Lost Odyssey Xbox 360

Lost Odyssey Xbox 360
Lost Odyssey, the latest offering from Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, doesn’t stray far from the style and game play of his famous franchise. Lost Odyssey features the familiar combat, story elements and game play of the Japanese RPG genre, but familiar doesn’t necessarily mean dull. Like a master chef, Sakaguchi takes standard game ingredients and makes a tasty dish of adventure that will surely sate the appetite of RPG fans hungry for the release of the new Final Fantasy instalment later this year. The epic, richly detailed story of Lost Odyssey can’t easily be summed up in a paragraph, but here’s the Coles Notes version: You are Kaim Argonar, an immortal who’s lost several lifetimes worth of memories due to a strange amnesia. You, along with a band of rogue warriors, must battle evil villains and dangerous monsters while at the same time working to find your memories and save the world. The premise may sound clichéd but thanks to the narrative talents of award-winning Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, Lost Odyssey is one of most well-written games ever created. Of course there are some painfully cheesy dialogue, over-the-top characters and over-simplified personal issues but those are the hallmarks of this genre and you couldn’t have a JRPG without them. What sets Lost Odyssey’s story apart from other games are the "memory” portions of the narrative. Kaim’s lost memories are recovered as he witnesses certain events, but rather than extensive, overdramatic cut-scenes, the memories are told through simple, straightforward short stories. These entirely text-based stories are made interesting by the use of simple background sounds, Nobuo Uematsu’s exceptional score and the occasional text animation that punctuates the words. It is a testament to Shigematsu’s literary ability that long, text-based storytelling manages to stay compelling in the midst of Lost Odyssey’s top-notch graphics. Visually, Lost Odyssey is beautiful, with most of the cut-scenes animated with in-game graphics. Stylistically, the game doesn’t stray far from what one would expect from the creator of Final Fantasy, with similar battle sequences, monsters and characters. While Lost Odyssey doesn’t quite reach the visual heights of a Square/Enix production, it does hold its own. There are a few frame rate issues during the transition to the battle screen but overall this game will continually please your eyes with its vibrant colours and attention to detail. The game play doesn’t stray far from the JRPG tradition Sakaguchi helped develop back in the ’80s. The battles are turn based, with you choosing your party’s physical or magical attack at the beginning of each round and watching as the fight plays out. The one new feature is the "aim ring” system, which has you holding the right trigger in order to hit a bull’s-eye target and increase your attack power. This system is not particularly exciting but it does bring a modicum of interaction to the routine battle sequences. When not engaged in battle, you will wander through the countryside on your way from one town to another, talking with the standard assortment of loitering townspeople who like to discuss inconsequential things with strangers. Lost Odyssey is very linear; you won’t be given a lot of choice as to what to do and where to go, other than a few short side-quests. The linear narrative is one of Lost Odyssey’s strong points but gamers have come to expect a more open world to explore, especially when a game is four discs long. If you are a fan of the JRPG genre, Lost Odyssey is an absolute must play game. Not only is it one of the best non-Final Fantasy JRPGs, it is also one of the few next-gen Xbox 360 JRPGs on the market. Go out and grab a copy, you won’t be blown-away but you won't be disappointed either. (Mistwalker / Microsoft)