Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

The Last Story (Wii) Review

Review for The Last Story on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

2011 saw the release of two epic role-playing adventures, Xenoblade Chronicles from Monolith Soft, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword from Nintendo’s internal team, both of which scored top marks here at Cubed3. 2012 already promises to be yet another strong year for the genre on Wii, with the impressive-looking Pandora’s Tower set for Europe in a couple of months, along with this new release, The Last Story from AQ Interactive and Mistwalker, with a little helping hand from Nintendo as well. Has Hironobu Sakaguchi regained the same magic touch that brought Final Fantasy to life decades ago?

When Mistwalker was first founded there was a massive amount of attention poured upon the company due to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s reputation as not only being the 'Father of Final Fantasy,' but also working on plenty of other Square Ltd classics from years gone by, including Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Xenogears, Legend of Mana, and even Kingdom Hearts. In fact, his resignation as Executive Vice President of Square was so monumental that it is seen as playing a large factor in the 2003 merger with rival Enix Corporation to become Square Enix. Initially, after plenty of hype surrounding the Xbox 360 exclusives Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, it seemed as if Nintendo fans were in for a treat when ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat was revealed for Nintendo DS. Sadly, Nintendo of America shelved plans to localise it and Nintendo of Europe did not pick up the slack after that, leaving the intriguing tactical RPG to waste away in Japan.

After that, the DS saw three great releases, the strategy RPG Blue Dragon Plus, a quirky adventure outing called AWAY: Shuffle Dungeon, and an action role-playing effort by the name of Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow. None of these achieved much success, nor were they hands-on projects for Sakaguchi-san, with Nintendo-owned Brownie Brown working with feelplus on the first game, AQ Interactive dealing with the second that also featured art from Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Naoto Oshima, and the third being handled internally by Namco Bandai in collaboration with tri-Crescendo. It is only now, after the cancellation of the Xbox 360 concept Cry-On that Sakaguchi-san has truly delved deep into the world of development for The Last Story, with him reportedly acting as if this was his final game ever, as was the case when the first ever Final Fantasy was being made on the NES.

Cue 2012, one year after a moderately successful sales performance in Japan, and The Last Story is now upon us European Wii-owning members of the gaming community. Considering how impressive last year’s Wii line-up was, there is certainly a lot of pressure on The Last Story, even more so now that long-term fans of the Final Fantasy series are tiring somewhat of the changes being made by Square Enix’s current team, which saw Final Fantasy XIII prove to be one of the lowest selling in the long-running series so far, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 not exactly setting the world alight either.

Screenshot for The Last Story on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Although the core theme of the tale within The Last Story is based around how a young man by the name of Zael, who just so happens to wield a gigantic blade, and his mercenary cohorts are eager to put that life behind them, there is a sting in the tail when certain early aspects take a twist and a turn when an evil force named the Gurak turn up, causing subsequent havoc to the land that had seen peace for so long that knights had almost forgotten what their swords were for. Zael’s dream of becoming a true knight plays second fiddle after this as he is caught up in the fight against Zangurak, the Gurak King, attempting to save Lady Calista, niece of Count Arganan, the ruler of Lazulis Island, and restore peace unto the land once more. All in a day's work...

There are definitely overtones of other Sakaguchi-san projects -- which to clarify is no bad thing at all -- with even an air of Cloud and Aerith’s dramatic scenes from Final Fantasy VII when watching the way everything plays out between the main hero, Zael, and the mysterious and quirky female character, Lisa, who acts like she does not fit into the normal world (the twist is obvious and comes quite early in the game, but still works nicely). The characterisation throughout is of particular note, with the group of mercenaries each having distinct personalities that help them work perfectly as a team during combat, yet highlights how their ‘working’ relationship is somewhat stronger than their personal one during rest and relaxation scenes, creating a humorous atmosphere at times, yet on the other hand causing a realistic feel of friction that makes the scenario more believable. In terms of the voice acting, as with any game, it is definitely a mixed bag. There is an over-the-top Northern British female character that can grate at times due to over-zealousness, whilst the lead, Zael, can sound more fed up than dark and broody. However, over the course of the entire adventure, The Last Story’s cast proves to be strong enough to convey the wide range of emotions brought to the table and really do complement Nobuo Uematsu’s spine-chillingly stunning and impeccable soundtrack, which in itself deserves to be listened to through a high quality output source.

