I am Gezegond, and this used to be my personal blog.
However it is now moved to my own website, so check it out.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Blog Moved

I have moved this blog to a wordpress blog hosted on my own website. Check it out for newer posts.

I most likely won't return here unless something goes wrong on my own website, or if I can't afford it anymore.

Farewell Blogger. It was nice knowing you, and I still like you more than Wordpress. But hosting my own blog seems safer for now.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Last Remnant related files for PC

Below is a list of files related to The Last Remnant (PC) gathered from around the net in one place for your convenience.

Num Item Links
1 Demo Download (1GB)
2 Full Game Steam
3 Related Websites Official Website
The Last Remnant Wiki
4 System Requirements View
5 Box Covers View
6 Game Icon Download
7 Reviews GameRankings
8 Screenshots GameSpot
9 Soundtrack iTunes
10 Hacks View
11 Unlockables View
12 Videos GameTrailers
13 Save File Download
14 Trainer Download
15 Wallpapers Link
16 Walkthroughs Link
17 Guide PDF Download
18 Avatars Source 1
Source 2
19 Ringtone Download

Monday, May 27, 2013

Heavy Rain (PS3) Review

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Quantic Dream
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: February 23, 2010
ESRB: Mature 17+
This would have been an excellent game if not for major story flaws.

Gezegond Score: 7.5
Pros: Features the best possible gameplay for storytelling Story is fantastic in the middle of the game Characters look real and are animated well
Cons: Plot holes Plot inconsistencies Disappointing ending

Final Ratings

I hate QTEs. I just wanted to clear this up before starting the review because Heavy Rain is essentially a series of QTEs strung together to tell a story: An interactive movie. It’s a real accomplishment, then, that I actually enjoyed Heavy Rain despite my hatred for pressing random buttons.

Heavy Rain is not my first play in the interactive movie genre. I had previously played “Fahrenheit”, another game by Quantic Dream, the developers of Heavy Rain; and while I loved that game for its story and presentation, I hated it for its controls, specially some real frustrating QTE segments.

I remember I was very excited when I first heard about Heavy Rain. Everything sounded great: Being a Playstation 3 exclusive, the developers could focus on bringing out the most of what PS3 can offer both graphically and in terms of control methods, rather than aiming for the lowest point which is supported by all platforms if the game were to be released on multiple consoles. The branching story sounded more complicated than that of Fahrenheit (or any other game I had played); and the new story seemed to be more mature and complicated than the previous one.

Having now played the game, I am quite happy that my expectations are met. Almost.


Let’s start with the visuals. For a game like this, visuals play a very important role. After all, when you’ve got little to play with, you’ll end up staring at the scenery instead. Considering their importance, the graphics are not as good as I wanted them to be. They might look really great, or ridiculously bland, depending on what you’re staring at.

Let me elaborate a bit: Quantic Dream has put a lot of effort on characters, particularly on how well they can express emotions through facial gestures. The results are… well, good. The characters look real (Though some look better than others) but when they express an emotion, sometimes it feels… just too mechanical. Like robots that are programmed to perform a certain expression that is assigned to a keyword. This doesn’t happen frequently enough to be immersion braking though, and the characters’ details and their animations are otherwise done surprisingly well and accurate. A visual highlight for me was when Jayden, one of the characters, used his augmented reality glasses to turn his tiny office into a vast natural environment. Jayden can choose between a forest in autumn, the ocean floor, the top of a cliff in a valley (my favorite), and on mars. These sceneries give the game's overall gritty tones some needed variation, and they were my favorite part of the game visually.

This is how Jayden’s office looks through those glasses.

Those, are however the visual highlights of the game. Other areas are relatively worse. The sceneries have great artistic touches, and look great, but not noticeably better than other PS3 titles. Given the fact that in this sort of game, the engine only needs to handle at most a few rooms, I don’t see why they couldn’t have used better looking textures and details. The world objects are the worst part. You'll see a lot of these in Heavy Rain. You have to interact with different items throughout the game, which gives you a very close look at the said item: Perhaps you’re shaving and the razor is taking up half of the screen, or you’re putting some plates on a table, each taking turns to fill the entire screen. These frequent close looks constantly ruin your experience by showing you an ugly model that completely breaks the immersion. And by ugly, I mean UGLY. I have seen 3D models used in 5th gen games looking better than some of these. The cars in particular look very ridiculous. I didn’t expect them to look better than the ones in racing games, but I’ve seen custom models done by hobbyists that look better than these. I understand that a developer can’t design a level full of high quality objects, but when something takes the entire screen for 3 seconds, with the player's complete attention focused on it, it has to look realistic.

I have seen cars in games released in 90s that looked better than these.

Voice acting is very important in this sort of game, so it's very pleasing that I rarely noticed anything out of place. Specifically, the actors are pretty good at conveying their character's emotions and their tone go along with the facial expressions well. There is however, some very poor voice acting present as well. These mostly belong to minor side characters with very few lines, but they succeed in ruining the mood when they occur nonetheless. I don't remember any particular piece of music that specifically grabbed my attention, perhaps due to the game's short duration, but for the most part it was enjoyable and contributed to setting the mood reasonably well.

