally, the piloting arrangement is unchanged from XS2 (Junior/chaos in Asher, MOMO/Ziggy in Zebulun, and now Jin alone in the Reuben).

Miyazaki Islands apparently mess up space but good.

It’s a class-M planetoid, captain.

Yeah, somewhere. Question: who has been watering the trees?

Or it could be the back of an overly large Torterra. Can we please get back to playing a videogame, now?

“Okay, guys, it’s time to leave Earth. Does anybody want to take anything along?”
“Well, sir, I was thinking maybe we could laser an entire chunk of the planet out and just set it off floating in space.”
“Great idea!”

Ugh, finally some enemies show up.

Spaaaaaaace Baaaaaaattle!

Junior commands the Elsa to fly on to the mysterious landmass while the battle party keeps Ormus occupied. The Elsa crew is not excited.

Gentle reminder that Junior owns you dorks. Get in there!

And our first ES battle begins. Like XS2, we have a handful of ES battles to start the game, and then we don’t see that gameplay again for hours.

ES battles are a lot more interesting in XS3, and easily the most interesting mech combat ever gets in the Xenosaga trilogy. The basic deal is that every attack action uses up a certain about of EN (energy), and you want to chain together these attacks for maximum damage. Weaker, “cheaper” attacks generally have greater accuracy, but your accuracy for all attacks improves as more attacks land. It’s a lot like the basic combat of Chrono Cross.

Unfortunately, this tutorial is kind of lame, because none of the ESes currently have enough energy to perform more than one attack per round. That will improve by the time we get to our first ES dungeon, but, for now, here’s Jin in his ES Reuben using a sword that is easily as long as a building is tall.

The trick to most ES battles is properly managing your energy as well as what your attacks “do”. Like XS1’s battle system, every attack has an element, so if you’re fighting something strong to beam-element attacks, for instance, well, don’t bring Zebulun along.

Like XS2, everything in an ES battle has insane HP, but all attack values are inflated, too. As you might expect, these tutorial battles barely rank on the tension scale.

And, like XS2, ESes do not have victory animations, and just kind of stand there after every battle. I’m sure everyone is doing cool poses inside the safety of their giant robots.

ESes are now (almost) entirely equipment based, and do not level up. Luckily, this means your “on foot” party gains all the EXP and SP from battles, so this probably impacts low level or low equipment runs in… some way? I’ve never been one for challenges…

Battle over, all is well. Elsa is making good time or something.

Junior and his Asher are going to handle the stragglers, because cowboy.

But a new ES makes the scene!

And kicks Asher’s shiny metal ass.

A swordfight breaks out. You know what that means…

Yep, it’s Margulis wearing his sporty and comfy ES Levi.

Jin and Margulis banter like jilted lovers, as usual.

When I grow up, I want to work at the giant metal sword factory.

Sephiroth got nothing on these guys.

Here’s our other new ES wrinkle: Anima. Remember how XS2 made a big deal about each ES craft being equipped with a “Vessel of Anima”, but it didn’t impact actual gameplay one iota? Well, now you’ve got a brand new gauge that measures your anima level, and when it fills, you can “awaken anima”. Jin gets a free full tank for this battle.

But Jin doesn’t have the speediest mech, so we’ve got to play around with the other guys first. Hey, here are the items available while piloting an ES. We weren’t allowed to use items during ES combat in XS2, but now we can use a few HP and status restoring items. It won’t come up for a long while, but when you run out of HP in an ES, the next standby ES joins the party as a replacement. After that, sorry, you cannot revive an ES during battle. So you may want to hang on to those ES potions for dear life.

Also, we can use the Analyze Ball, which allows for easy scanning. Margulis’s ES Levi is a pretty straightforward tutorial boss. Hey, Margulis gets to be a tutorial battle and late-game “real” battle in two out of three Xenosagas.

Alright, back to Anima. Currently, Jin is maxed out at Level 1. As the game progresses, you’ll also earn the ability to hit Anima Level 2 and 3. Note that when you gain the higher levels, the gauge will fill much faster, so, by the time you have Level 3, you’ll probably hit Level 1 once a (random) battle with ease.

The benefits of being in “awakened” mode is primarily that all of your skills now require less EN. This can lead to a lot of interesting strategies involving using as many “hit the weakness” attacks as possible per round.

Or you can blow all your anima strength on one Special Attack like so. Guess what I usually do. Like when you’re on-foot, if you finish an enemy with a special attack, you gain extra, bonus EXP/SP.

