Lost Odyssey

Our first real look at the 360's answer to Final Fantasy began with a handful of what looked like motorized gypsy wagons tearing across a mountainous landscape. They screeched to a halt, hatches in their backs opened and squads of troops in gold armor and tall helmets leaped out, then ran toward the horizon, screaming with their swords and lances raised.

They were quickly and mercilessly cut down by what looked like a rain of blades. The camera focused in tight on one of these, revealing it to be a sword; the hilt was gripped by a dark gauntlet, which shoved it down into its victim before yanking it out. Then we got a look at the opposing force, an army of men or creatures in bulky gray armor, again with tall hats.

What followed was one of the most terrifying video-game presentations we've ever seen, on a big screen or otherwise. All-out bedlam erupted on the battlefield, with soldiers on both sides brutally hacking and stabbing each other in meticulously rendered close-ups (although the guys in gold got the worst of it). Just as it seemed the dark guys had the upper hand, the gold side unleashed its secret weapons - huge, cylindrical robots with spider legs and a single giant, spinning blade for mowing down the other side. These were soon smashed, however, by even bigger and scarier robots on tank treads, which were equipped with flamethrowers and mammoth clubs.

Then the obvious hero strode onto the scene in midriff-bearing armor. This was Kaim, the mysterious "man who can't die for a thousand years," as the game's creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, described him. He made short work of the dark armored guys, dodging multiple blades at once while impaling one baddie after another. Then the action switched seamlessly from pre-rendered cutscene to actual gameplay, and we were… well, less impressed.


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