This year has been amazing for fans of the last generation’s popular RPG games. The year opened with a great remaster of Star Ocean: The Last hope, brilliantly brought to us in resolutions up to a full 2160p at 60 frames per second. A few weeks ago I had the honour of playing and reviewing Resonance of Fate, yet another brilliantly remastered game from tri-Ace with all the same settings and features as Star Ocean. Now, Square Enix has pulled The Last Remnant from the Xbox and Steam stores in order to give us The Last Remnant Remastered as a (currently) PlayStation 4 exclusive!
Those in the know will find this choice a strange, yet welcome one. You see, The Last Remnant was never actually ported onto a PlayStation platform before as the PS3 version was cancelled. Since 2008 it has been on Xbox and PC only, so the removal from their store as the remaster lands only on the PS4 confused a lot of people yet excited the others, myself included. The question is, how does this remaster stack up against the previous remasters I mentioned above? Let’s find out.
The Last Remnant‘s story it both interesting and confusing at times. It was one of the first RPGs in which Square Enix took the tried and tested formula, which worked great over in Japan, and tried to implement it into a Western-RPG. The result – a new WRPG with cumbersome, yet intriguing combat mechanics with a story that isn’t quite up to par with those we see in games such as the Final Fantasy series. However, it’s still a journey I would strongly advise you to check out, especially seeing as it’s only £15.99 on PSN right now!
The world is full of Remnants, mysterious artifacts which were left within the world from an ancient unknown era. These devices are a mystery to everyone as nobody know where they came from or how they came to be, all they know is that they hold great power within them. At first, the Remnants were used to uphold peace and order within the lands as those who weld them used them for the greater good in order to keep balance among the lands. However, as you’d expect, the balance began to change when those who were in charge began to take advantage of their acquired power over the people who they command via the devices.
Our story actually takes place a thousand years after the above events, when the creatures of the world are currently at war with one another and the outskirts of the various towns isn’t a safe place to hang around. Our Protagonist, Rush, is on the search for his sister who had been kidnapped by one such creature for reasons unknown at the time. After stumbling into the front lines of an ongoing battle, Rush is left deserted in a hidden cavern along with a mighty warrior, an unlikely ally at this moment who will offer to help him out.
After gaining support from the ruler of the nearby city, Rush and his new allies head off to find his sister as they follow the trail of the people who took her. However, there’s still plenty of time to stop and do odd-jobs for all the locals to gain more money and respect along the way. And so begins our adventure.
The Last Remnant was one of the RPGs I absolutely loved last generation, this, Star Ocean, Resonance of Fate, and Lost Odyssey are my four favourites which I played to death on my Xbox 360. As such, I’ll try and remain unbiased and non-opinionated, but just know that I really do like these games. I’ve also played The Last Remnant on the Xbox 360, PC and now the PS4, so I have a good idea of how things have changed and what it used to be like, however, that is going off memory as I no longer own my Xbox 360.
The first thing I would like to touch upon is the presentation of the game as the pre-release videos were very jerky in terms of framerates and made the game look like it was running at about 20fps! Thankfully, the final release feels like a buttery smooth 60fps at all times. This is a massive improvement over the Xbox 360 version yet the same as the PC version. Not only that, the resolution, textures, lighting, and shadows all look like they’ve received a bump in quality, but some of these improvements may simply be down to the increase in resolution and graphical horsepower.
You see, Whereas Star Ocean and Resonance of Fate had a menu in which you can change everything such as the resolution (1080, 1440 or 2160), the shadow quality, enable a framerate lock, and even adjust the Anti-Aliasing, The Last Remnant has zero options. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. This is a major disappointment for me as we don’t even know the extent of the remaster other than it now looks and plays great – which I guess is enough for the vast majority of people. I’m playing the game on the PS4 Pro and I can happily say that the game looks and runs great – but I’m on a 1080p TV. It does say ‘Supersampling is enabled’ when I boot it up, so it’s most likely above a 1080p image, but I can’t say for sure how high – it could be 1260p, 1440p, 1620p, 1800p, or 2160p – I have asked Square Enix for an answer but I’ve yet to have a reply.
One thing which you may notice in the images in the review is how soft the image looks. When playing the game, it does feel a little ‘blurry’ (for want of a better word), but I believe that’s a visual choice as it was like this on the previous two systems as well. Also, a lot of the images on here are of things in motion, so motion blur is taking effect which you wouldn’t really notice if the image wasn’t stationary!
The second change, over the new graphical settings, is the fact the game is now in a new engine. It’s still in Unreal Engine from what I gather but it appears it’s now been ported into UE4 – this could also be the catalyst for a lot of the visual differences. Thankfully though, the port process appears to have been smoothly done as I’ve not encountered any bugs, glitches, or issues whilst playing so far.
The final change, from what I can see up to where I am, is the inclusion of a run option. Okay, so it’s not a major change – you can tap the shoulder button and have Rush…rush through the overworld as he zips in and out of the enemies and literally runs circles around them, all whilst they move at their normal pace (it doesn’t accelerate the enemies as well). However, I found that using this allowed me to get around so much easier, going back to the standard jogging feels really slow now. It’s just like how in-battle you can activate a ‘fast’ mode which has the fights play out at 300% speed. I can’t turn that off as the regular speed feels too slow for me after becoming accustomed to the fast mode. This in-battle mode was in the PC version but the run mechanic was in neither.
