XSEED GamesDeveloped By:
1 (2-6 online) Rated:
T for Teen (Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence) Release Date:
August 14, 2012Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Matthew PruntySeptember 2, 2012
Ė Some of the greatest consoles to have been released over the past 30+ years benefited from some stellar releases; both first and third party. While not every release was a global phenomenon, we have countless memories of being transported to a far away land in order to battle epic creatures in hopes of saving the world. Case in point with The Last Story; an epic JRPG thatís releasing within the final moments of the Nintendo Wii. This game provides several staples found within JRPG games, while at the same time present them in new and interesting ways in order to breathe new life in the genre and show that not all the greatest titles are exclusive to PS3 and Xbox 360.
The Last Story is the latest creation from Japanese designer, director, producer Hironobu Sakaguchi. If the name doesnít sound familiar to you; heís one of the creative minds behind hits like Final Fantasy (I-V, VI) and Chrono Trigger in his early days, ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat
and Lost Odyssey
in the later ones. The Last Story combines the best features of JRPGs Ė characterization, presentation, customization and storytelling Ė with key elements from Western games Ė third-person combat, stealth and real-time strategy Ė in order to create a unique gaming experience that stands on its own as a worthy entity.
In a world ravaged by war and conflict, the story follows Zael and his friends as a swords-for-hire mercenary group, solving problems that would otherwise go unsolved. Business is as usual for them until they get mixed up in something bigger than they have ever dealt with. With this band of ruffians dreaming to one day become knights, they set out an epic adventure to right wrongs and save the world. This group of mercenaries is comprised of mages, womanizers and alcoholics, each with their own distinct personality that helps keep the story interesting. Itís this cast of characters that you will form a bond with before you have to worry about any evilís presence within Lazulis Island.
Itís also this cast of characters that help to make the story work. There is point within the game where the story on its own is simply overreaching, which is usually a fault that would keep you from enjoying the experience. However, the characterization of our heroes keeps everything in place and helps to mask some of issues within the story. Each one on their own are simply average, but itís when they interact with one another that the true essence of the characters comes to the forefront. It also helps that each character dons a different accent, making for some interesting interactions and a sense of grandeur.
The gameplay within The Last Story is the brainchild of Sakaguchi and help; not only keeping the onscreen action interesting, but helps moves the RPG genre forward. The game is presented in a third-person view, while the battle system is structure in real-time action. When traversing the world, as soon as enemies come into view on the screen, the game transitions into an overhead view of the area or room that the battle will take place in. Instead of being forced into battle when you get close, you do have the freedom to utilize the environment to your advantage in order to get the upper hand by sneaking up on your enemy undetected. When you enter battle, you will be in control of Zael, while the other members in your party will be controlled by the A.I.
When in battle, you will get a first-hand view of the blending of Western and Eastern ideals. The onscreen action takes place in real-time, however there is more freedom than you realize. You can take cover behind walls and within bunkers, allowing you to pepper an enemy with your crossbow in first-person. Seeing as the enemy is gullible, you can draw them out one at a time and deliver a stealth attack or simply pick off mages and healers from a safe distance while your comrades handle the action on the front lines. As you progress through the game and learn new abilities, you will be able to draw the attention of all the enemies on the battlefield, giving your comrades the ability to heal one another and cast magic spells.
There are many conventions that The Last Story leaves on the cutting floor in effort to separate itself from what has come before it. First being in the pacing and structure of the game; which mimics cinematic action games like Uncharted. Instead of the game simply flowing on, itís broken down into chapters which help to keep your interest in the story and character development. You will also notice that this game can easily be beaten within 15-20 hours, which is not the case for your typical JRPG. The reason for this is because you only have to worry about the main quest. There are not side quests, no long enduring tasks put before you.
The Last Story is one of the best-looking games on the Nintendo Wii. Itís visual style and setting isnít as quirky as other JRPG games for the console. Character models and environments are nicely detailed. The only issue that you could have with the visuals would be that a few of the environments are not as detail and intricate as the main set pieces. There is a slight issue with the frame-rate dipping a bit when there are a lot of characters on screen. The camera can at times work against you when you are in battle; however itís nothing too frustrating.
What The Last Story does in the way of lasting appeal is the inclusion of online multiplayer, something which is pleasant and welcome departure from JRPGs of old. Within the online multiplayer option, you can choose between teaming up with five other people to take on the bosses from the story mode. If thatís not your cup of tea, you can also participate in six-player deathmatch/team deathmatch and truly put the combat mechanics of the game to the test. Considering I have played countless JRPGs over the years, this was an interesting addition. I have to say that it was a blast. When I picked up the game, there werenít many people playing online, so I stuck to the single-player experience. Upon completing that venturing into the multiplayer once again, I didnít have any problems teaming up with others to tackle these multiplayer modes.
The Last Story is one of those games that everyone who is into RPGs should play, however its one that will only be enjoyed by those who are into JRPGs and looking for something different. When you step back and look at the overall picture, you can easily see that Hironobu Sakaguchiís vision for The Last Story was well executed. There are indeed some areas of the game that could have used some innovation as with the combat system; however it all came together into something worthwhile. From the great localization, to the superb musical score done by Nobuo Uematsu, to the fresh breathe of air put into the combat system, The Last Story is one of Mistwalkerís finest works.8.5/
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