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The Last Remnant

The Last Remnant

Square Enix is one of Japan’s biggest games publishers and it knows it needs to look beyond Japan. The Japanese gaming market, though still formidably large, will eventually succumb to the effects of an aging populace and a birthrate so low only pandas could understand. The resulting decline in consumer population will mean Japan is not the growth market an ambitious game publisher craves, and Square Enix is a very ambitious company indeed. Its flagship Final Fantasy titles are massive, elaborate and bombastic events. These may be costly to produce but when they hit, they hit big.

The Japanese company’s moves in recent years serve to confirm it is shifting its focus away from its domestic market. The collaboration with PopCap for Gyromancer, an odd coming together of PopCap’s casual gameplay and Square Enix’s over-the-top presentation, and the purchase of Eidos both indicate Square Enix sees the writing on the wall. It needs to make games with Western audiences in mind.

A 2008 attempt to translate the Square Enix JRPG formula for the Western market was not a resounding success. The Last Remnant sold 580,000 units across two platforms — a modest and commendable enough number for some but not for a company that thinks big.

There’s little doubt The Last Remnant was made for a Western audience. A Japanese company hoping to hit big with a single-player RPG in its domestic market wouldn’t look at the Xbox 360 and PC platforms. It’s also telling the company chose to go with Unreal Engine 3 for the game rather than use one of its in-house solutions. The company noted Epic’s middleware would reduce development time and costs. What was unsaid was Unreal Engine 3 had been used for major hits by Western publishers.

Unfortunately, quick and cheap usually translates to sloppy, and that was certainly true in The Last Remnant’s case. The Xbox 360 version of the game was rightly criticised for its technical deficiencies and, though improved, the 2009 PC port is not without its issues either.

The first surprise occurs at the starting screen where the player will be startled to find the mouse cursor missing. Mouse support is, on the whole, limited. The game can be played entirely with the keyboard but plugging in an Xbox 360 controller would be the wisest choice given the game plays best with the input device the interface was designed around.

Like the original Xbox 360 version, the PC port is plagued with conspicuous texture pop-ins which occur frequently enough to be an annoying distraction. Fortunately, however, PC owners have the option of customising settings to reduce graphical glitches to tolerable levels. Once this is done, the player is free to take in the artistry of the game.

The Last Remnant

There is a lot to admire. Perhaps too much. Like a girl putting on make-up for the first time, like a teenage boy bathing in cologne, the game’s developers want so badly to make a great impression they’ve overdone it. The game is filled with excessive fight woosh effects, animated speedlines and slowmo action sequences. Text is chromed and shiny, bursts of light punctuate victory proclamations and there will be glowing, sparkly bits everywhere you look. Cutscenes are, of course, overlong and special attack animations are naturally overdone.

All this is unsurprising because this is a Square Enix game and this is what Square Enix does. What is appalling is The Last Remnant’s gameplay suffers from a similar obsession with more, more, more when less would have been a wiser choice.

Posted in Games.

2 Responses

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  1. Tan Lee Seng says

    Hey there Mr.Gobi. Glad to know that you are still alive and kicking…(joke). Tried this game before but alas my PC can’t cope with the “overdone” graphics. Speaking of Square-Enix… I will be looking forward to Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3. How about you ? I highly doubt that you will get a PS3 just for that….haha. Anyway… keep in touch.

    P.S. Are you still using the same e-mail address ? I’ve sent you a CNY greetings but there seems to be no response so I’m guessing that you might have been busy at that time.

    P.P.S. Is your Xevoz Storm Wing up for sale ?

  2. Gobi says

    I’m afraid the figure is not for sale.

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