So, if you enjoyed The Last Remnant last gen, or even on your PC up until September 2018 which is when it left the service, then you’ll most likely love what they’ve done with the remaster, even though you have literally no control over any of the graphical or performance options. Thankfully though, it does seem the developers have already tweaked those to create the perfect balance. Plus, you can now run around like a small child outside of battles!
Intuitive and confusing combat
The Last Remnant is your standard RPG in terms of its core mechanics. Grab a bunch of allies (who are hired via the guild in this game), stick them in one of many formations, go into battle, fight, win, level up, take your loot, celebrate… rinse and repeat. The main difference between The Last Remnant and, say, Final Fantasy XIII is it’s rather unique and never done before, or since, combat mechanism. Now, there is most likely a reason it’s not been done since but neither has the one in Resonance of Fate and I really enjoyed that one.
Square Enix has recently put out a video which talks you through the combat and how it works, so I’ll leave that below this paragraph for you to watch. It’s quite confusing and complicated but you get used to it after a few fights. In a nutshell, you initiate combat and the enemies appear in small groups of up to five enemies in each. You also have a few groups depending on what formations you have set up beforehand. You command all your groups (not individual units) to attack via various means such as using their combat skills, mystic skills, think for themselves, defend, or go all-in. Then, the turn plays out, one unit at a time.
This is where the interactive battle segments come up. Every now and again one of your characters will attack in slow motion and a button prompt appears. If you hit the right button at the right time, you’ll activate a ‘perfect’ – better known as a critical hit. If you have the combat set to play in fast mode, these will be impossible to hit as the time to react is also in fast forward mode. As such, you can enable a random option where the character will randomly either hit or miss the button prompt so you don’t have to press anything. It was intuitive for the time and I’ve seen a similar mechanic in games like Lost Odyssey, but I don’t really want to be doing QTEs whilst watching the battle take place.
The whole who to hire, what formation to use, where to place your team members, and what items to equip, is a rather big mechanic on its own and it gets surprisingly deep if you delve into it in order to create the perfect setups.
The Last Remnant was, and always will be, one of my favourite RPGs on the Xbox 360. As such, I went into this remaster expecting nothing but a resolution bump, updated textures, a higher framerate, and some other visual tweaks – I basically got what I was expecting, with the addition of a run mechanic. this isn’t a bad thing as fans of the game will love the care and attention which has gone into this remaster as the developers have created a perfect blance between quality and performance to offer a solid 60fps experience. However, the lack of customisations we saw in the tri-Ace games is a bit disappointing but it’s a different team and engine, so maybe it wasn’t possible?
Gamewise – looking online it seems The Last Remnant is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it – I fall into the former category. I love the derpyness of some of the characters, the interesting combat mechanics, the beautiful and varied locations, and the music is absolutely brilliant. The music really captures the JRPG side they were going for, even if the voice acting is really bad in some places and made me wish I had the choice for Japanese voices. That’s right, because this is a WRPG which is aimed at Western fans, we have English voices, some of which sound a bit cringy and ‘fake’. There are a few English accents for the royalty which sound pretty bad like the actor is going for the ‘Queens English’, which technically makes sense but sounds really bad and cringy.
Overall though, the visuals look great, the framerate is high and solid, the gameplay is exactly how I remember it, and the nostalgia of replaying something so familiar yet different is overwhelming. True, if you’ve only ever played the PC version before then the differences will most likely be minute as the PC version was a really good port. However, if you’ve come over from the Xbox 360 then you’re getting a brilliant upgrade over that version.
One thing I will warn you about though, the game is very unforgiving. It expects you to work for your levelling up and punishes you hard if you try to take on an enemy which you’re clearly not well equipt to handle. As such, the game can be seen as being rather aggressive and punishing at times, just like in Resonance of Fate. This game is from the era of hours of grinding in order to level up before major battles – the remaster is very true to the source material!
The Last Remnant Remastered sits proudly towards my top of ‘great remasters of this generation’ list. As well as porting the game into the new engine, the developers have also increased the resolution, texture quality, visual effects, and framerate over the Xbox 360 version. If you’re coming from the PC though, the differences will be minor but still welcome as the game has never been on the PlayStation before. The combat mechanics are unusual and unique so I would advise you to watch the video I have in my review beforehand to see if it’s something you like the look of.
Overall, The Last Remnant Remastered is a great game to add to your collection, whether your nostalgic for the original game or just want to try out a Western RPG of yesteryear.
The Last Remnant£15.99
- - Solid 60fps with much better visuals over the 360
- - The music is still incredible today
- - The combat, while fiddly, is very intuitive and different
- - A great price for a remaster, unlike a few other games
- - Hours and hours of gameplay for you to get sucked into
- - The difficulty spikes come into play a lot if you're not prepared
- - The voice acting and dialogue is quite bad at times
- - No visual or performance options like we've seen in a few other remasters this year
- - Despite the great remaster, it couldn't make the story more interesting