Final Fantasy XI?
Ever since Final Fantasy
creator Hironobu Sakaguchi decided to leave (some say was forced to resign after the catastrophic failure that his Final Fantasy Spirits Within film was at the box office) Squaresoft to create his own gaming studio
Mistwalker expectations for his “NEXT” big game had been high. While this reviewer has never played Blue Dragon,
the game was received with mixed opinions from western RPG critics, however I must say my expectations at the very least were
very high for his Lost Odyssey project when the game was first announced.
Not only did the game
looked good in screen shots, the artwork seemed to hearken back to the glory days of the Final Fantasy series (FFVI-IX). I must say that indeed Lost Odyssey as a game is more fitting of the title Final Fantasy XI
than Final Fantasy XI (A MMORPG) and Final Fantasy XII (Which has nothing going for it save for the title and pretty good
tale that would lead anyone to believe that it is a FF game).
That being said Lost
Odyssey (a 2008 RPG) while not a catastrophic high budget failure of Legend of Dragoon proportions, falls short of the lofty
expectations I had placed on it. It remains a very good RPG and perhaps the best traditional RPG available in this PS3-XBOX
360 era, this speaks higher on the fact that the traditional RPGs are at a low point in their history than on Lost Odyssey’s
Lost Odyssey is the first traditional RPG that uses the Unreal Engine, anyone who has played games like Gears of
War and Mass Effect will tell you that this engine is an amazing engine that can produce some amazing results when used properly.
However perhaps Japanese developers should make their own engines from scratch, rather
than using the western Unreal engine because Lost Odyssey doesn’t benefit at all from the use of the engine, to the
point that while it is visually pleasing it is not visually ground breaking and in fact it looks (and plays) too much like
Final Fantasy X and that is bad thing considering that game was released early in the PS2’s life.
The Artwork itself
it’s top notch, and yet the game is not as graphically impressive as it should have been what’s worst there is
rampant slowdown especially during the battles, the camera is fixed like it was in FFX, which doesn’t allow the player
to immerse himself completely in the game world, and I don’t know if this is due to my XBOX or the game, but it crashed
several times in the middle of battles. Last but not least, what is up with the extremely long and frequent… VERY frequent
load times!? It seems to me that the Unreal engine caused too much trouble for the team, and I hope Mistwalker writes its
own engine from scratch for its next project.
I sincerely hope
that Final Fantasy XIII can bring back some of the magic that RPGs had in the PS1 era. Because Lost Odyssey doesn’t
do anything visually to break new ground in this day and age. The game doesn’t look bad, but save for the artwork, I
would say it looks a tad generic; perhaps we have reached the point in technology that until the next generation of consoles
rolls around we won’t be awed by graphics in a game the way we used to.
For what it’s
worth, Mass Effect looks better…
Uematsu BRILLIANT as always…though more of the same really…
Nobuo Uematsu is in my
mind perhaps the greatest Video Game Music Composer ever, and it is because of this that perhaps I wasn’t impressed
by his work on Lost Odyssey. The Music wasn’t bad in fact quite the opposite it is great, but this is something I expect
every time a game score is composed by him.
I must note that the
melodies are awfully similar to those found in Final Fantasy titles namely Final Fantasy X, which is too be expected to a
degree, but not on this scale. It was in fact mostly because of the music that Lost Odyssey feels more like Final Fantasy
XI than a completely original title.
The vocal track at the end of the game however wasn’t nearly as strong as FFX’s “Suteki Da Ne”, the music however is one of the
strong points of Lost Odyssey.
An Unforgettable Tale of Memoirs
Cutting to the chase,
Lost Odyssey features (and disappointingly so) the typical run of the mill RPG plot of a man who tries to conquer the world
while becoming a god in the process. To back the story up there are three major super powers in the world, all three countries
vying for supremacy in an upcoming Magic-Industrial War (Final Fantasy VI anyone?).
Caught in the middle
of it there is Kaim, an immortal man who has lived for a thousand years and has lost his memories, along the way he meets
and teams up with other immortals that also coincidentally have lost their memories too.
