The Last Remnant is one of those few Role Playing Games from Square-Enix that has managed to arrive in one piece to the PC. Yes, since the last Square RPG to hit the PC was Final Fantasy XI, which to much consternation would require subscription (I’m a stingy guy, I’d not pay a monthly fee to play a game on top of buying it), and fast internet connection (yeah, I’m only running on WiFi at home).
Square-Enix took a different approach in producing a new franchise for Role Playing Games. Instead of using a tried old formula of developing games using their own design, they’ve used instead an existing graphics engine of Unreal Engine 3 (used in some games like Gears of War 1&2). By having a pre-made engine, it enabled the developers to create an RPG that is available to the X360, PS3 and the PC.
The world where Rush, the protagonist of The Last Remnant lives has four races: Mitra (humans), Sovani (cat like people with four arms), Qstis (frog like people), Yama (Fish like people known for their big sizes). His initial role was to save his sister Irina from her captors due to her skills in using Remnants and allies himself with the Duke of Athlum to save her, and later helps in defeating The Conqueror whose aim is to collect all of the Remnants and use it.
Characters and settings are inspired through a mix of Eastern and Western art and culture, with katanas and knightswords being used by troops, to the mixed clothing styles characters in the game wear. There are variations of Samurai like armor, and Knight’s armor, which can be found.
On the PC, The Last Remnant is something to be both enjoyed, and annoyed. since we’re using an engine developed for playing PC games, we can further improve the games’ graphics. The big downside is that the better the graphics, the better the video card we should have. Another issue on the PC version is the known problem of the UT3 engine which is the lag in loading the texture(detail) of a place/character. With higher settings on lower end video cards, this can be quite noticeable. But with the proper balance of settings, the downsides can be avoided.
Instead of the tried and tested three (or four) member party system in battles, The Last Remnant has a system called Unions where 1-5 characters can join into one Union (a squad), and these can make up into 1 or more (have yet to reach the max limit for the number of Unions) squads in combat. The advantage in having 5 members in the union makes it stronger as the HP, strength and defense parameters are combined, and with the added benefit of having more attacks, dealing more damage or adjusting to the condition. Unions are typically headed by a Leader Character, and Rush (the lead character of the game) can be a leader or a member character in a Union (but you’ll be missing out on Rush’s special attacks if he’s a member). As a little bonus to PC gamers of The Last Remnant, we are able to create all Leader unions (5 leaders in one Union), effectively making strong unions.
There’s no existing level system in the game, instead a generic battle rank is given as an assessment of the entire group of characters, and leveling up doesn’t require hours on end of fighting to increase in level, as there’s no collection of points needed for each individual character, everyone’s stat increase will contribute to the increase in battle rank.
Fighting takes place in a large field where Unions fight with other unions. Commands are issued to Unions and following certain commands, each character in a union will do his/her skill ranging from attack, to special attacks, magic, or use items. Commands are color coded, red for attacks, blue for healing/defense/stat boost, to yellow which signify the use of a special skill. For the red commands, these are further differentiated by their descriptions, from: “Attack”, “Cut off their Leader” (Take out the union’s leader), “Use Special Attacks” (use weapon special moves to deal greater damage) to “Attack from Long Range” (members who have long range magic only attack). Having this kind of command structure makes the battles less straining as we don’t have to assign each character a move. Though at times, the game can still be complex enough to warrant a defeat from a normal enemy if attacks are not planned/coordinated properly.
Items, such as weapons can be bought, upgraded, assembled and disassembled for parts to be used in upgrading other weapons. Weapons are suited for various races in The Last Remnant, and at times, some picked up or bought weapons will be asked for by some of the characters in the party. Items such as herbs are used for item arts for healing/recovering status. Other items include the upgrade/assembly ingredients taken from defeated monsters. Captured monsters can be split up into ingredients, but leaving it intact will net a significant amount when sold.
The actual storyline is quite short if played straight, and one would wonder the lack of other towns in the world map. This is because there are numerous side quests found in every town of the game, opening up more towns, and locations to explore and increase in battle rank. More items can be found and bought, and more characters added to bolster the entire party’s overall strength.
Suffice to say, The Last Remnant is quite for the role playing gamer. It has lots of battles that would appeal to the strategy minded gamer, yet the complexity of some battles can be a bit disappointing. The inventory management can be quite tricky as herbs are mixed (not used as single items in most RPG games), therefore keeping an eye out for stocks after major quests is a must before taking on another quest. Most of the issues found in The Last Remnant console versions have been resolved in the PC version thanks in part of the developers. Downloadable Content are readily available on the PC, but needs to be triggered by having special items found in the game.
PS: Did I mention that it took me over two months to do this blog because I couldn’t leave the game? And I’m running it now on Windows 7 RC, quite fast to boot.