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Review:The Last Crusader

The Last Crusader is a game by Misac that was originally released in October 2006. Due to the Heart of the OHR Contest, the title received some updates and was re-released back in September of this year. Having not played the original game, I felt obligated to try both versions so that I could compare the two with each other. Although it was apparent that some things were changed, added, or even improved from the original version, it’s hard to say whether the game as a whole turned out better or not. What the crap does that mean, you might say? How can one update a game and not improve it overall? Read on and maybe some of it will eventually make sense.

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It starts out simple enough for Frederick, Lord of an unnamed castle and main protagonist of the game. He is summoned by a priest to assist Abbott Phillip, who needs help defeating an evil entity that recently killed some of the priests at his church. Before setting off to the Abbott’s sanctuary, Frederick appears to suffer from short term memory loss and repeats his response to the messenger twice (one of many, many bugs). After that, he makes a few purchases at the castle armory and is off to help his friend Phillip. Wait a minute; you’re telling me that this guy is head of the castle and he has to pay for his own armor and to use the inn? At least restorative items are of unlimited supply and free of charge; a bug(?) that is present in both versions of the game.

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Regardless, Frederick accepts the task to help Phillip if he is willing to assist him in finding the explorer Claude, who recently went missing; or something like that. If you haven’t noticed already, the dialogue is laughable and not so in a good way. I learned that the author, Misac, is actually Brazilian; and English is obviously his second language. It seems as if he cleaned up the dialogue a bit from the original version of the game, but it’s still terrible. I give him mad props for attempting to write the game in his second language, but he should have considered seeking help writing an easier to understand translation. As is, reading the dialogue made me feel like I was watching a Japanese movie with English voiceovers; violated. It seems that the main idea behind the storyline (which is shown in a cutscene at the beginning of the new version, but is ironically never really mentioned in the first version) is never fleshed out enough to matter. You start out helping your priestly friend and you end up killing a corrupted Dwarf King. It really feels like you are just going from point A to point B rather than working towards overcoming the ultimate goal. I suppose the sketchy dialogue could be to blame for that as well.

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After Phillip joins you to track down the murderous necromancer, you get into some of your first combat sequences. And….this is where most of you will likely turn the game off. The combat system in both versions of The Last Crusader are highly flawed. Firstly, nobody likes random battles every step or two. This was a little more bearable in the first version because battles tended to be quick. Unfortunately, Misac kept about the same difficulty in the latest rendition, but cut the speed of battle in half. Your party starts out with a whooping FIVE in speed; say what?! This is a cheap and fake way to increase the difficulty of battles and should never be done. You will probably want to kill yourself after the first few encounters in the forest. Thankfully, the speed does get slightly better as the game progresses, but is still not near enough considering the length and frequency of random battles. Why Misac made the change to speed, I will never understand. One thing is for sure though, I doubt he played through the game without using the debugging keys.

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To make matters worse, it seems he toned down the strength of the two middle party members, rendering them next to useless and essentially making them EXP freeloaders. You will be running from battles, a lot. Get used to it, because it doesn’t get any better towards the end. I’ll admit though, I did not beat the final boss without using the debugging keys because I just don’t think it was possible without them. The final boss in the old rendition is a cheap piece of crap and heals himself for almost 1,000 health any time he gets near death. When you’re hitting for 50-100 every round, it’s not enough to counter that. I tried to not cheat in the new version but proved to be unsuccessful against the final boss again. He doesn’t heal himself, but has tens of thousands of health, and was still up after almost ten minutes of me hacking away at him (ie. holding down the ENTER key).

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Graphically, The Last Crusader is not that great, but some things are improved from the old version. Unfortunately, there’s not as many graphical changes as you would expect in an update. Why only update some graphics rather than attempting a complete overhaul? We all have room to improve, and considering that the Heart of the OHR Contest is still going, I can only suspect that this is due to laziness.

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After completing both versions of the game, I must say that I’m very shocked. How often do you see an update to a game that doesn’t really make it any better? If anything, it makes it worse? I hate to be so harsh, but it’s true. From what I can understand, the contest has been going on for months now. Instead of adding some of the stuff Misac did, I personally would have tried to tweak and correct some of the issues in the original game. In Misac’s defense, some issues were resolved from the old version to the new one, but not near enough to save the game as a whole. I highly suggest Misac to focus on fixing some of the problems given, and for the love of God test the game before releasing it. Perhaps later on down the road it could be worth checking out again. As of now, you aren’t missing anything by completely skipping The Last Crusader.

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