The Last Remnant – Square EnixPosted on February 16th, 2009 No comments
I had heard quite a few mixed reviews concerning this game. They seemed pretty good on the gameplay side of things (and, in my book, the opportunity to control up to 25 characters in battle, even if indirectly, simultaneously in an RPG is just astounding). They were pretty bad on the graphics side of things. And let me tell you, the graphics are awesome. Awesome as hell. Hellishly awesome. They are so awesome. the Xbox can’t even handle them. That’s how awesome they are.
Literally. It’s a gripe of mine: the game uses the Unreal engine, which, is a great idea, but apparently Squeenix didn’t take enough time to work out the kinks. It freezes and skips often, and so much is going on in battle that the character the screen is focusing on is not always drawn in time. (Nothing is more annoying than when the engine cannot even draw the character on the screen so it can say it is “poisoned” and lose a few hit points. Or rather, it says “poisoned”, shows the hit point damage, shows the location where the character SHOULD be, and then cuts away.) Battles move very quickly and fluidly, but only stopped by characters who magically appear nearby when its their turn, but some characters further out are drawn who have nothing to do with the encounter. Drives me nuts.
But, enough of that. If you are a hardcore RPGer, like me, you get through the graphical glitches to play the game, which, is solid. Like I said, you end up with the opportunity to indirectly control up to 25 characters at a time in battle. The way it works is thus:
Up to five “unions” can be created. Each union must have a union “leader” character. Not all characters are leaders, and new ones are hired out specially from guilds if you aren’t using the default ones given to you. (Which, honestly, kick so much ass on their own, I haven’t felt the need to spend needless money on too many other leaders yet.) Each union can have up to a total of five characters. And to make sure you don’t hire nothing but leaders and fill your party with them, a leader limit is imposed so that you have to hire regular soldiers to fill the remaining slots. Soldiers are less impressive overall than their leader counterparts, but specialize in particular skills really well.
Although the individual units have an HP value, the unions themselves have a HP that is the sum of the units involved. An enemy union must deplete the entire union’s HP to take out your squad. Individual units, if they take enough damage, can still be KO’d, but if your whole union takes more HP collectively to reach the limit, they’re all down.
You create your unions as you see fit. Before you can have up to 25 characters in 5 unions, the game ramps you up. You begin with a limit of 9 characters in up to 3 unions. It’s up to you though, how you divvy that up. Want two unions of 5 and 4? Sure. Want three (slightly weaker) unions of 3? Go for it. Keep in mind the unions HP is made up of how many people are in the party, and their HP value. (I currently have a limit of 15 characters across 5 unions, and have mine set up in 4 groups of 4, 4, 4, and 3.)
Your unions go out into battle, and work together as squads. You do not get to directly determine what each character does, but rather give out general orders of what to do to the union. You can have a squad attack all out, use magic skills, stop and heal, heal someone else, standby and jump in if someone needs healing. the commands are ever changing, giving different options based on the situation. Sometimes a group won’t want to heal, even though you think it needs to, and you have to deal with that. (They won’t ignore a given command. Actually, you just won’t get the command available to issue when it’s their turn.)
As you get deeper in the game, the intricacies of battle become more apparent. Pretty soon, you’ll be breaking off an attack to run a raid on a group of magic users, risking the free attack that will cause the group you were just fighting, while sending another squad to run interference between a heavily injured group and incoming enemy fighters. You’ll be arranging flank and rear assaults, gaining attack bonuses for the effort. You’ll learn the importance of standing by in battle, being ready to jump into the fight when needed, instead of the normal RPG thought of having everyone do something every turn.
The music is excellent. I consider the game wonderfully scored, and catchy to listen to. The battle music keeps your heart going, though I have to say the music seems to try to change based on how the battle is going, or maybe its a certain number of turns, but to me the music dramatically changes mid-battle almost randomly, and it bugs me slightly.
What REALLY irks me more than ANYTHING is how Emma was replaced by her daughter, Emma Honeywell the Second. WTF?! Emma’s death was spectacular, and a great story point. The sudden appearance, induction, and acceptance of “Emma Honeywell the Second” was some serious bullshit, though. It was so obvious from the way you might see young Emmy from time to time during your travelers that she was a god damned afterthought, and someone said “We’d better give her a few lines in the story before this point so people won’t think it’s just a name change, but the same character.” But you did such a piss-poor job of it, Square-Enix, that she has all of one line in each town, you put the “important” emote over her head as if she had a quest or something and then only had her say the one line, and then, when she joins the party by magically appearing and saying pretty much “reporting for duty,” her taunts and sayings are so damned identical to her mother’s that it almost sounds like the same voice actor. It irritates me, she has NO storyline, NO character, NO build-up. She’s so lifeless as a character, and detracts from the story, making you wonder why David allowed her to serve in her mother’s place so readily, when she’s been nothing but an ass to the party whenever you’ve seen her.
And a step further, Emma said she parted with someone in the Valeria Heart town square, and it had to be Emmy, as if she’d not seen her in years. But when you meet and speak to Emmy WITH EMMA IN THE PARTY NOT A DAMN THING HAPPENS. It was so an afterthought to have a replacement to Emma, and it was a poor one at that.
So, so far (and i’m only on disc 1 of 2), I twitch slightly every battle at the graphics, but the game’s battle, story, and music are interesting enough to keep me going. But, if I wasn’t an RPG hardcorist, I’d say this was worth a rental at best.
Added note: INSTALL THE GAME TO HARD DRIVE. IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE THE GAMEPLAY BEARABLE.