Re: The Last Remnant
December 25, 2008

I've been playing a LOT of The Last Remnant these past few weeks. A potential conflict of interest prevents me from posting a review, but I still thought I'd give you all a heads up on my thoughts on the game... since they differ in some ways from our official review we posted (though I felt that the score we awarded was fair).

The main place where I differe in opinion from our review is in regards to the story, which I felt was more competent than how it is presented. Withotu spoilers I can't say much beyond that. All I can say is that the reasons the other characters had for helping Rush, the main character, aren't anywhere near as ambiguous or unlikely as Beck described in his review. In fact, there was every reason in the world to help Rush find his kidnapped sister (the main story point for the first half of the game). That's not giving the story a free pass, mind you. It's not mind-blowing or anything. It was very good, though, and just unique enough to be interesting.

Another point where I differ in my opinion is that I think the review seriously undersold side quests in the game. It did mention that they open up new areas and such, and that's true. But what the review didn't mention is that they open up lots of new areas, then some more on top of that and then some more after that. I have never played a game where so much of your experience depends on your willingness to take some initiative and experience the side quests. In fact, if you're anxious to rush through the game it can definitely be done. There's no problem there. You can probably beat it pretty easily in around 30 hours. However, you will not have experienced much overall. You'll have missed out on about half of the destinations you can visit, many interesting storylines, a ton of moves and abilities and secret characters... Really, you will hardly have even played the same game.

The review didn't touch on some other things that sound minor, so I'd like to give them some exposure here (to the few who read this blog entry).

One thing that amazed me is that the game lets you save nearly anywhere. If you're not in battle or a cutscene (and cutscenes can easily be skipped), you can save. Anywhere in any dungeon or town or on the world map... you can save. That's just fantastic.

Another point is that dungeons are more than just straight lines with monster gauntlets for you to consider as you head to the next plot element. The dungeons actually have many winding twists and secret paths. As you complete side quests, new portions of the dungeons open up that you couldn't explore before. And new monsters show up in them, even from one visit to another, even if you didn't have a reason to re-visit except "for the hell of it."

There also are rare monsters that appear almost at random... powerful beasts that maybe can mop the floor with you, but the components they drop are incredible. And with components, you can make cool weapons and such, which is very important if you want to stand a chance against your tough-as-nails enemies.

The battle system, by the way, is pretty great. You are controlling units of soldiers instead of individual soldiers. This adds some tactics to the experience, but not as much as you might think. It also means that battle scan be quite drawn out. So why do I think they're great? I like that almost any fight can be the death of you. You can actually pull multiple monster groups into a fight at once for more danger and bigger rewards (as monsters are always visible on the map). And during battle, as our review mentions, there are quick-time events that pop up where you can press buttons to do more damage, to skip a mosnter's turn so that you can keep raining damage on your enemies and so forth.

The Last Remnant truly is a deep game. It's just right for some people and everyone else will probably hate it. But if you've been looking for something massive and in the JRPG vein, it's a game well worth checking out (especially since the price at a lot of places online has dropped to $40). I've absolutely never encountered a JRPG with more content. Even after playing for weeks and beating the game, I keep finding new side quests--and whole areas of the game--to explore. It's nothing short of spectacular.

The biggest down side, really, is the assortment of technical issues. Load times are too frequent for my liking. You'll even encounter then between portions of a cutscene on occasion. The frame rate also chugs during some battles and when you head into a new map, sometimes the most detailed textures take a second or two before they pop into place. It does look a bit odd. Still, you can install the game to your hard drive to reduce the impact of many of these concerns.

I've spent much of my free time these past few weeks with The Last Remnant. I haven't always enjoyed myself, but in general I am finding the experience extremely worthwhile. Probably few people will look back at this as one of the great RPGs of the generation. Most people will likely forget about it. But if you want to head off the beaten path and try something a bit different, try The Last Remnant. It does enough things right--and different--to be well worth a look.

Oh, and PC and PS3 versions are coming if you don't yet have an Xbox 360. Hopefully they'll fix a few technical issues (fingers crossed), but otherwise Square-Enix should just leave things alone. The game is great.

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zippdementia zippdementia - December 29, 2008 (01:23 AM)
Hm. I heard the game isn't very good, but I can't back that up with much else, because I was drunk and it was 5:00am in the morning when we had the conversation about it :P

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