Final Fantasy XIII vs Lost Odyssey. (Long Blog)

 

                                                      Final Fantasy XIII vs Lost Odyssey

 
 I decided to wait a little while until I played enough of Final Fantasy XIII before I judged it too much. Needless to say, most of my opinions I had at the beginning of the game remained right until the end.  I'm going to say right now that Lost Odyssey is still my favorite JRPG this generation, and everything below is entirely my opinion. FF XIII is in no way a bad game, just not what I expected from a Final Fantasy.
 

Story  

Final Fantasy XIII

FF XIII's story was without a doubt its biggest fault.  It wasn't as deep or engaging as previous Final Fantasy's, and it felt like they stretched a fairly small story over many hours of gameplay. Most of the story came from the characters personal stories, rather than the actual plot.  The game no developing love story, unlike many Final Fantasy's.
 
Lost Odyssey 
Lost Odyssey plot was far deeper, and felt much like a classic Final Fantasy's story. It was epic and paced well, you always wanted to see what was around the next corner. The story, much like Final Fantasy's 7, 8, and 9, involved a clear villain. The dream sequences added an extra layer to the story of the characters, and were incredibly well written.  
 
Overall: Lost Odyssey wins by a long shot. Again the story and plot was just far more engaging.
 

Battle System

Final Fantasy XIII
Although streamlined, Final Fantasy XIII battle system was quite refreshing. I think it was a good choice to move away from the traditional turn based battle system. Paradigms were a good addition, and the battles involved more than just brute force, with a lot of the battles you had to think about how you could kill the enemy.  Battles which seemed impossible at first were easy once you figured out the right tactic. 
 

 Lost Odyssey
 A pretty standard traditional battle system, but that's not to say its bad or anything. Lost Odyssey involved a skill link system, where you linked an immortal character with mortal character in order to learn their skills. This worked well, and meant any mortal character could lean any skill. The ring system also worked well, and you could change weapons and accessories during battle. LO was also the first game of the two to let you retry battles, rather than going back to the last save point. You have a larger battle team of five characters, rather than the standard three.  



 Overall: Final Fantasy XIII wins, I still thoroughly enjoyed Lost Odyssey's, but FF XIII's was more original and less repetitive. There where also no random battles.
 

Graphics and Presentation

At first glance you may think that Final Fantasy XIII has the far superior graphics and presentation, but I would have to disagree, at least with some aspects.  
 
Final Fantasy XIII 
The character models are done incredibly well with a lot of detail, but the environments lack a hand crafted feel, and most are just cut and paste jobs. The particle effects are also very well done. Some textures, particularly on environments are pretty standard and lack small detail. The CGI cut scenes are very well done, and obviously miles ahead of Lost Odyssey's.
 
Lost Odyssey  
Lost Odyssey is a couple of years old now and it still hold up quite well. Unlike Final Fantasy XIII, the environments all feel hand crafted, and you never see the same thing twice. Here's what I mean:




While both have well made cutscenes, there is more subtle emotion in the faces of the characters, and better motion capture with Lost Odyssey.  The lip sync is also slightly better in Lost Odyssey. 
Here are two cutscenes from both games. 
 
 
 This one is the trailer showing off many cutscenes from the game. 
 
 

Overall: I'm split down the middle on this one. While the characters models are better in FF XIII, the environments and major cutscenes are better in Lost Odyssey. Most would say Final Fantasy XIII, but I guess its a matter of preference.

 

Exploration and Freedom

 Final Fantasy XIII
 Well, apart from one area of the game exploration almost doesn't exist. The game is very linear and you cant explore any of the areas that you visit. You go to amazing looking cities yet they give you no option to have a look around. You cant go back to any of the areas you have previously been to, not that there's much need to. There are side missions, but they aren't very exciting. There is also no overworld map.
 
 Lost Odyssey
Pretty much the opposite of everything above. You can go back a revisit almost all of the places that you visit throughout the story. The side quest are actually fun, and involve going to places which aren't in the story.  
 
Overall: Without a doubt Lost Odyssey.
 

