(Wii)

Game Review

The Last Story Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A memorable tale

As the Wii prepares to be usurped by its successor, you could argue the console's getting some exceptional adventures in its twilight. European gamers had the pleasure of working through epics such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Xenoblade Chronicles in 2011, with North America due to receive the latter soon. For those with an appetite for immersing themselves in a fantasy world, The Last Story can join these illustrious titles on the Wii must-have list.

When considering this title’s credentials, look no further than Hironobu Sakaguchi, director of The Last Story and creator of Final Fantasy: he’s rightly regarded as a prominent figure in the JRPG – Japanese role-playing game – genre. The Last Story, however, feels like a fresh approach rather than a direct imitation of the trends and techniques that have come before. In almost every possible way it succeeds in being both simplistic and complex, designed to be explored thoroughly over a few dozen hours, or to simply blast through the main storyline in 20 hours. With some expected mechanics reliably in place, this title attempts to be whatever kind of RPG you want it to be.

In some respects, the role of the player is that of a supervisor, overseeing the sometimes linear action and controlling specific, important moments. Combat is an example of this: basic attacks are executed automatically when within range of an enemy, but much responsibility lies elsewhere. Zael, your controllable character for the vast majority of the game, often serves as a focal point of a team of fighters, directing operations to exploit enemy weaknesses. Early in the title it becomes possible to gather enemies towards you, making yourself their exclusive focus; with the foe’s attention elsewhere your team mates, either autonomously or directly instructed, use a variety of attacking moves and magic to swing the momentum of the battle.

When at their best, these battle mechanics work exceptionally well. The abilities to use environmental cover, destroy surrounding scenery and bridges or prioritise specific enemies such as sorcerers or healers all contribute to action that is strategic and exciting. There’s variety, too, with some intense one-on-one sword battles and even a moment where you ride on the back of a beast, running down all enemies in your way. It’s unfortunate that quite a few of these moments, particularly battles against a number of enemies, are undermined by technical issues, primarily a frame-rate that drops significantly. There will be multiple occasions when, surrounded by enemies, frames will grind along slowly and all control is lost, leading to frantic button pressing to get out of trouble. It happens a little too often, and one particularly strange battle with your own reflection in a mirror is both confusing and riddled with choppy performance.

Fortunately, despite the occasional irritating spell of slowdown, the general experience is engaging and enjoyable. This owes a lot to the controls, which succeed in taking a number of relatively complex ideas and making them feel second nature to perform. The best way to play is with the Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro, with the second analogue stick proving particularly useful for camera control. That said, those of you using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk will be just fine, as in both cases the button assignments show a great deal of common sense. Much like Xenoblade Chronicles, there are substantial tutorial screens that appear for every new skill or move, meaning that gamers of all levels should be able to master the controls. Accessible controls are matched, meanwhile, by a relatively easy difficulty level, which may be disappointing for some.

It’s in resource management that this title finds the perfect balance between complexity for JRPG veterans and accessibility for those new to the genre. On paper there’s a lot to worry about: experience points level up characters, while there are weapons, equipment, assorted items and a bank balance to manage. In practice, there’s the option to manage these things manually: this involves painstakingly watching funds, selling goods and extra equipment while purchasing upgrades, and making sure that each member of your team is equipped with the best armour and weapons possible. Alternatively, you can simply use the ‘auto-equip’ option regularly and let the game do all of that for you. Apart from some simple upgrading and selling with merchants, it can be a simple task that doesn’t have to distract from the adventure. Whatever your priorities and style in item management, you’re accommodated perfectly.

With a gameplay experience that is, mostly, of high quality, a major challenge for a game titled The Last Story is to provide a plot and world to match. It’s in these areas where, arguably, Hironobu Sakaguchi and his team show their strengths. The environments are a particular success, with a range of varied locations beautifully realised with strong artistic direction. Story-driven segments in different locations are often linear in nature, but that does allow the developers to utilise cinematic elements, often to excellent effect. When not working through scripted chapters, a number of side quests and eccentric characters and objectives can be found in Lazulis City, a rather large hub location. It’s possible to lose hours running errands, talking to the locals and generally exploring; it feels like a living, breathing place, with solid physics also allowing neat effects such as Zael bumping into disgruntled locals. They’re small touches, but they contribute a lot.

