The Last Story is a Wii game made by Mistwalker Studios which you may have heard rumblings about in the past. For one it was not even expected to head to North America and took a lot of petitioning via Operation Rainfall to get attention to this title as well as two others. Finally though this supposed epic RPG headed our way and luckily I managed to pick up a copy of this limited release.
The Last Story takes us on a journey of a young group of merc’s lead by Dagran but you play his best friend Zael. This is a bit on the odd side but it works story wise. You aspire to be a knight as the life of a merc is a relentless one and fortune smiles by the fateful meeting between Zael and the Princess Calista who ran away from home. Things pick up and conspiracies are afoot leading to an epic story between two cultures and mysterious beings who seek their freedom.
The story is very compelling but I expect no less from Sakaguchi. The first few hours of the game can have some awkward pacing. You might find yourself at a lack of direction. Actually may times you will and simply walking somewhere will trigger the next part which makes you wonder. But despite this the story is truly one worth experiencing. There is greed, love, fear, prejudice and plenty other topics covered. I like when my RPG can cover a range of themes and not just the hero saves the day. It’s gritty and it takes everything in stride. You are looking at a definite solid 20 hours game time to complete the game but there are sub quests to deviate you and expand this time.
The characters are all british voiced which is interesting. It’s interesting to us in North America as it’s not frequently done where a game is completely done this way. It’s nice and very well done. The characters are an ecclectic group with varying personalities. Over the course of the game you really get to know them and in the case of some there stories really blossom near the end of the game. It’s nice to see a fully fleshed out group.
Gameplay wise I am a bit less satisfied. The controls for the Wii offer no particular value. While I don’t want waggle slapped in for the heck of it I would liketo see some inventive ways to use it. However the wii mote is relegated to being used occasionally for shooting a crossbow and that is simply a targeter on the screen and voila. The game attempts to be strategic at times by having destructable obstacles or providing magical enemies in the rear of an enemy group. The idea is that you need to plan your attacks however I found probably 90% of the time I would run and kill.
The biggest gripe typically is levelling in an RPG. Typically they all tend to be rather grinding. I almost thought this was dispelled by The Last Story. Throughout the whole game everything went extremely well. I never felt underpowered compared to an enemy and even bosses fell to my blade however that being said there was the final boss. Suddenly the difficulty skyrocketed and I thought I was missing something. While some bosses were challenging I would be wipped out within minutes at the end of a 20 minute final boss which is ANNOYING. That said I looked online and sure enough, there was no special strategy, nothing required except…level grinding. Now being at the end I couldn’t go out and find any bad guys to kill. Instead there is what is a called a summoning circle. You summon enemies that you can kill if your lagging behind. I had to gain literally 10 levels (so from level 54-64) to be able to beat the last boss. This is poor design. Either make the boss scalable or make enough encounters to bring your group up to the level they should be.
The levels are very well put together and offers a crisp flow. A quickly accessible map lets you jump areas. I won’T say quickly however as loading is a bit of an issue. Now I am not sure if this is a problem of the Wii primarly however the game loads every 5 fucking minutes. Go here, load and wait. Go there, load and wait. The load times are not overly long but there is a lot of them which is really annoying.
Visually they game is a mixed bag. It falls on Playstation 2 type of graphics and even then I find them at times sub standard even for that. The cutscenes are gorgeous which makes you take a step back and think why is there such a difference. Now we all know the Wii cannot produce super duper graphics but seeing games like Xenoblade and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword you have to wonder what the problem is. It seem’s at times that the whole world had this blurr effect going on. At first I chalked it up to dirty glasses and subsequently cleaned them however I noticed that nope, not going away. Alright for it’s trying to mask that it looks maybe not so good.
Now while I have mentioned some negatives don’t let it detract you from playing this. They are very small ticks that piss me off but the game is still a lot of fun to be playing and to simply experience the story is worth it.And let’s not forget to musical score by Nobuo Uematsu which is top notch. While there isn’t a lot of songs they are melodic and very classic. Of course while there are melodic songs there is also some rock music for boss battles which is much more up temp.
The Last Story was almost a perfect name for this Wii game which was more or less Nintendo’s swan song for the current generation of games in North America. I have to give praise to Mistwalker for making an excellent game all around and being at the forefront of RPG game design.