The Last Remnant - Reader Review  

Sure I’ll help you complete stranger!
by Shawn Denney

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Xbox 360
60-80 Hours
+ A masterpiece of Sound
+ Great Character models
- Frame Rate has consistency issues
- Terrible Story
- Bad pacing
- Frequent texture pop-in
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   Once upon a time, a company developed an game engine called the Unreal Engine III. This beast of a game engine let games shine with detail and has been used in several stellar titles. These titles include Gears of War, Mirror’s Edge, and Lost Odyssey. Now it’s Square-Enix’s turn to have a crack at the Unreal Engine III. In all honesty, either they overused its power to the point that the Xbox 360 can’t handle it, or they just didn’t understand the inner workings of the engine, because The Last Remnant has some serious technical flaws.

   There are three major issues that are present in The Last Remnant. First is texture pop-in, which was somewhat off putting throughout the entire game. Several seconds after characters start their animations, the detail on the characters would show up. It’s just strange to look at. Next up we have load times. This one isn’t too terribly bad, but it is definitely longer than many of the other games in the genre. The third issue is the frame rate. Good lord does it like to hit single digits. However, there is one saving grace. Installing the game to the hard drive. This shortens load times, reduces the amount of texture pop-in, and gives the frame rate a nice bump in the right direction. To sum it up, it makes the game playable.

   The Last Remnant tried to do full scale type skirmish with you controlling double-digits worth of units. This is both a super plus and an weakness to the overall experience of the game. Having this many units did make for some more “epic” feeling battles; however, because there are so many units involved, battles take a long time. There is also a rather steep learning curve to the battle system. In the Last Remnant, you give a general command to a group of up to 5 units, instead of controlling each unit individually. This helps the battles go faster than they otherwise would, but it also means that you have to really understand your “Union” before you give a command such as “use mystic arte’s” (which basically translates to use magic). Instead of saying “use fire”, you just say magic; and from there the units do the action you “suggested” if they can. It is certainly not bad, but it could have definitely used some more refinement.

A typical town in The Last Remnant A typical town in The Last Remnant

   The Last Remnant very much likes to do the “talk to someone on the street and solve their problem for them” approach. Does it make any sense? No, it doesn’t. Why would someone tell a complete stranger, “I need 3 pieces of iron” only to have said stranger (i.e. you!) say “okay, be right back with it”. Its baffling, and sadly, as interactive as the world ever really gets in The Last Remnant.Then, there is the sound.......

   Oh baby! This is the shining ray of hope emanating from the game. The soundtrack to this game is phenomenal. I kid you not when I say that its one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a video game. I enjoyed it so much that I am willing to purchase the soundtrack if I ever came across it. It’s that good. The voice acting ranges in quality, but overall it is nicely done. The highlight performances belong to David Nassau and the Qsiti. Both do a nice job of actually “sounding” like they are from that world.

   The story for the Last Remnant is on the pathetic side. The makers of the game seemed to know that there story wasn’t exactly hot stuff, so they gave it the back seat. The battle’s are front and center here. Most RPG’s use the battle system as a way to progress through the story. In the Last Remnant, they use the story as a way to get to more battles. It's an opposite design philosophy comared to the standard RPG, but then again, it doesn't really seem like standard was ever the goal for The Last Remnant.

Let’s do this! Let’s do this!

   Visually, this game is both night and day. It’s has fabulous character art, great character models, interesting terrain, and some rather unique monster designs. However, as mentioned above, the game has the texture pop-in and frame rate issues which REALLY hurt the overall visual experience. When this game is running as it was meant to though, it is a marvel to feast your eyes upon.

   This game is HARD. The steep learning curve and some inconsistent monster difficulty causes the game to be a challenge. There is an insane amount of side quests and battles to partake in throughout the journey. The game knows that it has a lot of side quests, and as such, pretty much requires you to either do them, or grind a lot. You can try to power through the main story, but your characters will not be strong enough and in the end, you will fail.

   The Last Remnant is game that I found myself thinking, “wow, if they would apply *this* to it, it would be awesome!” or “maybe if they changed *that* then this would be so much better”, but it is what it is; and that is a game full of great ideas, technical flaws, and an absolutely phenomenal soundtrack. If you are looking for a deep battle system, this may be just the thing for you; for everyone else, you may want to steer clear.

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