Gameplay? What gameplay? It's an interactive film, you just watch it and make stupid decisions every once in a while, right? At least, that's what one would expect when hearing the term “interactive movie”. That line of thought, is wrong. This is where Heavy Rain shines. It achieves something never done before: to make you feel you're living a story. This is not something any movie can ever do, and that, is why Heavy Rain is most definitely a game.

The gameplay is essentially divided into 2 modes: The adventure mode, and the QTE mode. In adventure mode, you have direct control over your character. You walk around, interact with objects and people, and try to accomplish something. It works pretty much like early 3D adventure games such as Grim Fandango. QTE mode triggers when the situation goes out of control, and quick reflexive action is needed to handle it. When combined, these two modes involve the player with the story in an impressive manner: The adventure mode gameplay has been used in story driven games for quite some time with great results, and Heavy Rain is no exception. In most games, QTE is just a cheap method that substitutes more complex gameplay (which is why I hate it), but in this one, they're actually used for what they do best: gauging the player's reflexive reactions.

Adventure mode plays relatively the same as other 3D adventure games.

These modes of gameplay have been done before quite a lot, and their combination has already been done in Quantic Dream's past game, Fahrenheit. So what makes Heavy Rain different? The answer is their implementation. You see, you don't just interact with your surroundings by pressing a button. You need to make the appropriate gestures as well: You want to pick something up from the floor? You have to move the analog stick up. You need to pick it up slowly? You have to move the analog stick up slowly. While this doesn't sound too impressive on the paper, in effect it does a very great job at immersing you in the game. And this goes beyond just “make that analog stick gesture to do x”: Every action is a combination of several gestures, which could include making a certain analog stick gesture at a certain pace, using the buttons by pressing, holding, quick tapping, or a combination of them, and doing several gestures with the controller itself: finally a good use for sixaxis motion sensors in Dualshock 3 controllers. The precision is spot on, as I never felt cheated: If a gesture was registered as a failure, it was because I failed to perform it correctly, not because of poor implementation. That's something that Heavy Rain should be applauded for, since many other games fail to implement gestures correctly and in a fun or immersing manner.

The QTE mode kicks in whenever reflexive reactions are needed.

Another touch, that immerses you even more in the game, is the fact that there's no HUD layout. Each action prompt is presented over the related object in the 3D environment (as opposed to being drawn on 2D HUD overlay). While this too, seems trivial, it makes a huge difference in your experience, in that you have to actually look around the screen to see whether there's something worth interacting with, similar to real life, rather than staring at a fixed place where prompts would appear on HUD.

Each action prompt is displayed on the related object.

And what adventure style gaming is good without the characters talking to themselves like idiots? This “trick” was used in early adventure games in order to give the player information about an object. The same is present here only with a small twist: Holding L2 pops up some keywords that rotate around your character's head and can be selected by pressing one of the face buttons associated with them. Each keyword represents one of your character's thoughts, and they will talk about it to themselves when one is selected. This way, the game gives you information about your surroundings, the objects, the goals, hints, and most importantly the character’s emotions at any time, rather than simply giving information on interactive objects.

Thoughts spinning in your head.

Not immersed enough yet? Another immersing aspect in gameplay is what I’d like to call “object button mapping”. See, in most games, each button represents an action. For instance, by pressing x, you kick. I call this “action button mapping”. In “object button mapping” however, each button is mapped to an “object”, such as one of the character's limbs, or the camera. While the former is more practical and suited for complex gameplay styles, the latter immerses the player in the environment better, meaning each has its own particular use.

In Heavy Rain, the developers have made the right choice to use “object button mapping”: The left analog stick represents your neck, and by moving it you look around, moving the camera accordingly as well as your head. R2 represents your feet, and by pressing it you move in the direction your head is facing. So if you want to turn right for instance, you use the left analog stick to tilt your character's head to right, and then press R2 to move in that direction. While this might sound too unnecessarily complex, it does a great job at immersing you in the game, and you'll quickly get used to it because it makes sense. The right analog stick represents your hands, and you use it to perform various gestures that utilize your hands. Moreover, L2 represents you mind, L1 flips between the 2 camera views at each scene, and your controller on the whole represents the character's entire body (for use in sixaxis motion gestures).

All of the above add up together to make a truly wonderful immersive gameplay style, making this the best method I have ever seen for telling a story in a game so far. This is the sort of meaningful innovation I'd like to see in more games, and I wholeheartedly praise Heavy Rain for it.

There are two more things I'd like to talk about here. First are the extras. Going through the game you unlock 7 concept art galleries and 3 “making of” videos. The most important aspect of the videos is that they show the real actors who the characters are modeled after. I thought the characters looked artificial so I was surprised to see how much they resemble their real actors. The only one that looked a bit different was the FBI agent, which I thought had the least artificial model! Turns out I find realism unreal. The concept art gallery, while not so attractive to regular gamers, is definitely a plus for people who’re interested in art or game design.

That’s some rad concept art.

Next is the origami figure. There is a mandatory hard disk installation when you first start the game. While the game is being installed, it teaches you to make a real origami figure (The one that is the game’s main logo). I found this really fun and innovative, and it did a great job at setting the mood effectively while making the wait fun at the same time. I thought this should be mentioned because I have always been intrigued by what game developers do with loading screens, and this one was very innovative as it gives you a game to play even when it's loading and it has a really good reason not to.

