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    Left Alive marks a return to Square Enix’s Front Mission universe. The game takes place in the fictional city of Novo Slava. You might as well call it “Novo Sloppy” because of the game’s graphics, performance, optimization, and controls. We’ll examine these and more in our technical review for the PC version. But first, let’s take a look at Left Alive’s system requirements as listed in the game’s Steam store page.

    Left Alive Pc Technical Review

    “Ultra” preset, apparently.

    System Requirements

    Minimum

    • OS: Windows 7 SP1 / 8.1 / 10 64bit
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-2400S AMD A8-7650K
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, AMD Radeon R9 280
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 35 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectSound compatible device
    • Additional Notes: 30FPS at 1280×720 with graphics preset “LOW”

    Recommended

    • OS: Windows 7 SP1 / 8.1 / 10 64bit
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-6500 AMD Ryzen 5 1400
    • Memory: 16 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Radeon RX Vega 56
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 35 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectSound compatible device
    • Additional Notes: 60FPS at 1920×1080 with graphics preset “HIGH”

    Reviewer’s Specs

    • OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-7700k @ 4.2 GHz
    • Memory: 16 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti (8 Gb)
    • DirectX: Version 12
    • Sound Card: DirectX 12 sound card

    My rig is slightly above the recommended specs. I should be able to run Left Alive at a decent pace. I also have a 1080p display, so I can ascertain whether this whole “60 FPS at 1080p/high preset” is true, eh? Well no, not really. In fact, Left Alive might be one of the most poorly optimized AAA titles for the PC in recent memory (and that’s after reviewing Anthem, mind you).

    Graphics Options

    Graphics options

    Graphics Settings

    You can see the graphics options above. Although my TV can only go up to 60 Hz and I can turn off V-sync, there’s genuinely no point since there are only two options for framerates — automatic or locked to “30 FPS.” Yes, assuming that your rig is having troubles, your only option is to lock down the framerates to that value.

    You can naturally tweak the texture quality, shadow quality, ambient occlusion, depth of field, and level of detail to your liking. As for specular reflections and anti-aliasing, prepare to be surprised because you can only toggle between “on” or “off.” Wow!

    When using the high preset (and keep in mind I’m above the recommended specs), I can get 60 FPS at certain periods. Once the firefights start happening and the wanzers start blasting everything, my framerates still fluctuate considerably, at times dropping down to 50-55 FPS.

    You might ask: “Hey, maybe the game looks visually appealing, that’s why FPS drops are justified, right?” No, that’s not even the case. Left Alive might as well be called “left behind” by one entire console or GPU/CPU generation.

    Graphics are dull, almost lifeless, and vastly outdated, as though you’re playing a game from 2010 and not 2019. Here, I’ll show you some graphics comparisons.

    Left Alive Pc Technical Review Graphics Comparison Performance High Preset

    High preset: Even during wide landscape shots or intense scenes, Left Alive barely maximizes the use of your GPU.

    Graphics Comparisons

    You can change your preset at any time during the game and, as far as I know, there’s no need to reset the game for settings to take effect. I did restart after making changes a few times just to be certain. I chose to compare the “Ultra” and “Low” presets; V-sync and motion blur were disabled.

    Check out the special effects for the flames, and look at that Christmas tree. I know there’s a war going on but the graphics still won’t give you that festive mood:

    Graphics Comparison Background Ultra

    Ultra preset: Click for a larger view.

    Graphics Comparison Background Low

    Low preset: Click for a larger view.

    Next up, some interior design. The difference between the texture details is noticeable, but that doesn’t mean the “Ultra” preset was stunning in the first place.

    Graphics Comparison Chair Ultra

    Ultra preset: Click for a larger view.

    Graphics Comparison Chair Low

    Low preset: Click for a larger view.

    And here’s one during combat. Higher settings will smoothen out the edges to get a more realistic feel, but that’s it. Your enemies might as well look like they’re shooting you with a flashlight. Intense firefights, which are a selling point of any action game, already look cartoony in Left Alive.

    Graphics Comparison Combat Ultra

    Ultra preset: Click for a larger view.

    Graphics Comparison Combat Low

    Low preset: Click for a larger view.

    Controls

    I’ve played a number of third-person action games recently such as Resident Evil, Anthem, and The Division 2’s beta. I’ve also logged countless hours in Metal Gear games. Folks would know that third-person action games are judged by how functional and intuitive their controls are — especially since you’re approaching combat from a different POV compared to first-person shooters. Given the above, I can say without a doubt that Left Alive might have one of the clunkiest control schemes I’ve ever seen.

    Left Alive General Controls

    General controls settings.

    Left Alive Keyboard Controls

    Keyboard settings.

    You have one button for climbing over obstacles, one button for crouching, another button for interacting with objects, and one more for getting behind cover. There’s also no “smart move/cover” system in other games such as The Division where you can move from one prop to another. You’ll need to peak/get out of cover, roll, crouch or sprint to get to the next spot, then click to get in cover again.

    Left Alive Pc Technical Review Animations Vault

    Forget unintuitive controls, even the animations would make you scratch your head. Movement lacks both grace and fluidity. These are “Ultra” graphics settings, by the way.

    I mean, I get it, I can get used to these mechanics as long as the animations look decent. They don’t. Your character moves awkwardly and stiff, take a look above at how vaulting through a window looks like.

    As for sprinting, oh boy! Instead of being able to toggle or hold the sprint button, you need to double-click it! The first click makes you jog, the second makes you sprint. I actually switched to a gamepad to test the controls, binding the sprint command to the L3 button (as you do if you’re familiar with many action games), only to realize how clumsy it was. Aiming is a pain on gamepads even when you change your sensitivity, whether it’s via hip-fire or ADS-fire.

    Left Alive Controller Gamepad Controls

    Gamepad settings. You can, thankfully, re-map those commands.

    Gameplay, Audio, And Denuvo

    Below are the options for gameplay and audio. There’s not much to go by, really. You can toggle hints and subtitles, as well as control pop-ups on the side when you’re idle. As for audio, you can change the master volume, music, sound effects, and voice volumes. That’s it.

    Left Alive Options Gameplay

    General gameplay options.

    Left Alive Options Audio

    Audio options.

    As for Denuvo, I can tell you that you’ll be able to play even while offline. Although, to be frank, I was connected to the internet when I first booted the game after it finished downloading. I can’t confirm whether you need to be online the first time you start the game.

    Left Alive Pc Technical Review

    It’s far from perfect, Leon Mikhailovich Kennedy.

    Final Thoughts

    Left Alive is an egregiously flawed offering from Square Enix. The graphics and controls are subpar, and the performance isn’t as optimized as you’d normally expect. You’re likely to see performance dips for highly demanding games such as Anthem, Call of Duty, or Battlefield and their visual quality might justify that. Left Alive doesn’t even have the visual appeal to be considered on the same level as other AAA action games released in the last couple of years. As mentioned earlier, it’s simply been “left behind.”

    To be fair, I’ve only played the first few missions in Left Alive but these are the most glaring issues I’ve noticed early on. Thankfully, I haven’t even experienced a crash so far (fingers crossed). Expect an official review shortly which will also take a look at the game’s story, mission structure, gameplay mechanics, and combat.

    Update: I spoke too soon. I just encountered a couple of crashes while fixing my inventory.

    Jason Rodriguez
    I'm a small business owner who's also writing on the side, contributing in various websites under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella -- Destructoid, Flixist, Daily Esports, PlayStation Enthusiast, and PC Invasion. My Steam library has 1,200+ games at the moment so we definitely have a lot of things to talk about.

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