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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Combat in Lost Odyssey: Pros and Cons

Let me first say one thing about the combat in Lost Odyssey: it's hard. I'm roughly 12 hours into the game and I've managed to kill off my entire party on three or four separate occasions. Basically, I've lost each boss fight at least once before coming out on top. I remember losing the first boss fight and wondering if I was supposed to lose the fight as part of the storyline. Nope. The fight was just plain hard and I had to figure out a way to get past it.

Thankfully, Lost Odyssey seems to perform a checkpoint-like save right before every boss battle. It's been nice having the option to "Retry" immediately after having my ass handed to me by a giant bird or some huge, disgusting energy-sucking worm.

I do have a few more beefs with Lost Odyssey's combat, though I really shouldn't regard the game's difficulty as a con. My list of annoyances with Lost Odyssey's combat is as follows:

  • Why can't I skip past the opening sequence of a fight? Do I need to watch my party get ready to fight for a full 10-20 seconds every time a random encounter pops up?
  • Why can't I set an option to skip in-fight cutscenes? It's nice to watch my party cast spells and use special abilities for the first few hundred encounters. After that, I'd love to have the option to skip these repetitive animations.
  • Why can't I speed up combat? I wouldn't mind the animations and cut-scenes if I could have them run at twice the speed.
Okay - so every one of my complaints is about the amount of time that it takes to get through a single battle. I just find it a little annoying that I'm constantly hammered by random encounters and I have no way to get through them quickly. And given the amount of level grinding that is required in traditional RPGs like Lost Odyssey, it looks like I'll be forced to watch my characters prance about and shout out cheesy one-liners countless times over the next couple months.

In Lost Odyssey's defense, there are many great things going for its combat system:
  • Creatures are varied and interesting.
  • Characters can be re-equipped on the fly during combat.
  • The ring combat system is excellent: it forces me to keep my head in the battle as I try to achieve a perfect rating whenever Kaim or Seth charge an enemy.
  • Combat is very rarely a gimme. Opponents can be ruthless and they seem to know exactly what to do to ensure their survival for at least one more turn.
Although poker has been dominating my time this week, I'm going to try and put in a couple nights of Lost Odyssey between now and Sunday night. In the past, I used to worry about negelecting one of my hobbies at the expense of another; I won't be worrying about this anymore. I enjoy playing both poker and video games. I'll simply do whatever I feel like doing on any given night. Worst case scenario is that I play a lot more poker than video games until Star Wars: The Force Unleashed hits shelves in September. When that happens, I assure you that the Dark Side of the Force > poker.

Have a good one!