The Last Remnant
|The Last Remnant|
Xbox 360 version cover art of the game, depicting Rush Sykes
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3 (Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows)|
Unreal Engine 4 (PlayStation 4)
The Last Remnant (ラストレムナント Rasuto Remunanto) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix. It was released worldwide for the Xbox 360 in November 2008, and for Microsoft Windows in March 2009. A PlayStation 3 version was originally announced, but was never released. The game is set in a fictional world divided into multiple city-states inhabited by four different species and whose past includes conflicts over "Remnants," magical artifacts of varying forms. The player controls Rush Sykes, a young man searching for his sister during the war. It features a unique battle system in which the player commands multiple groups, or "unions", of characters rather than individual units.
The Last Remnant is the first Square Enix game to use the Unreal Engine. It was intended by Square Enix president Yoichi Wada to "become a cornerstone for [their] worldwide strategy". The game's soundtrack was composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito and Yasuhiro Yamanaka, and was later released as a three-disc album. The design and dialogue of the game were created to appeal to players worldwide, and motion capture for every character with the English-speaking dialogue. The game received a weak reception, though it was received more positively by Japanese reviewers than ones elsewhere. A common complaint, especially in the original Xbox 360 release, was of graphical problems including low framerates and "texture pop-in" where higher resolution textures would suddenly replace lower ones several seconds after a scene had started. Other issues included complaints about the game's storyline and battle system, though these were not as universal. The game received praise for its art direction and music. In September 2018, Square Enix announced the production of a remastered version of the game, to be released for the PlayStation 4 on December 6, 2018.
The game is split between a world area, a battle area and a world map. The player controls Rush Sykes, the protagonist, and moves him around the world screen within an area, with the camera floating behind and slightly above him. Within the world screen, the player can talk to anyone, enter buildings and other areas, or exit to the map screen. The map screen allows instant travel between different cities and areas, or between different areas within the city. On the battle screen, the game has a three-dimensional area like the world screen with a setting reminiscent of the location, where every characters and enemies appear. Instead of random encounters, the player enters the separated battle and when they touch an enemy on the main world screen. The player may choose to enter a battle with multiple enemies at once by activating a "time-shift" system, in which time slows down and they may run up to multiple enemies before the battle.
The game features a battle system labeled by Hiroshi Takai as a "turn-based, command-based system using symbol encounters". During a battle, each enemy from the world screen is represented by a group, or "union", of enemies ranging from one to five individual units; similarly the player's forces are composed of multiple unions of three to five units each. The skills of the units in the player's unions, which include both story characters and hireable units not appearing outside of battle, vary according to different parameters. One such parameter is the "morale" bar, which is affected by the events in battle and can have positive or negative effects on the battle forces. Each unit can also learn different attacks, which are divided into categories such as blade attacks and healing magic. At the beginning of each turn the player selects from a group of choices what attack types each union will perform; the player is unable to select the individual attack of each unit. Special attacks require "action points", which continually accrue during each battle. The player selects at the beginning of each turn which enemy union each of their unions will attack. As the enemy makes their selections at the same time, it is possible for a union to be "deadlocked", or forced to fight a different union than the player or enemy had selected. When multiple unions are deadlocked onto the same enemy, some of the unions can flank the enemy or attack from the rear for extra damage.
In addition to battles, the player can take on a number of quests. Many of these take the player to an area immediately upon acceptance and return them once completed, while "guild quests" do not require acceptance and may be turned in by the player whenever the accomplishments listed in the quest are completed. Rush and other units may equip many different weapons and items. Rush's equipment can be upgraded to many different options, while other units request materials for their own, which can be purchased at stores, acquired in battles, or found in areas using a creature called Mr. Diggs. Mr. Diggs can upgrade the abilities to enable him and find more or higher quality materials.
The game is set in a fictional world featuring a number of distinct humanoid races: the Mitras, human in appearance, the Yamas, strong fish-like people, the Qsitis, small reptilians, and the Sovanis, feline people with four arms. The world itself is broken up into multiple city-states, each with their own unique culture. The game revolves around "Remnants", ancient magical artifacts, which sparked several wars throughout history. Each Remnant is "bound" to a specific person, who can use its power. Powerful Remnants which remain unbound for too long have the potential to cause a "collapse" and spawn monsters. As Remnants come in varying forms, all cities throughout the world have at least one that their ruler is bound to that assist in governing and bring peace to their assigned realm.
