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The Last Remnant

Score: 70%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Media: DVD/2
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

The Last Remnant is one of the few non-MMO RPGs to hit the PC market in a while, and that alone should make it something to take note about, but it's hard to say if this Xbox 360 port is a strong enough title for you to go out and buy it.

Visually, the game will push your system to its limits as it displays massive environments and detailed character models using the latest Unreal Engine, but there are also some noticeable visual flaws like texture-pop-ins when areas first load up. And while the environments do look good, they simply feel like every other fantasy-RPG I've played, at least as far as visual style is concerned. In fact, I would be surprised if initial glances or screen shots would have people believe The Last Remnant was just another Final Fantasy game.

Both the game's musical score and voice-acting are top notch. I rarely had any problems understanding what the characters were saying, or what type of emotions were being conveyed, while the background music swells and quiets appropriately to the waging battles around you.


Gameplay:

The Last Remnant's story can belong to pretty much any JRPG out there. You play a character who comes from humble beginnings, but a tragedy has forced him out into the world where he ends up awakening a long hidden power and learns that his tragedy is actually an integral part in a massive fight between good and evil in the world. In the case of The Last Remnant, you play as Rush, and your quest is to find your kidnapped sister. But your journey quickly takes you into the service of a king who is fighting an evil that is trying to control ancient artifacts known as remnants.

While the game's story is nothing new, the game still presents a massive world that is interesting to explore, and trust me, there is a lot of world to explore. There are the main missions, but there are also a ton of side quests that will have you crawl through the most repetitive dungeons or take on some really big bad guys. Completists will definitely have many hours of gameplay to go through if they want to explore every part of this game's world, but it can get quite overwhelming at times.


Difficulty:

The Last Remnant can take quite a lot to get used to, and because of that, the game starts off pretty hard. The main cause of this is the game's unusual combat system, but I will describe that in more detail later. This system takes some getting used to, but the main reason why it makes the overall experience harder has more to do with a general lack of explanation or knowledge about what all is going on to decide which attacks are going to be used or how much damage will be dealt. You can have a party go up against two very similar groups of enemies, but the characters can end up dealing out very flashy special moves in one fight, and more mundane ones in the next. The difficulty doesn't really come from the mechanic itself, its from trying to figure out why certain actions are happening and others aren't.

Game Mechanics:

The Last Remnant is riddled with cliche JRPG mechanics and story elements, but what makes it stand out is the game's combat system. Unlike most party-based RPGs, you don't really have direct control over what your characters do. Instead, you give more general commands to the whole party and each A.I. determines how best to follow those commands. This becomes more and more necessary as the game progresses since you will be recruiting more and more characters into your army. This army will consist of Unions, comprised of up to four fighters, and it is to these Unions that you give your various orders. If you want them to attack, each character uses its best attack on the target. If you tell them to heal, then they will heal until their turn is over or they are back to full health (at which point, the A.I. determines what they should do for the rest of the turn). I found this to be a very interesting and different way to handle party-based fighting. At first, I didn't like the fact that it removed me from the low-level decision making, but I found the various individual's A.I. did an okay job of going through with my orders. But it is because of this lack of direct control that the concept takes a lot of getting used to and took me quite a while to get comfortable with it.

As far as controls are concerned, The Last Remnant is incredibly configurable. I didn't really like the default keyboard/mouse setup, but it wasn't long before i was able to find a configuration that worked well for my needs. What I found worked the best was the Xbox 360 controller, but that can hardly be a surprise since that's how the game was originally released.

It's hard to outright recommend The Last Remnant, but I can't completely disregard it either. The story and characters are pretty bland in my opinion (which isn't good at all for an RPG), but I found the combat system unique enough to make a lot of the game worth the effort. Unfortunately, there is a major learning curve with the combat system, and it takes a lot to get comfortable with it. If you are into RPGs for the story, then pass on The Last Remnant, but if you like massive battles with pretty graphics and don't mind a good bit of grinding, then you will probably enjoy this title.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP SP2, Vista SP1, Inetel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 processor, 1.5 GB RAM, 15 GB Hard Drive Space, NVIDIA GeForce 8600 VRAM 256 MB or better video card, 100% Directsound compatible sound card, DirectX 9.0c, Broadband Internet Connection, 1024x768 32bit display, DVD-ROM
 

Test System:



Windows Vista Ultimate, AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.20 GHz, 4 GB Ram, ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT Graphics Card, DirectX 10

Microsoft Xbox 360 Monsters vs. Aliens: The Video Game Windows Monsters vs. Aliens: The Video Game

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated