Another problem is the game's story, which starts slow and stays in neutral for far too long. Your protagonist doesn't help any, Rush is about as exciting as The Lawrence Welk Show. I can sympathize with his plight to get his sister back, but that's not exactly the most compelling plot point for an epic role-playing game. Eventually the game's story picks up and it's easy to get wrapped up in the high drama, but it takes entirely too long before you get to that point. Given how dull much of the early part of the story is I can understand how a lot of people will want to stop playing almost immediately.
Another problem is the graphic design, which is neither good nor bad. The game is built on the Unreal 3 Engine, and to Square Enix's credit they managed to make a game where everybody looks like a Gears of War reject. The problem is that there's nothing about the graphics style that stands out, it all feels very safe. Even though this is a brand new world full of new races, locations and monsters, I couldn't get over the feeling like I had been there before. The game's art style just isn't very original, and that's one of those things I had to fight to get over. I couldn't help but think that if this game had a more interesting art style people could look past the game's slow story and technical problems. But I guess we'll never know. All I can say is that for most of the time I yearned for a game that looked different, less uninspired.
The good news is, once you get past the game's abysmal first act everything starts to click. The story starts to get interesting, you start to travel to more interesting locations, your battles are elaborate and impressive, and you finally get used to your protagonists complete lack of character. It's at this moment that the brilliance of the game comes shines through, which is why the more you play the easier it is to recommend. However, at the exact same time it's disappointing that it takes so long for the game's brilliance to show up. It's frustrating to think about how much potential is ultimately wasted in this good-but-not-great role-playing game.
Considering how many problems I have with this game, the very fact that I can wholeheartedly recommend this product speaks volumes about what the team got right. I won't kid you, there is a lot to hate in this game, but when the game is good it's absolutely golden. The big reason I kept coming back was because of the engaging battle system. Yes it's simple, yet the further you progress the more unexpected depth is found. By the time you're on the second disc you can't wait to get into battle. We're talking about epic battles that could take a good chunk of time to finish. In a lot of ways the battles play out like a cross between Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics, only improved by the small dab of traditional RPG turn-based gameplay.
And best of all, you never have to worry about finding an inn to rest or using potions to replenish your magic points. In The Last Remnant your life and magic is instantly refilled the moment you leave a battle. That means that you'll always be fresh and ready when you enter a battle and then once you're done, you're off looking for another battle without worrying about fixing wounds. This smart decision helps keep the action flowing instead of being bogged down by useless micromanaging. This is the kind of thing I would like to see in more modern role-playing games. It may be a little thing but it certainly helped keep me engaged and it ultimately made this game feel different from the rest of the Final Fantasy clones on the market.
When everything is said and done The Last Remnant will probably be remembered as a minor game from Square Enix, easily forgotten once the new Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest hit store shelves. But The Last Remnant is a solid role-playing game that is unfortunately marred by a slow moving story, lame characters and some of the worst performance issues I have ever run across. There's a fun game to be found here, but you're going to have to do a lot of digging. Hopefully in the near future Square Enix can take this concept, add a different art design, fix the technical problems and turn it into the must-own game it deserves to be.
There are a lot of things to hate about Square Enix's newest role-playing game. It's suffering from some of the worst performance issues of all time, it's not the best looking game, the story sucks and the hero is pretty lame. But if you can look past those shortcomings you will find that The Last Remnant has a lot to offer. This is a solid RPG with a few hang-ups, but that shouldn't keep you from experiencing this interesting take on the adventure genre!
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