Tutorial Margulis goes down pretty quick. Just because everyone is in an ES doesn’t mean they won’t gain new on-foot skills on level up.

As ever, a battle with Margulis means nothing, and we’re back where we started.

And Margulis is helpful as always.

But… something happens?

You know, like when the gnosis pop in and out of the universe. Don’t know why the word “time” wedged itself in there…

The Elsa is dangerously close to that thing I just said!

Margulis is making things difficult!

Dude just totally took a chunk out of the Elsa! Not cool!

Elsa down! Elsa down!

Margulis… didn’t mean to do that. I guess he thought the damaged ship would fall away from the only nearby gravity source.

But the mysterious Heinlein transmits holy cowardice to Margulis’s craft.

It’s hard to disagree with a guy you call “Your Eminence”.

“Hey, Emmy, I don’t know if you heard, but that place is kiiiiind of important to our entire religion.”

“Dude, it’s cool. I already had my cloaked nutbars smuggle the princess out. Go get a soda or something and chill.”

“Try not to cry. Are you crying? You look like you’re going to cry.”

“Fiiiiiiiiine, dad.”

Not to worry, though, as Margulis has an entire battleship worth of backup.

Margulis: obsessed with his faith/Jin.

Margulis is either taunting The Brews, or genuinely wants his rivals to find a way into the holy land. Or both. Dude has layers.

Yep, that space time distortion means the Elsa is going to be out of reach for a little while.

On the ship, we find… Professor on the bridge! And he’s got a voice for the first time in the series! We have arrived… even if the poor dude hasn’t figured out how to use a seatbelt.

Sometime in the last year, Assistant Scott worked his way up to simply Scott. Don’t worry, it’s just for dialogue boxes, his proper title is still utilized by Professor.

So, this quick look into the Elsa just confirms that the crew has survived thus far. The scene ends when they’re literally about to crash.

Incidentally, even knowing exactly what eventually happens, I was still kind of emotionally shaken during this scene. “The Elsa and its goofballs are in danger” is a fine way to toy with an audience that is invested in these dorks, but also knows that the “real” party is outside and safe. Nobody wants to see harm befall Tony and Captain… uh… guy?

Back on the Durandal, nobody has anything better to do than ping Junior every ten seconds.

There’s some “what can we do” discussion, but, ultimately, the Kukai Foundation’s hands are tied.

And… end of chapter.

Chapter 1 was literally twenty minutes, two battles, and a whole lot of dialogue.

Let’s move onto a little bit of Chapter 2 here on Shion’s Isle.

Welp, ditched the bikini for the official XS3 outfit. Time to hit the stars.

Goodbye, Second Miltia. You’ll have to find some other sucker to solve all your problems now.

Finally, two chapters and 1.5 hours in, we get the prologue that probably should have been in the manual. Wait… was it? Oh, just checked, it was, and it’s almost exactly what you see here on the screen. What have I been complaining about?

Anyway, Shion wants to bitch about how people keep fighting despite having a common enemy. Hey, Ozymandias? Eat it.

“I thought, ‘Ya know? I’ve killed like 200 U-TIC soldiers at this point. Who are those guys?’”

Once again, we get a slight retelling of AMY, but without any of those precious details.

We do get confirmation that Grimoire was "searching for Nephilim". … But then Shion stops short of mentioning that she discovered Nephilim’s “mundane” origins as well. As far as this description goes, it just makes it sound like Grimoire could see the same ghost as our protagonist.

This was obliquely mentioned in AMY, but Vector was working with some weird scientists on wannabe Nephilim (who isn’t even mentioned during this recap), who technically had ties to U-TIC. And one of those scientists was…

Suou Uzuki, Shion’s father. Despite the fact that Shion seemed to have a loving relationship with the man in flashbacks during XS1, she claims she felt nothing when she found out her dad was literally a mad scientist.

“I always knew my father was a modern Dr. Mengele… I just… didn’t feel like mentioning it until right now. Okay?”

Oh, so KOS-MOS and Vector are all about your dead fiancée now? Alright, yeah, I could see it. Shion doesn’t have many friends…

“Maybe they said I’d be demoted and working under Allen, and that concept made me throw up for two continuous hours.”

And she cuts off her monologue just when it’s getting good.

Hey, the title! Big deal, Star Trek Beyond didn’t show its title until the very end, and it had an even bigger space station!