You’ll make one of these for yourself.

And so we reach the most important aspect of Heavy Rain: the characters and the story. All of the technology, the gameplay, the level of details, and everything I talked about up until now were merely tools for presenting the story. Given the importance it carries, I regret to tell you that the story unfortunately falls short. Very short. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The story revolves around the “Origami Killer”, a serial killer targeting young boys, leaving an orchid and an origami figure on the bodies of his victims. The story is told through the perspective of 4 different characters that are all in some way related to the origami killer. Each of these characters has their own story theme and gameplay style.

Ethan Mars, the main character, has his son kidnapped early on the game. His side of the story is full of intense emotions, usually pain and confusion. The origami killer demands him to do harm either to others or to himself in exchange of his son's life, leading to a lot of painful decisions he must make. This decision making makes the bulk of his gameplay style.

This is Ethan. He’s a bit sad.

Madison Paige is a reporter investigating the origami killer. She is the kind of girl you see in Hollywood movies who does extremely dangerous stuff just because she's “curious”. She frequently does stupid things, and does stupid things to get those stupid things done. There was this part, for instance, where she goes to a disco club to find some information about its owner who is most likely a criminal. Now if it was me, I would start by asking the people around or bribe the bartender to find something out about him. As a matter of fact, I did try to talk with other people on the scene. But Madison want to talk only and only to the owner himself. The owner obviously does not want to be bothered. So what does she do? Bribe the doorman on his office? Try to find info another way, maybe talk to other people now? No! She decides to get into the owner's private section by dancing and seducing him. And after finally finding her way there, what does she do? Try to wittingly get him to talk about something he shouldn't? Bluffing about blackmailing him? No! She asks him if they could go somewhere “private” to talk. You are free to facepalm. This kind of behavior usually leads to a lot of situations where she is captured by the enemy and must do something to break free, Hollywood style. I found her character very stereotypical and weakest among the four.

The shortest way to find something out about the origami killer is obviously to show cleavage.

Norman Jayden is an FBI profiler in charge of the Origami Killer's case. He has his very own gameplay style thanks to ARI: Short for “Added Reality Interface”, ARI is a futuristic gadget used by FBI agents to help them with… everything. It consists of augmented reality glasses and a glove which help him in a crime scene, in his office, or when he just wants to waste time. Most importantly, ARI can do everything the CSI lab team does in a whole episode in a single second. His gameplay style therefore is reminiscent to that of detective games: investigating the crime scene and talking to related people. But that's not all there is to Jayden: In addition to being a rookie cop and dealing with numerous inconveniences brought by it, he is also addicted to drugs, and using ARI too much puts negative side effects on his mind. His part was also the only part where I had to use my brain a little. Overall, I found Jayden the best and most fun character to play with amongst the four.

Not only does ARI find the evidence, it also analyzes it and finds related info from the entire FBI database instantly.

Scott Shelby is a private investigator who's hired by the families of the victims of the origami killer. He goes around asking the relatives of the previous victims in search for clues. Incidentally, whenever he does that some sort of predicament comes up which he has to deal with, earning the trust of those who don't talk along the way. His gameplay is therefore a mix of adventure and QTE.

Good thing a thieve showed up, now I can play the hero and then he’ll surely talk!

The story is actually quite good and would be outstanding if not for its major flaws. Let’s start with the weak introduction: The first 30 minutes of the game is dedicated to showing you how to play the game, and in those 30 minutes the story is very thin and doesn't make a lot of sense. Actually, let me rephrase that: it doesn't make any sense. For example, in the first chapter Ethan's son suddenly “teleports” upstairs (I can't think of any other way he could go there that fast) to... find his bird dead. Did he kill the bird? Did the bird die on its own? What is the reason we should know or care about the bird at all? It doesn't have anything to do with the story, and the lines are so bad that it doesn't contribute to the development of characters at all. My only guess is that it’s just a failed attempt at sounding deep and metaphorical.

Or in the second chapter, when his other son decides to wander off in the mall despite him warning him not to do so several times. After finally finding his son, he rewards him with by buying him a balloon, after which he wanders off again despite his father telling him firmly not to do so two times. Instead of getting angry and going after him and bringing him back, Ethan spends a whole minute trying to find his wallet to pay for the balloon. Wtf?

Now why don’t I buy you a balloon because you paid zero attention to what I just said? 

The story gets better after the introduction. It managed to successfully attract and maintain my attention, so much that I found myself guessing the identity of Origami Killer midway into the game. One of the highlights for me was a part where Ethan, suffering from agoraphobia, has to go through a station in order to get a package left by the Origami Killer in a locker. The way his mental sickness was portrayed here was downright genius. Another highlight was where Jayden and his partner Blake are investigating a suspect. In the middle of the conversation the suspect suddenly takes out a gun and points it at Blake. As Jayden you have the option to either shoot the suspect or talk him into surrendering. I remember that it felt very real: The gun's trigger was associated with the R1 button, and I kept feeling that I have a real gun in my hand and the life of two human beings at stake. I think I now understand what “the responsibility of holding a gun” means.

This guy doesn’t seem to like cops much.