The quest smoothly gets
underway and questions such as why the immortals lost their memories, and why the immortals are in that particular world to
begin with, are answered while others are not.
Therein lays the biggest flaw in this
tale, upon completion players realize that well… there was no point in the story as whole, the ending is truly most
unsatisfying and the only saving grace in the story is the wonderful way in which the theme of death is presented ironically
through the eyes of an immortal man.
and some of the other immortals are tired of their eternal life and perhaps want a rest. This message is conveyed well enough
through short scenes in which the characters interact with one another. However what really gave the story life were the few
sessions (33 in total) in which you get to “dream” one of the Kaim’s many memories throughout his millennium
The memories are written
in short story format by Kiyoshi Shigematsu, an award winning writer in Japan, and
his work in this game shows that those awards are very well earned, because in my mind those 33 short stories are what saved
Lost Odyssey from falling in to mediocrity, not only does it keep the game from tanking, but it makes it a must play.
It is amazing how a Next-Gen RPG with a multimillion dollar budget in the end is saved by a few well written short
stories that the player has to read on the screen because they are not even acted out in scenes, and I prefer them that way,
because each short story had a lesson, a moral to be learned behind it.
The stories are so well written that they immediately transported me into the game’s world, and made me understand
the meaning of death and life in ways that no game, film or book for that matter has ever been able to accomplish. These short
stories are the reason why I must recommend this game to every RPG fan who reads this site.
After finishing the game I can see that Sakaguchi set out to make a game that was not only epic, but a game that had
a great theme to move players’ hearts and minds. I am happy to say that (Thanks to Shigematsu) he accomplished his goal;
however he failed in bringing this special tale to a satisfying conclusion.
The Cast itself is not first class, Kaim and Seth are wonderful characters with great personalities
and backstories, but the rest of the crew is uninspiring at best. I feel a tremendous opportunity was missed with Seth, hopefully
Sakaguchi will move on to become a better story teller after this disappointing outing, however I am not sure he was that
good of a story teller to begin with.
Remember Final Fantasy games had rather mediocre tales until the 6th installment,
and perhaps the only reason that venerable series began to produce wonderful stories had more to do with the rest of Squaresoft’s
staff than Sakaguchi himself.
MORE OF THE SAME….AND INNOVATION GONE WRONG!
Gameplay wise Lost Odyssey plays it mostly by the book; random encounters coupled with a
traditional turn based system and straight forward exploration is the order of the day. Lost Odyssey plays just like Final
Fantasy X . In fact the is no world map to speak of until very late in the game where you can use a ship to fly around the
world in order to discover some new areas (with powerful monsters and items) for you to explore.
The straight forward linear manner, in which the game moves, is forgivable enough since it
doesn’t break any new ground but at the same time works out like it should in this type of RPG.
The combat system itself couldn’t be more straight forward, equipping a ring causes
a (Hint: Innovation gone wrong!) “trigger” attack to appear in the screen where if you correctly time the attack
(ala Legend of Dragoon) you can deliver more damage, this feature however wasn’t nearly as useful as it might sound,
and in the end became a bit bothersome.
There are plenty of things to do once the world map opens up, but the game really lacks FFX’s
polish in the gameplay department.
A Must Buy For 360 Owners!
Lost Odyssey isn’t the greatest RPG of all time but it might be the best one available
in Next-Gen consoles right now. The short memoir segments really take this game to a new level, I just wish the game it would
have been as powerful, because then we would have really been talking about an all time great
rather than what it could have been…
and generic, the Skill sharing system can be a bit of a hindrance and the fact that the Immortals auto resurrect after a few
turns of being dead is not as helpful as it should be. It plays too much like Final Fantasy X.
Graphics: 8.5- This is the 360, I am sure the game could have looked worlds better than this, the artwork
is top notch.
reloaded, but Uematsu still is Uematsu and he can do no wrong.
plot, we have seen it before, the character development at most points is mediocre and yet the memoir short stories are truly
a work of art, and they single handedly saved the game.
7.0- 40-60 hours if you only play the main quest but there are plenty of side quest to part take that can extend play time.
the best RPG for next gen consoles and yet it is a very lacking game, hopefully Mistwalker will perform better in their next