Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On forming an opinion on a game...

So today I got a bit more immersed in Lost Odyssey than ever before. As we've posted previously, it's my wife that's playing the game. That's because I was spending some quality time playing Virtua Fighter 5 and improving my online fighting skills with Jacky. In the future I'm going to post some of my 'ownage!' videos of VF5 online play on this blog, just for kicks :D

I guess I needed a change of pace. Every so often I glance over my shoulder while surfing and my wife's playing Lost Odyssey. Some moments really made me go 'Wow!' even if I wasn't strictly watching her progress (most of the posts here about the game are based on her impressions).

So this morning I got even deeper into disc 1. Just a thought that occurred to me: When people form their opinion on a game, what should have more weight? Technical merits or the 'big picture'? With Lost Odyssey you could spend time mulling over the occasional jaggy or two, or imperfect lighting in some areas (and spectacular lighting in others). What I don't understand is there are some review sites which base a large part of their scoring system on these technical problems. For me, I've changed my standard a bit....if a technical problem in a game is so distracting from appreciating the overall product, that's the time when a game deserves to get panned for technical glitches. Lost Odyssey gets the occasional graphical glitch but for some reason it hasn't bothered me much. Call it a lack of a standard to compare against, call it whichever way you just doesn't bother me. The game does a great job of immersing you in its own little world.

I guess my overall positive opinion of the game is helped by the fact that the second boss killed me twice today, and I had to actually try to figure out what I was doing wrong. This is the first time, in a LONG time, that a turn based RPG had me in a conundrum....what was I doing wrong? My wife was watching on the sidelines and she was surprised that I was having trouble.

Eventually I guess I started asking the right questions. What's this GC bar up here? Turns out that I wasn't watching that bar. It's related to your party's overall 'defense' rating, and if that starts going down, Jansen (or anyone in your party in the back row) starts dying, really, really fast! I found out that I had to acquire a skill for recharging GC. It doesn't go up during combat automatically, you have to bring it up using the DEFEND command. Imagine that....I had to use the DEFEND option in a turn based game? Wow, there's innovation already in Lost Odyssey. That's because that option was always in Final Fantasy games but it never, ever gets used. Usually the only command you needed in FF was "SUMMON". That should keep you alive for 3/4ths of any Final Fantasy game until you reach the 2nd-to-the-last boss, which is always harder than the final, final boss (with the exception of Sephiroth from Final Fantasy 7).

Another thing I was doing wrong was I didn't have the Anti-paralysis skill. The giant white worm boss unleashes this magical attack that not only damages your party but also paralyzes everyone. This would make the turns after that practically useless because you couldn't do anything against the boss other than heal yourself and try to make it to the next round.

Man, Lost Odyssey's tough.

I like it.

So in short, this incoherent post is just meant to say that---and this doesn't just apply to Lost Odyssey but to most games these days---it's far better to appreciate a game for what it is than to mull over the occassional graphical glitch or two. There's no point in trying to justify your Xbox 360 console purchase by this point in the machine's life cycle by scrutinizing the exclusive games like that. I think there's more merit to appreciating the big picture, to seeing what a game has to offer over what it can't do better than the others.

Unfortunately this postive attitude toward video games isn't going to get me that much mileage in terms of site hits, though. This morning I watched an episode of "Bonus Round" on Gametrailers and one of the panelists on the show said that being extremely negative about a game almost always gets you more site hits, which in turn makes you more Google Adsense money, and generally makes you a more popular guy on the Internet.

Well, I like being a bit different....
Maybe I'll post more on this subject later....a guy's gotta eat, you know.


  1. The way you describe Lost Odyssey's battle system... and from the little I've played in a demo kiosk in Singapore... it reminds me a bit of Sega's cult classic Skies of Arcadia.

    I can't remember the exact details though... It's been a long time... but it sounds like I'll adore LO the same way I do SoA.

  2. Hey, I also played Skies of Arcadia on the Dreamcast! That was one of the best I've ever played :D

    Lost Odyssey does remind me of Skies in the sense that it's one of those rare JRPGs that leaves a lasting impression on you. It's well worth it.

  3. You're spot on about contrarian reviews and a spike in readership. Remember Halo 3? When all the sites were falling all over themselves to give it perfect 10 scores, some obscure site had the balls to give it a 7 and the Halo fans were all over it. I think it will ultimately backfire though, because after that short period of intense popularity people never come back and the site returns to obscurity, possibly worse as it would lose the few actual fans it had. Not a very good way to build a community, imo. Post a review that's fair, that's detailed and well argued and people won't mind what score you give the game. That's all we ask.