One of the most important aspects of the story is that it branches into different directions depending on your choices and actions. All characters can die, and if they do the story will continue without them from the perspective of the other characters. The branching is not limited to deaths though; It goes into different directions based on the decisions you make, things you say, or objects you interact with. As an example, in a part where Jayden has to arrest a suspect, he suddenly starts feeling dizzy due to his drug addiction. You have to find his drugs in his pockets with precise gestures, and if you succeed, you get better on the spot and arrest him and everything’s over. But if you fail, the suspect captures you and puts you in a life/death situation where you have to fight for your life.

Stay down!

The problem with the story however, is that there are two flaws that are always present: First, the plot holes. There are a lot of things that go unexplained in Heavy Rain. Unfortunately, I can't elaborate more or I would be spoiling the story, but there are events that happen but never explained why. Similar to the bird in the introduction, you might think that these have something to do with the story, but then the story goes on and on until it's finished and they're left unexplained.

The second flaw, which was my biggest gripe with the game, was the inconsistencies. Ethan has some blackouts early on in the game and they seem to be really important. They also have strong hints about the identity of the Origami Killer. However, once a couple of them occur, they just stop happening out of the blue and then the plot takes another direction and a bit later it's like the writers forgot that blackouts happened at all. Not only are they not addressed, they are never mentioned again.

Strange, where did this origami come from? Well, I’ll just pretend I didn’t see it.

And finally, my second major gripe was the ending. The ending was… how should I put it? Pointless. And Meaningless. I don't want to spoil it so imagine a mystery murder case. The detective looks for clues one by one, and slowly gathers information. All of them point that Mr. X is the killer. Then at the end in a dramatic twist, it is revealed that the killer was actually Mr. Y. They show you a flashback in which Mr. Y kills the victims. The credits roll. Notice that they never bother telling you why all the evidence pointed to Mr. X being the killer. That would feel like 98% of the story was completely pointless. That is how Heavy Rain's ending feels. Out of the blue, this guy is the Origami Killer. Bye.

There is a reason for both the plot holes and the inconsistencies that the developers have explained: Deleted Scenes. Many of the plot holes and the blackouts are explained in a deleted scenes video that you can watch here. (It's full of spoilers, so make sure you watch it after finishing the game) However, this does not make the ending make any more sense. You can also read more about why the ending doesn't make sense here if you want. (This is also full of spoilers) This leads me to believe that there was something else going on besides deleting scenes which resulted in this.

If you’re wondering why the story doesn’t make any sense, it’s because we deleted all the important parts.

My theory is that the game's story was dramatically changed mid-development. You see, where the story was going in the middle of the game would make it a bit... controversial. Yes, that's the word. I believe they changed the story fearing the controversial nature of it would negatively affect sales. That's the only way I can explain the ending, the inconsistencies, and the plot holes altogether. The fact that the developers have already admitted that they changed the story to remove all supernatural occurrences is just further evidence to this theory. Perhaps, they changed it a little more than just “removing supernatural elements”.

These flaws, when put together, completely ruin the story which would have been otherwise fantastic. And with the story being the most important aspect of this game, the whole experience and fun factor of the game suffers. Unfortunately, the story, and by extension the whole game fails to deliver anything fun, meaningful, or interesting in the end. This would have been an excellent game if not for major story flaws. If these flaws were not present, one could forgive gameplay shortcomings considering the genre, but this is the other way around. Still, I believe that it's worth playing for all the positive aspects that I have mentioned. You can experience something new rather than playing a game that's very similar to the ones you’ve played before. Just try to ignore the ending and make up your own for this story. I'm sure it will fare better than the real one.

Final Ratings:

Out of 10
6.5 Story
The plot holes, inconsistencies, and the ending ruin the otherwise fantastic story.
8.5 Audiovisuals
Despite some minor annoyances it’s wonderfully done.
9.5 Gameplay
The gameplay is specifically designed for telling a story and it’s almost flawless.
8.5 Technical Performance
The game crashed a couple of times and on one instance a vital object wasn’t rendered at all.
5.5 Durability
The game takes around 9-11 hours to complete, and there’s not much left to do once it’s over.
(out of 10 / not an average)

Download PDF Version

Friday, March 8, 2013

Basket Game Released!

Basket Game is a small catapult mini game I designed. It's the first game I have ever programmed, so it's a bit "newb-y". But I hope you enjoyed it! Please use the comments section below to write suggestions, problems, etc. HAVE FUN!

Download Links:

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Last Remnant (PC) Review

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Product Development Division 2
Genre: JRPG
Release Date: March 24, 2009
ESRB: Mature 17+
The Last Remnant had the potential to be a great JRPG only if the gameplay system wasn't so random.

Gezegond Score: 7.0
Pros: Beautiful, immersive world Up to 18 party members PC tweaks make the game more playable
Cons: Too much randomness in gameplay Lack of control on your party members in and out of battle Some important gameplay mechanics are never explained in the game Missable Content

PC Tweaks
Final Ratings

The Last Remnant is a turn-based RPG developed by Square Enix which was released in November 2008; it was being developed by many key figures that had previously worked on SE's SaGa franchise (A series of games well known for their somewhat frustrating difficulty) and was initially codenamed “Saga Frontier 3”. Square Enix decided to make this game a debut on their the brand new international business plan: Instead of making games exclusively with a Japanese audience in mind and then investing on off-shore branches localizing the game for the western audience, they would make the games with both Japanese and Western audiences in mind, implementing features in ways that would appeal to both, and release it simultaneously worldwide.
And so it happened, the game was released on Xbox 360, a platform which was more popular in the west than in Japan. American actors were used for the motion capture and the lip sync. SE even went as far as to create characters that would each appeal to a certain audience: “Rush Sykes”, the protagonist to the Japanese and his arch enemy “The Conqueror”, to the Westerns.

