An interesting and risky experiment, Square Enix's latest epic The Last Remnant proves itself a mixed bag, never quite rising above mediocrity.
Featuring an ambitious tale hampered by constant and confusing battles, The Last Remnant never quite delivers the typical epic RPG experience that the company is known for.
The Last Remnant: you can't please everyone
Despite its rather unoriginal premise, you shouldn't simply dismiss The Last Remnant as another typical "save the world" JRPG because it was obviously built to appeal equally to both Western and Japanese audiences.
Traditional Japanese character designs are married to more conventional Western gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, the gameplay is rather uneven.
The Last Remnant sometimes feels like an MMORPG as you head from one location to kill the bad guys, level up your party, then return to town to upgrade your equipment.
The Last Remnant's Guild Tasks are more like achievements than actual quests while missions acquired in the game's various pubs break the flow of the game entirely. You also can't queue up missions - take on a quest and you have to finish it before you can go do something else.
The Last Remnant: the final battle
The Last Remnant's presentation is also a mixed bag; it's a beaut and pushes the Unreal Engine 3 to its limits; there are epic "Lord of the Rings" type battles with over 70 characters on screen at one time. But this creates a great deal of confusion, as the character models blend together.
The The Last Remnant is rather chaotic and I usually found myself unable to tell which characters belonged to me, and which ones belonged to the enemies. Your party's health and action points are also completely restored after each battle, which eliminates any sense of danger or importance that the story might thrust on you.
There's also an interesting "party within a party" system called Unions - instead of issuing commands to individual members, you build Unions made up of diverse party members. Using the system, you can manage your army by creating new battle formations and swapping out party members.
Experimenting with different formations can be incredibly rewarding and it's important to constantly re-arrange your warriors in order to get the best battle results.
The Last Remnant: deadlocked
It's really too bad that The Last Remnant is so uneven. For every one thing it does right, there is a glaring fault that ruins the fun. I'm willing to blame some of the problems I experienced on the fact that I was playing a review build of the game; hopefully, Square Enix will fix some of the more glaring issues like slow down and lag before the game hits store shelves.
But even despite this, The Last Remnant is an uneven effort that offers up a handful of interesting moments rather than a solid role playing experience from beginning to end, which, considering the pedigree of company that produced it, is truly a shame.
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