Monday, 17 February 2014

New Faces, Old Faces, and a Face I Wasn't Expecting (The Last Remnant)

The search begins for new Remnants.
After a bit of globetrotting, helping those in need, it's time to get back to the main story. Athlum needs a new Remnant, and we're going to do our best to find one. This means heading to Fornstrand. It still means not really finding out much about the crazy onslaught of super powers that we saw in Nagapur, but I'm at the point where I've just come to accept that this game isn't about explaining stuff properly. So sock it to me, Last Remnant. I'm up for whatever you can throw my way at this point.

Anyway, Fornstrand. It's a dreary place on the coast where water and wind have eroded the stone for centuries. It has a lot of crab-like creatures there, vultures, and, for some strange reason, wolves. The place is definitely not a looker. Music was alright, though. While making my way through the area, I could really feel the awkward side of The Last Remnant's level scaling system.

Unsurprisingly, the Conqueror and
his minions are still alive and kicking.
Implementing such a system into a game is seldom an easy task, and generally I find it's done well here. However, it seems to use some sort of plateau system. Enemies in an area don't stay scaled with your own guys in lock step. Instead they seem to have level ranges that trigger once your own group's battle rank hits a certain point (FYI - individual characters in the game don't have levels, your entire army's stats and skills contribute to a battle rank which is like levels for your whole army rolled into one). This awkward scaling can cause enemies to become quite a bit stronger than your own guys if you just barely nudge into a new level scaling threshold. It's not the end of the world. At most, one only needs to adjust their pace, and slow things down to compensate. This does flies in the face of linking together large numbers of enemies, though, which the game normally encourages, but I didn't feel like getting stomped, so made do.

I don't think the level scaling is present throughout the entire game, either.  If I take my group to areas we've been to before some of them get stronger enemies while others don't, and the side quests are pretty touch and go about this stuff as well.  So, I'm not really sure to what extent it's there.  On the whole, I do like this sort of stuff, as it's at least an attempt to keep combat interesting throughout the game, which I much prefer to out leveling stuff and steamrolling it as a result.  That just feels tedious.

Looks like we have more of the Conqueror's lackeys to
deal with.
So, when we reached the end of Fornstrand there was a shiny new Remnant there waiting for us. Unfortunately the Conqueror's two generals showed up and helped themselves to the thing. I had assumed that they'd survived the destruction of Nagapur, so their presence didn't come as a surprise. It looks like they have a few new cronies, though, that I'll have to deal with. There's about a half dozen of them and they're obviously pretty powerful. The whole thing feels like an anime, where this sort of plot twist (if I can even call it that) happens quite a lot.

With the Remnant plucked from our hands, this lead to David, Rush, et al heading back to Athlum. When they got there, it turned out that Rush's dad had come out of his coma. So now the whole family was back together. Aahhhh ♥. The reunion wasn't as insipid as I was expecting, which was a relief, and the game starting pushing Irina to have more of a presence (at the point I'm at currently, she's a party member, and a very good healer). From here it was a lot of back and forth between Athlum and Elysion. The new head duke was a yamma (giant fish guy) named Ghor, and he was getting David to do a lot of the leg work in seeing what the situation on the ground was after the death of Hermeine.

Unfortunately for Ghor, Hermeine somehow managed to survive Nagapur as well, except now he seems to be borderline omnipotent. I was kind of hoping the guy would stay dead. He mostly just annoys me. Hermeine strikes me as a yappy dog. All bark, no bite. His dialogue is typical arrogant tripe.  Then again, maybe that's why he got brought back. The other villains are pretty badassed, but they're not not inherently dislikable, at least to the same level as Hermeine.

Wasn't expecting Hermeine to still be alive, but I guess the game needs
at least one annoying antagonist.
With him back on the scene, he made his intentions clear (not that they were difficult to discern in the first place): he wanted to take over the world. Of course, Ghor would have none of that, and he told David to prepare for war. David has other plans since he has technology to track Remnants, and could use it to try and figure out where Hermeine and the Conqueror are. At this point, we have a pretty good idea, having located a ring of areas giving off tainted, Remnant-like auras.

Bosses in the bases surrounding Koenigsdorf are proving a
reasonable challenge, but the areas feel repetitive.
They're all in old fortresses, and we have to hit up each one of them before attacking the main installation, Koenigsdorf. So far, I've cleared two of the six outer fortresses (finishing up the third now), and they honestly feel a lot like filler, as they are all very similar. There's an outdoor stage where you fight all of its outer defenders and their commander. This usually means going up against about 10 enemy unions who can be reasonably challenging (though David has whipped out the Gae Bolg toward the end of each siege, making things a cakewalk).  Upon defeating the outer defenders, players face off against the main general inside and a few support forces he has on hand.  Each of these generals has been one of the cronies I encountered at Fornstrand. The fights themselves are pretty decent, but the environments are always the same, as are the support units I have to fight. It's getting a bit repetitive seeing this now that I'm on the third fortress. I can't help but wonder if there weren't a better way of going about this.

Hopefully I'll get a little more variety soon, or at least by the time we breach Koenigsdorg proper. Generally, the game has been pretty good about throwing nice-looking environments at the player, but this bit is starting to wear out its welcome. Here's to a change of scenery soon. Until then, I will continue to topple one base after the next on my path to victory. Till next time. =)