The storyline itself is told through a mixture of in-game dialogue and cut scenes rendered with the game engine. Some particularly epic moments are pre-rendered and look gorgeous, though these are rare. Some of the technical issues that disrupt gameplay are also evident in the storytelling, with the Wii often struggling to read the disc quickly enough and causing lines of dialogue to overlap or cut off. It’s not a major problem, but is disappointing and distracting when it happens.

The plot itself, meanwhile, has some memorable moments. At times it falls into standard JRPG clichés, with some scenes dragging on a little too long, but the actual script is generally well-paced, with solid localisation. Zael’s relationships with his best friend Dagran, mercenary comrades and most notably with love interest Calista are well-written and developed. The Last Story successfully confronts themes of love, friendship, loyalty, courage, cruelty and loss in various ways, an example being a particularly harrowing invasion sequence. It’s a shame that the visuals stutter on a regular basis when telling the tale, but this is nevertheless an attractive game, with high production sound and music to round off the package. Storytelling is a major success in this title and adds richly to the overall dynamic and experience.

While the single-player adventure and its epic storyline will take anything between 20-30 hours to complete, online multiplayer — sadly there's no local play — has the potential to add even further life to the title. Unfortunately, at the time of writing it appears that PAL copies won’t be able to interact with the existing Japanese servers, so it’s regional play only, it seems. There are two modes: Co-Op and Deathmatch. Co-Op is a battle against major bosses from the adventure, as well as their minions, though these enemies are far stronger than in the main game, so you’ll really need a full session of six players to succeed. Deathmatch mode, meanwhile, involves directly fighting the other players, with choices of characters with varying abilities making the experience tactical and a lot of fun. Despite the automatic melee attacks, a number of power-ups in each of the nine arenas shake things up, as well as the ranged-weapon abilities of some of the characters. Our online experiences were lag-free and, in the case of Deathmatch in particular, enjoyable. There isn’t a great deal of customisation on offer, but this online multiplayer is nevertheless a welcome addition.

Conclusion

The Last Story is, in many ways, a significant achievement on Wii. With gameplay that is both simplified and complex, solid controls, attractive presentation, online multiplayer and a touching, well-paced plot, this title can be considered as a definitive entry in its genre. Technical problems with the performance, in particular regular and punishing drops in frame rate, unfortunately drag the experience back. When the game engine performs it's terrific, but too often it struggles and significantly impacts your ability to control the action. The Last Story's many strengths, however, ensure that it's a story that can't be missed.

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Game Trailer

Get hyped for The Last Story with this pre-launch trailer from Nintendo UK. More details over at http://www.nintendolife.com/games/wii/last_s

User Comments (74)

Moose_4

#1

Moose_4 said:

Sounds great, glad i have the limited edition pre ordered.
Just need the time to play through monster hunter tri then this.
I love the slow motion bitch slap at the end of the video!

C-Olimar

#3

C-Olimar said:

What is it with this guy? Last Story? Final Fantasy? Come on, there's been like a hundred Final Fantasy games! How could they all be the FINAL Fantasy? The games should be called Final (at the time of publishing) Fantasy. Wouldn't mind a sequel to this though...

NFreak007

#5

NFreak007 said:

Does anyone know if this is a dual-layered disc or not? Xenoblade was in Europe because it included both the English and Japanese voice tracks, but I've not heard whether Last Story includes both as well.

ThomasBW84Admin

#6

ThomasBW84 said:

@NFreak007 Last Story doesn't include the Japanese voice-track, which is a shame. I checked through all of the menus, so I'm 99% sure it isn't there.

BenAV

#8

BenAV said:

Nice review, Thomas.

Can't wait for my copy to arrive in the coming days.
I was originally just going to pick it up when it launches here on Thursday, but remembering that our main EB Games here only stocked two copies of Xenoblade Chronicles (which I got the second of), I thought that I better be safe and preorder.

Tate24

#9

Tate24 said:

Didn't know this had a online mode but cant afford it at the moment:( and id prefer get resident evil revelation and kid icraus on 3DS:)
plus my wii isn't working to well at moment so don't want chance it as my wii cant play dual layer disc's sadly? gutted:(

Aviator

#11

Aviator said:

@Powerglove I don't speak for Thomas when I say this but as he said in his closing comments, the technical problems is what diminished the experience. A review score, in my opinion, is more about the overall experience of a game, incorporating various elements. If one of those elements is lacking, it can diminish ones experience with the game, and therefore resulted in an eight.

eviLaTtenDant

#12

eviLaTtenDant said:

A shame that this otherwise fantastic looking and sounding game is let down by technical hiccups. I hope co-op multiplayer isn't too frustrating because of this. :o
Still sounds good enough to not make me cancel my preorder of the limited edition right now though.

