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Lost Odyssey

Hands on with Mistwalker's latest Japan-smashing RPG...

We're just a little disappointed, to be honest. Kaim Argonar, the star of Lost Odyssey, is an immortal. And yet, if you and your party are defeated in combat, then it's still game over. And there we were, secretly hoping for a game that would turn the Japanese RPG format on its head. Nope; quite the opposite, in fact. This is as much a traditional J-RPG outing as Blue Dragon. But, with that expectation junked and dusted, Lost Odyssey is simply four (yep, FOUR) discs of sweet prospect.

For starters, it looks stunning, a whole notch above Blue Dragon, darker and grimier than Eternal Sonata (which isn't too difficult) but definitely no less impressive. Its production values are stellar (Microsoft's moneymen set up a whole secondary studio, Feel Plus, to help out), from ultra-swanky environments and lush character detail that holds up in gameplay as well as cut-scenes. Seriously, you'll feel guilty for ever daring to use the run button when exploring.

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Sword of the rings
While the game revolves around the typical random battles and turn-based scrapping, there's more: rings can be collected and engineered, which allow you to do bonus damage when attacking, with a well-timed squeeze of the right trigger. Also, your party is made up from two types of characters - mortals and immortals. Mortals are much weaker but have their uses, and are best placed in the back row of your party.

Stick the immortals at the front, and they'll boost your 'Guard Condition', a rating which greatly reduces the power of any blows aimed at the back-row softies.

Provided you're not expecting anything genre-busting, Lost Odyssey should go down a life-swallowing treat with RPG fans. It's epic, moody, huge, beautiful and has a plot that's a cut above the usual pap about fated teen-agers and threatened villages.

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