The protagonist is Rush Sykes, a teenage warrior from a peaceful island. His sister, Irina, is kidnapped at the start of the game. He is recruited by David Nassau, the young ruler of Athlum, and his four generals: Emma Honeywell, Blocter, Pagus and Torgal. These characters can be joined by more than a hundred other ones, many of whom are found through quests, while others can be hired at guilds. They have their own names and skillsets, though the main characters have special additional skills. The main villain is the Conqueror, a man invading many city-states of the world. He is assisted by Wilfred Hermeien, the council leader of Nagapur, and Wagram, a sorcerer.
The game begins with Rush seeing a fight between David's army and monsters. He is recruited by the generals. When investigating a Remnant causing to collapse, they meet Wagram. After chasing him for several missions, the group attends the Congress meeting for the leaders of the city-states in Elysion, home to the Ark Remnant (leading to the Sacred Lands) and the Academy, a research institution devoted to study Remnants, where Rush's parents also work. The Conqueror arrives at the Congress, binds the Ark and demands to be given a massive Remnant of the type that each city-state has. The Conqueror rejects the demand and declares war with the support of the "God-Emperor", a 1000-year-old legendary figure.
Rush takes the lead in opposing the Conqueror in hopes of earning independence for Athlum, which is currently a vassal state to the city of Celapaleis. While the heroes protect Celapaleis, the Conqueror himself arrives at Athlum and takes the Remnant, shrinking it to a normal-sized sword. When Rush and his allies return to Elysion, Irina reveals her special power, which can unbind any bound Remnants. They discover that Hermeien wanted to be a supreme ruler, and attempts to use the Conqueror and Wagram to bring war with Remnants. After Rush saves Irina, Wagram reveals that he and the Conqueror did not support Hermeien. Irina uses Nagapur's Remnant to protect everyone, while the dragon-like Remnant destroys half of the city.
Four months later, Rush learns that the council city-states are finding all artifacts worldwide to turn against the Conqueror, who is in turn binding and transforming them for the city-states, even some are bounded. Rush's parents reveal their research about the artifact transforming tablets, which Wagram and the Conqueror stole. When Rush and his allies travel to the city of Undelwalt, Wagram tells them that the Conqueror is a Remnant himself. They learn that Wagram and the God-Emperor are supporting him on a quest to destroy the people for misusing artifacts. The group returns to Elysion, to find the Conqueror has ascended the Ark and bound it to prevent them from pursuing him. Although no duplicate Remnants have even been found, they manage to find a second Ark. They head through the Sacred Lands (which turns out to be the birthplace of Remnants) and confront the Conqueror. He informs them that he is trying to release Remnants from the control of man and that the task was for Rush (who is also a Remnant). He believes that their purpose is to retrieve all Remnants from the world that is misusing them for warfare and destruction, and destroy everything. Rush disagrees with the plan and destroys the source of the Remnants, sacrificing himself. The game ends with all Remnants disappearing from the world. After the credits, Rush is heard talking with the Conqueror.
The game was created by developers who had previously worked on the SaGa and Final Fantasy game series. It was directed by Hiroshi Takai and produced by Nobuyuki Ueda. The game was written by Masato Yagi and Miwa Shoda, whose work was based on a scenario concept by Akitoshi Kawazu. Kimihiko Miyamae served as the chief artist, and Yusuke Naora served as both art producer and character designer. The Last Remnant marked the first Square Enix game to use Unreal Engine 3. Because they used a licensed engine rather than making their own, the production time needed to display graphical resources onscreen was cut significantly, allowing the team to begin illustrating and experimenting at an early stage. The decision to use a licensed engine, rather than develop their own as was traditional at Square Enix at the time, was made due to concerns in the company of the rising production costs of making a game, and the direct development time savings possible from using an existing engine. On February 17, 2010, Square-Enix's chief technology officer, Julien Merceron, claimed in an interview that most of the completed game's perceived technical shortcomings were caused by a decision to use the Unreal Engine to not only cut development time but also to reduce the number of skilled programmers that would otherwise be on the project.
The development team planned to distinguish The Last Remnant from the Final Fantasy series and other role-playing games, through its focus on the battle system. The art direction of the game was focused on making all of the characters stand out on the battlefield, and in making the Remnants stand out in the world screens. The cities were designed to not look very fantastical, so as to make the Remnants more prominent, and were designed early on in the development process to give the impression that the people of the city were living both literally and figuratively under the power of giant Remnants. The game marked several firsts for Square Enix, as it was their first game to be released on the same day in both Japan and internationally, as well as the first to use motion capture of Western voice actors. This resulted in the characters' lips speaking English synced to the spoken dialogue, rather than Japanese. The game was planned from the beginning of development to be released simultaneously worldwide and to be targeted to players worldwide, which impacted the character design and art direction. The design and dialogue were created to appeal to international and Japanese players, rather than being focused on the norms of the Japanese video game market alone.
