The Last Remnant is the second Square Enix role playing game to hit the XBox360 this fall. In this title you control an entire party of characters throughout your adventure. The main character of the story is named Rush Sykes. His motivation in the beginning is to rescue his kidnapped sister. The only problem is that he doesn’t know who took her. Fortunately he runs across the ruler of a nearby country, Athlum. He pledges his support to try and help Rush find his sister. In the meantime they are trying to find out what the Academy has been up to. There are Remnants all around the world that help to keep the peace once they are bound to an individual. Going into to the different countries you can clearly see their Remnant hovering above the city in the sky, almost like it is watching over everything that is going on. As you progress through the story you find out that things aren’t always as they seem.
The battle system for this game is quite unique. It is one of those systems where you can go really deep into it if you so choose. Last Remnant is a turn based role playing game, however, there is a lot going on during each turn. At the top of the screen you have a “Morale” meter for you and your comrades. During battle it tends to start in the middle with your morale occupying half the meter and the enemy’s morale occupying the other half. If you are dominating in a battle then your side of the morale meter will start to overtake the opposition. The more morale that your comrades have the better they are going to do in battle. Conversely if the enemy is dominating, your morale real estate on the meter will begin to shrink and your attacks won’t be as effective. Think of it as kind of a virtual tug of war. It is an interesting mechanic to consider during battles. During each turn there is also the possibility of a quick time event occurring. When you are about to attack an enemy, you might be prompted to hit the “A” button or the “RT” button. If you press the button at the correct time your strike will do more damage to the enemy and you will begin a chain of attacks. On the upper left you can see who is going to be attacking next. You can change that order by stringing together these quick time events. If an enemy is set to attack next but you have successfully hit the button in time then some of your comrades will jump ahead in line and attack first. It’s a pretty cool idea and it can definitely help turn the tide of a battle in your favor.
Before battle there are a number of decisions to be made too. You can form these unions which is the basically the parties you will take into battle. There are different formations to choose and each one will have its own share of positive and negative attributes. You can pick who is in these unions and in what position. When you get a little futher in to the game you will gain the ability to recruit soldiers to join you. When you have won a battle you will get a bunch of different items. There will be times when one of your allies requests they be given an item you just picked up. If you agree to give it to them that will help in upgrading their equipment.
Unfortunately this game definitely has its flaws. Some of them seem like they could have been fixed if the game had gone through one more round of testing before it was released. First of all there is the save system. The save system is great in that you can save anywhere, at any time, provided you are not in the middle of a battle. When you restart your game later on you will start at the exact spot you saved. It doesn’t move you back to the beginning of the dungeon or any of that nonsense. However when you go to save it doesn’t always work. I would go to save my game before entering a big battle and sometimes it would stutter for a moment and say the Xbox Live connection failed, so it couldn’t save the game. Then the data that was in that slot is now “Corrupted data”. Now you can try and save the game a second time and it will delete the corrupted data and save your current game so you never lose anything. It is just a big annoyance when that happens. I also have no idea what being connected to Xbox Live has to do with saving my file to my hard drive. Despite what it said I was always connected to Live as well, I was never kicked off. Hopefully this glitch will be patched in the future. I haven’t had it destroy any of my data but just to be on the safe side I keep a backup save file in case I need it.
This game also tends to have framerate problems from time to time. These usually occur after you make your selection in battle as your character is performing a spell or an attack. When that happens it does not affect gameplay in any way because you already made your selection, you are just watching it play out. Still though it can take you out of the experience if you see your units charging toward an enemy and it stutters for a moment or two. There is also massive “pop in” throughout this title. As soon as I exit a building I usually have to wait an extra few seconds for all of the textures to load. At first the building in front of me just looks like a bland, blurry building. Then a few seconds later the textures show up. It breaks the immersion factor when you are running around a blurry world for a few seconds waiting for things to load and it is something that should have been addressed before the game’s release.
Overall I enjoyed my time with this game. If you can look past the flaws I spoke of then you should have an enjoyable experience. I have enjoyed the story and for completionists out there, there are a bunch of side quests for you to do as well. You also have the ability to create and customize equipment to make your character that much stronger. It can be a surprisingly deep game depending on how you approach it. If you are a fan of Square Enix and a role playing game fan than I would definitely give this game a try.