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The Last Remnant (PC)

The Last Remnant (PC)

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It would be fair to say that MMORPG’s are taking ground from single player RPG’s on the PC in recent years so today it is with much interest that we take a look at Square Enix’s Last Remnant, a game which originally hit the Xbox 360 in late 2008. Those familiar with the game will find a host of improvements and tweaks to make the experience even more enjoyable however the game is not without fault.

You play as Rush Sykes, a character in search of his kidnapped sister who ends up wrapped inside a complex tale of worldwide conflict. It is a story which doesn’t really piece together and ends up a convoluted mess of conflicting ideals. A large criticism of the game can also be leveled at the characterisations. The most distinctive aspects of most characters are their haircuts and race and the world is seemingly populated by a random assortment of animal human hybrids from dog men to fish monsters. The setting is given a futuristic yet medieval style fantasy mix and the architecture is nondescript by nature. If I was being honest I would assume that the design of the game was handled by several conflicting teams with various ideas just thrown into the overall design. The result is that nothing gels and it all looks sloppily put together in a mish mash of ideas and design ethics.

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The story progresses quickly at the start which establishes the game world and setting and builds up relationships between the characters and builds to a high point around half way through the experience. It is after this point that the game starts to head downhill and you are placed into frustrating situations which require the patience of a saint to deal with. Another issue when this happens is that you are not powerful enough to deal with the challenges so you are forced to go into a dungeon crawling style grind to level up.

It is not all negative however because combat is for the most part enjoyable and for the first half of the game I found it challenging and entertaining. Instead of merely focusing on a few key characters, the battles in Last Remnant are group encounters and as you progress you are able to recruit more and more soldiers to your cause and bring larger numbers into each fight. Those who join into combat are grouped into unions that can be assigned different formations to alter their attack, magical abilities and defense patterns. In battle you select from a list of commands such as attack, melee, magic skills (or special commands such as revive) and this adjusts what is available depending on the situation. It is a turn based system so after you enter your commands you sit back and watch your orders take place.

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There is also the need to give move orders in the heat of battle and the position of both side’s unions during a fight will change the damage algorithms. Unions can be ordered to hold back and heal and cast area of effect spells or charge in and fight up close. Deadlocking an enemy union is a little like tanking would be in the MMORPG universe and on larger targets it is possible to have multiple unions deadlocked at the same time. Ordering multiple unions to charge in at a single enemy union can be effective because once the maximum number of deadlocks are engaged you get options to flank and attack from the rear. This is a tactic not only open to you, but to the enemy forces so when moving into combat situations it is important to be aware of possible outflanking maneuvers on both sides of the battlefield. Deadlocking a powerful enemy with your strongest defensive union is always a wise option.

These tactical ideas are important throughout the game, but especially later as battles become larger in scale and complexity. The formation of your unions and their structuring gain importance when dealing with the increased difficulty and it forces the player into considering who they are bringing into a fight as well as how they should act once the conflict initiates. This sounds great in theory but in execution there are a few shortcomings which bear mention.

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The orders you give aren’t necessarily always enacted by the units, as there is a chance that the enemy union will block the original path through ‘interception’. This really messes with strategies if you are relying on something massively important like a revive command or if you have to destroy a AOE magic squad before they cause too much damage. The game seemingly generates intercepts at random and they can happen at the most frustrating times imaginable. Obviously a certain amount of random events are more realistic but it is frustrating to set up a clever array of strategic commands only to have them all fail immediately due to some tactic ruining random abnormality. There is also the fact that certain attack options won’t always open against one particular squad but will be available against a similarly placed nearby formation. The game never explains why it removes some attacks against specific placements so you are never aware how to preempt this beforehand.

The active player count can get high and Square Enix have implemented a system of automated power up and equipping system. As you collect items after a successful battle squad members request certain items to upgrade their own equipment which is a welcome addition in removing some possibly tedious and repetitive micromanaging. The only problem with this is, unless you document all the requests it is hard to remember all the units desires and wishes.

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There are also some side quests involved throughout the games various towns. Some are queued in a log but most side quests will teleport you immediately to the dungeon area where they take place. Since you have no idea the difficulty level of a particular mission this instant teleport system does not seem to be an ideal way of putting the player into the environment. The side quests have a number of different structures from sequences to one on one boss fights in arenas to locating various NPC’s hidden in the lower levels of dungeons. While these bring some variety to the grinding or main story content most of these are very similar in nature and quickly become repetitive. There also aren’t any random encounters when wandering these areas, you can see every enemy and the game even lets you tailor the degree of challenge you want in each fight by tagging foes and drawing more in at once, which can get you more goodies. If you are a leveling up freak who love to continuously grind you can expect over 120 hours of gameplay inside the maze like system. If you spend all your time exploring and finding every location you can easily double this game time although it does seem rather similar and generic in nature due to the repeating enemy types throughout the environments.

If you have experienced the console version then you will be happy to hear that the PC adaptation is superior. There were some performance issues on the 360 which have been removed and if you have a decent modern day gaming PC then you should have no problems. With an entry level quad core system, 2GB of ram (windows vista) and a 260 GTX I was able to enjoy huge battles at high resolution with very little slow down. Graphically the game isn’t setting any new benchmarks but it can look quite nice especially the sunset cliffs of Fornstand. The audio side of the game is capable and the voice acting ranges from acceptable to annoying. There is support for a control pad which might aid the enjoyment of the game.

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The Last Remnant is a solid enough game which will appeal to those of you who enjoyed the game on the Xbox 360. For many people however, the long grinding sessions and the frustrating combat system may prove frustrating more often than it is enjoyable. If you like free roaming open ended games then this might prove a good purchase but just be aware of the issues mentioned in the review. It is an interesting game which may deserve your attention, but it will certainly not win new coverts for the genre.

A decent combat system mared by some random elements which ruin the feeling of control.
Distinctly average with the occasional flash of what could have been.
Nothing to remember, but acceptable.
If you like the grind then this is going to take many weeks of solid gameplay.
(Not an Average)
Unremarkable and for fans of the genre alone.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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