As the Wii comes to a close, us gamers start to think that future great titles for this system is all but dried up. Fear not, for The Last Story offers one of the best gaming experiences on the Wii system and should not be missed.
Our hero, Zael, is part of a group of mercenaries who wish to be honorable Knights. They find their way to an island called Lazulis and find out it’s ruled by a Count (Arganan). The leader of Zales group, Dagran, meets with the Count who then hires the group to keep the town safe from attacking monsters which then branches off into guarding special upcoming ceremonies in the Castle. Zael and the others are at first excited about this but then find out that the Count’s motives are not always admirable.
The game really focuses on character development here, with many small scenes (skits) complete with voice over throughout. As the story progresses, you get the feeling of really being a part of the game and start caring for your party members. This, above all else, drives the story forward as you are constantly looking forward to what happens to you and your new found friends. The story itself, although well written, is nothing special with lots of familiar plot points compared to other JRPGS out there. The writers make sure that it’s the journey that is most important and it makes for a refreshing experience.
Battles are in real time as you can wander around and slash enemies at will while telling your party members on what to do and when. However, going in there and just wailing your sword around will get you killed in the later parts of the game which is why the game incorporates a cover system.
Taking cover behind rocks and pillars allows you to plan your attacks correctly and even catch your enemies off guard. A “Gathering” ability that Zael soon possesses allows him to be the focus of your enemies attacks and generates time for your friends who have magic abilities to cast their spells. Your party A.I is decent, but not perfect but it never feels like you have to babysit them during battle.
Another feature that I like is that you can equip your characters and change their look however you want. Even if you equip the highest armor, you can still walk around with those levels intact and still be dressed close to what you started with in the game. You just remove whatever wrist/leg/chest protection you see fit. You can even change their colour. There is an option that you can unlock early that lets you walk around with hardly any clothes on but I don't think anyone would use such a useless feature. *cough*
Their look you give your characters reflects in all the in game skits you come across.
Control is done by either using the Classic Controller or the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo however there is no IR functionality which is a shame as it would have made aiming weapons such as your crossbow a lot easier.
The graphics can appear a bit bland at times but most of the game features a level of detail that is so wonderful to see on Wii, and helps create the illusion that you are in another world.
A charming town with lots of people to bump into
The music, some of the best you will hear anywhere which was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, gives the game great atmosphere during casual exploration and tense battles. The U.K voice acting is really good and I’m actually thankful that it didn’t get the Americanized treatment. The world, even though it has some high tech elements, has an overall Medieval theme so the voice acting seems to blend right in.
There is an online multiplayer section but it consists of you either battling a boss or just fighting against each other. It is a decent mode, and may keep you occupied for a little while, but it’s nowhere near the quality of the main adventure.
The game moves at a more linear pace then most JRPGS but it does allow you to explore chapters out of sequence (either by mistake or on purpose), and take on the many side quests that are offered throughout the game which will keep you busy in this 30+ hour adventure. Highly recommended - Play it now.
I actually think the story has a lot less clichés than the average RPG does. There are no angsty teenagers or characters with amnesia, for just some examples. There are still some of course, but it's practically impossible to come up with a completely original story in this day and age. So I think the story itself is good, in terms of content. Presentation is a different story. The narration with white text on a black screen feels lazy and cheap, some pivotal scenes are described here when it really should be showing you what happened. I like the concept of the characters talking when you're walking and in battle, but sometimes it gets cut off from reaching the next section too soon or performing a battle action, and I miss what they would have said. I like the story but the presentation needed more work.
I like the battle system too, however I'm not sure it lives up to its potential. The cover system is novel and helps you plan out your approach, but battles are more like a puzzle than a game of strategy, which means often times there is but one solution. And sometimes that solution is given to you by your party members, meaning you don't get to solve it on your own. just execute it. I would prefer it if it were more strategic and gave you different options to tackle battles, I think the cover system opens up a lot of possibilities that weren't explored within the game. That said, I still find battles mostly enjoyable, and things like the magic diffusion system are nice touches as well.
Now, I say "mostly enjoyable" because the AI is as dumb as a bag of rocks. You say that you can tell your members what to do and when, but that isn't true. You have to wait until your SP meter is completely full before you can use Command Mode, and even then, you give them only one attack and then they're back to acting on their own accord. Having simple commands that don't use SP would have gone a long way towards making the members useful, things such as "Follow me, Don't use magic, Attack this enemy." There are some times where you can point at targets and tell them to attack archers, which is nice, though if you choose to take them out yourself, the prompt keeps appearing when you point at them so you kind of can't attack them yourself.
I like the customisation options as well. The armour selection is lacking compared to the weapon selection, but the ones that are there are nicely detailed, and they also change when you upgrade them, which is a nice touch. The magnitude of colour options makes up for the lack of suits.
The drab colouring of the graphics makes sense because the land is withering. It isn't my kind of art style but I won't knock the game for that. Technically speaking, the graphics are proficient, though some textures are rather blurry, and the framerate is absolutely atrocious in some areas. That can unfortunately make some battles a bit tricky, dealing with the slowdown. As for the music, it's decent. I like the two main themes but the problem is, that's about all the music there is in the game. I like the voice acting as well, it's better-acted than Xenoblade, and the British accents suit this game better since it resembles olde tyme Europe.
Most people seem to find the game better than the sum of its parts, but not me. I'm thinking I'll end up rating it a 7, but I'm not quite done yet so I'll hold my final opinion for later. I also haven't tried the online game yet, I want to judge the complete package.