@ThomasBW84: You wouldn't happen to know if the German localization is included in the UK version ? And you can't say anything about the extras of the limited edition since you didn't get it for the review, right ? :)

ejamer

#15

ejamer said:

Too bad to hear that technical issues mar an otherwise solid game. Still excited to play though. I wonder if online will work (without major lag) for people who import?

@JuLeDoS
Importing is easy and affordable. Glad my money is going to support NoE who made the effort and investment to bring this experience (along with Xenoblade and Pandora's Tower) to gamers late in the Wii's life-cycle.

ThomasBW84Admin

#18

ThomasBW84 said:

@battLeToaD I'll check again, but I couldn't find any language options, so it doesn't look likely that the German voice-track is in UK copies. As for your other points, online actually performed reasonably well, whereas frame-rate issues occur in the main game: how it'll run with more players online is unknown, though. Finally, no, I didn't have the collector's edition, so I can only say that it looks gorgeous in promo shots :)

@Aviator and @Powerglove - 8 is the original score I gave this one, so it hasn't been adjusted in the proofreading process. The Last Story does so much really well, but there were sustained periods where the Wii was simply struggling to run the game, and when performance drops it really affects enjoyment of the game. It's strange to write so many positives, all valid from my perspective, and award an 8, but that really does reflect (in my opinion) the experience as a whole.

Be in no doubt though, 8/10 is a very good score and a hearty recommendation. If you're able to afford this game, you should definitely consider picking it up.

ejamer

#19

ejamer said:

@zeeroid
ChocoGoldfish is a curmudgeon who thinks everything is bad. Don't let it get you down. (Ok, he likes Zen Pinball so he's clearly not all bad.)
;)

pixelman

#21

pixelman said:

Wannnnt.

I'm curious as to whether it'll run better on the Wii U. I mean, theoretically it's like running a game on a better PC.

eviLaTtenDant

#22

eviLaTtenDant said:

@ThomasBW84(#18): Thanks. I guess it will only work by changing the language in the system options of the Wii. I only expect German subtitles and in-game text.
Just asking 'cause German voice acting is often worse than UK's. So if it's the only option i might order the game in the UK instead.

ThomasBW84Admin

#25

ThomasBW84 said:

@tealovertoma The voice cast is pretty decent, with only one hammy/over-the-top character that I can remember. I'd say the voice acting is better than Xenoblade Chronicles, particularly as there are a variety of regions and dialects represented. When a knight spoke with a Welsh accent (my homeland) I almost fell off my chair.

Burny

#26

Burny said:

@battleToaD Why would a fairly niche JRPG get German voice acting, when Xenoblade didn't? IIRC there are some youtube videos of the European version with German text, but the voice acting is still English. One thing we won't have to worry about then. ;)

Have a look!

turtlelink

#27

turtlelink said:

Great Review, Tom. I had no idea this was an action RPG. Too bad the co-op is only for boss fights.

FonistofCruxis

#28

FonistofCruxis said:

I was expecting an 8 which is still a really good score and I don't think I'll get it this week but I look forward to picking it up later as it looks like an awesome game.

K1LLEGAL

#29

K1LLEGAL said:

Mistwalker kicked the Xbox 360 off to some great exclusives. They released Blue Dragon at the end of 2007 and then Lost Odyssey at the beginning of 2008. If you guys haven't checked those games out but get a chance then do. They're both really good. Lost Odyssey has some of the best music i've ever heard.
It is a shame it took them until 2012 to release another console RPG but if their past efforts are any indicator this game will have a certain awesomeness hidden away in it somewhere.

zezhyrule

#30

zezhyrule said:

Nice review, hope this makes it over here. The music alone is enough to sell me on it, though sadly you hardly mentioned it :3

shonenjump86

#31

shonenjump86 said:

Did not care much for the Operation Rainfall games, but Last Story does not look bad. If it comes to the US I may give it a shot.

AVahne

#32

AVahne said:

I never see the technical problems whenever I watch Japanese playthrough videos of this game.

