Lost Odyssey. Kingdom Hearts. Final Fantasy. Wild Arms. If you werenít a gamer, you would think Iím just putting two random words together to make cool names. All RPGís share one thing no matter what- and thatís the horrendously characterless and meaningless names. I wonder what developer Mistwalker had to go through before they finally settled on Lost Odyssey?
Story Adventure Maximum? Super Journey Masters? Magnesium Talkers? Bubblegum Crisis?
They have big hats. This isn't a joke, just an observation.
Anyways, Lost Odyssey was a kick in the balls for me. Here I was, getting tired of game companies using the same gameplay formulas over and over; but good lord was I misunderstanding the problem. Lost Odyssey follows a pretty standard RPG concept- typical turn based gameplay with magic, physical attacks, buffs, and heals. ďGreatĒ, I thought. ďI wonít have to crack open my Harvard studies in applied physics text book for this one. It should be an easy blow through.Ē But little did this stupid ignorant man know. I didnít read the reviews or guides for the game. And I especially didnít know about the fact the game is four DVDs long- something I learned after getting the game home. If I had done any research previously, I would have known that I was getting myself into an epic, 35+ hour saga with some of the most challenging gameplay, stunning visuals, and rewarding dynamics ever conceived.
Actually, I wouldnít say that the game is challenging. You see, washing my cat is challenging- deducing theoretical simulations of spatial-time is challenging; but Lost Odyssey is just ridiculous. Going into that game with a leisurely mentality is like Gary Coleman talking shit to The Rock. Everything seems fine at first, until youíre picked up and thrown a few yards into something hard. The difference between The Rock and Lost Odyssey however, is that youíre thrown over and over, until you get a quarter of the way through the game; in which case The Rock starts popping estrogen pills and wearing a pink dress. I donít know if it was me being battle hardened by the RPG mortar fire, or if The Rock was really growing a pair of man breasts- but either way, things were starting to look up. Until I got to the last few hours of the game, where something about your short stature infuriates The Rock and forces him into pummeling you in the face over and over with a sledgehammer.
I love black people.
I thought Lost Odyssey was going to have the typical Japanese RPG story where I get to skip every cutscene, cozí letís face it- the Japanese are as good at making enthralling and ingenuitive plots as Americans are at making cars. Even their good attempts which turn out to pretty decent are still mind bogglingly weird. Not this time though- instead of a whiny emo fifteen year old boy who wears leather pants, we get a real hero. Heís brave, bold, and interesting to boot. He doesnít worry about meaningless things like love and kittens, no; heís all about drinking himself into a stupor so he can forget the thousands of people heís killed. Then you have the secondary leading female character who is a pirate. Thatís right, not an air hostess, not some big breasted know-nothing bimbo who cries every chance she gets, but a goddamned pirate. Her idea of fun is pillaging and raping through the open seas and hitting things with swords, which is borderline radical, dare I saw Jawesome.
Nobuo Uematsu (Pronounced No-Be-You-Oh, You-Ee-Mat-Soo-Oh-Drifto-Des-Ka-San) did the music for Lost Odyssey. This means you have cunning cutscene music and dangerously addictive tunes and jingles to accompany the multitude of cities and landscapes youíll traverse. If I were to ever lose my ability to reason and use logic, and I was to use numbers to tell people what I think of games, I would use Nobuo Uematsu as the benchmark for music. He would get an absolute ten, and everyone else would pale in their pathetic attempts to mimic his utter glory.
Just kidding, I hate IGN.
The graphics here are nothing less than spectacular. Lost Odyssey runs on the UE3 engine, which powers some of my favorites such as Gears of War, Unreal Tournament 3, Mass Effect, and Bioshock. Lost Odyssey looks just as good, if not better in some areas due to the fact that the developers didnít have to sacrifice quality for rendering speed. I would love to go on about how I respect Mistwalker for taking such a focused engine like UE3 and turning it into an RPG, but there arenít enough minutes in an hour unfortunately. So Iíll just settle with ďGood lord, you guys kick ass.Ē
I promised myself I wouldnít get carried away with this review actually, so Iíve gotta wrap this up. The problem is that this game, like I mentioned earlier, is four DVDs and 35+ hours long. Thatís like what, 5.39 playthroughs of Halo 3? Thatís absolutely brilliant, but not when youíre trying to talk about it, because unfortunately I could go on for days and days here, and have this end up being a novel instead of a review. So let me get to the point.
Cats have fur.
I love the story. I also love the visuals and pleasure I get from hearing what I will refer to as an orchestra of repeated auditory orgasms. But what about the key ingredient I forgot to elaborate on? How does the gameplay stack up against other RPGís out there? Well, Lost Odyssey doesnít really reinvent anything. All it does is take pre-existing ideas and concepts and smother them in a veneer of gold and chocolate. Sometimes, itíll even cut bits out here and there, and throw in some quirky stuff as well, shaping it into a cute little bunny- but for the most part, it follows the typical RPG formula. This would normally anger me because ever since Portal, Iíve been expecting every game I play to completely reinvent a genre. But to be honest, Lost Odyssey doesnít need to. It speaks so well for itself in terms of story and quality that you find yourself trudging through the actual gameplay just to get to the stories and cutscenes.
So, what are you doing? Why are you still reading this? Go buy it so you can be figuratively piledriven by The Rock in a pink dress over and over for hours on end.