8 November 2009 | svsguru
The best RPG for PC since Grandia-2 7 years ago.
I played a number of PC RPGs in recent years, games like Neverwinter Nights 2, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Drakensang, Sacred, Silverfall, etc. They all had some things in common: boring story lines, characters I did not care about, unimaginative art design and tedious game play. Fallout 3 was especially bad, because even the technical side was horrid. With envious eyes I looked upon the consoles which were regularly graced with RPG gems by the Japanese masters.
With The Last Remnant, the wait finally comes to an end. Greatly surpassing the original Xbox 360 version in the technical aspects as well as game play improvements, the game has everything I look for in a great RPG. The story, though slow to unfold in the beginning, is simply captivating, the characters have depth, distinct personalities and back stories and one simply can not prevent oneself from caring about them (the excellent voice-acting, I only played with the Japanese voices btw., did help a lot). Especially the ending left me with the distinct I-want-to-cry-but-I-suppress-it feeling in my throat. That alone is testament to the greatness of game. No western RPG every did that for me.
The game play focuses mainly on battle, the game features one of the more innovative battle systems in recent history. Instead of issuing orders to single characters, you give general commands to groups of characters, known as "unions", specific attacks and techniques are chosen by the game in accordance to the type of order you gave. This might displease micro-managers, who like to control every single aspect of the battle, especially in the earlier parts, but later in the game, where you have to fight large scale battles with dozens of enemies and at least a dozen of your own characters, I would not want to have to issue commands to every single character. Who gets attacked and how effective attacks will be is also largely determined by the position of your unions on the battle field as well morale, which can make an attack weaker or stronger. It also means that unions can be flanked or attacked from the rear, which means they can not fight back in these circumstances. This makes the battle system quite complex and you have to really think about what you are doing. This is especially true because you have no control over level ups and stats increases and you can only equip the main character, so overpowering the other characters with ultra weaponry will be next to impossible.
As for the visuals, the game is simply stunning and breathtakingly pretty. The artwork is top notch, (though you can only access small parts of them) cities are full of detail and have distinctive and unique design and flair and their design is very creative. The same goes for characters, monsters (my favourite is the cyclops, a summon) and dungeons. Especially the large desert map had me sit back and think "damn, this is nice". The battle effects and combat animations are also very well done and I simply could not get tired of watching the animation of one of the super weapons deployed in battle. Just wow.
Again typical of Japanese RPGs is the excellent soundtrack. The battle background music is engaging and never starts to feel repetitive or become annoying.
Unlike many other Console-to-PC ports, the controls have been nicely adapted to the PC. The traditional WASD configuration and the integration of the mouse is fluid, intuitive and fast.
Graphically, the Game is very well done. Granted, it could have been done better and I miss many features that I came to love with Crysis, such as volumetric lighting and ambient occlusion. Especially the fact that the game lacks an option for Anti Aliasing is a big negative, forcing it via the driver is not easy and if you can do it, it drastically reduces performance. The game does support soft shadows, but they as well cost a lot of FPS. (Crysis did that better, must be the engine.) But I can accept that, seeing as the game was originally made for a console which are naturally less powerful than PCs, which limits the effort of uprating it to PC quality.
All in all, this was one of the best and most entertaining games I played in quite some time and I can only hope that Square Enix decides to release more of their games on PC.