ThomasBW84Admin

#34

ThomasBW84 said:

@Koto In terms of the frame-rate issues, I can only write about my own experiences, and as I described it's fairly frequent throughout the game. It genuinely affected my enjoyment as well, which is reflected in the fact that a game so excellent in terms of structure and intent received 8 instead of 9. Whether these issues are related to the PAL version, as there would have been amendments in the localisation process, I don't know for certain.

As you can guess from the fact it still scored 8/10 that doesn't mean, in any way, that it should prevent you from picking up the game if you like the look of it.

CanisWolfred

#35

CanisWolfred said:

What I'm concerned about is the AI, which I hear is what contributes to the easy difficulty. It seems to defeat the point of using strategy when in the end your opponents are idiots.

Also, it's obvious you beat around the bush for the writing itself, which I'm guessing isn't all that great.

Radixxs

#39

Radixxs said:

I love RPGs such as Chrono Trigger and Radiant Historia, but I have never played a cinematic action RPG such as this with voice acting, etc. I'm not sure I would enjoy it, but this has me very much intrigued, if anything. When this gets announced for NA, my quest for information will begin.

Dynetheous

#41

Dynetheous said:

im kinda tired of all the good games coming out in europe and japan. the american games are good, but i like the japanese ones better...like monster hunter.

but this games looks awesome, and great review

Kyloctopus

#43

Kyloctopus said:

NL gave the lowest rating for a review. But the rate is only a number. What matters is the actual game and describing it, which Whitehead did well. Thank you for the review, this will be an Instabuy if Nintendo decides on localisation, (and hopefully give us the special edition as well.)

Mk_II

#44

Mk_II said:

I couldn't find a local store where i could preorder this game so today i clicked the
'pre-order here' button on the frontpage ad of NL and got the Ltd. Edition from Amazon. Lovely! I'm positive this will be a sought-after collectible in a decade or two.

Henmii

#45

Henmii said:

Nice review! I hoped for a 9, but the technical problems dragged the score down a bit. But I guess it's still worth it! I guess I'll buy it this Friday!

BulbasaurusRex

#46

BulbasaurusRex said:

I was ever only going to get one of Xenoblade Chronicles and the Last Story, and Xenoblade Chronicles is now the winner regardless of whether or not the Last Story ever makes it to North America.

motang

#47

motang said:

I so hope this game gets announced tomorrow at the Nintendo Direct. Fingers crossed

WolfRamHeart

#48

WolfRamHeart said:

Thanks for the review Thomas. It was a good and informative read. I am a fan of Mistwalker's games like Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey so I am sure that I would enjoy this. It sounds like the only thing holding this game back from being truly exceptional is the limitations of the now dated Wii hardware. I am really glad that the Wii U is right around the corner. Hopefully we will see Mistwalker offer up some RPG gems for Nintendo's next-gen console. For now I am just hoping that the Last Story will come to the US because I would love to play this.

Kage_88

#49

Kage_88 said:

I'll probably be picking this up tommorow...

However, I still haven't even touched Xenoblade Chronicles...and there are about 60 other games (literally) that I still need/want to play...

DEVELOPERS! STOP RELEASING GAMES SO I CAN CATCH UP!...sob

WiiLovePeace

#50

WiiLovePeace said:

Ah, what a bummer that the game's length is only 20 to 30 hours, I was hoping for a 200 hour epic like Xenoblade. Too bad about the slowdown too but I'll still get the game for sure.

Cthuloops

#51

Cthuloops said:

I'll see how this turns out in the States before I buy it, because I feel like I want to get Xenoblade more than this. If I have the money though, I will get both because I have been really craving to play some awesome RPGs lately. :P

Henmii

#52

Henmii said:

"Ah, what a bummer that the game's length is only 20 to 30 hours, I was hoping for a 200 hour epic like Xenoblade"

Well, I guess it's 20/30 hours only if you avoid all the missions and choose for the automatic equip option. However, I think it will take much longer if you equip everything manually (wich is probably the way to go) and if you attempt all the missions.

At least that's the feeling I got from this review! Though I still think that Xenoblade is the (much) bigger game!

HiroshiYamauchi

#53

HiroshiYamauchi said:

@21 It´ll run on the Wii U just like it runs on the Wii, Nintendo has confirmed that Wii games won´t be improved when running on the new console, so whenever you put a Wii game on the Wii U, it will run on a kind of "Wii mode", just like the Gamecube mode on the Wii,. So, even if the new hardware is much more powerfull, it´ll be downgraded to the Wii specs on the Wii mode.