SE soon realized that their plan had backfired; the game received poor reviews and sales in US and Europe, despite all they had done to appeal to them. Some believed the story to be pointless, some hated the occasional graphical anomalies, while others didn't quite enjoy the gameplay. This led Square Enix to fix some of the game’s faults, make some tweaks and release it on PC the next year. The PC port received better reviews, and for good reasons: Many of the game's faults were gone, specially the graphical errors.
The game has sold 580,000 copies since, and is now available on steam. It is one of the few Japanese Role Playing Games that have been released on the PC.


The premise is about the titular “Remnants”, ancient magical items that have been around as long as man can remember. A remnant can be any magical item, ranging from a simple treasure chest, to a gigantic insect that extracts water from deep underground for people living in a desert. This means that remnants have become part of people's daily lives, not unlike how electricity has become part of ours. The population of TLR's world is divided into 4 main groups, the Mitra, who look like normal humans, the Qsiti, Frog look-alikes that are half the size of a normal human, the Yama, fish-like people that are noticeably larger than a normal human, and the Sovani, Cat-people who live a long time and have 4 arms instead of just two. There are also the Jhana, savage creatures that can use some simple items and weapons but are too primitive to live along with the civilized population, and the Imps, monsters that have somewhat higher intelligence than the rest, and can use some basic item techniques.

 From left to right: Imp, Jhana, Mitra, Qsiti, Sovani, and Yama

The protagonist, Rush Sykes, is a boy who is looking for his lost sister. At the beginning of the game he meets “Lord David Nassau”, young ruler of a small city, and his four generals, who decide to lend him a hand on his quest and later join his party permanently. Later into the game they will meet the previously mentioned conqueror, with unclear motives for his unfriendly actions. The ending, without spoiling too much, is one of those I-should-have-guessed-it-sooner ones, and will make all the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fit together. At the same time it could be a bit cheesy, so I wouldn't call it one of the best endings, but it wasn't bad either.


The graphics are rendered using Unreal Engine 3, a choice SE made to cut down on the costs. This has had some negative effects on the 360, but on PC I didn't notice any. As a matter of fact, it's a gift considering it allows some tweaking to be done that wouldn't be possible otherwise. The game also lets you save anywhere in the game except in mid-battle, and I think that's something that comes with the engine. The graphics themselves are exactly what you would expect from a 7th gen JRPG title, the characters are all done great and behave very human like, even when they're infinitely repeating a simple talk animation. The world looks great as well. Each time you visit a new city, you will be awed by the city architecture, the people going about their daily lives, and the remnants that coexist with them in harmony.

The towns look both realistic and magical

Likewise, most “dungeons” look fantastic as well. These include a gigantic desert, grassland roadways, a series of caves in an active volcano, abandoned castles and cities, and much more. I stopped playing the game several times only to gaze at the surroundings, wondering what it would be like to actually live in such a magical place. While these areas are often linear, they have a sense of scale, making you want to travel all the viewable landscape. 

The dungeons have a sense of scale

The same can be said about the combat aesthetics. The characters are all designed to be distinguishable in combat, so you're not going to have an army of generic soldiers. Each party member will stand out, and many of them have some voiced lines for battle. The weapons they carry are all modeled pretty nice as well. I specially enjoyed the design of Otachi, a long sword that is available from early on. A plethora of weapons are available, and all of them stand out in battle just as much as the characters that carry them. Another touch is the combat animation. Each weapon type, and the way it’s handled, has its own set of techniques. When a character lands an impressive blow using one of these techniques, not only does it drain your foe's HP considerably, but also a well done attack animation will be presented that is consistent with the damage that was dealt. 

Each technique has its own unique animation

With all that said, I can’t really say that the presentation does not have any faults. For instance, Rush's standard run animation which is used in both cities and dungeons is a bit weird to say the least. The same is true for most JRPGs, but with all the realism this game offers, the unnatural walk animation feels out of place. This made me want to walk most of the time in towns by moving the analog stick slightly upward, since the walk animation is a lot more natural than its running counterpart. Another problem is the city and world map. While most games have these for quick transitions, The Last Remnant forces you to use them. Meaning that if you want to travel from one part of the town to the next, you HAVE to go through the city map, choose the next location, and enter, even when the next location is only a few steps away and you can see it from the previous location. This is rather annoying especially given the fact that Unreal Engine 3 can render large maps without any drawbacks. Another gripe I had with the game was the buildings. The shops cannot be entered in the last remnant. You simply buy what you want in the towns, where locals have set up small shops. The pubs and the guilds are the only buildings that can be entered, and they’re not much different from town to town. The guilds look exactly the same for all the towns, the only difference being the few people wandering inside. There are only two different pub models, and while the decoration varies slightly from town to town, one has to wonder the reason they’ve build the same pubs in all cities, keeping in mind that their towns are so much different both geographically and architecturally. These few minor gripes are no big deal, but can easily break the immersion.

