|System: X360, PS3||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: Nov. 20, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
This year has been pretty big for Square, with several Final Fantasy remakes coming to handhelds, as well as a few new spin-off titles. However, in spite of all the new Final Fantasy that fans have been able to digest, Square fans have also been treated to two completely new IPs this year, Infinite Undiscovery and The Last Remnant.
While the former took a very traditional approach to the genre, The Last Remnant aims to add a more epic tinge to regular turn-based combat, and, for the most part, this title succeeds at drawing you in to a new kind of RPG experience. However, there are quite few surprising issues that keep it from being the truly awesome RPG it could have been, and those who have been waiting on pins and needles for this title may find themselves a little disappointed.
The story in The Last Remnant starts simply enough and involves a young man named Rush Sykes, who is looking for his kidnapped sister. However, the story develops quite nicely into a sweeping political epic that involves Remnants, which are powerful relics that can be bound to unleash great power. These Remnants can also be unbound to cause chaos, and the struggle to contain these hidden Remnants power forms the backbone of The Last Remnants sweeping story. The storys main strength lies in a compelling cast of secondary characters, including a mysterious villain known only as The Conqueror. The story in this title really is a major strength and a huge selling point.
However, if you are not into epic, sweeping storylines, The Last Remnant has an awesome battle system to help get your blood pumping. Instead of focusing on a small party system, The Last Remnant allows you to take on several union-style parties that can have up to 25 units each. Although you wont have direct control over each character, you will be able to direct unit leaders and control the different types of attacks that each unit can perform (magical, physical, etc.) The main character, Rush, will be in charge of the action and has his own special abilities that are separate from the troop at-large. For Square-Enix aficionados, the games battle system functions much like that of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings esper system with turn-based play replacing that titles active elements and a stronger leader system
The battle system certainly is new and interesting, and despite players not being able to assign individual attacks to each character, there is quite a bit of strategy involved. Fighting with hundreds of allies and enemies at once gives this title a sense of grandiosity that is unmatched. In addition to managing unions on the battlefield, you can also tweak troop formation, which lends a bit of old-school strategy to this title. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of deep customization past this, and individual troop members will be responsible for their own stats and equipment. However, this is probably a necessary evil, as outfitting twenty or more warriors with equipment and leveling them up individually could take a lot of time.
Even though the battle system and story make this title stand out among other RPGs, there is a huge flaw in this title that is almost enough to ruin the entire experience: the graphics. Although the different environments and characters look great and have very detailed design, the games framerate is horribly inconsistent and often slows to a crawl during large battles. Because some of the games battles can have many characters onscreen, it seems that the games engine just cant process all the different animations, and the action just stalls to compensate. Unfortunately, the framerate issues are not limited to just battle sequences, and when your character is running around different environments, there is quite a bit of shuddering, although the game rarely goes into slide show territory until battle sequences.
Although the framerate is the most egregious of this titles graphical flaws and directly impacts the gameplay, there are several other major issues with the games overall look, including frequent pop-in texture issues. It is not uncommon for characters clothes to appear five or six seconds after you begin talking to them and then other details to appear several seconds after that. Although these pop-in issues are little more than an annoyance, they just compound the graphical issues in this title and indicate an overall lack of polish.