If Blue Dragon is Mistwalker's take on Dragon Quest, then Lost Odyssey is their Final Fantasy. Set in a world that mixes high technology with high magic and built using the Unreal engine, it's a 40- to 50-hour RPG, with a story that Microsoft describes as an "emotional rollercoaster."
The main character is Kaim Argonar, a soldier who's lived for a thousand years, but who's forgotten his past. Thirty years ago, a mysterious magical energy appeared in the world, which promptly became the leading power source for most of the world's technology. Now, the three largest nations are feuding over that energy, and Kaim is caught in the middle of it all.
With a band of mortals and other immortals by his side, he'll learn about his past while he's fighting to survive his latest adventure. Specifically, as you advance through the game's plot, Kaim will gradually recall his past as part of a series of dreams, which will be unlocked from the title screen as a movie gallery.
Lost Odyssey is hard to figure out from screenshots or short gameplay movies. Its combat engine uses a lot of quick jumpcuts, inset screens, and creative camera angles to create a very dynamic visual, but it's still inherently turn-based. You choose combat options from a menu, including Fight and Magic, with a special aiming system to break up the occasional monotony of combat; by pressing a button in conjunction with a shrinking crosshair, you'll determine how much damage your character does. It's a little like Elite Beat Agents, but people die.
You can include up to five characters in your active party, choosing whether or not they stand in the front or the back, and equip them with weapons and accessories. Accessories, in turn, can teach your characters skills over time as you earn SP from battle.
The general atmosphere of the game is that characteristic blend of epic drama and bizarre comedy that's characterized many Japanese RPGs; while the story is decidedly serious much of the time, it can also be relied upon for moments of humor and outright absurdity.
In short, in many ways, Lost Odyssey is the sort of JRPG that wouldn't have been terribly out of place on the PSOne, save for its impressive graphics and full voice acting. It doesn't try to reinvent the wheel or incorporate multiple elements from MMORPGs; instead, it tells a story and provides the player with plenty of old-fashioned tactically styled, turn-based combat. If games like FFXII and Rogue Galaxy, with their emphasis on the constant grind for levels and money, have been leaving you cold, this may be the kind of game you've been looking for ... and it's an Xbox 360 exclusive.
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