The town map, you’re going to be seeing this A LOT

The audio, while not as fantastic as the visuals, is pretty good in its own right. The soundtrack consists of music that range from the epic opening to the guild background which does its job pretty well. Each town has its own background music that adds up to it’s unique feel. The voice acting likewise does its job fairly well. While it's not the best voice acting you’ve ever heard, it's probably not the worst either. You can also switch the audio to Japanese if you fancy original voice acting.


You will get a taste of battle mechanics before you go into any town (where you meet David), but it’s fairly brief. After watching some cut-scenes and going through some mandatory missions you will be left in the city, free to do what you want, and that’s when you first get a real taste of TLR's battle mechanics. Bottom-line: the battle mechanics is frustrating and clunky. Although the game promises you an army of party members, you will only start with 3. With rush being one of them that leaves only two other party members, which I hired at the guild, a choice I later regretted. The people you can hire fall into two groups: The generic soldiers and unique leaders. The unique leaders have some back story in their info screen (which makes them distinguishable from generic leaders), can learn some new techniques, and some have their own side-quests to tackle after they're hired.

A unique leader’s status menu includes a mini bio which the generic leaders lack

After hiring your first batch of party members, the game's most frustrating “feature” comes into play: You have no control over your party members. And this is apparent before you even enter any battle, in the menu: It's not possible to choose you party's gear. They are equipped with a weapon before you hire them, and they use some items to upgrade their weapons. They might ask for the weapons in Rush's inventory from time to time, but it’s unclear when they do that. The game never tells you where to find these items or how to hand them out to them. They get some of them after you finish a battle (the game explains this), but for some other items, they “clone them from Rush's inventory”, something I found out after spending about an hour on the internet looking for clues. The weapons come in different sizes: small, medium, large, and huge. The Qsiti only use small weapons, the Mitra and Sovani can choose between medium and large, while the Yama use large and huge weapons. This coupled with the lack of control can result in a situation where you have a Yama specific weapon 10 times stronger than any of those your party members have, and you can't equip it since none of your party members wants it for some reason. You can buy Yama or Qsiti specific weapons in the shops, but there's no telling whether any of your party members would ask for them. Furthermore, the items that party members use to upgrade their weapons might be impossible to find, unless you're looking for them in the wiki or some other guide and have lots of patience, since even knowing where to find them doesn't quite help you in acquiring them: Much of it depends on pure luck. This feature was supposedly built so your party members can manage their own gear without you needing to micromanage an army of party members. While this could be actually helpful as an alternative, having it forced on you is simply sadistic, especially since the system doesn't work at all and fails to give your party best available weapons the majority of the time. This is especially true at the beginning of the game, where your party is weak and you desperately need them to have a better gear. And what if someone enjoys micromanaging their party's gear? After all, someone who’s not into this kind of thing wouldn't be interested in a game where having around 20 party members is one of its main features. It's a gameplay mechanics paradox, and that's not a good thing.

Yes, that’s a really cool weapon, but none of my party members want it :(

I wish I could tell you that that’s all there is to it considering the lack of control, but unfortunately the developers of the last remnant felt that the high number of active party members can make it confusing for (perhaps western) players to manage them in turn based combat, thus created a system to “fix” the problem: You’re party is divided into “unions”, groups of approximately 5 party members, and instead of issuing orders to each party member, you issue one order for each union. The game then decides what each party member in the said union should do to achieve that goal. The catch is: the system doesn't work. For instance, there’s no set of orders that are always available. You would think “attack” and “defend” are two commands that would always be there, but there are times that the game decides that your union should do nothing but attacking. You expect healing commands to be issuable anywhere? Not necessarily, the game might decide that a union that is horrifyingly low on health doesn't need healing. Most of the time it fails to give your party members the order to deal the maximum amount of damage possible when you want to attack. There are some commands such as “attack from afar” that let's you attack an enemy without receiving any damage that could be used strategically, only if this command didn’t pop up completely at random. This makes it completely impossible to devise any sort of strategy. In the end, each battle boils down to simply choosing the command that uses the most amount of action points and praying the game doesn't make overly stupid decisions for your party members: There's nothing more frustrating than losing a boss battle you've been fighting for an hour, simply because the game made a stupid decision for your party. 

I have 29 AP, why should I only use 8 at most?

There should be more to the battle mechanics than that, but the rest of the features are completely pointless for the same reasons. Each battle takes place on a plane, where unions are scattered around based on their positions in the dungeon when the battle sequence was initiated. The unions then have to travel the plane to get to their enemies, which can cause situations such as interception or flank attack. There's also a morale bar, which affects the battle in many ways. There are special moves (that are more special than your regular special) and summons. None of these add any depth to the game whatsoever, since they all happen so randomly. The amount of strategic planning possible is practically zero. Furthermore, each union can be assigned a “formation”. Each formation has its own strong points and weaknesses: Some are better at magic and some better at combat, some suited for attacking while others for defending. However, I stopped assigning formations to my unions after I unlocked a formation called “Counter-Offensive” fairly early on in the game, which gave me the most stats for all my unions. Despite unlocking a large number of other formations later, this one was the one I used for the rest of the game, since none of the new ones gave me better stats: Another intriguing but ultimately pointless feature. The game uses quick time events, here called “critical trigger”, to liven up the turn based gameplay a bit. These pop up from time to time allowing your party member to perform some extra damage. Fortunately the game let's you turn it off if you’re not interested. I had it turned off the entire game since I couldn't land a single hit even though I had no problems chaining a lot of them on the Xbox360 and even receiving an achievement for it. When the feature is turned off, the extra damage occurs randomly, just like everything else in the game.