The Last Remnant was announced at a press conference at Shinjuku, Tokyo on May 10, 2007. It was shown as a playable demo at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2008. It was then released on the Xbox 360 on November 20, 2008, and released in late March 2009 for PC. The PC version of the game featured numerous improvements and changes from the original, including the integration of the downloadable content from the 360 version into the main game, enhanced graphical settings, a "Turbo Mode" increasing battle speed, and a New Game Plus option allowing the player to start a new game with the gold and unique items from their first play-through. A PlayStation 3 version was also announced, but never released. Square Enix has not released any official reason for the absence, though Takai said that he found developing for the 360 "a lot easier" than for the PlayStation 3.
The music for the game was composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito, with assistance from Yasuhiro Yamanaka, who composed 10 of the 97 total tracks and co-composed 2. Prior to The Last Remnant, Sekito had spent the previous decade primarily arranging the work of other composers for remakes and re-releases of various Square Enix games such as the Final Fantasy series and the Mana series. The soundtrack features the heavy use of orchestral elements, arranged for orchestration by Natsumi Kameoka, and guitar playing by Sekito. The orchestrated pieces were played by musicians from several different orchestras, rather than by a single group. Unlike most role-playing games, the battle music was designed by Sekito to switch between three songs depending on how well the player was doing in the battle. A soundtrack album was released on December 10, 2008, through Sony Music Distribution. It contains 97 tracks across three discs, and has a total length of 3:10:21.
Square Enix reported that the game had sold 580,000 copies across all versions by March 31, 2009, less than two weeks after the game was first released on PC. By January 2016, the PC version of the game had over 800,000 copies linked to Steam accounts, according to Steam Spy. The Last Remnant received a largely mixed reception. It received a more positive reception in Japan than elsewhere, something which the developers credited to different styles of reviewing between cultures. They also felt that the Japanese reviewers scored the game too high. It received a 38/40 from Famitsu magazine; the review praised the battle system for its unique, massive-scale battles reminiscent of Romancing SaGa but refined to a wholly new class; however, they criticized the learning curve as well, the length of battles, and the inability to choose specific skills for individual units. Famitsu later gave the game their 2008 "Rookie Title Grand-Prize" award.
A common complaint from reviewers was about graphical issues. IGN stated in its review of the Xbox 360 version that the game suffered from extreme technical problems, while GameTrailers named the "persistent graphical issues" as one of the Xbox 360 version's weakest points. GameSpot, IGN, and 1UP.com cited in their Xbox 360 version reviews severe frame-rate problems and "texture pop-in", where the textures were displayed as low resolution for several seconds before being replaced with higher-resolution ones, as some of its main failings. However, all three review sites gave a higher score for the PC version, citing drastically improved graphical performance, but still with texture pop-in and slow loading times when moving between areas and when entering or exiting a battle as well as unskippable cut scenes. Other issues raised by reviewers included "cluttered screens and annoying 'quests'" noted by GamePro, "over the top" and stereotypical characters opined by Game Informer, a poor and generic story according to IGN and 1UP, and long loading screens and cutscenes which were criticisms brought by G4, 1UP, and the Australian Official Xbox Magazine.
Another common point of complaint among reviewers was the battle system, which was described as "repetitive" by GamePro, frustrating by IGN in their Xbox review, and "boring" and the worst part of the game by 1UP. G4 also criticized the battle system, saying that the game played itself. This criticism was not universal, as GameTrailers cited its "unique battle system" as providing "a lot to enjoy", IGN called it "the most interesting part of The Last Remnant" in their PC review, and GameSpot called it "intriguing" and especially fun in the larger-scale battles. The game's visual style was praised across many reviews, such as those by GameTrailers, 1UP, and GamePro, who described the style as "an innovative 'East-meets-West'", while GameSpot called it a "distinctive fantasy world" that is "beautifully constructed". The music was also a source of praise, and was noted as such in the IGN reviews and the GameSpot reviews, which called it an "excellent symphonic soundtrack" with terrific melodies. GameSpot, in their review, also praised the game's story as "epic", in contrast to many of the other reviews, though they noted that Rush wasn't "the most interesting leading man" and preferred when the story focused on the Conqueror.
In September 2018, Square Enix announced the production of a remastered version of the game, to be released for the PlayStation 4 on December 6, 2018. The remaster is planned to feature a new graphics engine upgrade from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4, which improved graphics and features.
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- Conqueror: I desire to release Remnants from the hands of man. [...] At this rate, they will push the Remnants' power beyond their limits. They will destroy all existence. [...] I desired to learn what effect releasing Remnants would have on the world. Thankfully, I found that Remnants merely consume lesser lifeforms, like man. Square Enix (November 20, 2008). The Last Remnant. PC. Square Enix.
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