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 Post subject: Lost Odyssey
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2010, 19:49 
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LOST ODYSSEY
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Graphics: 8
Gameplay: 4
Storyline: 10
Audio/Sound: 7
Suspense: 5
Overall: 6.5

Rated T
Available for Xbox 360


Comments:
I am sorry for purchasing this game. I did not intend to offend anybody, and in future, I'd like Mistwalker to give adequate warning that they don't want people playing their games. Lost Odyssey punished me at every turn for just trying to have fun (and I was paying for it!), so I can only assume it was intended for the World of Warcraft market.

Allow me to explain. My first impression of Lost Odyssey was pretty accurate - I watched my friend play it for about five minutes before the repetitive battle sequences and terrible script forced me to turn away and find other ways to occupy my attention. My friend objected, saying that it was just an acquired taste - you had to learn to love it. I was dubious, but many of my favourite games were off-putting at first.
When, months later, I found it buried in an EB sale bin, I figured that perhaps I was being too judgemental and that if I assumed an optimistic mindset, I might enjoy myself.

The premise is fairly straight-forward. It's a turn-based RPG, very traditional and very multi-disc'd. I like multi-discs.
After watching some soldiers in absolutely hilarious armour rip each other to shreds, get resurrected by mobile priest-towers and charge off for round two, you meet the protagonist in the standard fashion. He barrels through hordes of enemies, far beyond the front line, leaping and cutting and doing all the amazing things you'll never get to actually do. Before you realise it, menus pop up and it's time to sink or swim. As you'd expect, the tutorial fight is a cakewalk. Menus are fairly standard - attack, item, spell, defend, etcetera, etcetera. After trashing a dozen soldiers (two or three at a time) and one of their mean death-tank-things, an FMV starts and everything on the field is obliterated by a meteor or something. Then Kaim dusts himself off and heads off to find a superior officer.
Immortality as a burden is a theme as old as the titans, but if I give any ground to Lost Odyssey, it's that they play the card well. The shaky main plot aside (complete with voice acting as terrible as the awkward body language and facial animations), you learn about Kaim through dream sequences - simple animated text things with background images and music appropriate to the story. This is where the heart of the game lies. These little vignettes are flashes of Kaim's thousand-year past, stories of tiny people who didn't really matter and how their sad stories affected the protagonist. Each is equally captivating, whether the subject matter is heart-warming, tear-jerking, or both.

The game's other strong point is buried somewhere in the combat system. Skills for your immortal characters are learned by 'linking' them with mortals, who learn skills through normal level-ups. Immortals can then equip upwards of three learned skills. The critical hit system is also fairly innovative; holding in the right trigger during the character's sprint towards the enemy will bring up some circles that you need to align via timing, and success will apply an effect determined by the ring your character is equipped with. The first ring, Bruiser, is increased damage, but effects vary wildly from adding elemental damage to stealing mana.

Now that the professional stuff is out of the way, it's time to start the griping. First order of business is the camera. Cinematic cameras (that is, cameras locked at an angle decided by the area you are in) are rarely bearable, and never good. A cinematic camera that allows you to nudge it in various directions without giving you actual control is just teasing. I thought we'd evolved past this. The zoom-in feature was entertaining for a good twenty seconds, though.
Secondly would be the 'targeting', by which I mean, getting Kaim to interact with objects. If he is facing two degrees left of centre, then he can't seem to find the jar you want him to fish around in. If you don't stop in time and crash into the door you want to enter, you'll need to walk a few feet away, turn around, and approach it slower to get the prompt to appear. It happens with everything - people, doors, chests, posters, signs... if you want to interact with it, you'll have to work for it.

My third issue is a little specific, but is the sole reason I felt like speaking out against the game. I guess I could categorise it as a 'difficulty curve' issue, but really, it's just That One Boss. Every game has a boss that is disproportionately difficult when compared to the rewards given, the area they're in and even when compared to other bosses. Every game has a fight which causes players of all skill levels to throw their controller to the floor in frustration, which has entire message boards dedicated to its defamation. For Lost Odyssey, it happens to be the first boss.
The hour-or-so of gameplay preceding Grilgan is gentle, with most enemies falling from a single melee hit (or surviving on under 20 hp) and appearing in groups of 3-4. Unless you spent hours grinding on the first enemies you came across, you will approach the first boss at around level 13-15, dealing 100-150 damage and having 300-450 HP (spellcaster/thief mortal excluded). You might, then, be surprised to hear that the boss can (and will, frequently) kill the entire party in two rounds with an attack that hits every party member for around 250 damage. If you can't rack up 1600 damage within two or three turns, it's Game Over. Did I mention that save points are sparse, and that 'continuing from the last checkpoint' will put you in the area with the boss, but sans any levels/equipment you have gained since your last save?

Other gripes are small things, but things that matter after a while. Every battle is preceded by a soundbyte from a randomly chosen character (which was hilarious when Kaim was running around solo, proclaiming that 'we' would destroy the opponents) and a weapon display by all party members and enemies. Neat the first few battles, but exhausting after you realise you can't skip it. I suppose it's probably a loading buffer, but still. Attack animations are limited, which makes grinding more of a chore with every fight.
Character models are well-designed and painted, but all have an uncanny-valley aspect somewhere. It's different with each character, and more off-putting the longer you spend trying to figure out what is wrong. This one's a bit petty, but; enemies are laid out side-by-side, yet the target-selection menu is laid out vertically. Frustrating.
Finally, cutscenes are abrupt and frequent. Besides being triggered by reaching the end of a dungeon or talking to an informant or defeating a boss, you will often halt in the middle of spelunking so you can see what the villain is doing back in the city. Crossing the street, pushing through bushes or even relaxing at the park are all viable cutscene triggers in Lost Odyssey, whether you like it or not.

When it comes down to it, Lost Odyssey is a flawed, unwieldy and shamelessly clichéd RPG, but an RPG nonetheless. If you're ravenous over the prospect of a stubbornly traditional game produced by the man behind Final Fantasy, then none of this matters to you anyway. If you're on the fence, I'm here to push you back onto the safe side. Hire/rent it. Borrow it from a friend. But make sure you can stand its quirks before you commit to it.

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 Post subject: Lost Odyssey
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2010, 12:19 
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I haven't tried this game, so I can't comment on whether people in general are likely to feel the same way about it, but this review seems to be well-written, and all the opinions are well-explained. I found it very helpful, and think it would be a good addition to the site.



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 Post subject: Lost Odyssey
PostPosted: 08 Jul 2010, 06:28 
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I dunno why I missed this before.

5 is average, so if you're sorry you bought this game... I dunno. I feel like maybe you need to rework your numbers. Other than that, it looks great.



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 Post subject: Lost Odyssey
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2011, 15:39 
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[QUOTE=Champagne Supernova;57673]I dunno why I missed this before.

5 is average, so if you're sorry you bought this game... I dunno. I feel like maybe you need to rework your numbers. Other than that, it looks great.[/QUOTE]
/slowest response in history

I regret buying this game. If it were a gift, or if I had pirated it, I would be happy to possess it. If I regretted obtaining this game for free, then I would rate it lower than a 5. If I believed it was detrimental to the artistic integrity of the video game industry (see: Superman 64) I would rate it 1 or lower. Unfortunately, the average game in today's market is actually worse than Lost Odyssey, which I still consider to be a terrible game.



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