It should be noted that this is not the pre-order kit. There is actually quite a lot of swag for pre-ordering.
An action RPG that has semi-real time strategy elements, close and long-range combat, lots of optional side missions, and even stealth gameplay? Surely, there’s got to be something wrong with it. That’s what I thought too, but ultimately The Last Story delivers on several fronts and has something for everybody…if you can look beyond some minor glitching.
Available For: Wii
Developer(s): AQ Interactive, Mistwalker
Publisher(s): Nintendo, Xseed Games
Release Date: 2012
Archetype: Action, Adventure, RPG, RTS
Square Enix is a company that continues to baffle me. When they’re not raping the Final Fantasy franchise and desperately hoping that the next Dragon Quest can keep the company together, they’re publishing games that should technically be helping re-establish their cred within the game industry, but it’s a tough act to follow when you have far better companies like Atlus, Bethesda, Bioware, and even various indie deveopers leading the pack.
No, S-E didn’t make this title, but the original creator of Final Fantasy, Hironobi Sakaguchi, did. Yeah, Hironobi left S-E right at 2004, which if memory serves, is right when they became S-E, to form Mistwalker Studios, which is known for various games like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. Initially, it was alleged that The Last Story would be his last game, but thankfully, this was just a translation error.
This brilliant motherfucker is responsible for putting together probably at least 75% of Squaresoft’s greatest titles, so he earns respect on that front and also on the front of being…well shit, the original goddamn creator of Final Fantasy. Granted, titles from late in his career are…interesting…at best, but lets not let that sully his otherwise impeccable track record.
In any case, the question is “does he still got it?” And yes, he’s got it. Before we get started, I would like to point out that interestingly enough, the story in The Last Story is easily one of the weakest stories Hironobi’s ever been behind. No really. Even for this day and age, I can’t say I’m terribly impressed. Yes, there are well thought out moments, good dialogue and characters, and interesting scenarios, but the story on the whole is fairly weak and suffers from being highly predictable at times.
Actually, if you’ve seen Jim Sterling’s review, you’ll probably find mine to have a stark contrast. I actually really dig the combat and overall gameplay mechanics and only sporadically seem to get involved in the story. There have actually been times where I’ve been somewhat bored or felt the story was very “by the numbers.” Oh, there’s a sarcastic aristocrat that constantly has to try to undermine you a la Draco Malfoy? Huh.
The main character has no real personality other than being ambitious and wanting to be a knight? You don’t say. There’s a dungeon you have to escape from with outside help? Never seen that before. Honestly, it’s as though they took every cliché that’s ever been from every RPG ever and smashed them together. I won’t say it isn’t entertaining, but if you’re just doing what’s already been done, then you’re not leading us on a very brilliant journey overall.
But let’s talk about the action and customizables for a second. Combat is real time, but with a few twists. Firstly, you can command your troops in battle, but for the most part you’ll want this to be automatic. Usually their tactics are spot on, but if you notice your troops are doing stupid things like attacking enemies with spells they absorb, you may want to rearrange your tactics, which is done pretty quickly and easily.
In a way, it reminds me of Dragon Age, but with a heavier emphasis on action and stealth. Yes, stealth. There are a number of things you can do during and pre-combat to lure enemies, trap them, and all kinds of fun stuff. It actually works fairly well, but don’t expect it to be quite to the level of Metal Gear. They even manage to throw in their own brand of limit breaks.
Customization is fairly fun due to an extensive upgrade system as well as the ability to dye all kinds of features of your armor. The shop system is also fairly interesting as buying and selling also varies between different vendors at different times in the game and you have the ability to take advantage of special promotional sales, which you can then use to solve mini-quests or sell for a higher profit later.
You can replay dungeons, fight in the arena, and all kinds of shit. Really, the only thing I haven’t mentioned so far is there is some slowdown and a few glitches that really should have been ironed out, but it’s nothing game breaking and overall the action is usually kept at a very swift pace. While I don’t feel it’s as strong of a Wii RPG title as, say, Xenoblade, this is a game that definitely belongs in your collection if you’re a Wii owner that also happens to be an RPG enthusiast.