Lost Odyssey

Lost Odyssey

What we liked:

+ Emotional Story
+ Beautifully Rendered Cut Scenes

What we didn't like:

- Character Design
- Difficulty Level

DEVELOPER: Mistwalker   |   PUBLISHER: Microsoft Game Studios   |   RELEASE: 02/12/2008

Lost Odyssey is the newest RPG from the famed father of “Final Fantasy” Hironobu Sakaguchi. Lost Odyssey tells the story of Kaim Argonar, who for some reason has lived for a thousand years. At this point he does not remember anything about all of those years of his life, all he knows is that he cannot die. Along the way he will meet other immortals who also don’t know how and why they have come to be this way. You will also meet mere mortals who will join you on your quest to stop an evil sorcerer and prevent a war from happening that could tear the world apart. Pretty generic sounding right? I know, but coming from someone who enjoys any kind of RPG Lost Odyssey has a “gen a ci qui” or “certain something” about it that makes it seem as fresh as the first flower bloom in spring. (I want to pause to pat myself on the back for such a good analogy) Without spoiling anything in this story of love, loss and everything in between I am going to jump right into the review.

First off, I know this has probably been talked about more times than Britney Spears’ bad parenting skills, but since this is a new review you must hear my opinion on the matter. I am talking about none other than the notorious load time issues that have come up about Lost Odyssey. I think that the load times are pretty average for a game of this size and scope. I have experienced them to be a bit long at times, but nothing like 30 seconds worth. Just as was stated in the News 4 Gamers podcast, (yes I know you all want me back on there…I promise I am trying to make it as much as I can) the longer you stay in a given area, the shorter those battle load times become.

The pattern that I have noticed so far is that you can always tell when you are about to see a cut scene, because instead of a normal “now loading” screen, you will see on that has a character name and the base stats for said character. If you haven’t noticed that, just pay attention, before every cut scene the “now loading” screen will change. Another thing that I have noticed in this game and in some other RPG’s is the world map. Whatever happened to having to actually walk around on the world map, instead of just being able to be instantly transported after you select a destination? I mean not only was this a GREAT way to level your characters, but it also was a good way for you to be fully immersed in the game world. I mean you can see the mountains, and rivers, and cities that are in this game world that you are playing. Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoyed walking around the world and leveling.

Let’s talk game play; if you have played Final Fantasy then you can play this game. Ok, that is very vague, so I will break it down for you. Pretty standard RPG game play elements are at work here, I outlined the main quest for you above, over the course of trying to accomplish this herculean task, (I call it that because immortal or not….its only like 5 people vs. a whole country) you will visit different towns, and dungeons, and mystical forests all the while fighting different creatures and monsters. The battles here are like the Final Fantasy games before 11, which is to say they are all random. As you run around you will be attacked by something and whisked away to a battle screen.

The monsters are all based around the four basic elements, which are fire, water, wind and earth. You will eventually get a skill that will show you what element each monster is, but I mean when you are fighting something named “Flame mask of Django” I am pretty sure it is a safe bet that it is a fire monster, which means…..duh use the water magic. The magic in this game is split into four categories; black, white, spirit, and composite. Black and White is pretty self explanatory if you have ever played any RPG game ever. Black is attack magic, and White is healing magic, the Spirit magic is a mix of stat and attack magic. You will find stuff like speeda, which will hasten your characters turn, and attack magic like shadow which will attack all enemies with…..shadow magic.

One of the different things that Lost Odyssey does is limit skills to the mortal players. Only the mortal people can gain skills and spells as they level up. In order for the immortal people to use them you have to “junction” that skill from a mortal. After a few battles you will become fully trained with that skill and be able to move it to your own slots and learn another one. The downside to this is that as an immortal you have to find “slot seeds” in the game world which will add more slots to your immortals. Another thing that adds a bit of strategy to this game is you what is called the “wall system.”

This basically allows you to put your higher HP characters in the front, which let them add defense for the spell casters in the back. It really works rather well; you will be able to keep your healers alive longer because they are taking less damage from your enemies. The bad thing is that the monsters can do the same thing. On the attack side of things Lost Odyssey offers up what is generically called the “ring system.” What this does is add a little timing mini game to the attack system. You can construct the rings yourself, and they will add various spells and effects to weapon attacks. After you equip the ring, and initiate an attack with a weapon a ring will appear over your target. You have to hold down the right trigger and release it just as the ring centers on your target, if successful you will get a perfect and it will add the attack bonus to your…um attack.

The last thing that needs to be discussed is Kaim’s dreams. As you progress through the game Kaim, will see and hear different things that will trigger his Swiss-cheesed memory. (Yes, I did just make a Quantum Leap reference) This is a very nice idea on paper, but the execution of it leaves much to be desired. You see, each dream is just some pretty artwork with a blurb of text for you to read. No one speaks it, there is no talking, there is some music, but that’s it. I would have rather seen these actually shown with CGI, but I guess at four DVD’s if they added more CGI this beast would be a six disc game.

The CGI cut scenes and overall graphics in this game are the best I have seen in an RPG to date. As you move from mountain tops, to cityscapes, and even out to the open seas you will stop and look around in awe of this Unreal 3 graphically powered game. Now sure the environments look great, but really I don’t understand why some of these characters are so fugly. First up Kaim, I mean….I don’t even know where to start with this guy. Sure long hair was cool in the 80’s but why does he have those three strands of hair that never really seems to move (a lot like Superman’s little spit curl thing that never moves.) The other really big thing I hate is Seth’s hair. She looks like she cast an electricity spell and it back fired. There are some other characters designs that I think are a bit flawed, but I won’t go into them here because it will be a spoiler.

Lost Odyssey is a very solid RPG offering to add to the steadily growing collection of them on the XBOX 360. I liked the new attack moves that they have added, and I really enjoyed the story. It is very immersive and really tugs at your heartstrings at times. While this is a game that should not be underestimated difficulty wise, I mean you will die more than a few times at the first boss. It is a little more difficult than the Final Fantasy’s you might be used to. Nonetheless if you get done with Mass Effect you owe it to your inner RPG self to pick up Lost Odyssey.

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