|Lost Odyssey (2008)
Available for: Xbox 360
Well kids, if it was the mid-‘90s, I’d be happy to tell you that “Lost Odyssey” is a tremendous success in the RPG genre. But given that it’s now 2008 coupled with the fact that both turn-based and real-time strategy games have made leaps and bounds in advancement through the years, the best I can say about the game is that it’s hopelessly antiquated. Sure, there are plenty of gamers out there who thrill at nothing but the turn-based RPG format featuring lots of Japanese influences, but in the end, “Lost Odyssey” feels a lot like “Final Fantasy VII” minus the innovation, storyline, and actual fun that game succeeded on so many years ago.
Created by Mr. “Final Fantasy” himself, Hironobu Sakaguchi, “Lost Odyssey” tries to stick to familiar roots but ends up dead in the water thanks to boringly repetitive random battles, endless cut scenes, and a highly annoying “dream” section connected to main character Kaim, a lieutenant who’s immortal and who has lost his memories from the previous 1000 years. Kaim will run into people or places that suddenly spark a memory and the player can then choose to read page after page after unending page of text to bring to light some of Kaim’s back story that doesn’t further the actual game play at all. For people who like to read, this is your game. There’s plenty of dialogue boxes you’ll have to sit through as well, and suddenly everything feels like it’s 1995 again, only not in the best way.
Add to that a completely clunky battle system that revolves around rings players will create through various found and bought sources and equip for battle, and two of the most insanely difficult pair of initial bosses to beat, and it’ll be a wonder if most gamers will bother to stick it through the game’s mammoth four discs. That’s right. Four discs’ worth of stuff that seems like it must be holding all of those cut scenes and not a lot else. For proof, players will begin “Lost Odyssey” being thrown into the heart of an exciting battle, only to find out that they won’t get to battle again for over an hour due to cut scenes, dream bits (which are skippable), and boring exploration around towns to do the usual shopping and waiting for further instructions. It’s enough to make even the most seasoned RPG fan want to rip his hair out. When the battles do finally recommence, they are mostly of the annoyingly random “Final Fantasy VII” variety.
Players will control Kaim, a second female immortal named Seth, and a boneheaded spy working for the bad guys who is instructed to keep an eye out on Seth and Kaim while simultaneously helping in their quest. The voice acting is about as corny as it gets in “Lost Odyssey” and while the player models look decent enough, players will undoubtedly want to rip out the single strand of hair that constantly dangles in front of Kaim’s face. Yes, the game touts the Unreal Engine 3, but it matters little here in the end. While some scenes and textures look great, others look like throwbacks to games featured on the PlayStation 2. There’s even the occasional graphical stutter and a whole lot of annoying load times to facilitate the myriad cut scenes interrupting the action at regular intervals.At best, “Lost Odyssey” is worth a rental for those who love RPGs and want to try out the latest entry for the 360. However, more fun is probably to be had with the similarly maligned “Blue Dragon.” At least its cartoon style made that game whimsical and engaging when it needed to. The clichéd melodrama that buries “Lost Odyssey” is something that is not easily overlooked. In fact, this game might be the most clichéd RPG to hit shelves in a long time. Proof positive that just because a once-great creator’s name is tied to a game does not make it an instant classic. So save your hard-earned money and don’t bother plunking down to own “Lost Odyssey.” If you do, I promise you’ll wind up bemoaning both your lost time and money.