Shion docks her ES craft, a completely unique mech capable of destroying entire armies, at some random space elevator, and heads off to find Allen.

Hey! We can walk around for the first time since Shion’s beach! Stretch those legs!

Why does this make me think I’m going to have to wake a Wind Fish?

New gameplay feature: now, technically, all the people you encounter in friendly areas are just talking amongst themselves (or audibly muttering), and you press Square to “join” the conversation. This is usually to get someone to elaborate on some particular term or phrase. Shion is, basically, running around the planet and saying, “So, whatcha guys talkin’ ‘bout?”

I’m always fascinated when sci-fi tries to pin real times on things. Shion docked far away from the planet (because I guess a spaceport would be too difficult to build on the Federation Capital Planet), and it takes a full four hours to descend to the planet’s surface. I’m pretty sure the space elevator in Mega Man X8 took half that time!

Hm, looks like they’re building some giant metal pizza out there in space.

Oh, snap, it’s the Merkabah. Yeah, it does kinda look like that thing we had to disassemble so it didn’t destroy an entire planet. Uh… did anyone tell Fifth Jerusalem about that little adventure?

Do, like, not that many people use this elevator, or is Shion that well known in this universe? Or maybe the staff is ludicrously efficient?

Four hour elevator ride. I hope those couches are comfy.

Well, let’s see here… We’ve checked in with U-TIC, The Realian Justice Warriors, The Kukai Foundation, Scientia, and The Federation Government… are there any factions left?

No no, we already saw Gaignun.

Anybody remember this magenta mesh?

Yabba dabba doo, U-DO is talking to you!

Or it was just a dream Yuriev was having. Hey, it’s grownup Citrine! You remember her, right? Junior’s sister who appeared in two scenes during XS2?

Ah ha ha. Family squabbles over body dominance.

Looks like Citrine is now Yuriev’s secretary or something. For a series that is generally pretty good with its female characters, it does seem like every powerful male has a female underling. Their girls Fridays?

Noted mad scientist and intellectual property gray area Dr. Sellers has apparently quit U-TIC and is now working for Yuriev. Incidentally, every time you see Yuriev make that face, know that his voice actor is absolutely killing it with more smarm than should be possible for mortal man.

Sellers doesn’t make much of his new position, simply that all you damn supervisors are the same.

So Sellers and Yuriev (mostly Sellers) are building a giant robot based on a prototype recovered from the ruins of Miltia. Let’s see… Miltia… oh, okay, they’re building a new Omega. That’s going to end poorly.

And Sellers just happened to whip up a Zohar emulator for the occasion. Man, are we going to have to collect that one now, too?

Sellers claims that he built the thing too well, so it’s overpowered. While that’s usually good in a videogame universe, here it just means the mech is going to overheat/explode.

“They have all the best mad scientists!”

Yuriev says he can’t trust Vector thanks to the events of AMY. Aw, Yuriev and Shion should hang out more.

There’s a new KOS-MOS in town? Well, I guess we kinda already knew that, but Yuriev doesn’t offer any extra details on that tidbit.

“Do you know how many evil plans I have going right now? I can’t worry about every little android in the universe.”

Oh, and apparently Yuriev got that Y-Data through Sellers rebuilding the whole damn thing from old Mizrahi notes. Score one for team hoverchair!

Everything is going according to plan…

“Got anybody lined up? I know that space pope that died last year was surprisingly strong.”

Gawrsh, who could Yuriev be implying is going to fight the new Omega?

Coincidentally, here’s Togashi at Vector with “big news”. You may remember Togashi from the absolute beginning of Episode 1, and then never again (except in the anime).

Togashi has always been really into Allen’s (complete lack of a) love life.

Yeesh, I wonder how the Vector official word goes on this one. Shion “took responsibility for the gnosis terrorism”? That does not look good on a résumé.

Allen hasn’t even been officially reintroduced to the plot, but we have to get a few digs in.

Bum bum bum! KOS-MOS is going to fight the brand new super weapon!

I’m sure she’ll be fine, though, she’s the most powerful member of the main cast, and that means no one can ever defeat her.

Right?

Here’s your reminder that KOS-MOS is “the Princess of First Division”, if you didn’t catch that callback during the prologue.

Alright, four hours of elevator action have passed, time to hit the town. Or not… this is probably a good stopping point. Now that we’ve learned what everyone did during their year off, I’m sure the plot is going to go by a mile a minute. Everybody strap in!

Next time on Xenosaga: The Return of the Sensational Character Find of 2002!

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