The Last Remnant

The Last Remnant Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

New RPG from the creators of Final Fantasy.

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7Out of 10
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The Last Remnant is a JRPG full of contradictions
The Last Remnant is a JRPG full of contradictions

The Last Remnant is a JRPG full of contradictions

The Last Remnant is part two in Square Enix's three-pronged Xbox 360 JRPG love in that began with the infinitely forgettable Infinite Undiscovery and ends with Star Ocean: The Last Hope early next year. Let's be frank right off the bat. The Last Remnant is comfortably better than Tri-Ace's Infinite Undiscovery, but it's got nothing on Square Enix's best work with the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises. At its best it's experimental and innovative, but overall it's stale and stuck in the trappings of its genre. And, most bafflingly, it's both graphically stupendous and technically crippling, all at the same time.

Let's deal with these two contradictions one at a time. The Last Remnant battle system, developed by Kazutoyo Maehiro, the brains behind the love it or hate it Final Fantasy XII combat system, is a refreshing fusion of traditional JRPG turn-based combat and more large scale combat. This 'Gambit 1.5' system, described so by art producer Yusuke Naora because of it's similarity to FFXII's AI-reliant system, is far and away the best thing about The Last Remnant, and is just about the best JRPG-related mechanic Square Enix has drummed up in the yawning chasm that has yet to be filled adequately between Final Fantasy XII's release and the second coming that is Final Fantasy XIII's release.

Units in The Last Remnant are grouped together in Unions, which include up to five party members. You can control up to five of these Unions in any given battle, meaning that at maximum capacity there can be a whopping 25 units under your control. When you consider that you can link together up to nine enemy unions into a single fight using an MMO-style pull system (press RT to pull targeted enemies), you can find yourself thrust into massive 70 unit scraps reminiscent of pitched battles between rival secondary schools on the local common.

If you were required to micromanage every unit in real time The Last Remnant would probably melt your brain. Luckily Maehiro-san has simplified matters somewhat by allowing the player to give general commands to Union leaders every turn, allowing you to sit back and watch the camera dart about the battlefield as the AI takes over. At the beginning of each turn you have a certain amount of Action Points (AP) to spend on either Combat Arts (melee based attacks) or Mystic Arts (essentially spells). A list of possible commands is displayed on the right of the screen, and you simply scroll through them and pick one. You'll have 'Attack with combat arts' and 'Attack with mystic arts', but you'll also have some other commands which are context sensitive. Say, for example, one of your Unions has taken a bit of damage, the command 'Keep you health up' will present itself, but it wouldn't have otherwise. At no point, however, does the combat allow you to hand pick specific attacks or spells. All you can do is have a look at what arts a particular command will have the units in a Union do.

The combat is very hands-off, and takes some getting used to.

The combat is very hands-off, and takes some getting used to.

This hands-off approach certainly takes a bit of getting used to, but you do get used to it and, after extended play, it becomes oddly addictive, and, somehow, doesn't get old, even during the pits of grinding despair.

Further depth is added to the combat with the use of formations, which enable you to arrange the units in your Unions differently in order to maximise their strengths and conceal their weaknesses. Formations will allow you to, for example, increase a Union's defence against flank attacks, or increase melee attack power. Within these formations you can arrange your units so that weak spellcasters are at the back and tanks soak up damage from the front. It can get quite complex, but there's an odd amount of fun to be had soldiering through the difficult to use data-heavy 'Union board' and pouring over the statistics of your party members.

Many, however, will not like the combat because it doesn't offer complete control. Levelling up also seems like a somewhat random affair. At the end of battles you're told that certain party member characteristics have increased, like hit points and AP, which is fine, but some of them make no sense whatsoever. Gluttony? Love? What do these do? Nothing it seems.

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Anonymous

Why do they gotta go **** up every rpg that looks good with new dumb ass combat systems GO BACK TO THE FINAL FANTASY AND BREATH OF FIRE STYLE DAMMIT!!!
Posted 19:50 on 27 December 2008
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vihra

bought this game eventhough i had heard mediocre reviews, and i must say, i find it one of the best purchases ive ever made.

at first glance, it does have problems. it can be slow, but i made room on my hard drive to download it, and this gets rid of all the roblems really. this game is friggin HUGE, to start off with. i spent 20 hours on the first disk and feel like i missed half the game just getting through to disk two. the storyline is hugely complex in some places, even though the voiceacting can be tedious at times. the leveling up isnt that important overall to pay attention, but the sheer mass of things to do is amazing. you can find aazing side areas by doing different quests, there are epic battles that involve you for an up to an hour (yes, an hour long battle happens, and the cool part is, its actully FUN for the full hour!) i honestly cant put the gAme down, and plan to play it through several times.
8.5 out of 10 (and the best part, 35 bucks used at game stop. booya!)
Posted 00:48 on 27 December 2008
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FantasyMeister

So far I'm finding the game has some fiendish depth.

As you progress through the storyline more leaders are available to recruit from the guilds, some of whom have biographies next to their name. If you recruit these specific individuals you'll gradually populate the cities with them and be able to perform more tasks for them as you get to know them better.

It's also worth checking out quest npcs who are scattered around the cities and again change as the story progresses. Some initiate huge quest chains which can lead to further sections of dungeons being unlocked that you wouldn't be able to access otherwise, replete with appropriate rewards.

I'm finding the risk/reward system also particularly neat, the more mobs you fight at one time the bigger the potential goodies you get at the end of the battle and the faster you gain new skills - this has led me to a lot of wipes but quite a few epic battles and some very nice gear.

There's also a hell of a lot of things to keep track of at any one time; which path you want your individual party leaders to follow in terms of skills, how your weapon upgrades are going, what specific materials you need to hunt for, managing Mr. Diggs' upgrades and which mining points you should focus him on, where you're going to explore next, checking guild rosters and soldier rosters for unique characters - not to mention managing your own accessories and hunting for specific materials for your party members.

I'm only about half way through the first disc but so far the size of the game is staggering, should keep me busy until February at least.
Posted 05:13 on 02 December 2008
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West

Appealing to the west:

1) No teenage heroes.

2) Look at 1.
Posted 20:36 on 28 November 2008
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FantasyMeister

I ordered yesterday, but I'm in the die hard SE JRPG fan category :)

From my perspective the things that interest me about TLR are the statty bits and the grinding, I guess in the same way that some people buy Football Manager 2009 instead of FIFA/PES.

I think the main appeal to me is the component/weapon rank system - kill stuff, break it down into components, use those to upgrade. From reading around a little the union-management system does allow for some micro-management in terms of preparing properly for the big fights, so count me in!

One thing I do find odd about SE's three-pronged 'let's appeal to the West' tactic is why they feel the need? I've always loved SE's titles, probably because they're J-RPGs so I don't see the point in changing that. Then again I can't see SE's balance sheet so I figure they know what they're doing.

I'll update when I get my mitts on the full game.
Posted 12:35 on 27 November 2008
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Fredrik

Looks like a rather decent RPG, I won't be spilling my beans on this one.
Posted 11:44 on 27 November 2008

Game Stats

Technical Specs
The Last Remnant
7
Out of 10
The Last Remnant
  • Interesting combat system
  • Graphics impress in parts
  • Crippling performance problems
  • Little innovation
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Release Date: 20/11/2008
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Square-Enix Co
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 1,789 11
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