Next failure is the “Item System”. In your regular RPG, each item performs a certain task: A healing potion heals you, while a weapon part is used to upgrade weapons. Not here. There is an item system in place that works similarly to most other systems of the game: Elaborately complex yet completely pointless. The monsters you fight often drop “spoils”, this could be a bird fin, a worm husk, or just some generic bone. You can also “harvest” from some of the locations, which can yield you items such as stones, metals, minerals, and special herbs. Some items can be bought from shops. You use these items to either upgrade your weapons, or use them in an item mixing technique in battle. Ideally, this would be a complex and entertaining system where you would experiment with your findings to make new weapons and techniques. The way it is implemented is exactly the opposite: Each weapon upgrade needs a specific set of items, so you can’t experiment by mixing different weapons and items. You would think that if a weapon can be upgraded with a stone, it can become even more powerful with gold, or a special rare gem that you found somewhere. That's not the case. If the blacksmith needs stone, then you can upgrade your weapon using a stone and nothing else. Likewise, if you can combine two different herbs to heal some of your party members, those two herbs are the only ones you can use for healing. You can't mix different herbs to receive varied heal effects. It's either a mix of these two items, or nothing. And that's not even the worst part, as it is impossible to find some of the items that the blacksmiths need to upgrade your weapons: There's no hint at where to find them if you don't already have them and even their names doesn't help. You expect an “Avian Fiend Meat” to be dropped by any flying monster. That's not the case. Only a special kind of enemy drops this, and only in a specific location, and in random times. You can't possibly memorize all the items and where you found them, so either you use a detailed guide or the wiki, or you can forget about using the upgrade system altogether. Fortunately, the items required for item mixing techniques can all be bought at shops, so you’re not going to have any problems healing your party if you have enough cash. In the end, each item has an overly specific way to obtain, and usually has a single use (convert this weapon to that) or no use at all. The whole system is just plain pointless and also a pain in the butt.

 So where do I get a Steel Ore?

Not the whole gameplay system is broken though: The dungeons are fortunately designed with some relative sense. You can save anywhere in the map, a true bliss. There are no random encounters, the monsters roam freely in the map, and you can engage them in battle at will. Each monster has a status which shows how they're feeling. If they're cowering, you can avoid them with ease. If they're aggressive, they might follow you if you're noticed and initiate a battle themselves, which causes a negative effect on your morale bar and gives the enemy an initial advantage. It is also possible to “chain” some enemies together and engage them in battle together. This will make the battle more difficult, but will also yield you more spoils and drops. 

That Vile Lizard is cowering!

As for the quest structure, aside from the very few main quests, there are two kinds of other objectives you can tackle: Side quests, and guild quests. Side quests can be accepted by talking to the people in town, and accepting their requests if they have one. Given the fact that the main quests are not so abundant, these can be considered part of the game’s main quests. Some introduce new characters, some provide back-stories to the main characters, some open up new locations and techniques, and some give you good rewards. 

 Side Quests may involve checking up on people’s wives

The guild quests instead are the kind of pointless side quests you find in most games. These are lined up in the guild menus, and you can take their reward whenever they’re done, so no need to “initiate” a guild quest. Killing a specific monster or acquiring a specific item is what you’re expected to do for these quests, but there’s no indication at how you’re supposed to carry them out. The game is kind enough to tell you where to find groups of monsters, but for specific items and “boss monsters”, it is up to you to find them. Since the world is large and the appearance of these targets can be random, the side quests usually end up being done “accidentally”: You kill a monster and later find out that killing him was a guild quest: Another random feature.

So those monsters I just defeated were a guild quest? Neat.

There are two other frustrating aspects to this game that I should mention: First is the “missable content”: Some locations, weapons, and quests, might disappear later in the game if you fail to perform a string of action in a particular time. Some side quests become unavailable if you progress through the main quests. Some locations can only be found only if you talk to a certain civilian at a town. Some items can become unavailable later in the game since the monsters that drop them get replaced by others. This means if you care about getting the most out of your game, you have to follow a guide to avoid missing these.

The other frustrating aspect is the “BR”. An acronym of “Battle Rank”, it's a status that sits there in your menu and doesn’t seem to be important. The game never tells you what it’s for. This kind of meaningless stat would normally be ignored, but as it turns out, this is the most important stat in The Last Remnant. The BR is your entire party’s global level. The party members don't have individual levels associated with them. Like any RPG, the higher the level is, the slower you progress through it. However since in this game the BR is a global stat, it won’t matter when you hired a party member: If your BR is high, all your members will gain improvements at a snail pace, and if it's low all of them will improve rapidly. But you aren’t allowed to have the maximum amount of party members (around 20) from the get-go. The number of allowed party members in battle grows as you progress through the main quest. This means if you grind early on the game, you will end up with a bunch of weak members that will stay weak forever. This could at some instances break your whole game, forcing you a complete restart from the beginning. This is the very most frustrating experience one can have in an RPG, so use this guide if you want to avoid something like that happening to you.

