This arrived at my work sat morning but due to the online release date lockout, I wasn't able to do much with it. Thank fully there is a bypass patch available for it online in certain...places. A pretty annoying feature when you think about it, it requires that you have an online connection when ever you install the game (what happens when the authenticator service goes off line for good? In this case it might be steam, but I don't know exactly. I do know steam handles updates of the game though) and didn't even phase the pirates who had this out way back on the 18th.
So anyways..I just want to get this out of the way...the game freaking rocks! Ok the "freaking" part may just be the jrpg fan in me wanting to wash the taste of final fantasy 12 out of my mouth for 2 years (good story, characters, great voice acting, but god awful combat system). I have been playing this game all day today without breaks...and I haven't done that in a long time. To get a review of the game play, I think a video demonstration is better so I point you to game trailers xbox review at http://www.gametrailers.com/player/43106.html?type=flv
. They do a very good job in covering the content and I don't think I can get much more specific without a super lengthy review. At the core, this game is a Japanese rpg with a unique and interesting combat system, and a great storyline to boot.
After watching the review... take every technical issues the game had on the xbox and just throw them out the window. The unreal3 engine has been patched several times on the pc now and it shows, this game is almost flawless and bug free. There is apparently some issues with ati drivers where ati card owners have been seeing low all around frame rates, hopefully ati will have a beta driver available very soon. I have an 8800GTX and running at 1680x1050 with every single effect maxed out, the game runs smooth as butter. Load times are super fast (mind boggling fast when you consider how long it takes to load a level up in unreal tournament 3) and there's only 2 start up screens, epic's and the unreal logo. The ONLY glitch I have found is a common issue with the unreal3 engine, that is when a zone (map) is first loaded, most textures appear low resolution for the first second or so. But ziping from place to place takes a second, and loading a fight takes about 2.
When you first start the game up, you have access to a setup menu system that is fairly detailed. Many of the usual detail settings the unreal3 engine gives users access to are accessible, and several screens are given to setting up your keyboard and controller (with lavish support for the xbox360 pad). About here is probably a good time to talk about many players common complaints.. the converting of the control scheme from the game pad to keyboard and mouse. Well if you haven't noticed by now..there is not a single mouse cursor in the game. Never will you see a floating arrow, and there are no menus you can click on. Scared yet? I hoped so, because I am here to tell you it does not matter, because squaresoft are gods and they have built the games controls around the simplistic art of up, down, left, and right.
Now the mouse isn't useless. Even though you dont see a pointer holding right click will enable free camera look, and moving around in the world is very much like a first person shooter. The only thing the game has omitted is strafing, but it is in no way needed. Left click will enter in selected commands and the mouse wheel will allow you to control moving up and down menus in a fast analogous fashion (this allows you to select the commands for your squads with greater ease then a game pad would and is easily the most often used action on the battle field). The game makes use of the xbox controllers many buttons, but every thing is intelligently mapped on the keyboard (and the game will reference the correct keys on screen when ever it calls for them), for instance the M key opens up the map screen, P opens up the player menu, the space can usually also act as the left mouse key but also acts separately in that it is the key you use to initiate battles. I can't stress enough how square has created a UI that is easy and fast to navigate. Even accessing vendors is a pleasure, as you can quickly get in and out of them and without waiting on anything. This game is FAST and you are never left waiting on anything. Ditto with fights, trash fights can be fought quickly and the victory screen and loot window can be quickly passed and the game will have you back at the explorable map screen in no time.
Graphics are really great. There is the odd low res texture that abounds (I was particularly annoyed with a scene where a small fold up locket that the camera zooms in on for several seconds, as it has gems in it that are projecting an image, and the texture used on the book like locket is extremely low resolution. I know the locket is small, but if you are going to zoom up onto it, they should have made an exception) but for the most part you will be treated to some nice high resolution fancy artwork. Player models and monsters are exceptional well done, sporting crisp textures and loaded with normal mapping and specular textures. Also as per squaresofts trademark, spell effects are top notch. In fact I couldn't help but notice that the unreal 3 engine is actually very favorable to the way squaresoft utilizes particles in the past like in their PS2 games. Sound is also very good..with some great music compositions. I almost kicked myself for missing out on this games sound track, but I think its better that I get to play the game now without already having heard all the music before hand.
JRPGs are a rare breed on PCs, and we really haven't seen one since the 2 major abortions that were FF7 and FF8, so its a huge relief that not only did last remnant be a very good JRPG to come to PC, but that it came as such a good port. I am also happy that it is on steam, because on steam if a game is even a little bit "win".. steam amplifies it into a big win, and we really need more incentive for games like this to come out on PC.
BTW the PC did get some new features as well. The first notable one is the turbo mode which is defaulted to ON. This speeds up fight animations (and cuts out "fluf" animation) so you can quickly burn through trash fights where you know the outcome will be a win and you want to get it over with. You can turn it on and off with the touch of the shift key in between each turn so if you have just taken out some small pawns and are now centering on a large harder monster, you can turn the turbo mode off. You general want the turbo mode off if you want to see which type of attacks are doing the most damage, and to see if someone just got hit by a truck. You can save anywhere except when in the middle of a battle. and saving is quick to get into and done so saving often will become habit. The game does lack a quick save option but that is pretty unheard of in RPG games really. The fact we can save while in dungeons, anywhere in a dungeon, is actually very nice and a rarity.
The xbox featured a triggered 'crit' system where every now and then during an attack, pressing a prompted button would deal more damage. This can be and is better off left set to "auto matic" on the pc version. Just think of it as usual critical hits.
The PC also seems to be harder. I need more verification of this but I have read that trash mobs are not as easy to plow through, and where big chains on the xbox where normal, chaining more then 2 mobs on the pc versions can be gutsy and you could be dead before the first turn is over.