Online multiplayer impressions of versus and co-op from Japan.
The Last Story is a great example of a Japanese RPG that adds more to the usual battling, leveling up, and boss fighting of a typical title. Not only does the Wii-exclusive RPG deliver a stupendous single player experience, it also features a fully functional online multiplayer mode.
Multiplayer in The Last Story is completely online and offers two different modes, a versus mode and a co-operative mode. You are able to participate in a match with random players or people from your friend list. The versus mode pits the player with up to five others in an all out brawl with the option for team battles. Players are able to choose from the many characters they have encountered throughout the game, even the bad guys. There are various items and power-ups littered throughout the battlefield that can help you gain an edge in the fighting. There is also a leveling system in the multiplayer where you can increase your rank and experience. The matches have a time limit of five minutes, which is plenty of time to pulverize your opponents multiple times.
While versus mode is quite fun, the co-operative mode is where it's at. Similar to versus mode, you and up to five other players can participate in the match. This time, you are all working together to defeat large enemy creatures that you encountered in the single player mode. Co-operative mode may not give you access to the extensive amount of characters found in versus mode, as it limits your choices to members from your single player game file. However, in this mode you are able to use the equipment that you gained in your single player experience. It is a very nice touch and with the amount of customization that is available for your characters outfits, the level of creativity is almost endless.
Playing co-operative mode is essentially an extension of what makes the game great in the first place - the combat. Only this time, you are not just limited to playing the main character, Elza. You are now able to play as any character from your party. This adds variety to the combat because in the single player mode, you do not really have a chance to play as a character that uses magic, for example. Now, you can choose whichever character type you like.
Outside of the actual game modes, players can see where they stack up with their rank in an online leader board. Players also have the ability to message other users while they are in the game lobby. It is not through true voice chat or typing, however. Players can choose one of many pieces of dialogue from the characters throughout the game. The dialogue is broken up into categories, for example, a “Hello” category or a “Thank You” category. Depending on the character you choose, you might get an informal greeting akin to, “Yo!”, or something very polite. What is said and the delivery is based on the characters personality. This is a very interesting addition and is definitely a safe way to handle online player interaction.
After spending several hours with the online multiplayer, I can honestly say that it is fully functional, very well done, and a nice addition to an already amazing game. It is apparent that a lot of time, money, and care went in to making The Last Story a great experience for gamers. With the recent news of Xenoblade being localized for the European crowd, we should definitely keep our fingers crossed for a release of Mistwalker's latest gem outside of Japan.