Review by Okii_Inu
"An Odyssey worth getting lost in"
I began my journey into Lost Odyssey (from now on referred to as LO) with a mixed bag of emotions. I have been a huge Final Fantasy fan for many years, and I always hold a special place for the RPG genre in my heart. The game does deliver on several of the major points it claims to have, yet I just do not feel the dazzle that I should from the legendary creators of Final Fantasy.
The graphics in general are very solid, and run at a surprisingly smooth framerate. I was overjoyed to see that the in-game graphics are primarily used in the cutscenes sans a couple instances where a prescripted, glossy movie is implemented. However, overall the graphics look beautiful. You can watch all of your characters hack away, talk, and fight through this epic story that transcends all of our modern lives. From the smooth facial features to the elaborate costumes and weaponry, LO does not fail to deliver on the graphical eye candy department.
Although I do praise the game for its graphical appearance, I cannot ignore the slight glitches I noticed while playing through the game itself. I always wondered how at times the faces of the characters seemed to appear a bit disfigured at certain angles. This primarily was a texture issue, but it was not something to be so profound as to be labeled as game-breaking. Occasionally there would be minor hiccups in lag that always brought back awful memories of the Red Ring of Death. Fortunately, these minor glitches were not symptoms of the fatal disease, and I was glad to see that they seemed to only appear rarely.
Graphics Final Score 9/10
The musical score is amazing as it always is with Final Fantasy games (Yes, this is a Final Fantasy game, it's just on Xbox360). I felt compelled by the music throughout the story, and often times it motivated me to gain goose bumps. Many of the character themes, Gongora especially, pleased me as they seemed completely fitting for the general motif that each character represents. The music did not seem to overpower the game itself, but I did feel that it guided me through several sections of the game, lifting my interests and enhancing the story.
The only downside to this is the repetitive nature of some of the music. I cannot say enough how tired I got of the random encounter tune. The few times throughout the game that I spent grinding levels for my characters(which by the way is not really necessary, I just did it for completion sake), I could not bear to stand the music. Many of the musical soundtracks are reused throughout the game, which I felt hurt its overall effectiveness because their originality seemed to lose value as the game continued.
Sound Final Score 8/10
If you are not at least introduced to JRPGs (and if you don't know what that means, you most likely are not introduced) at this point, then I can say that you will most likely not enjoy the combat system of LO. It follows the traditional system of turn based combat given to each side. Each round gives you a turn to order out your commands to your party, and then all of these commands are executed based on a certain amount of variables. For example, your character's speed, the enemy's speed, and the speed of the particular command are all taken into account when deciding what commands will take precedence over others. To make matters even more complicated, enemy attacks will slow down certain abilities your characters are using, and as many who are familiar to turn based RPGs know, positioning of abilities during critical moments can make or break a fight. In fact, several instances in LO severely annoyed me because of this minor problem.
To further elaborate on this point, let me explain what I mean. In one instance, I found that my primary party healer had been killed in combat. While I continually used items to bring her back to life, the "boss" would take a turn AFTER my items took effect, which usually resulted in the repeated death of my healer. This is because item usage takes precedence over actual attacks, and this forced my party to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of reviving my healer and watching her die. Needless to say, it was excruciatingly aggravating.
However, despite these unusual instances of annoyance, the turn based combat is a very welcoming addition to the game that I was overjoyed to play.
The other portion of the combat system takes place in the usage of rings. Each party member can equip a ring that will enable them to gain some sort of effect as a result. These effects vary from status changes to extra damage, and to make it a bit more involving that traditional RPGs, LO allows players to use these rings in combat via the right trigger. It is a very simple mini game that just requires the holding of the right trigger until both rings have lined up. Once the trigger is released, a rating appears of either good, bad, or perfect. Although at first it is a bit difficult, I found it to be very easy to master through practice.
Overall, the combat system has a few new tricks up its sleeve from more traditional RPGs, but I do feel that it is very much so centered around JRPG style.
Combat System Final Score 8.5/10
The story of LO is very well written and brings in several RPG elements that I feel have been missing from Xbox games. Most of the characters in the game are very deep and have interesting back stories, with the exception of a few. The characters are all enjoyable to watch, and I was captivated by a few of them. What I really enjoyed about the game was the large variety in character personalities that seem to apply to all audiences. For example, Kaim and Jansen represent two complete opposites on the personality spectrum, yet they manage to mesh well together and offer a good variety of dialogue that caters to all gamers.
Without ruining the story itself, the idea of immortality plays a significant role and theme throughout the game, as does connections with others. I thoroughly enjoyed the connections made between the characters throughout the game, and I identified with many of them on a personal level.
Although the story is very compelling, one area in which I felt let down was the dream sequences. Originally I had been very excited over these additions to the main story, hoping to gain some interesting back story for all of my characters, but I was sorely disappointed to see that many of these dream sequences are simply not necessary. Also, I felt that many of them became repetitive as they continually regurgitated the same sad state of emotion and depression for Kaim and his companions. Adding insult to injury, a LARGE majority of the dreams are not necessary to actual gameplay or the primary story, which further takes away from their value. Add in the fact that these must be read, and many times I felt the dreams were more of an added length to the game rather than an enhancing factor.
Story Final Score 8/10
The game does not offer much in terms of replayability. Once you have seen the primary plot points of the story, there is no real reason to go back and replay it. Yes, there is a new game plus mode, but it does nothing more than allow you to use your maxed out characters right from the get go. There are several mini games to complete and secret bosses to unlock that add to the replayability, but if all you are looking for is story, then you will be satisfied with a single playthrough of the game.
This however, I do not feel is a major defining factor for the game as almost all RPG's do not give a real reason to replay the primary campaign.
Replayability Final Score 5/10
LO delivers on all of the nostalgic RPG points that I have come to know and love. If you are a JRPG or for that matter any RPG fan you will more than likely thoroughly enjoy this game. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get lost in a fantasy world unlike anything they have ever dreamed. Yet, I do see a few flaws throughout the game, and I feel that the game was lacking in the dazzle department. Therefore, I do not feel that it lives up to the legendary hype of the likes of Finaly Fantasy.
Final Score 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/12/08
Game Release: Lost Odyssey (US, 02/12/08)
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