Great graphics and an alright story-line...but grab some food for the battles because you won't be finishing them fast
Here we have a game where all the characters are well developed, with a range of customability and free reign of party creation. Aside from the "given" Union Leaders, your characters are yours to choose from, whether it be from the crazy thief Loki or that random guy from Ghor who no one cares about but has that one awesome combat art. As for personalities, everyone...and I mean everyone...loves David. I mean come on...he's got an accent! The story built with the characters tie together perfect and create a deep, rich bond with the players to keep you interested and allow you to feel sympathy for them.
"Yea I'll take 40 Restoleafs." *15 minutes later in battle. "Alright I'm about to die..but thankfully I can use these Resto...leafs...WHAT! WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN ONLY ATTACK OR USE COMBAT ARTS!" It's great that you can buy a lot of items and components for a low price, but whats the use in them if you can't use them freely. If I'm low and I want to heal up on HP I should be able to heal...otherwise the basic rules of a RPG are being defied.
As for equipments, one word can sum it up...lame. Why is it that the shops sell really crappy equipment, the good ones you have to customize using rare components like the left-most toe-nail off the Ancient Dragon, and about 80% of the ones you find can't even be equipped because you're a human. To make it worse, you can't even give that godly spear to Blocter because he hasn't asked for it. Guess its gonna sit there and be your dust collecter.
The good news is that you don't need to use skills outside of battle because you're life is automatically regenerated. The better news is that there is no amount of MP consumed in battles...wait thats horrible, how am I gonna use my awesome combat art. It's great that you want to make an amazing RPG, but don't take away the basics to improve a game. If a battle starts and I want everybody to use an art they should be able to. Yes it is great that you can have your characters either work on Combat, Mystic, or both, but getting them to use those arts are essentially a luck of the draw.
Combat System/BR/Formations: 5.5/10
Being able to create your own formations with your own leaders and shape is amazing. Not being able to tell how to unlock variant formations and sit there and guess is not. Remnants that you open will have one of the following: Random items/money, Maps, Equipments, or Variant Formations. Scroll down your inventory and it will tell you that you have unlocked it: YAY...but thats it. Good luck to all of you who refuse to use a strategy guide because it's gonna be a while before you find one and if you do...it may have been by luck.
So now that you have a formation, you can start fighting. SWEET! Ok first fight of the game you just button mash "Attack" because everything else seems like Pig Latin at that point, Engage, and you watch people slash at eachother. Battle ends and people start gaining random stat ups, but no levels. Thats because there aren't any levels. The closest thing you will get is your Battle Rank up at the top-right corner of your screen which is basically a reference mark as to how you rank so that when you get on a forum you can tell people what BR you are and ask if that is high enough because you have no idea how to distinguish it.
Back to the battles. So now you're sitting there fighting that wierd thing that popped outta nowhere, and you notice that your morale bar is really low. Typically this means that you're about to get ripped a new one but not always. So you start looking at your commands and notice that you have bizarre comands like "Act wisely" where "attack" should be, "Give it your all" where combat arts were and so on. Basically, your commands are always changing, but that is not always good. Turn 10 comes and your hurting, David's Union is almost dead, and your options are either to "Attack" or "Standby". Once again, if I want to heal my characters LET ME HEAL THEM! Even more aggravating is when you can't heal your buddy, they can heal you, but not themselves.
Square Enix...what are you doing to us. On top of all of this, they try to let us use remnants like "Gae Bolg" or have Rush use "Omnistrike", but the odds are really low. Here I am trying to beat some random boss who is pummeling me with a weak combat art, while 10 minutes later I'm fighting that pathetic monster and is given the choise to use Gae Bolg on it. On one final note, do I need to see each character pose every time a move is being used. "Hey David stand there one moment I want to get your picture, the sun is lighting your face perfectly." Battles shouldn't make you want to fall asleep; even the active combat system isn't enough to keep you going. You're making a 25 minute battle take about 1.5 hours because of random posing, players breaking their controller, and the confusion as to why nothing is going your way.
Its great that there are a good amount a side quests and even some good rewards, but there is a downside. If you progress too far in the game you can miss some really important side-quests and can NEVER get them again. Now this really shouldn't matter since they are just side-quests, but the issue comes into play with the achievements. So every now and then you will pop up the random achievements for 15 points, and there are even some harder ones where you need to get those random materials from who knows where. There are a handful of achievements that will absolutly drive you off the walls if you do not constantely check for side-quests, mainly the 2 that are worth 200 gamerpoints a pop. The first is to complete every side-quest, so if you miss even one say goodnight to that. The other is to not only complete EVERY SIDE QUEST but to also kill the secret final boss. So basically, if you miss the first one say goodnight to the second one.
Final Score 6.5
I'm not gonna say that this is a horrible game, but I'm not gonna say it's my favorite. The storyline is wonderful and keeps you going, but there are so many other flaws. Having great graphics and more customization is nothing if you begin robbing many RPG players their freedom. We need to have HP, MP, EXP, Equipment, and Item use. Anything after that is great but please don't take that away from us. If you want to play this game all the power to you, but buy some Advil, popcorn, and a stress ball because you're gonna need it.