While the gaming world waits eagerly for Final Fantasy 13, Square-Enix continues to attempt to woo fans towards new IPs. Recently we've had Infinite Undiscovery and now the adventures of Rush Sykes, otherwise known as: The Last Remnant. It's a different kind of game with some good and bad points, it's not quite as immediate and fun as some of Square-Enix's other offerings and it hasn't done as well as the company would have liked in terms of reviews either.
I'm afraid that this review isn't really going to sing the praises of the game, nor condemn it. Rather like Too Human, Last Remnant is pretty much average RPG fare with the only innovation, and I use that word fairly sparingly here being the use of a turn-based cinematic tactical battle system that allows for some pretty epic confrontations and has a few basic rules to bear in mind when fighting monsters.
The story is the typical Square-Enix cliché fare, Rush's sister has been kidnapped and it's up to you to find her. Along the way you cast in your lot with the local Marquis for a while and in typical Square-Enix hero fashion Rush manages to be bratty, obnoxious and emo all at once. This hero is better than Cloud and Squall however and is fairly likeable in small doses.
The game allows you to save anywhere and that's a bonus, since you can play as little or as much as you like and you're never going to have to worry about finding a tricky save point. There are city maps and a world map, you can explore the cities and open up new locations by talking to the right person or visiting the map at the right time. Square-Enix has cut down on a lot of space and also a lot of back/forth through locations by using this 'quick travel' system.
Some will love it, some will hate it and some will wonder why the heck Square-Enix went that route.
The same can be said for the battle system, where you set your various commands and sit back to watch the cinematic action. There is a kind-of quick-time event that triggers from time to time, press the right face button and you'll be rewarded with extra damage or a special effect in battle that will help you turn the tide against your enemies. There are formations to work with and each combat unit is grouped into something called a Union. Unions have a pool of hit points and each unit in the group adds to that.
There are various situational modifiers, Deadlocks happen when two Unions are in close combat and they must now battle to the death. Switching targets can have disastrous results and it's best to focus upon the enemy Union or target until they're terminated. There are other modifiers and Flank Attacks. The biggest selling point for me in Last Remnant apart from the save system and the fun battle system is the fact that you can initiate battles yourself, there are no random battles and after a slew of J-RPGs that can be described as grindfests, this one feels refreshing at least in that respect.
There are monster components to scavenge, monsters to capture and sell or break down into their component parts. Items to create and so forth, all the staples of the J-RPG genre are here and there. There is a problem in the story pacing, it feels broken up by the way that Square-Enix has handled the town/city map and there's very little to bring you into the world that they have created. You feel pushed from pillar to post and the whole experience is extremely linear.