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Lost Odyssey Member Review for the Xbox360

3scapism By:
PUBLISHER Microsoft Game Studios 
DEVELOPER Mistwalker 
T Contains Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Remember the year when Tony Blair finally sat his well educated bottom on the Conservatives, after a landslide defeat? Or perhaps the same year when the majority of the western worlds pre-adolescent males were walking around with blonde spiky hair, wielding a Buster Sword, shouting death to all those Shinra sympathisers? That's right; 1997. Now go 11 years forward in time, convert to a green X, flout the fact the game was made by the creator of Final Fantasy and add all the old clichés from the commercial success of 1997s Final Fantasy 7 and what is the result? Lost Odyssey.

Developed by Mistwalker and led by the infamous 3rd entry of AIAS Hall of Fame (Video game elite section) Hironobu Sakaguchi, Lost Odyssey sold above expected sales figures in the Western world. Why, well what happens when you add a multi-million selling name on the front of a box, covered with words such as 'fresh', 'powerful', 'epic' [UK Version, well mine anyhow] then appeal to the Xbox fanboys by just mentioning that slight feature that its a 360 exclusive? Instant sale!

OK; enough babbling. Lets dive in to that all important 'What the hell is this game?' section: Lost Odyssey is a JRPG; a Japanese Role-playing game for all those who are yet to get used to the world's obsession of abbreviations. It has been released exclusively for the Xbox 360, which is probably Microsoft's grand scheme of breaking into Japan. Right, that covers that section in a nutshell.

Now, when thinking of a JRPG two words come to mind; 'story' and all the 'other stuff' [three words but what the hell]. Let's start with the all important story. Not giving too much away the world starts off revolving around an immortal known as Kaim, who's just experienced and survived a meteor crashing straight into a well-oiled battlefield full of armoured clad space marine/stereotypical medieval type figures battling it out. Strangely enough he survives, meeting later a Japanese Anime fans dream woman Seth and quite possibly the best character in the game: Jansen. As this is a fairly newish game (especially for Europe) I will hold back on revealing too much, but expect a very indulging, comical and heartfelt love story, a couple of screaming kids and a villain taken straight out of the how-to-make-a-bad-guy-for-a-JRPG book. However the developers of LO really went to town on the story even though it does feature the old clichés that most of us have come to love and hate; it is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish and likes to dig deep into the players four primary emotions: Sadness, hate, love and happiness. It all gels quite well together and really steps forward into a new era of storytelling.

So many of the readers may be thinking, 'Ah well its all over now that the story is covered!'. But this is the time when all the other important reviewing aspects are well reviewed.

The battle system is conditional turned based in which players battle a variety of foes taking place on a battle screen triggered by the old run-around-till-the-screen-makes-a-noise-and-fuzzes-into-nothingness; that's right - the random encounter. As its 'conditional'; turn-based it works similarly to the old classic round system, however instead of taking an attack then the enemy taking an attack so on and so on it relies on speed. If the enemy is faster than your players he goes first and vice versa. This all leads to making players be strategical on what there next move is, as there is no time limit to make moves like the ATB system, which gives time to reflect on your next move. Take an example; Seth is faster than Kaim so maybe you want to steal from an enemy then kill if afterwards, well unlike the old random system the best option is steal with Seth and then kill with Kaim. Yes, so maybe steal wont work but at least you don't have to waste a turn to kill it. There are still all the typical lists for magic, items, skills, but rings [which I'll come onto next] and accessories have been added into the fray which are the only two new features making the battle system any different to, say, FFX. One is the wall system in which the front rows HP creates a sort of force field reducing the damage on the back row, which is really the old back row takes less damage no matter what, but this time they can take maximum damage if the wall is depleted. The 2nd being the ring system; a system which is actually pretty darn good, it works by gathering resources and making rings. These rings are good against certain elements, monsters etc, and then if you equip those rings you can increase damage output greatly, leading to quicker deaths. However, the only drawback is the fact that they are really only useful to equip to melee classes with leaving the old white magic/black magic stereotypical female casters out in the cold.

How about well all the other nicks and knacks? Character customization is basically what is has always been in most JRPGs; go to a screen go through a couple of hundred or so lists, and equip so and so to them etc. One pet peeve however is the skills list: For all those obsessive list organizers out there, not being allowed to move skills in a certain position so it all looks nice and tidy in a simple manner and not having to remove every fricken skill is highly frustrating and can lead up to 1 hour sessions of just moving them around. That being said, nothing's changed much; there are the old secret bosses, petty side quests and ultimate-weapon-finding, except maybe one thing: The dream sequences. These are basically mini-stories written by a well-known Japanese author that don't (except maybe two) have much relevance to the story. What they do, however, is tell players more about mainly Kaim's character and how he isn't a total and utter arrogant brute, but has a much softer side. Most of these stories are pretty upsetting and may even shed a tear here and there and most reviewers have deemed these annoying and pointless; but this added feature is far from it. Its story-telling at its finest, married with fitting music and artistic backgrounds, showing off the dominance of the JRPG as a great story-telling medium.

Finally a few loose ends: The music is composed by world-wide renowned composer Nobuo Uematsu and has some memorable tunes such as the battle and opening music. Voice acting in English is actually pretty decent, not only is the lip-syncing spot on and the fact it is done in a variety of different languages, but the actually actors sound pretty darn good; compared to some JRPGS through the years. For all you graphic whores out there, yes Lost Odyssey has some pretty decent looking visuals but its mainly in the cut scenes, it may not be the best we've seen on the 360 but it ain't the worst either. Forget everything else however, if you want action, shooting, sandboxed environments etc; you wont find it in Lost Odyssey, but what you will find is one of the most interesting and beautifully put stories for the 360 to date.

Rating: 9/10!

Natural Hazard

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