JRPG’s (Japanese Role-Playing Games) have this funny habit of splitting gamers right down the middle. You either love them or hate them. I happen to fit in the former of the two camps and thus I was excited about Last Rebellion: A new JRPG released exclusively for the PS3. I also happen to love Nippon Ichi, the company responsible for the charmingly quirky Disgaea games and for half of LR’s development. So far so good but the other co-developers Hitmaker, have a rather hit and miss repertoire, compromising one half Dino Crisis (whoot!) and one half awful PSP RPG Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light (Not so whoot…) Unfortunately for me Hitmaker seem to have had the greater influence on how Last Rebellion has turned out, so much to the point that it feels almost like a sequel to Blade Dancer; shoddy PSP graphics and all.
Having expressed my enjoyment of the Role-playing genre, I must stress that it is not an unconditional love that we share. RPG’s in their nature require a good story, an intriguing world to explore and/or fantastic characters for you to assume the role of. The better titles will do all three. Last Rebellion sadly does none of them.
Our tale is set in a world where two gods: Meitilia and Formival keep the world in harmony and balance respectively, with their powers over death and life. (cliché number one) Formival breaks the balance by giving life to too many creatures for some unexplained reason, making what are effectively zombies, so Meitilia assigns varying people to one of two roles to counter-balance things. You get Blades, who kill all the zombies and the sealers, who seal their souls so they can’t be resurrected once more. Our story begins when our hero, Nine is betrayed by his foster brother Al (cliché number two) who kills their foster father the king (cliché number three) and then finishes off our protagonist using the evil powers of Formival. Did I mention that Nine happens to be the strongest blade in the land? (number four) The quest for revenge begins when Aisha, a sealer, is able to revive Nine so that they can set things right (I’ve now given up counting…)
Not exactly a refreshing or original start, but the whole affair is made even worse by the paint by numbers character design. Our hero is an arrogant brat with few redeeming qualities so to speak, and our female protagonist serves as a calmer and more rational foil to balance him out. Wow I’ve never seen that mechanic before… When you are made painfully aware that you will be controlling these two troglodytes for your fifteen or so hour play-through of Last Rebellion, it’s almost enough to make you give up on living. Not forgetting either that these are the only two roles you can assume throughout the game. Talk about playing your cards too early. The world of LR also fails to inspire as it is a place devoid of towns, NPCs, side-quests and just about anything moderately enjoyable about the role-playing experience.
For the sheer amount of stereotypes invading the story and world of Last Rebellion, it is surprising that the combat system is a little more interesting. Enemies have multiple body parts and the player can attack as many of them in whatever order provided they have enough CP. (chain points) Once attacked these body parts become stamped and can be struck by a CP saving magic attack that will strike all stamped body parts. The order in which you stamp and attack is also important, as if the enemies are struck in the correct order the player can receive bonus experience points. There are some nice ideas here but unfortunately the execution isn’t quite up to scratch. For starters the “correct” order you’re meant to hit the enemies body parts in has no rhyme or reason and effectively becomes a guessing game.
There are also many balance issues and bugs in the combat that border on game-breaking. For a start if I use an item and then get stunned or have the action halted for any reason, the item I was using just magically disappears. The frustration heightens with the inclusion of status effects as they hit both of your characters, meaning a sleep spell will cause you a pointless death or two and endless irritation along the way. The plot links also adds a further nuisance in that enemies must be sealed after being defeated so they aren’t revived again by the dark powers of Formival. This was fine to begin with but having to use the seal command every battle becomes very tedious very quickly. Topping it all off is the sheer length of battles. They are far too long for their own good and if you mess up on a boss fight and have to retry you can kiss the past half hour you spent on it goodbye.
The levelling up and skill system has a similarly chequered level of enjoyment. Magic is handled well, being freely assignable to either character through magic tomes. You can then level these up with parchment paper which can be moved between spells at any time outside of battle, should you feel the need. It’s not flashy but the versatility of the system gives it a nice dose of variety that the rest of the game is lacking. Unfortunately the sheer abundance of potentially useless spells and items causes the whole system to lack the tight mechanics of other more accomplished Role-playing games. Whilst the skill system does the job reasonably well the actual system of levelling up your characters is dull and practically non-existent. You just gain experience points until your stats increase. It doesn’t detract from the game as such but it feels a little basic and uninspired.
Next we come to the graphics. I’ve just checked an online thesaurus for any synonyms I may have missed for the word “terrible.” Abhorrent, appalling, atrocious unpleasant, unwelcome, vile and all of the above. I would go as far as saying that the depths of hell probably look more aesthetically pleasing than Last Rebellion. Were it not for the large print on the disc stating it was “blu-ray” I would’ve easily mistaken it for a PS1 title. In its defence the visual design of the characters is nice enough but the textures are jagged and bland, the animations repetitive and identical between the two characters, and to top it all off the story is told through still images entirely. They don’t even have moving lips or any kinetic properties whatsoever. This would’ve seemed cheap ten years ago but now it’s just embarrassing.
Technically speaking the sound is slightly more accomplished. I say that as it doesn’t have the same low quality that the graphics exhibit, but the actual creativity involved can also be measured on a cocktail stick. The in-game music is bland and unmemorable to the point that I’d struggle to remember any of the melodies whatsoever. At least the music plays when it’s supposed to, as opposed to the sound effects which for some reason decide every now and then that they’d rather not grace us with their rather under-whelming presence. All this seems like a blessing when compared to the voice acting. It is an affront to mankind and should be considered one of the great evils in our society. It is whiny, unprofessional and adds little to the game apart from a large degree of annoyance. This is a game best played on mute.
For those of you still determined to invest your time in this lacklustre experience, at least I can say you’ll get value for money. Well sort of. Last Rebellion weighs in with a modest fifteen hours approximately for a single play-through. This is above average for most games, but if you compare it to other RPGs the amount of content available is much like the rest of the game: Severely lacking. The absence of side-quests and explorable towns also further the problem. Likewise, the linearity of the experience makes a second play-through seem like an unlikely eventuality. At least the trophies are fairly reasonable with no ridiculous “hit the level cap for each character” ones that usually pop up.
Playing through Last Rebellion felt a little bit too much like work for my liking, which is ironic considering for me it technically was work. I dread to think how one might feel if they shelled out their hard earned cash for LR, hoping for an enjoyable experience. Don’t fall foul of that mistake. Last Rebellion fails to push the boundaries of the RPG genre or the technical limits of the system it was designed for. The only thing this game will be testing is your patience. Avoid like the plague.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Interesting battle system, Versatile skill levelling
Embarassing visuals, Horrific voice acting, Uninspired plot, Annoying combat bugs
The only thing this game will be testing is your patience. Avoid like the plague