Gamer83

#54

Gamer83 said:

It's too bad about the performance issues, I doubt they'll be able to clean that up for NA since it just seems the game is too much for the hardware it's running on. I'm still getting the game without a doubt though as it sounds like the good far outweighs the technical issues. It's just too bad we've had to wait this long to get some games like Xenoblade and The Last Story. Had they been released in say 2008, maybe the Wii would've gotten the respect it deserves from the 'core' gaming crowd.

Flux

#55

Flux said:

Yesterday i got the limited edition. :) After 4 hours of playing i can predict that i'll have o lot of fun with this game. Exploring the city, talking to all the people and listening to their chating, is fun. Battle mode is still a bit confusing - playing with the classic controler, i often look in the sky. Dont like the manual - not also showing classiv controler buttons when explaining. But i think ill get used to it. The english voices are good, though i dont like the main charakters voice. Camera position is a talking point when walkin into corners. Seeing the character from very close looks not nice.

WiiLovePeace

#57

WiiLovePeace said:

@Henmii, yeah you're probably right. I always try to get the most out of my games anyways, so manual-equip & doing all the missions is right up my alley. I'll probably be able to stretch it out to 100 hours depending on how fun it is.

citizenerased

#58

citizenerased said:

Whoa, I just found out melee attacks are carried out automatically? What the hell, I wanna at least press the button myself.

Cia

#60

Cia said:

This game has performance issues? Try Skyrim on PS3 if you want real issues...

Linkus

#62

Linkus said:

It arrived today :-) Haven´t played for very long but so far it´s even better than I expected. In my opinion the battle system is superior to the one in xenoblade and I haven´t noticed any slowdown yet. Actually I can´t think of any RPG with a more brilliant battle system and I have played many. I highly recommend it!

Klaarover

#63

Klaarover said:

I'm still stuck somewhere in Final Fantasy V land (It's massive). Afterwards I'll decide which one to buy; Xenoblade or this.

Altrix

#65

Altrix said:

The male characters of this game are very feminine. It's like every male character is made to look the way they do just to gain teenage female interest and create more emo fashion kids.
I'd say just about every male character looks like a skinny girl. You can even remove some of their damn clothes to show their skinny bare chests.
I've not been scarred by the gore of the internet, but these feminine males that came out of nowhere seem to have done so.

Betagam7

#66

Betagam7 said:

I very much enjoyed Xenoblade (and will have to get back to it) and while it is a more polished affair than Last Story seems to be (so far), I'm a sucker for the more linear RPG's that tells a stronger story. Last Story after just 6 hours has me more involved and interested in the characters than Xenoblade had after 30 hours...which isn't to knock the latter game, it's just a comment on how much I like the characterisation of Last Story.
One thing that this review also fails to touch on is the exceptional humour in the game, from firing banana skins with your bow to deliberately messing up cutscenes complete with hilarious meta-jokes from the narator, this is a game filled with humour as well as story.
I can't say I've noticed any of the technical issues the reviewer mentions so far (although I'm no expert on framerates) so I hope it wasn't just a problem with his Wii in terms of skipping/overlapping text etc (this can actually be triggered as a deliberate feature by holding down one of the buttons).

Redfield_Lynch

#67

Redfield_Lynch said:

It`s one of the best games i`ve played in years. Graphics are extraordinary, gameplay very easy to dig in but with lots to learn and master and the story... it is in fact glorious. Anyone with a wii should buy it, plain and simple :-)

PaperLucario

#68

PaperLucario said:

One bizarre thing I would like to do is make this the final Wii game I buy, to make "The Last Story" a fitting title in my Wii Library.

DarkCoolEdge

#69

DarkCoolEdge said:

One of the best games for the console and one of my favorite. For me it deserves a 10/10. I hope that Sakaguchi delights us with more Stories for WiiU

MikeyMikeMike

#70

MikeyMikeMike said:

I have yet to play the highly regarded Xenoblade and yet somehow this sits higher on the wanted list...

davegorack

#71

davegorack said:

I bought this game for like £30 and it was worth every penny.
Edit: I take it back....
It was ok at frist but the combat system got on mt nerves, why the smeg is there a live system in a RPG???
The story was good ill admit but the big twist i saw a mkile away.
id recomend xenoblade chronicles over this

Rapido

#74

Rapido said:

I'd say one of the definitive traits of final fantasy sakaguchi incorporated in his new games is the Music. It adds many things on an epic story. Splendid game.

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