Sunday, April 27, 2008
A Journey worth getting lost on.
Lost Odyssey was described as Hironobu Sakaguchi's masterpiece and now that it's here is it safe to say that it is? Yes it is within certain bounds.
Lost Odyssey is somewhat of a mixed bag. While the story is certainly a masterpiece is every way the game is riddled with little technical glitches. However I will say this before we go on that those little problems should not stop you from playing the game as the positives more then make up for the negatives.
As many may know Lost Odyssey is the epic story of a man named Kaim Argonar. What do I mean by epic? 4 disc's and a incredible story thats what. The game starts at the Wohl Highlands during a war and by the end of the battle everyone is dead. Everyone except Kaim who is a Immortal and can not die and has lived for 1000 years. However Kaim doesn't remember much about who he is, where he comes from, or why he is here. Over the course of the game Kaim will slowly begin to regain his memories and discover why it is that he is immortal and why he is here. The story is full of Heart ache, Political intrigue, War, Murder, Love and there is even a bit of comedy here and there to. The great thing about Lost Odyssey is that it nails all of the emotions. This game will make you cry and if it doesn't you may not have a soul.
The real treat in Lost Odyssey is A Thousand Years of Dreams. When ever Kaim remembers something about his past it comes to him in the form of a dream which are presented as short stories. These stories all of which were written along with the entire game by acclaimed and award winning Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu. These stories recall a specific event from Kaim's past and they are the most emotional stories you are likely to read in a long long time. Some tell of a lost loved one, some tell of a war that Kaim fought, while others are about the differences in the way people think in different parts of the world. Each will move you in some way shape or form and thats not a easy thing to do when each of them had to be translated.
The game play in Lost Odyssey is your classic turn based combat and I mean classic. The game goes back to the roots of Final Fantasy the series that Sakaguchi-san created all those years ago. While admittedly a bit slow by todays standards the game never feels dull. The reason behind this is that Lost Odyssey is turn based combat perfected. By midway through the game you will have 5 members active per battle and you will have various spells and abilities to choose from. Black Magic, White Magic, Spirit Magic and Composite Magic. Immortals do not learn skills and spells on their own like mortals do so you need to link a Immortal to a skill one of the mortals has to learn it. Immortals can also learn abilities by equipping items with skills attached to them. This system in essence allows you to customize your Immortals to perform how you like. The combat also incorporates a ring system. The ring systems allows you to enhance your attacks if your timing is good. Basically 2 rings appear on screen and you need to time it so they over lap for a bonus such as damage of a drain effect. Another nifty thing present in battles is that Immortals being just that can't really die. Sure they can get knocked out but leave them be and after a few turns they will get up on their own. Take caution though as if everyone in your party is reduced to 0 HP Immortal or not it will be game over.
So with all these nice things to say what is wrong with the game? Well game has frame rate stutters quite often even in areas where not a lot is happening. There is also a bit a screen tear every now and then but it doesn't happen to often. The graphics are also a mixed bag. The game uses the Unreal Engine 3. Some areas look absolutely stunning but for every area that looks stunning there are a few that look horrid. You can tell that the Unreal engine couldn't fully realize the artistic direction the game was meant to have but they did the best they could with what they had. Load times are also a bit to long and often. Also the game has somewhat of a slow start. The game won't really seem like anything special until the events that occur towards the end of the first disc about 7 hrs into the game. These events are what makes it almost impossible to not finish the game.
But like I said all the negatives should not stop you from playing Lost Odyssey. Had the game been kept in development for another month or 2 so they could iron out the bugs and frame rate issues the game could have been better. All the issues are superficial and should not stop you from experiencing one of the best stories gaming has seen in a long time.