Characters

Final Fantasy XIII 
The game has some very good characters, with the exception of Vanille and some might not like Hope very much. All the characters have good stories, but there is no developing love story. There is the love story between Snow and Serah, but that is already established at the beginning of the game, Lost Odyssey has an already established love story between Kaim and Sarah, and a developing love story between Jansen and Ming. None of the characters are very unique, but they are likable.
 
Lost Odyssey
Some may have problems with Cooke and Mack, but I didn't really have any major issues with them. Lost Odyssey has a larger range of characters which feel distinctively unique to one and other. The character development is done very well, with characters growing to like each other more as the game progresses. The villain isn't incredibly original but still better than any in FF XIII.  
 
Overall: Lost Odyssey. Why? More character development, a broader range of characters, the characters show far more emotion, and are just generally more likable. Lightning is the same character throughout the whole game, while Kaim's personality changes and the game progresses.

Music

I'm not going to bother comparing them. Lost Odyssey had better music by far, if you disagree then you probably haven't heard it. Nobuo Uematsu composed the whole soundtrack in LO, and his absence from Final Fantasy XIII is very noticeable. XII's music isn't bad, the battle theme is particularly well done. If you haven't heard Uematsu's work on lost Odyssey I suggest you look it up and have a listen.
 

Voice Acting

 Final Fantasy 
Not bad, but could be better. The voices of Snow and Sazh are probably done the best, with the rest being above average, apart from Vanille maybe.
 
Lost Odyssey
All the voice acting is this game is to a very high standard. Some may not like the voices of Cooke and Mack, but the acting of the characters is done very well. Nothing critical to say. 
 
Overall:  If you have played both games you would probably agree with me that Lost Odyssey has the better voice acting. Maybe not by a whole lot though. The video's above give a good indication of what the voice acting is like in both games.
 

Final Thoughts

 So its obvious that I think Lost Odyssey is a better game. Here are the main reasons: 
 
1. It didn't try and change to much, it stuck with what worked. 
2. An emotional and engaging story. 
3. A better cast of characters.
4. Far more exploration and freedom.
5. You where under constant attack, there where actually places you could go to take a rest from battling enemies.  
6. It feels like a classic Final Fantasy game.
 
The main problems I have with Final Fantasy:
 
1. It's hardly a Final Fantasy anymore.
2. No shops or towns. 
3. Far too linear, I don't mind linearity in games but this takes it to whole new level. 
4. You where under constant attack. 
5. Weak story.
 
It all comes down to preference in the end, but I felt Lost Odyssey was a better Final Fantasy game than even Final Fantasy XIII was, that's saying a lot. It helps that Lost Odyssey was made by the original creator of Final Fantasy as well.  
 
The end.
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90% of you would dissagree with me, but...

Mass Effect 2 is a very average game. I wanted to keep quite but every time someone says this will be 'Game of the Year', it makes me a little angry, mainly because it doesn't deserve it. 
 
Problems I have with this game: 
My first and most major problem: Every world you visit feels frozen in time. NPC's don't move or talk to each other, and there is no day/night cycle. Bioware did a good job creating rich sci-fi cities, yet they all feel dead. I think they should really implement some sort of AI system in the next game, so that NPC's actually walk around and interact with the environment. Something similar to The Witcher or Oblivion would go a long way.
 
2. Small environments. Again, Bioware did a good job making awesome looking cities and planets, yet leave you no room to explore. You shouldn't be locked off to one particular area. 
 
3. Graphics. I am playing Mass Effect 2 on full with anti-aliasing forced through my GPU. The game looks good, but has no 'wow' factor. Environments look bland and lack small detail to truly emerse the player into the game. In some locations they even use sprites for NPC's which are far away, and they are noticeably ugly. 
 
I have many other problems with this game including boring characters, voice acting, mining, and just plain laziness by Bioware.
 
Before people start claiming ME2 as potential game of the year, consider the other games being released this year. I personally think these games will be MUCH better. 
 
Halo: Reach
The Witcher 2 
Final Fantasy XIII
Fable 3
Fallout: New Vegas
Brink
Rage
and more...
 
On a closing note, I thought The Witcher was a far more accomplished RPG than Mass Effect 2. For many reasons, mainly being it didn't suffer from the problems I listed above.

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