An Odyssey that you can get lost in...
The Xbox and the Xbox 360 really have not had much to offer for RPG enthusiasts. That was mostly Sony's territory, as the PS2 had a barrage of excellent, and not so excellent, Role-Playing Games. The 360 now has had Blue Dragon and currently Lost Odyssey in the US alone. While Blue Dragon wasn't a well received game, Lost Odyssey manages to do better.
Lost Odyssey comes from the mind of Hironobu Sakaguchi, (The creator of the first five Final Fantasy games) and from the sounds of Nobuo Uematsu. (The ever popular composer from a number of the Final Fantasy games) Lost Odyssey has a wonderful story with enlightening characters, but suffers from some in game lag.
The story of Lost Odyssey begins with a man named Kaim Argonar. At the start of the game, all you really know of him is that he is an immortal. An immortal is somebody who cannot ever die. However, although he can never die, he does not remember anything. His memory has been completely wiped, and anytime he even remembers anything, it turns out to hurt him. A battle ensues as the game starts and at the end, a meteor wipes out all but Kaim. When he returns to Uhra, he is told by Gongora to go check on Grand Staff as the city believes it was the Grand Staff that caused the meteor. He eventually meets another immortal named Seth, and Jansen, who is not immortal. As they approach Grand Staff, Kaim and Seth begin to remember as their stories begin to connect with each others. Later on they meet other characters, some immortal, some mortal, and discover what is really going on.
Not only is the story fantastic, but the game also has characters which make the whole experience even better. You have Jansen, who just like Irvine from Final Fantasy 8, is a ladies man. He enjoys being around women and the way he acts around the team is really funny. The story has many twists that happen later on, and you'll learn that most of the characters that are immortal have also lost their memories and begin to remember. And as they do, everybody's stories begin to connect.
Combat in Lost Odyssey is turn-based. You'll have a total of 5 characters on the field and everybody's turn alternates along with the monsters. If you've equip your characters with these special rings, then they will get an added bonus when they attack. And when they do attack, a ring will circle around the screen prompting you to hold down the right trigger and release it at the right moment in order for it to say Bad, Good, or Perfect inside the rings. If you manage to get it to say perfect, you will get all of the added bonus effects, whether it be poison an enemy, increase critical damage, and so on. You can customize rings anytime you like so you can mess around with various combinations of items you attain while battling or that you find in treasure chests.
While it does add that nice new feel to the combat system, combat is still boring. You'll encounter monsters and fight, and fight, and fight. Because the game, like most RPG's, has random battles, it also has them frequently.
There are some design quirks that really limit the fun value. First off, the game lags quite a bit. If you run a lot with the characters, you'll notice the screen skipping. This, while it does happen rarely, is still annoying when it happens. Another thing is the load times. Every time you go from one area to another, you get these long load times which can last up to 20-30 seconds. That can get really annoying when you have to go from one place to another constantly.
The game also has a few side-quests for you to partake in. While the objective in some, or most, is rather dumb, it still is pretty fun to participate in these side-quests.
Lost Odyssey has a leveling system just like every RPG. The downside is that it takes almost forever to get up one level. What is normally done in a new area in RPG's is to level up until the monsters give you smaller amounts of EXP. In a normal RPG, you could get up quite a few levels. However in Lost Odyssey, you'll be lucky to get up one or two levels until they start giving you extremely small amounts of EXP.
Another feature in the game is the feature to Skill Link. When you have immortals on your team, i.e. Kaim, Seth, etc, they can't learn skills by just leveling up like the mortals. They have to learn the skills from the mortals that learn it. The immortals can only learn from either Skill Linking or from accessories. What you do is you assign an ability for an immortal to learn. (Black Magic, White Magic, Spirit Magic, etc.) The ability will have a required number of Points that you need to obtain in order for the immortal to learn the skill. Once they do, it will be on a list of abilities that you can give your immortal.
The downside to all this is that you can't really have all the skills unless you have enough space. An immortal only has a few slots to put abilities into, and the only way to increase the number is to find slot seeds, which can't be bought. You have to find them, and they are extremely rare. So you'll really have to be balanced with who will have what as you don't want everyone having the same abilities set.
Although Lost Odyssey is plagued with long load times, some laggy frame-rate issues, and other things mentioned in this review, it's still an extremely fun game to play. If you are able to look past all of the negative things such as the dull combat and long load times, you can still enjoy the game. Lost Odyssey is definitely an adventure that you won't want to miss and you should definitely consider purchasing a copy.