sparky_buzzsaw's Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) review

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Quirky, disjointed, but mostly enjoyable

Let me start this review by saying that if you're not into traditional Japanese roleplaying games, you might not want to start with Lost Odyssey.  The difficulty of the early parts of the game might be a bit rough for those not acclimated to level grinds and equipment hunting.  But if you're willing to stick with this game for the long haul, Lost Odyssey is surprisingly enjoyable, if a bit rough around the edges.

Graphically, Lost Odyssey is one of the best looking traditional RPG's on the market.  The world is beautifully detailed and fairly vast, though filled with traditional fantasy locations defined by the four elements, like ice & fire caverns.  A little more originality would have gone a long way toward giving LO a sense of individualism, but as it is, it comes off as a well-done clone of Final Fantasy.

And that's true of most everything in the game.  The characters feel like rejects from a Final Fantasy game.  They have some interesting moments - and there's one woman with a stunning design, and the male comic relief is actually really funny - but you won't find yourself gripping the edge of your seat to find out their fates.  And don't get me started on the inclusion of my least favorite of all RPG cliches - children as heroes.  For the most part, it's optional to use them, but still... give me an Auron or a Barrett over a child any day of the week over singing kids.  Ugh.

Gameplay, the game again owes a lot to Final Fantasy.  It's traditional turn-based RPG fare, with the exception of the power ring system.  Basically, by holding down a trigger, you can try to link up a visual cue to add more power to an attack.  It helps soften the dull-but-flashy combat.

The story is unique, though flawed in a few ways.  First, though the concept is amazing, the idea of yet another hero-without-memory is overdone to the point of being stupid.  Second, LO suffers from a traditional Japanese story-telling flaw in that something appears to be lost in translation.  Parts of the story just don't translate well.  Third, and the most annoying, is the continual use of RPG's as morality plays.  Yes, we get it - love is great, power is in your heart, heard it a dozen times before.

So why, with all these gripes, does Lost Odyssey score relatively well in this review?  Because it's technically a sound game, and its depth is astonishing.  There is tons of stuff to do and see.  You can't fault the game for setting its sights on Final Fantasy's leve, but I wish the designers had tried to create something a bit greater.  As it is, if you're looking for a decent JRPG to play, you'll be satisfied with Lost Odyssey.  But you'll be left wondering what it could have really been.

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