Game looks freaking cool, and I love the packaging, I almost bought it today at Best Buy but decided to save my $50 in case I pick up a Wii U, it's hard to know if buying Wii games is a good idea now or if I will just add them to my backlog and eventually regret it. It always the same during console transitions!
I'm typically a framerate stickler when I first get a game but in hindsight I can appreciate the ambition. Like Rare games on the N64, or Shadow of the Colossus. As a matter of fact Last Story's graphic engine felt SotCish to me.
Those screenshots of TLS are too good to be true though. Like that bar scene ain't pulling 30fps. But still.
I did buy it off Best Buy during their buy 2 get 1 free sale last week (that I posted and nobody seemed to care) There are also other deals over at CAG but I don't even feel like posting anymore. Target is doing a b2g1 free as well. So is Toys R Us, but those are only select titles (most of them $19.99). Anyway, I digress, the point is that I picked up The Last Story as well as Super Mario Galaxy 2 (a long time coming) and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for Vita. This (Last Story) will probably be the last game I play for Wii before I give it away to my nephews. Hopefully I'll end up liking it.
Well, technically I haven't "picked them up" yet since I bough it online Saturday, selected the in-store pick up option and I haven't had time to between work and the Hurricane that shut down public transportation today. Hopefully they work again before Friday.
Slow down was present when it got really busy - but it never wrecked the experience for me.. it's only if the slow down interferes with gameplay that I get annoyed....
That being said though, it is less forgivable now a days... You play any retro game and you get slow down but that was years ago...however, slow down is present when the game pushes the system to it's limits (usually), and I think the Last Story does that in most aspects.
@Renjaku The bar scene is from a cutscene, it isn't in-game graphics. The others are from in-game, but things don't look as good in motion. And I don't think the graphics are anything special. I hate to keep comparing this to Xenoblade, but that game has way more stuff on screen and runs at a smoother framerate.
The latest Radio Trivia has me wanting this game. The music is beautiful. I am almost done with Xenoblade, I'm going to be starting Lego City and Secret of Mana, but still, I need to buy this now I think. Don't wanna miss my chance eh? I love Xenoblade. Will that and the 100+ hours I've spent in it affect ky perception of The Last Story?
This game is not Xenoblade - both are wonderful games but they play so differently. Xenoblade is looooooooong and just HUGE. But of course, you know this.
With the Last Story, you get a good compact story, great character development, with wonderful voice acting throughout (even most of the skits) with more detail in all the environments you visit. However, with the detail, you get less room to explore and the whole game is much more linear as a whole.
I quite enjoyed the battle system as well. I started and finished this game after playing over 40hrs of Xenoblade and it didn't effect me at all. Mop it up is right about the time - I took about 32hrs exploring everything and beating it.
I disagree about the character development. I think I'm about halfway through and the game does a poor job at building characters not named Calixta or Zael, and even then is barely sufficient. What the game does is just throw a random chapter with absolutely no preamble (Yurik and the goth shy girl who's name escapes me for example) and expect to tug our heartstrings. It did so again with another, minor character (shop keeper) to a lesser extent.
I've heard a lot of praise for the battle system but really it's very wonky for no reason at all. There is a half-ass cover system that is just good for setting up assault attacks. The running up the wall attack is often finicky and slow to pick up. There is also a bow that you rarely ever get to use because it barely does any damage and ammo for it is rare.
To the game's credit though, it is trying something relatively new. It is true that button mashing can only get you so far and eventually you will have to rely on (or rather command) your teammates to help you. Even if it is just healing or distracting the enemy for a quick while.
It's a solid game but I wouldn't be so quick to recommend it, specially if you have other consoles available to you. If I had to grade it, I'd give it a C for story, B- for gameplay and a C+ overall. Or a solid 3 out of 5.
I don't have other main consoles to play RPG's on other than a Nintendo Handheld - but I really did enjoy the experience. There are a couple of characters that are not as developed as others like you mentioned, but the ones they do concentrate on they do a good job; and I felt more attached to them then most of the characters in Xenoblade. I wrote the review after I beat the game so I'm wondering if your tune will change about the characteres once you do complete the game (and even than there are some bonus chapters and story elements after completion for you to find out...)
The game is different by trying something new with the battle system, the bow for example is better if you fire at obstacles to knock torches down or walls to create a diversion - it's a support weapon for most of the game and in the few instances where it was really needed for battle, I did comment that I wish it had IR support...
I'm glad you are playing it though - I bought this game to support Operation Rainfall and because it was getting decent reviews all around - plus I really wanted to play it! I was not dissapointed. Hopefully we will get more games like Xenoblade and The Last Story in the future.
@Smerd Nice review sir. The Last Story would be a 9/10 for me as well. Even though as @Mop it up pointed out there was room for improvement it didn't dampen my enthusiasm for the game at all. In fact while I did pick Xenoblade over TLS for my personal Game of the Year I'd have to say I would be much more interested in a direct sequel (well actually a prequel would I think be better) to TLS than for Xenoblade. I really think the battle system is terrific and with some tweaks could be near perfect.
I bought the fame primarily because I had nothing else to play on Wii and it was collecting dust. (I hate to sound like this but it really was) but while the game is decent, I don't think I would have missed it.
That reminds me, I have The Witcher 2 and Dark Souls in my steam library... I should probably play one of those instead. I guess if somebody is that starved for a solid JRPG the Last Story will suffice. That is provided they haven't played Xenoblade, then you should try to track it down. Or you have played it and you want something else, still.