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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

 

Developer

Mistwalker / feel plus

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

February 13, 2008

 

 

- Has a certain old-school feeling that should make it feel familiar to fans of the genre

- Looks great

- Character interaction like this is not often done right in a game

 

 

- The first two to three hours are incredibly boring

- Random encounters are a pain

- Frequent load times

 

 

Review: Blue Dragon (360)

Review: Mass Effect (360)

Review: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)

 

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Lost Odyssey

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

lost odyssey          lost odyssey

 

The first two hours of Lost Odyssey may be the most boring two hours of gaming I’ve ever experienced.  After the first three minute burst of turn-based action, I hoped that something – anything – would happen as I wandered around an admittedly cool-looking world.  After the hump of the first couple of hours, Lost Odyssey sees fit to slap you upside the head with a big fight that comes literally and figuratively out of the blue. (Up to that point your party faces off against a rabble of shrub people, the plant from Little Shop of Horrors, and some strange deer, which are dispatched with little or no effort.)  It was almost enough to just drop the controller, eject the game, and write the whole thing off as a waste of time.  But I stuck it out for a third hour.  Then it snowballed from there and I actually stuck to it right to the end but only because I actually got wrapped up in the story and character interactions more than anything else.

 

Lost Odyssey begins with a massive battle that is interrupted (and ended) by a massive meteorite with a lava center.  As Naim, you survive thanks to your immortality.  From there, a fantastical political tale takes over – strangely enough 

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it’s also a good example of character development and more mature themes.

 

Some of this development takes place in the form of some extremely long, written stories as Naim slowly recovers some of his memories from his long, long life.  Thankfully, they can be skipped altogether and/or read later.  But 

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just as much comes from the interactions of the many characters found throughout the story.

 

One of Lost Odyssey’s biggest sins – aside from the first two boring hours – are the random battles throughout.  As you control Naim through the environments between main hubs, you’re hit with sudden and unavoidable battles.  Typically, they’ll strike exactly when you don’t want them to, like when you’re trying to backtrack to a save point.  This is an old-school role-playing game mechanism, which is fine, but even Mistwalker’s previous game Blue Dragon managed to eliminate random battles – when you wanted to fight you could fight.

 

lost odyssey         lost odyssey

 

Turn-based battles have always been a source of addiction for me, so Lost Odyssey’s you-hit-me/I-hit-you layout really appeals to me.  The strategy for success is multi-tiered.  Besides selecting Attack, Spell, Defend, etc. there is also pre-battle plans to be made, including “linking.”  To learn new abilities, the Immortal characters need to “link” with a human character, which makes the mortals essential to upgrading your characters.  There’s also an element of timing to your attacks, which reminded me of the Mario role-playing games like Super Paper Mario and Superstar Saga.  It spices the action enough to keep things interesting, or at the very least requires your attention.

 

It’s the switching between exploring the world and the battles that raises the issue of load times.  Namely, they’re all over the place.  On the surface, it’s not a huge problem in the overall scheme of things since they’re aren’t usually that long, but they come up regularly enough to make you look at your watch; wondering when it will be over and maybe it’s time to do something else anyway.

 

Lost Odyssey won’t convert general gamers to the role-playing fold – there are too many strikes against it, particularly the slow start that won’t suck in anyone unable to get past the first two or three hours.  But for long time role-playing fans, the game is familiar enough to feel comfortable with; and there’s enough depth to the combat and twists to the story (especially with the relationships that develop over the course of the game) to keep them interested.

 

- Omni

(February 29, 2008)

 

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