reviews\ Feb 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Last Rebellion - PS3 - Review

Generally speaking, RPGs come in two forms: Japanese and Western RPGs. In Japanese RPGs, narrative and combat typically take center stage. Square Enix is the quintessential developer of JRPGs with their Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, perhaps, the most well known in the genre. Western RPGs are mostly defined for the in-game choices offered and open-ended gameplay. BioWare has become famous with numerous hits that have helped define the genre with Mass Effect 2 being the most recent example.

With that brief history lesson out of the way, we can look at the PS3’s latest RPG, of the Japanese variety, Last Rebellion. It’s critical going in that we distinguish Last Rebellion as a Japanese RPG as gamers won over to the role-playing genre by the Western side shouldn’t expect anything anywhere similar. This may be an obvious distinction for those of us that are RPG diehards but is a misstep that’s been made frequently by those casually interested in the genre. So an upfront word of warning: Last Rebellion is only for the hardest of hardcore Japanese RPG lovers. And even that may be a stretch.

The opening sequence sets the stage of the world of Junovald. Two gods, Meitilia and Formival oversee death and life, respectively. Meitilia has blessed two groups of people to help her oversee death. Blades destroy the physical bodies of creations and Sealers destroy their souls. Both Blades and Sealers are needed to destroy the Belzed monsters; formed from creatures whose souls are lost. Formival has let too many beings live and that has led to the creation of unnatural monsters. The game focuses on the character Nine, a Blade who is recognized as the best of his kind, and Aisha, a Sealer. Without revealing the finer plot points, only one can be used at any given time in combat but both their unique skills are needed to destroy the Belzeds.

A huge and inexcusable disappointment is the story presentation. Static pictures are shown on screen with voice acting dubbed over to provide the narrative. It’s worth repeating. Pictures. No cut scenes animating character interaction, something commonplace even on the PlayStation 1. It’s sad when a game’s story is more reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden’s from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) cut scenes than anything in the last 15 years.

Then there is the voice acting and script, none of which is particularly compelling. Voice acting is extremely hit or miss and often falling towards the latter than the former. I was reminded of the loveable, but atrocious, voice acting in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night … though to be fair Last Rebellion’s isn’t quite that bad. It does sound like it was recorded in a slightly subpar recording studio though; it was easy to picture the voice actors reading their lines in studio completely wondering what exactly they were reading for and doing their best for what was given.

It’s disheartening when games have taken measures to be more intuitive and user friendly (which doesn’t necessitate simplicity or oversimplification) to see a modern game cluttered up with so much menu play and tedious combat mechanics. Last Rebellion’s gameplay is stifled by the needlessly complicated and slow-paced battle system.

During your character’s turn, you can select which body parts to attack and mark. Once marked, these locations are then susceptible to magical attacks. Should an opponent’s arms be focused on, their attacks will cause less damage, while working the legs restricts movement. Depending on the opponent, he may have a particularly weak torso or head which will take more damage. The location-centric targeting system leads to the previously mentioned “marking.” Once a location is attacked, a mark lasts for a set number of rounds depending on which location was struck. For example; if the head, torso, and both legs are attacked, the marks on the head and torso may last for two rounds and the legs four rounds. This allows more options while the marks last, namely magic. Cast a spell and it will target any areas still marked, doing damage on multiple fronts.

And that’s combat, in a nutshell. It may sound needlessly complicated and for most it will be. The real problem though is the slow-paced nature that requires a specific type of gamer to enjoy. This is turn-based combat that makes Final Fantasy VII’s combat seem fast and twitchy.

Comparing Last Rebellion to older games sheds light on the problem is with the game. Last Rebellion is a game that has learned precious few things from the last several years in gaming and offering little in return. It could be overlooked if it was instead a nostalgic old-school game experience such as Dragon Quest VIII. Sadly that isn’t the case either.

There will be a niche group of dedicated RPGers who will be able to overlook the many shortcomings in Last Rebellion and delve into the deeper offerings. But for the vast majority, the many flaws will keep them away from a game that would already have an uphill battle in the North American market. Buying Final Fantasy VII on PSN Store would be both cheaper and a more rewarding experience – even if you’ve beaten it several times before.

Gameplay: 6.5
Slow and tedious gameplay is a poor example of turn-based combat.

Graphics: 6.0
It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to compare the graphics to late PS1 or early PS2 titles.

Sound: 7.0
Voice acting isn't great but may be the best feature the game has to offer.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 5.0
The story is uninspiring and fails to engage along with the rest of the game.

Overall: 6.0
There's not much more to say. Pass on this one unless you are the most hardcore of RPG players. Even then stop and reassess if you're really sure about this. Maybe go for a walk and clear your head. If you're still determined, have at it. You are one of the special few.

Above Average

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