It’s been a long time since I’ve played an RPG that I’ve enjoyed as much as to actually finish it completely. I love myself an RPG. I can get lost in the mindless min/maxing of characters and stats, finding all the hidden chests, magical weapons, and extra characters. The thing is I get lost in it and don’t tend to finish the majority of RPG’s I play. To say that I finished The Last Story says a lot about the story being compelling to me. It’s not all a bed of roses though so let’s start breaking this game down.
The CG on TLS is pretty stinking awesome. The unfortunate thing is that they are few and far between. However, that means that most of the cut scenes in TLS are done with the in-game engine. A lot of games do this, but what stood out to me is that if you’ve upgraded your armor or weapons (which you will), they show in the cut scenes. It’s a nice touch and it’s the small touches that mean a lot to me. I’m not all about immersion breaking and I don’t cry about it when it happens, but when you’re using in-game to do the cut scenes it’s a small, but nice touch. I appreciate things like that.
The story starts you out as a mercenary in a group of sellswords looking for your next job. As with most people, some of your group has aspirations of a better life. Your character Zael and Dagran have the dream of becoming knights to get respect and to have the power to change the world for the better. Your group consists of a mage Yurrick, Lowell, melee fighters Syrenne, Zael, Dagran, and the last mage Mirania (left to right on the photo above). Most have familial issues, either not knowing who they really were or not having them and being raised by forest spirits. Some love their booze while others love their women.
All in all the group worked very well together and complimented each other well. It was like watching a group of friends grow up together and forge closer bonds on and off the battlefield. The voices were also awesome. It kind of weirded me out at first that the accents were so varied because I heard Zael and Dagran first and assumed they’d just all be British (as per the usual with a decent amount of games lately). The different accents brought out all of their personalities so well, I couldn’t have asked for more without being accused of being a nit pick. Some people don’t understand the English accent very well if it’s not posh, but seriously… get out there and get diverse!
Oh right, the story! So you get a job by the Count Arganan who just can’t help but look like a bad guy. This leads your character Zael into meeting his lady friend, Calista, and they fall for each other. Sadly, as with most plot lines, this can’t be due to her being a princess and is already betrothed to some tool named Jirall. That’s not a spoiler alert by the way. Just seeing and hearing this guy, you know he’s an idiot and that you’re bound to hate the guy somewhere in the story. Later your introduced to another faction in the game named the Gurak that have animosity towards the humans due to some bad experiences in the past. Something about being hunted down and killed and chased far away. Needless to say they hold a grudge. Believe it or not, the humans believe them to be the war mongering race. The story escalates into treachery, back stabbing (spoiler alert!), and solving the mystery on why the world is dying. That is a very general outline of the story, but as to not give things away, that’s as far as I’m going. It’s good, though, and you should experience it.
As I mentioned above, there is crafting of sorts. That’s a bad way to put it actually. It might be better phrased as armor/weapon upgrading. You get weapon and armor drops in the game and items that are used to upgrade them. Money seems like an issue at first, but later money just falls into your lap and it’s the high level upgrade materials that are more of a pain. This could have been more in-depth as it does feel tacked on. You’re switching weapons and upgrading them a bit, but I never switched gear, I just upgraded it up till the end of the game.
Another thing I found interesting about TLS is the combat. I haven’t played an RPG with real-time combat, but with auto attacks. Normally if the combat is real-time, it’s a button mash fest or skill timing dance. In TLS you have to be moving towards an opponent to attack them and when you feel the time is right, use the given abilities. It’s not a mess, but it works out pretty well and is an interesting approach that I wouldn’t mind coming back to in another game.
I’ll get this out of the way right now. Graphically, The Last Story is nothing to write home about. I’ve seen better looking Wii games so I was kind of disappointed by this, but at the same time, all those other games weren’t as in-depth or long-lasting soooo… give and take I guess? The CG’d cut scenes were awesome though so I can’t completely complain. The biggest downfall was that some of the bigger fights where all sorts of spells and moves were going off did create frame rate drops. That’s not as acceptable, but it wasn’t as much game breaking as it was noticeable and mildly annoying. That could have been playing it on the Wii emulator built into the Wii U though, I’m not sure if that creates lag.
While the combat system was cool, it wasn’t without its faults. I can remember numerous times where I was trying to do a dash move which is done by holding down the A button. The unfortunate thing is that if you are near a wall or pillar then you will go into cover and then have to come out of cover to attempt your dash move. It doesn’t take too long to come out of cover, but that I had to struggle to do so when a dash into a healing circle would have been a clutch save was frustrating. The fact that one of the fights near then end was in a room full of pillars close together made me shed a tear when I walked in. I knew what I was walking into and I knew it was going to be a pain in the butt, and it was.
The only other problem I had was with the music. While it was good and I love me some Nobuo Uematsu, his songs in this game are short and repeated. I couldn’t help but feel slighted. This game could have benefited more from a more complete soundtrack.
Overall The Last Story is a fantastic game. As with every game, The Last Story has its faults, but there was nothing so bad as to justify not picking this game up. If you like story driven games, pick this up. If you like RPG’s, pick this up. It’s a great game that should be experienced by more people who I feel it did. The disclaimer I would put on this is that it’s pretty linear and for some people now, that’s unacceptable. Whatever… don’t pick it up then. At the same time, you’re experiencing a story as told by the developer so just think of it like an interactive book where the pictures move when you touch buttons! There, isn’t that more fun than hating on linear gameplay? If you can find this game and this sounds interesting to you, you kind of owe it to yourself to play it.
PS: This game needed to come out a lot sooner in the Wii’s life. This was one of those games that just didn’t come around until Operation Rainfall let out the war cry “no games left behind”. I have no idea what in the world made NOA think these games wouldn’t do well in the west to have to be convinced to bring them over. How many other RPG’s need to be released in America to show that it’s worth it? I don’t get it. This and Xenoblade Chronicles could have been that shot in the arm that the Wii needed to boosts sales a bit more in the end other than just letting the Wii slowly die of starvation, but that’s a story for another post.