It's the first day of Tokyo Game Show and I was able to get a quick hands on with Square-Enix's upcoming role-playing game for the Xbox 360, The Last Remnant. As is often the case in demos, there wasn't much to do aside from running around and engaging in combat encounters. Players who got a chance to try out the game at this year's Tokyo Game Show weren't even allowed into the menu, but there was enough to learn about the battle system to keep one engaged for the duration of the demo.
There are no random encounters and so it's easy to spot your battles and pick them. As usual, ambushing enemies from behind gives the player an advantage and vice versa. Players control a party pretty much like a full unit, issuing commands in bulk. Certain characters can do special attacks and magic that differ from the rest of the party based on which command is chosen. Attack effectiveness is in part influenced by the morale meter at the top of the screen, which measures the morale of the player's units as compared to enemies. Certain actions can either boost or lower your morale, which can either weaken or strengthen the potency of your character's actions.
Certain moments, known as "critical triggers" players can time button presses in order to execute stronger attacks, much like in other games such as Kingdom Hearts or God of War. There also seems to be the ability to create combos when you have multiple units under your command and attacking in succession, but I didn't have too many opportunities to try this feature out.
I've only got two real gripes with the combat system so far, and the first one is most likely because there's some magic rule of thumb that I wasn't aware of. That would be being able to gauge how many monsters are in an encounter. There are no random encounters in the sense that you have to physically encounter an enemy in the world and engage in battle, but the amount of enemies you pick off on screen doesn't quite correlate to the number you end up fighting-- which is unavoidable if you're meant to have large scale battles. Though it generally helps to know if those three monsters in the world actually translates into more like fifteen during battle.
Perhaps my second gripe gets fixed with changes in gameplay further into the game, but as it stands now, when you're fighting a ton of enemies things tend to get a bit drawn out. If you're surrounded by a bunch of monsters and it's their turn to attack you'll need to wait and watch as each one takes their turn. In the end it tends to become drawn out, as there seems to be nothing for the player to do but watch and hope they get a block or dodge in. Perhaps later on characters will gain the ability to react, even "critical triggers" for blocking or dodging might make these parts more bearable, but as it currently stands being attacked isn't quite so much fun (like being attacked usually should be).
While at first the amount of things happening on screen seems overwhelming and a bit hard to keep track of, it's probably nothing that a tutorial can't remedy. It should be interesting to see how The Last Remnant's combat system pans out later in the game. There appeared to be more levels to the combat than I was able to touch upon in my brief demo, and it's too soon to say how it'll turn out, but with added depth it looks like it can potentially be addicting. Well, aside from all the waiting, of course.