When it comes to Last Remnant, I admit I was a bit hyped back then considering what I saw in the pages within a Game Informer magazine when the series was first starting off. But I was afraid of getting the game since I was low on money at the time and the fact that the overall strategic combat was going to be confusing. Well, after buying the game for the Xbox 360 since my friend loved it on the PC, I can see that buying this game may have been a mistake. Honestly, I want to love Last Remnant, since while the main character isn’t all the cool, the environments and setting is, as well as the supporting cast of characters and enemy types introduced. Hell, I dare say it could have been a great new series in Square Enix’s arsenal. But as you shall soon see, that is not entirely the case here.
First let’s start with the gameplay itself. For those use to games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem, you guys won’t entirely feel at home with this combat system. Essentially, you form a group called a union that can store up to five members each, and as you progress, the number of leaders and soldiers increases to add onto your army, which should equal up to twenty five characters in total. But that is what the box art in the back is telling me, and in reality, you can have only 18 controllable characters, and even with a guest union and a single summon, the number totals to 24, so immediately, either someone lied or it was a misprint…on all of the boxes.
Anyway, in addition to your troops, over the course of the game, you will gain access to summoning creatures to aid you, each with an extremely large amount of health and attacks that can actually attack all enemies in a group. Combat revolves around you issuing orders to each group union and then once you are finished, you can see the mayhem unfold for yourself, while occasionally doing a quick-time event to either boost attack power or deliver a devastating counter attack.
Also, there is deadlock system, in which if you engage a group already occupied with another union, they will not be able to counterattack. Sadly, the same can happen to you too, but most enemies can take on more than one union at a time, and if you are deadlocked again, unlike the enemy, you cannot be able to counter attack. And above all else, there is a moral bar on the top screen, and the more blue it is, the more you are able to deal out damage and listen to that cool metal song. And the redder it gets…you are in huge trouble, for the enemy gains boosts of their own. Naturally, you can get more soldiers and leaders as the game progresses, with leaders by guilds for a certain amount of cash, and soldiers for free at your home base. Also, when a battle is done, everyone is revived and at full health, so there isn’t a worry in hoarding energy to pull off better attacks.
The problems grow apparent really quickly. While at first combat seems to go by very fast, the lag on the Xbox 360, even when the game is installed into the hard drive, will be very noticeable when more enemy unions keep showing up and the game can hardly keep up. Oddly enough, that is the least of the problems, for issuing commands can be quite hard to do, particularly when you want to use specific commands, like healing arts and such, but can only use items, or vice versa, or when you want to pull off a special attack, which seem to only come at random intervals.
Another thing that will of course drive you nuts in this version of TLR is the battle rank, which is kinda of like a level system, only in this case, you want it as low as humanly possible. For you see, enemies and bosses can grow stronger the higher that ranking is. Thus if you upgrade it too much, sometimes enemies can easily kill you, and that usually comes from some of the cheapest spells in existence this game has. And you might be wondering if you can customize your characters like in any other tactics game, right? Well, the answer is both yes and no. Yes you can add accessories and weapons to characters, but only if you have them in the inventory and the characters ask for them, or just customize Rush himself.
Speaking of which, there is a system that allows you to create new weapons so long as you have the recipes and materials that are gained from exploration and battles. But the Battle Rank comes once again into play in this factor too, for it not only determines enemy strength, it can determine how much stat gains your character gets after fights, and even what enemies can appear at times and what they drop afterwards. This too can be frustrating, for it can take away enemies you need to kill for prizes at the guilds the game has. But perhaps my biggest strike against the game is the inability to run away from a fight, and you will realize that you need that ability once you are in trouble for a fight you cannot win, and you will find those foes too. One tip I can give you is to never link fights together, for that actually raises the battle rank if you succeed, as well as increase your chances of losing.
Graphics are also hit and miss at times. While some of the characters look very detailed with their armor and weapons, as well as the monsters, the environments feel rather bland and lifeless at times. I have certainly seen worse in games, but there’s nothing all that appealing about it. And the graphics within battle would certainly be amazing if the game didn’t constantly lag all the time during some of the bigger and special attacks. But naturally, cutscenes are pretty beautiful as true to Square Enix fashion, though maybe want to focus on, I don’t know, the gameplay to make the game enjoyable and playable!
The story to a point does suffer, but for the most part, it revolves around the Remnants, ancient weapons and such that grant unusual abilities and powers. I say it revolves around the Remnants, but the main focus point is with Rush Sykes trying to save his sister after she was kidnapped by the enemy. After teaming up with Lord David of Athlem, the two begin a friendship (note: I actually hoped the two would be like rivals, but was saddened when that didn’t happen), and together they begin to form their armies to take back Rush’s sister, Irina Sykes, and save the world from the mad Conqueror.
Overall, the plot isn’t too bad, but I really hate the lack of character development. A lot of these characters are very interesting, such as The Seven who work for the Conqueror, as well as some of the teammates you have within the game. This was an opportunity that was heavily missed by Square Enix, and could have added even more quests into the game. Yes, there are some companion quests that do give a piece of their lives out there, but it just isn’t enough.
Voice acting though is actually pretty good, with a very likeable cast of voices put into the characters. There is definitely effort shown here, and it shines with even various shouts and grunts during combat and cutscenes. Their performances are well done, but the one thing that outshines them is none other than the music the game has to offer. By far my favorite thing about this game, probably the only reason I kept on playing, was the music, ranging from soft songs to rocking music that plays when you are performing excellently. Turn the Tide is my personal favorite, but you should definitely find the soundtrack on youtube. You will be glad you did.
But honestly, there’s not much else I can think of when it comes to this game. Music and voice acting are great, and at times the graphics are cool too, but the story suffers at the hands of lack of character development and focusing on Rush and David’s relationship, which is assumed to be yaoi, and I honestly can see it as well though I prefer Rush x Emmy. Gameplay too on this game suffers tremendously, and it only questions me as to why we can only have 18 characters, and only six of them can be leaders. That’s right, you have no choice in terms of leaders and soldiers, which means you need to pick out your leaders very carefully. Not to mention the Battle Rank has to be the worst thing I have ever dealt with in a game, as well as some of the cheap attacks that come from most of the enemies here, particularly the Observers and other floating eyeball enemies.
Sometime in the future, once I get the PC version, I will review that as well for it is supposedly the superior version and fixes nearly every problem I have with this, but for the Xbox 360 version, though I want to love The Last Remnant, I can only give this game a 2 out of 5.