|System: PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Spring 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
June 4, 2007 - The name Square Enix is tied inexorably to RPG gaming. Most notably, gamers know Squenix for the popular Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, both of which have been around for over a decade with multiple iterations. As such, it is big news when Square Enix announces a new RPG, which they've done recently with the news of their latest franchise, The Last Remnant.
Even with their traditional RPGs, Square Enix has been reevaluating the formula for RPG success. Instead of rehashing the same turn based combat that we've experienced for the last few decades of gaming, they've switched up a lot of the things we expect of our RPGs in an attempt to evolve the genre. This is evident in their last few Final Fantasy games, which are already famous for altering the combat from title to title. Even the upcoming FFXIII looks to be a lot faster paced and more action based. We can expect a lot of changes in the upcoming The Last Remnant, which hasn't been locked to a console yet but is expected for the nebulous "next-gen consoles."
The first alteration will probably be one of the least noticed. The game will be released in Japan and America simultaneously. To help this process of a dual market release, the game has two primary characters that are engineered to appeal to different markets. Rush Sykes is an 18-year old swordsman that is geared towards Japanese audiences with his bright and effeminate appearance (customary for Japanese RPG protagonists) while the dark hero the Conqueror will appeal to Americans that love anti-heroes. Both characters are playable and the game will be the same in both regions, although Rush will be considered the main character while the game explores the mysterious connection between him and the Conqueror.
The story behind The Last Remnant follows the Rush as he attempts to rescue his kidnapped sister Irina from an unknown organization. Somehow, her disappearance is tied to large and unexplained objects called the Remnants. The Remnants have immense power and vary in size and shape, although it is unclear whether the Remnants are classified as large objects, machines, beasts, or weapons. One example of a Remnant is a large cannon that fires energy bolts and can be controlled remotely. Another example takes the form of a mountain sized sword that emboldens anyone around it. Apparently, solving the mystery around these Remnants will be a large portion of the game.
In addition to the Remnants, the game world has four different races. The Mitra are humans and are the most numerous. The Yama are large, strong creatures that resemble fish. The Qsiti are lizard-like beings that are good with magic, and the Sovanni, which look the most unique, are a rare four-armed race of people that look like cats and are excellent swordsmen. You can expect to see, use, and interact with all of these different races during the gameplay, which brings us to the immense battles that the game showcases.
Although the exact details of the battle system hasn't been revealed yet, The Last Remnant does have an apparently unique and innovative approach to fighting. The developers have tried to recreate a feel of an actual battlefield, so in the midst of turn based combat, the player may have to perform a series of timed button presses a la God of War. Success increases the power of the attack while failure does the reverse. Some of the battles look epic in scope, with up to 70 units engaged in battle at one time. To simplify combat involving so many participants, the game breaks some of the soldiers up into units of five that can be commanded. There is also a morale meter that moves during the battle and affects the characters abilities. Low morale ensures that characters might not be able to access their special moves, while high morale may presumably increase the effectiveness of fighting techniques. Morale can be shifted by the flow of battle or different circumstances, such as one of the characters summoning a large monster to fight alongside his allies.
Visually, The Last Remnant looks as if it may be one of the first great RPG stunners of this generation. As mentioned before, some of the battles contain tons of participants, and the action of the battlefield looks crisp and well articulated, even with the high number of characters. Character models are also very impressive. Although it isn't currently known which console(s) the game will appear on, the game definitely looks as if it is taking advantage of the next-gen power.
With the Square Enix pedigree and its premise, The Last Remnant looks like an RPG to keep an eye out for. It is entirely possible that The Last Remnant could be the latest in the (thankfully) unending flow of "final" RPGs. The Last Remnant should hit consoles in spring of 2008.
CCC Co-Site Director