The Last Remnant Review
|Release Date:||November 20th, 2008 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Square Enix are a brilliant company. They've had their hands in many of the true RPG masterpieces that have crossed over the oceans and into the disk trays of many console owners for decades. They've produced games that are still fondly thought of many billions of gamers worldwide and they even have the gumption to ignore the billions of voices screaming "I want a Final Fantasy 7 remake or a sequel and I want it now!"- One of which is me. So imagine how I felt when their latest offering was slapped into my Xbox's disk tray- I was excited, excitement that quickly turned to horror.
Simply put, The Last Remnant is a mess.
Granted, it's not easy porting a distinctly Japanese game to a western audience, but that is no excuse for the shoddy graphics, poor voice acting and overly complicated battle system that Last Remnant coughed upon my screen.
The game centres on the absurdly typical Square Enix character of Rush Sykes, a boy of about 16 with a horrible mewling voice that makes me want to punch him. He is chasing after his sister, who has been kidnapped by some bad guys and ends up being dragged into a massive political battle between a strange entity known as the Conqueror and various factions who are battling for control of the 'Remnants', strange items left on the planet by forces unknown.
These Remnants have all kinds of special powers, ranging from a massive cannon to special shields and one intriguing item- a giant sword- which forms the centrepiece of a town visited early in the campaign.
The story itself lasts a good 60 + hours if you do all of the side quests, but, if you're like me, you will have been left frustrated and angry at the blatant technical flaws which mar the entire game.
The graphics, once they’ve loaded, are excellent, offering lovely views and beautiful vistas to enjoy, as well as the gritty heart of a battle and epic meeting of giant armies. The problem with this is that the texture pop-in is abysmal, with character's faces, backgrounds, weapons and even the floor taking ages to load in, sometimes 15-20 seconds. Installing to disk does help though, but not enough for my liking.
The second issue with the loading is the sheer amount of it, enter a building: loading screen, look at a map: loading screen, challenge an enemy: loading screen, watch a cutscene: loading screen, and it goes on and on.
Although Square have removed the 'random battles' that used to cause such irritation, the fact that you have to wait ten seconds for a battle to appear when you start a fight made me want to avoid them all-together, not a good sign when a game is built upon its battles.
Speaking of the battles, these are overcomplicated and awkward. Rather than sticking with the tried-and-tested 'your group versus enemies' dynamic, Square have instead ramped up the battle to include three or more groups battling at once.
These 'unions' can outflank and outthink other enemies, resulting in quite a lot of strategic thinking to win a battle. The main problem is that the micro-management of each union takes ages, and by choosing to up the number of characters the feeling of getting an item and equipment combo just right has been ruined.
Also, the battle screen itself is so full of icons and unnecessary words that understanding what is going on is practically impossible, winning can often be a case of luck rather than a case of skill. While the inclusions of 'triggers' (pressing a button at the right time) makes battles slightly more interesting, it's not enough to save them. The story itself is as twisted and unpredictable as ever, and the world it is set in well-designed and interesting. However, discovering the story of The Last Remnant can be very tedious at times. That’s partially because it’s played out in long cutscenes (with huge loading times), it would be easy to loose interest quickly but if you stick with it the story does eventually become clear.
Overall I was just left feeling a little hollow and disappointed by The Last Remnant. A game with such promise, coming from a developer which had such a fantastic pedigree, couldn’t possibly be that bad, but that sad fact is that The Last Remnant really is ruined by its flaws.
While the story and the game’s world is as charming and intense as ever, it’s mainly let down by horrendous loading times but also by some dodgy graphics caused by textures not loading in time, and in my opinion- a flawed combat system.
- Good story
- Rocking soundtrack
- Well designed game world
Not so good stuff
- Awful texture loading issues
- Loading screen, loading screen, loading screen...
- Unnecessarily complicated combat system
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