Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: The Last Story

The Last Story is one of those games I know no one will play. Why you may ask? Well 3 reasons,
1) It's a JRPG and the gaming majority doesn't like them because they're "gay!"(they say the games are gay) and don't have you looking down a gun barrel.
2)Retailers aren't stocking them on their shelves under the fear that no one will buy it. This is retarded since a lot of people will impulse buy a game out of curiosity.
3)It's not getting advertised on websites or TV.
Regardless I bought it and I loved it. So here's my review.

As anyone who reads my blog(the what, 1 person or something?) I have an affinity to JRPGs, mainly the Final Fantasy's and I'm a bit of a Nintendo fanboy(mainly because it was a better thing to play instead of sports, especially in Australia!). Well imagine how excited I was to learn that Nintendo teamed with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's company Mistwalker to make an exclusive JRPG for the Wii.

The Story of the game is, as you'd expect the best part of the game. The game's story is about a mercenary named Zael who gains the power of the Outsider. Thanks to this power the Count of Lazilus Island has interest in Zael and offers knighthood to Zael if he helps him fight the race of Gurak plaguing the island. Along the way you also meet a girl named Calista, who is the Counts niece and with her help find out more about the Outsider and fall in love. The story is filled with so much more then what I've written but that's just the basics. The characters are all memorable and for once, a game doesn't have a character you wish you could just strangle every time they talk. I actually looked forward to each new conversation with the characters in this game because their personalities were so interesting. Oh and it's mostly voiced so anyone who hates reading for the most part(I call them idiots but hey, I also like real books not eBooks). This is also a very beautiful looking game, even with the Wii's limitations. The art design of the characters and world are great. The music is also beautiful and I bet Square-Enix is kicking themselves for not being able to keep Nobou Uematsu.

On top of a great story that's well written and voiced by UK voice actors, there's the actual gameplay to talk about. The game uses action combat similar to most action RPGs but with a difference. The game also uses tactics in combat to change it from a mere button masher into a strategic game of chess. Like in most JRPGs enemies have elemental weaknesses and strengths, so exploiting them ensures victory but there is also combat moves like striking an enemy while they aren't looking from cover to do more damage or luring them to you to allow your mages to cast spells. During combat some of the battles will have environmental items that can be used to make the battle easier, like a pillar to destroy and using these can usually be beneficial. The spell circles(yes the spells are cast as circles on the battle field) in the game have essentially 2 effects, one effect happens in the circle itself(eg. fire circle damages enemies) and one when the circle is diffused by Zael's abilities Gale and Vertical slash(eg. fire circle when diffused will inflict guard break). There is also no targeting system in the game but I honestly prefer that then being locked to one enemy. Zael also can use a crossbow in combat to attack enemies with a variety of arrows or to search areas for points of interest.

In combat you can only use the main character Zael unless the chapter does otherwise and this is actually a smart move by Mistwalker because it makes sense to the story. Each character in combat has 5 lives, lose them all for Zael and it's game over... but since the game has autosaving at checkpoints dying isn't too much of an annoyance but you still need to use save points to actually save your progress which isn't a bad thing, I actually prefer this to just autosaving. When a party member falls in combat you can revive them by just walking over them with the Gathering technique active. This technique is also used to draw all the enemies in battle to you and focus their assault on you. After receiving enough damage while using Gathering you can unleash a burst that can either slow or stop a target, this is very useful and should be used often.

Each character also has a kind of Limit Break ability they can use once they've learned the skill. These skills can be used once the spirit gauge is filled and can be used to inflict heavy damage on an enemy or buff the party, depending on the character using their ability. Using them requires using the command mode. The command mode allows you to command everyone in the party to use a specific ability on specific targets and is vital for strategically taking down bosses and making regular battles easier.

The game only features 1 town with a castle to explore which may make some people angry, but like Skyloft in Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword it actually made the people living there more important. The town is large and is filled with sidequest to complete. These sidequest are usually just find something or someone, collect X about of items for someone but it actually makes you feel like your helping the towns people instead of just XP grinding in an MMO... especially since the rewards for the sidequests are items. You can fast travel around the town if you hate walking about by using the map in your menu which while it makes life easier, you can miss out on hidden items in the alleyways and side streets that are hidden on the ground or in a corner. When collecting hidden items in the street if you're fast enough to chain 5, you can earn a rare item and trust me, you want these.

One of the cool things about this game is that each piece of equipment has a unique look to them and you can customize the appearance of your party. I'm sure most people will try and make the characters look good instead of stat maximizing and this is what I did myself. The equipment can also change appearance when upgraded so after a while a new piece of equipment can look better then another. Mixing and matching the equipment can monopolize a fair bit of time, especially since you can change the colour of them with dyes you collect in the game. I probably sank an hour of gameplay just customizing my gear's look to suit me. You can also remove parts of the armor to suit yourself without losing stats so if a piece of equipment gains a piece that looks like crap to you, you can just remove that one piece to make it look better.

You can replay dungeons in the game by using the map. This is a good thing to do if you missed an item but you don't earn any exp from returning to dungeons, or at least I didn't. If you want to earn exp however, when in a dungeon for the first time there will be a red circle pattern on the ground. Use the Gathering ability and it will summon monster for you to kill. You can do this to your hearts content to level up of "farm" items from the monsters.

The game will last you about 30 hours which isn't a bad length but is short compared to the majority of JRPGs. The game is heavily story focused and like I said 30 hours isn't a bad length, it's just shorter then most modern JRPGs and RPGs in general. I honesty think it's because of Nintendo hating multi disc games and the fact the story doesn't waffle on with garbage. There's is also a New Game+ after you finish it which lets you keep your levels and items into a second playthrough with tougher bosses and large enemies as well as the ability to upgrade you equipment further.

So should you buy this? YES! YES A thousand time YES! The game has a great story, great gameplay and it's worth every penny. I swear I couldn't find any faults in this this game. 30 hour of gameplay is about as much as Mass Effect and at least this has more action in it. I loved every minute of this game and being one of if not the last game on Wii, at least the Wii went out with a bang! I also recommend buying Xenoblade Chronicles too because both The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles are innovative advances the JRPG genre needs to appeal to a wider audience and they do it as well as Kingdom Hearts did.

Score 5/5

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