Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Last Remnant: the game that could've been

  Square Enix's single player RPG, The Last Remnant, has a curious history of being one of the few games that benefited from being ported to the PC from a console. After suffering a serious backlash from the Xbox 360 community, the developers actually listened to the players, and brought more than a few changes that streamlined the PC port of this tactical RPG. However, The Last Remnant still suffered from serious issues that banished it from the limelight it very nearly achieved and almost deserved.

  Being a game from Square Enix, The Last Remnant features beautiful environments, huge swords, and fancy clothing. What this game offers is a pretty awesome experience and playing the game will certainly make you feel that way. The game also can take a pretty competent computer and throw it to the ground with rendering large battles with all the soldiers' finery in fine detail. Last Remnant doesn't leave the eyecandy out, and the attacks and particle effects are unmistakingly impressive. Set in the Medieval-Fantasy style Square Enix loves, the player will see the painstaking detail the game's designers poured into creating a believable and fantastical atmosphere.

  The combat system in The Last Remnant is also noteworthy, as the player controls a group, or "union", of people rather than just a single character. Throughout the game the main character is able to continually recruit additional soldiers to his group, thereby increasing his army. Instead of controlling a handful of main characters, the player is able to issue a general command to each group as a collective. Being able to do this increases the epic feel to the game, as it introduces a sort of simplified RTS element to combat. In addition, each group can be customized to different formations in order to optimize a certain attribute such as melee or magic skills which in turn can be changed on-the-fly to adapt to certain situations. Issuing move orders is also key in battle, as a retaliating enemy group can unsuspectingly open key flanking routes to your army. Though the game plays in a turn-based fashion, gameplay flows fluidly and bidding all of your minions to attack a single hapless target has never felt so satisfying.

  Unfortunately, the story was a little too shallow, and the game overcompensated by throwing needlessly expansive battles at the player. What could have been a wonderfully complex story line with intrigue, family lines, political scandal, love interest, and global conflict devolved into a bloated story that twisted on itself and delivered a less than mediocre, cliche-ridden experience. In short, the main character runs off to save his kidnapped sister and runs into a power-mongering politician who surprisingly turns out to be pushing a campaign based on an apocalyptic new world order scenario. Sprinkled liberally throughout the campaign are popular JRPG tropes, such as tapping previously unknown magical powers and resolving misunderstandings which inexplicably tie into the world going kaput. Yet another problem that Last Remnant brings in is its complete lack of description in terms of abilities and the damage they do. Each group is given a set number of Action Points (AP) to use through the battle, but the abilities that use said AP don't really tell you how much damage they do. Ambiguous commands also trip up the combat system and the player often wonders what exactly his next move will do or even target. For example, ordering a group to "heal" won't give you the option of targeting a single unit, leaving the player wondering where the heal is going to go toward. In the end, what Last Remnant failed to deliver was a truly original and unique experience comparable to the vaunted Final Fantasy series that Square Enix often fails to emulate.

  The Last Remnant can be remembered as the game that almost made it, but tragically fell just a little too short. With an interesting combat system and impressive graphics, the game delivers a fun playthrough and a new way of looking at squad-based RPGs. However, the over-aspiring story failed miserably to impress its target crowd and the indefinite damage system were too much to ignore, and made the game more of a grind to get through. The Last Remnant is an admiral effort, and delivers the environment, but falls through the grate with just too little stuffing.

Freshness Rating: Looked fresh, but it tasted like water

Official Site

1 comment:

  1. I always intended to pick it up, but that sounds disappointing. Well, it looks like I'll continue to not buy it then.