|Genre||Been Done Before RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||5|
|Score||6 Gameplay: 5
Fun Factor: 7
|Buy from Amazon|
Lost Odyssey is an Xbox 360 role-playing game from Mistwalker, a development studio formed a few years ago by the creator of the Final Fantasy series. This is their second console release, the first being Blue Dragon. Lost Odyssey was released about a year ago and got pretty average reviews, but hey, the game spans four discs. I haven't played a four disc game since Final Fantasy IX, but those were CDs, not DVDs. This makes the game a bit intimidating to even try, but I'm guessing most of the data is taken up by the voices. The game supports five spoken languages! Well, enough about this nonsense, we'll only be playing one hour, and let's get into it.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Lost Odyssey begins. A giant wall of settings appears. Text speed... normal. Captions... on. Voice language: English, Japanese, German, French, or Italian? Impressive list. Guess I'll stick with English for now. Tons more stuff that I don't care about right now.
01 - Loading... Kaim Argonar's stats appear for a second. Who's Kaim Argonar?
02 - A very dark cutscene begins, guess I should have increased the brightness. A legion of soldiers are running around a battlefield but then get killed by a bunch of flying swords. Not sure who they're fighting, but they look like robots. There is a ton of blood and dirt in the air.
03 - Some giant machines of war appear and start destroying stuff.
04 - A couple of mages wave around their blue hands and all the soldiers get resurrected. Then this guy comes out of no where and in an impressive flurry of moves, kills a hundred robot-looking bad guys. But now he's surrounded, and I get control.
05 - No, this isn't going to play like a next-gen Onimusha... the game zooms in our hero, Kaim, and a Final Fantasy like battle menu appears. Attack, Skill, Spell, Item, and Defend. How original. There are five targetable Magic Khent Soldiers around me, I attack the first one. Kaim takes a big swing and knock out three of them in one blow, then blocks an incoming sword strike. Nice.
06 - He guards a ton of attacks in a row, at least he's the same awesome fighter from the cutscene. Oh, ouch, got hit for 5 hit points. The characters look great, but the animations cause the game to stutter a bit.
08 - After a few more rounds, the Magic Khents send in one of their big war machines to try and take me out. It breathes some fire on me and then we go into battle. This guy actually manages to do 61 damage in one blow! I only have 300 left.
09 - He drops his giant blade on me and does 110 damage. I'm sure the math works out so I beat him just in time.
11 - Okay, turns out you have to try a little. I pop a few 100HP medicines and defend against his blade attack to ride it out.
13 - Kaim delivers the finishing blow to the blade vehicle, and then another cutscene begins. The clouds open up above and what looks like an upside down volcano erupts onto the battlefield!
14 - Bad guys are getting swept away in the magma, wow, this is insane. It's not even a volcano, it's like the earth was in the sky, and just dumped lava all over. Kaim watches silently from a cliff.
15 - Kaim always has a perfect strand of hair dangling in front of his face. Loading...
16 - Highlands of Wohl - Hypocenter flashes on the screen, I regain control on the battlefield and save my game. Kaim is level 10 already, geez.
18 - Some undead, Insane Khent Soldiers, rise up and attack me. The game transitions to the field of battle. Because the graphics are so realistic, it looks really unnatural how the characters just stand there and let themselves get hit. I have a feeling these kind of battles aren't going to work too well in the future.
20 - I knock over a chunk of rock and pick up a Bruiser Ring. The game asks me if I'd like to take the Target Ring System tutorial... I guess so. Target Ring System adds new abilities to my normal attack. Hold the right trigger until the outer ring is directly over the Target Ring.
22 - I have to admit, this sounds pretty cool. The Bruiser Ring simply increases damage. Now I want to get into a battle.
23 - Not like this though: a random battle. Three undead rise up to face me. I score a Bad on my first target ring attempt. Hmm... finish off the battle with two Goods. Need to score a perfect! Getting Good raised my attack from about 85 to 105.
25 - I leave the Hypocenter and arrive at the Edge of Wasteland. Another random battle triggers. After the battle, Kaim mutters, "like taking candy from a baby." You have got to be serious.
26 - There are these boxes scattered about that you just kind of trip over and get the item inside. Such a weird way to get treasures.
29 - I enter the Gorge and save my game. Kaim approaches some human soldiers. They do a 24 style split screen, doesn't work as well as the TV show. The soldiers can't believe Kaim is still alive. We're now at an encampment.
31 - The game quickly shows me the Ring Assembly tutorial, guess I can make my own with the right materials. If I had six guardian ore, I could make a Bruiser Ring Ultra.
33 - We all board the armored cars, and I get control again inside. No one has anything interesting to say.
34 - I approach a beautiful girl in the corner, her name is Seth Balmore. The nurses call us both miracles because we got out in one piece. Cutscenes show the vehicles crossing plains and valleys. They keep doing the split screen thing, please stop.
35 - We arrive at the Magical Republic of Uhra. We get off, but Seth has to stay behind. Since she has both a first and last name, I'm sure we'll be seeing her again soon enough.
39 - I spend a few minutes exploring my surroundings outside the gate, and then head inside. Kaim is supposed to meet with the Council.
40 - Oh wow, the game tells me I can run by holding X. Kaim really hauls!
41 - I take a lift upstairs. Kaim is wearing this really worthless piece of armor that reveals almost his entire back.
43 - I board a monorail and it starts moving using some form of magic. I can now have a bunch of pointless conversations with soldiers on the train.
45 - A cutscene begins: "Mistwalker presents..." appears as the game's credits begin. We're shown the magical world of Uhra. I guess it looks neat. They have some nice industries going.
46 - "Lost Odyssey" is scrawled on the screen. Guess that means the game has officially begun. Kaim and his strand of hair gaze at some sort of torch high in the sky.
48 - A narrator starts talking, 30 years ago the magical-industrial revolution began. Magic Energy has changed the world in such a short period of time. We're now in the Council Interior. The men and women of the council talk about the recent battle.
49 - More annoying split screen, not sure what they're trying to prove. Everyone describes the events at Wohl as a meteor crash. Seemed a lot worse than a meteor if you ask me. Do meteors just float a mile in the air and drop buckets of lava?
51 - They're still talking amongst themselves, not sure what they're discussing. Something about a Grand Staff that Uhra is building? They're afraid it is so powerful that it may have caused the meteor.
52 - I take another elevator, one of the guards warn me we have to hurry to the council because it's still a long way off. Couldn't we have teleported or something? Where's the magic?
54 - We finally arrive at the council. The chairman, Roxian, begins speaking. Kaim has no idea how he survived the meteor.
55 - Gongora explains that Kaim is immortal because of his spell, but Kaim can't remember anything from his past.
58 - Since I'm immortal, the council wants me to investigate Grand Staff, they've lost communication with its construction. Kaim admits that another immortal exists, the woman Balmore. Of course they want us to go together.
59 - I regain control of Kaim on Main Street in Uhra. Don't think I have much time to shop and explore though.
60 - I enter Virno's Tavern as the first hour of Lost Odyssey comes to an end.
Time for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 5
Well, there's not a whole lot of gameplay in the first hour of Lost Odyssey. We get to play some pretty classic turn based battles and run around a whole bunch while anticipating the next random battle. I like the idea of the Target Ring system, but it has its roots from at least Final Fantasy VIII, and probably earlier. I really don't see the point of random battles anymore, technology has sufficiently advanced that they should be able to overcome this. Heck, they're using the Unreal Engine 3, they couldn't draw some enemies on the field and give them a patrol area? The father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, is clearly still trying to emulate his last ten games instead of trying something really new. Unless things really change after the first hour, color me disappointed.
Fun Factor: 7
The ring system is fun, and the cutscenes are engaging and jaw-dropping. I really liked how Kaim was just as strong in real battles as he was in the previous cutscene. Lost Odyssey's world is also incredibly intriguing; a magical industrial revolution? Sounds awesome, but reminds me of Final Fantasy VI this time. Sorry to keep comparing it to previous games, those were definitely very good in my book, so it's not entirely a bad thing.
Graphics and Sound: 8
I've reviewed a ton of Unreal Engine 3 games over the last year or so, including Mass Effect, Bioshock, and Gears of War. Those all look magnificent, but for some reason, Lost Odyssey has a few issues. The graphics stutter during battle, Mass Effect had similar issues but not as often and not in such a prominent situation. It would have been great if instead of FMV cutscenes, they could have rendered everything in-game. The engine and console is powerful enough. There's also no, "wow!" moment outside the cutscenes, but they are good at animating that one strand of hair in Kaim's face.
Lost Odyssey also features some decent voice acting. I wouldn't call it exceptional, it's sparse and generally pretty monotoned. At least Kaim's voice matches his demeanor.
An emotionless main character? Check. A powerful ruling Council? Check. Lost Odyssey has the makings to be just another generic Japanese role-playing game. Okay, the magical republic and the revolution it's going through is cool, but how can I stay interested when I'm controlling such a boring character? It seemed like the guy summoned the meteor in the middle of a battle and then all of a sudden he's standing on a cliff watching it with glazed eyes. He doesn't even seem to know or care that he's invincible (but with 360 hit points). Ugh, we need better written main characters in these games.
Though Lost Odyssey does a great job starting out with a bang, it relies too heavily on full-motion video and pretty gray graphics to get by afterwards. I usually reward games well that have big explosions and a decent action filled boss fight, but things just got way too boring afterwards. Writers and designers need to remember to keep the momentum going even if you start out big. So after a meteor creates a mile wide crater in the earth, we just hop in a car and go ride some elevators? You're trying to get me to play your 50 hour, four DVD game, honestly, this is not going to do it.