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The Player 

by MARTY DEMAREST & r & & r & Lost Odyssey & r & Rated Teen; Xbox 360 & r & 3 Stars & r & & r & Sing me the man, 360: he immortal born, & r & & r & Cursed to walk the earth eternal, & r & & r & from loved ones torn, & r & & r & Companions parted, twisted in his fate -- set free & r & & r & At last by those he lost upon his odyssey.

Ulysses was a sunny lad compared to hero Kaim,

But Kaim's beclouded outlook better fits this game,

In which a kind of magic-based industrial revolution

Has cast the balance of power in uttermost confusion.

Nations now make war that neighbored once in peace,

And valiant Kaim's decided he'll try to make them cease,

Aided (as every genuine, flawed hero has to be)

By various kinds of allies -- all controlled by me.

Though Kaim's the type of hero that I can customize,

"Role-playing game" as epithet scarcely here applies.

In battle, I command him, and choose some of his clothes,

But his story and his fortune -- the game's in charge of those.

His memories lie hidden, waiting to be freed

In long, text-heavy interludes I have to sit and read.

No acting there or pictures -- just sound effects and words:

It's a little quaint for a videogame, and a little bit absurd.

The game, aside from those, is rather lush and spatial,

With graphical scenes galore -- regal, mundane, palatial,

Sweeping, fantastical. In Lost Odyssey, the towns

Are so encrusted with detail they seem like jeweled crowns.

But why must I still face that old bane of RPGs --

Getting swooped up into battle by foes that no one sees?

(If monsters stalk about as freely as they do,

Shouldn't I see them lurking, as on the PS2?)

And saving the game only in certain glowing places

Makes gameplay less an epic than a set of relay races:

When Kaim adventures forth, he lurches back each time.

The pacing of it heaves like six-beat verse in rhyme.

THE GOOD: Hironobu Sakaguchi, the mage behind

The earliest Final Fantasy, once more's designed

A game with lavish detail, amazing presentation --

Now with the Xbox 360's graphical acceleration.

THE BAD: This makes the second Xbox 360 that I've seen

Get slow, and stall, and blink, and end a dead machine.

I quested valiantly, but half the time I played

The Xbox lost its memory of the progress that I'd made.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Lost Odyssey is rife with visuals galore,

But playing in it gets to be an epic chore.

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