Wii

North America

The Last Story

by James Dawson - August 27, 2012, 9:04 pm PDT
Total comments: 9

8

A flawed, but respectable addition to the Wii's library.

Directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of the Final Fantasy series, and featuring music composed by the equally revered Nobuo Uematsu, it’s not surprising that The Last Story’s localization garnered so much attention from the gaming media. However, too much attention is never a good thing, especially when a game fails to live it up to its expectations. I don’t think The Last Story is a bad game, but it suffers from a number of technical flaws that diminish what is otherwise a notable addition to the Wii library.

The Last Story follows Zael and his mercenary companions as they struggle to find work on Lazulis Island. Early on in the game, Zael and fellow mercenary Syrenne find themselves trapped by a group of seemingly immortal skeletons. As the situation grows hopeless, a mysterious voice grants Zael the Triforce-esque Outsider’s power. Initially, Zael’s newfound power doesn’t receive much attention from the others, but as the game progresses, the ability serves as a catalyst for an interesting story of deceit, political intrigue, and environmental catastrophe. It also helps that the main characters are likeable—each has an interesting past and personality.

Yet, it’s not the game’s story, characters, or setting I have issues with. Overall, they actually serve as the greatest reason to buy The Last Story. The combat, camera, and missed opportunities, on the other hand, provide enough frustration early on that I hated the game by the two-hour mark. My first problem came with the brevity of enemy encounters early on, as most fights ended before I could personally dispatch a single enemy. This later changed as enemies became too strong for my allies to kill within the first minute, but for a game with such an involved real-time combat system, it’s a bit counterintuitive to limit its use within the first few hours. Additionally, the game’s most unique aspect, the Gears of War-inspired cover mechanic, is criminally underused. Taking cover and sniping an enemy from afar with your crossbow feels great, and the amount of strategy it adds to combat is worthwhile. However, it’s mostly a missed opportunity: with the exception of several great sets, many battles devolve into chaotic messes that involve little strategy or stealth—especially with the help of the game’s finicky camera that often gets stuck on obstacles in the environment. It’s a pity too, as the battles that rely on stealth and strategy are perhaps the most fun I’ve had with a JRPG’s battle system. Boss battles and online play tend to be much better in this regard, though. In fact, I had a blast playing the game’s online versus mode.

That said, the combat system is one of the more distinctive I’ve encountered in a JRPG, and as I passed the two-hour mark my opinion of the game began to greatly improve. The real-time combat is reminiscent of third-person action games, to the point that I’d be willing to call The Last Story an action game with RPG elements, rather than a fully fledged RPG. During battles, you have direct control over Zael, using either the Wii Remote and Nunchuck or the Classic controller. By default, attacks are set to occur automatically, similar to Xenoblade, but you do have the option to map them to the A button. Later in the game you also gain the ability to order your allies to use certain powers or spells. And like Tales of the Abyss’ Field of Fonons system, each spell leaves an elemental circle that provides additional effects to attacks.

With the game’s mechanics aside, The Last Story does have quite a bit going for it, not the least of which is its presentation. While the art style and graphics aren’t exactly the most outstanding, the attention to detail is impressive. Every weapon you equip looks different, as does your armor. When you upgrade your weapons via The Last Story’s Monster Hunter-esque upgrade system, the weapons gain particle effects or auras around them. The town that acts for the game’s hub world is richly detailed, and includes plenty of small secrets to find. Likewise, the music is superb and sets the game’s tone perfectly. It’s exactly what you would expect from Nobuo Uematsu.

While my review may seem overly positive, the game’s small number of flaws are incredibly frustrating at times. That said, if you feel you can look past a few missed opportunities and a flawed but fun combat system, I can’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy The Last Story. Just don’t expect it to be as genre defining as previous Sakaguchi titles.

Summary

Pros
  • Careful attention to detail
  • Fun and distinctive battle system
  • Fun online multiplayer
  • Interesting story and characters
Cons
  • Combat can become too chaotic
  • Often-finicky camera
  • Too many missed opportunities

Talkback

Pixelated PixiesAugust 28, 2012

I truely would love to see this combat system return in some form. With some refinement TLS's strategic and fluid combat system could provide the basis for an RPG classic. TLS might not be that classic, but for me the combat system alone makes the game worth playing. It's just a shame that the TLS takes so long to unveil it's complexity.

MaxiAugust 28, 2012

I like this game and it is pretty hard to put down. The combat system is fun and strategic. I also have to say that this game can be hard if you are not prepared with what you are doing. In the more recent chapters that I have been playing in the difficulty has went up a bit. It kinda requires more planning on your part to win instead of a hands off approach. It is possible to win if you mess up but you have to get creative with your planning and the skills versus your foes.

OblivionAugust 28, 2012

What's this camera issue you're having? I've yet to have any problem with the camera getting stuck.

Quote from: Oblivion

What's this camera issue you're having? I've yet to have any problem with the camera getting stuck.

The camera will often get stuck while in tight areas. It's pretty annoying, especially when the fighting gets fairly chaotic.

EnnerAugust 28, 2012

The camera troubles will rear their head sooner or later, especially when you play a chapter with battles in very close quarters. Recently, the camera picked bad angles or refused to rotate quickly in battles that took place in a tome and a tavern.


While the Sakaguchi name brings high expectations, I didn't forget that the last major Mistwalker console games were Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. Those games weren't received with much praise, though they had their fans. With those games in mind, it helps to deflate expectations for The Last Story.

OblivionAugust 28, 2012

Well, I'm in chapter 29, well past the fight in the tavern at least, and I didn't have problems. Are you sure the camera is getting stuck on a wall and not something else?


And if I need the camera quickly moved, I do what I do in other games: reset the camera. It's almost always faster unless you're playing Call of Duty with the sensitivity up all the way.

ejamerAugust 28, 2012

I was quite disappointed in the game because it was totally different than what I was expecting... but on it's own merits The Last Story is a great Wii title and well worth playing.  It's almost a shame that Xenoblade Chronicles overshadows it so much because without getting that (very long) game first I probably would've approached The Last Story with more of an open mind.

OblivionAugust 28, 2012

I think it'd be better received if it had come out first, I guess.

KhushrenadaAugust 28, 2012

Quote from: TalesOfFan

Last Story Review etc.

Great job an all but what we all really want to know is...... information about your cats.

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The Last Story Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Mistwalker
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: The Last Story
Release Aug 14, 2012
PublisherXseed Games
jpn: The Last Story
Release Jan 27, 2011
PublisherNintendo
Rating12+
eu: The Last Story
Release Feb 24, 2012
PublisherNintendo
Rating16+
aus: The Last Story
Release Feb 23, 2012
PublisherNintendo
RatingParental Guidance

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