I see my battle rank is 40. Wait, what is battle rank?

PC Tweaks:

As stated before, the PC version makes several tweaks and changes that slightly improve the gameplay. Also given the fact that the game is on PC, you can make several PC specific tweaks by editing the game files.

The most noticeable change from Xbox360 version is graphical improvements. The game suffered from long load times and texture pop-in on the Xbox 360, which have been addressed on the PC, since the game runs from your hard drive which is faster than a DVD-Rom. If you have a high end PC, you can also use this guide to make some tweaks to the game config located in your saves directory to improve your performance and get rid of the texture pop-in altogether. Another feature of the PC port is that it includes all of X360 version's DLCs by default, so you don't need to download them separately. There's also the addition of New Game +, which you can use to tackle the portions of game you missed on your first play-through more rapidly, since you start with lots of cash, which makes things much easier.

There are also some gameplay tweaks which turn it from X360's unplayable state to “barely playable”: The game now features a Turbo Mode which makes the battles flow way faster when it’s on. After playing a while on Turbo Mode I started to feel that the normal mode is practically on Slow Motion. This is pretty good for grinding and generally conserving time and going through the game faster. You can also switch the critical triggers on and off mid battle, which can help you if you usually use them but want to get rid of them when grinding, or when you're screwing up so much you’d rather turn it off mid battle.

Another tweak is that you are now able to “disable techniques”. Yes, the battle decision system was so flawed that disabling techniques you’ve learned is a good thing: It prevents the game to make overly stupid decisions from time to time. The PC version also lets you hire as many of those previously mentioned unique leaders as you want, as opposed to the Xbox360 version which limited the number of leaders per union, forcing you to hire some generic soldiers as a part of your party. You can now also view the weapons you want to buy before taking them in battle (On Xbox360 version only the stats were visible)

This game being a console port, and a JRPG, it is highly advisable to use a controller to play the game. Any general dual analog design will do. Being a “Games for Windows” game, you can also plug in an X360 controller if you've got one and play without any further configuration required. I did have some problems configuring my dual shock controller though: The game's gamepad config menu splits the commands into different sections (in-game, menu, mid-battle), but some commands belong to more than one category while they’re listed in only one. As an example, the party menu key is located in the in-game section, but it also works in the menu (as in world map and city map), if you don't override the key in menu section. So take extra care when configuring your controller. The game’s got a surround sound option in case you have 5 speakers connected to your PC, but this game being a JRPG, the back speakers don't make any important sounds that would enhance your experience.

When I ran the game for the first time there were some annoying screen tearing, and there was no V-Sync option in the game's config menu, but I used the “Nvidia Control Panel” to create a profile for the game, and then forcing v-sync on. If you’re using ATI you can go to “Catalyst Control Center” and turn “Wait for Vertical Refresh” to “Always On”. I've also tried Nvidia's 3DVision: The game is ranked as fair, it doesn't render shadows correctly and some cut-scenes are out of focus. There's no way to turn the shadows off completely in the game's config menu, so other than setting in game settings appropriately, you also have to find “RushEngine.ini” file which is located at “My Documents\My Games\The last remnant\RushGame\Config”, find the part that says “DynamicShadows=TRUE”, and change it into “DynamicShadows=FALSE”. (Don’t forget to save) It's worth the trouble though: Watching all those mystical towns in 3D is really something else, and it takes you one step closer to truly “live” the game. However if you don't have these fancy 3D and high-end graphic cards, no need to worry:  This is a turn-based game, so as long as it runs, the graphics won't affect the quality of gameplay.

And as a final note, I'd like to recommend this wiki if you ever decided to play this game. I have linked to it multiple times in this review before, but reminding you one more time won't hurt. Using the guides in this wiki can help you dramatically improve your experience with the game, to the point that not using some guides can break your game completely. I'll also recommend Xfire if you don't have steam. This program has a bunch of cool features (Taking screenshots and videos of your game, voice-chatting with your friends while playing, music player, etc.) but I'm recommending it specifically for this game because of it's in-game browser, which lets you browse the wiki without needing to constantly alt-tab in and out of the game. And trust me, you will constantly be using the wiki.

Final Ratings:

Out of 10
7.5 Story
The story does its job, but its not the best one you’ve heard. The ending was somewhat satisfying.
8.5 Audiovisuals
The game world is beautiful. The soundtrack is nice. The voice acting could be better.
4.5 Gameplay
It’s broken, and the PC updates don’t fix it. Get yourself a guide or use the wiki unless you enjoy confusion and frustration.
8.5 Technical Performance
Use PC specific tweaks to eliminate all visual anomalies. Use 3Dvision and surround sound to enhance your experience.
9.0 Durability
Even if you manage to finish all the side quests and the guild quests, give your party members the best weapons, and go through all the extra dungeons, there’s still the new game plus.
(out of 10 / not an average)

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