Screenshot for The Last Story on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Although there are smidgens of Sakaguchi-san's heritage, rather than being a standard Final Fantasy clone, with plenty of grinding and turn-based battles, The Last Story takes on more of an adventure / action RPG style, with touches of Chrono Trigger and shades of Secret of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 3 being present in its approach. This is definitely a game from the mind of the man behind Final Fantasy, as stated already, and long-term fans that enjoyed the early NES and SNES entries into the (then) Square Ltd series, as well as the PlayStation trio of Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX, will feel the same core essence pumping through the veins of The Last Story, right down to simple elements such as the auto-equip function that gives each team member the best pieces of armour and weaponry dependent on a statistical calculation, saving heaps of time for those that find too much customisation to be fiddly and distracting.

The development team has decided to steer clear of the tried and tested turn-based approach, instead going for something more action-based, with players choosing whether or not to use the automatic method where control of the main character is key, letting him attack at will, or selecting to manually take hold of every step, slashing away in your own time. Before a battle commences, a top-down view of the area is given and the scene can be panned around in order to get a feel of where best to focus the attack. Sometimes it will be a case of distracting a large beast until using a move called ‘Focus’ from a long distance locates a weak spot, whilst others involve guarding any magicians in the team so they can successfully cast spells, or cases where hiding behind structures and quickly dashing-and-slashing is the order of the day. Merely charging into the melee without a proper plan will swiftly lead to death, and whilst regeneration occurs in some instances, dying several times in a row eventually does lead to a dreaded Game Over. To avoid a hasty defeat, Zael can draw the attention of enemies using a technique called ‘Gathering,’ where the on-screen lines of interest that highlight who is being targeted by which enemy (that can be turned off for any purists out there), all turn towards the hero, leaving the rest of the crew to work their tricks in the background, catching your foes off-guard with devastating results.

There is nothing more satisfying than being up against what appears to be a ridiculously large beast with an almost impenetrable outer-skin, only to find a minor weak spot that can be exploited by getting a magician to focus a spell on a piece of the surroundings (a bridge or pillar, for instance), and then ensuring the attention of the enemy is drawn away long enough for the plan to be set in full motion. Strategic gameplay like this works wonderfully in the likes of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, so being able to employ such tactics in an adventure-filled environment without the pauses associated with turn-based genres is always going to be a welcomed change of pace.

Screenshot for The Last Story on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Despite the ‘auto-equip’ function mentioned earlier, fans of customisation will be pleased to know that The Last Story does have it coming out of its ears, with special dyes collected to change the colours and attributes of weapons and armour, blacksmiths on-hand to deliver upgrades, and numerous special items floating around after despatching certain key enemies, sometimes having to return to locations to kill off enemies that had to be run from due to the present situation calling for it. Every change is also mimicked by a visual alteration of the characters, and should you so desire, it is actually possible to de-clothe many members...to a certain degree, of course! Whatever takes your fancy...

Speaking of visuals, The Last Story is another superb example of how Wii can produce stunning graphics, and the art style is wonderful on the eyes throughout, even giving off a look of Vagrant Story at times. Unfortunately, though, it does also highlight that the Wii hardware has pretty much been maxed out now, with noticeable tricks in place to fool gamers' eyes, such as blurring of characters in the middle distance to cut down on processing power, or a reduction in animation for things like clothing movement (resulting in the odd leg or two magically appearing through fabric when walking before disappearing again). The locations in general, and the detail on the wide selection of characters, is breath-taking, and elevates The Last Story to within touching distance of Xenoblade Chronicles.

Ultimately, the comparisons to Xenoblade Chronicles are unavoidable since Wii owners in Europe have not exactly been inundated with quality role-playing games, missing out on the likes of Arc Rise Fantasia, Tales of Graces, Earth Seeker, Rune Factory Oceans, Shiren the Wanderer and even Takt of Magic. The good news for Mistwalker and Nintendo is that The Last Story holds its own very well indeed, and whilst there is more emphasis on story development through the means of lengthy cut-scenes than the sheer volume of side-quests featured in Monolith Soft’s epic, the fact that the AQ Interactive-developed project goes its own way is admirable in itself, and there are still enjoyable side-quests to get involved with anyway, only not as many. The forty-four main chapters will not be too tough to finish off, but exploring Lazulis Island in its entirety, and its sprawling medieval capital Lazulis City, replaying specific dungeons for rewards, taking part in the arena, or even dabbling in some six-player online shenanigans -- against boss characters or even in teams against each other, limited to Europe only -- should be enough to keep The Last Story going long enough for Pandora’s Tower to arrive on European shores.

Screenshot for The Last Story on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Using the default auto-battle mechanic can leave players feeling somewhat detached from the action, but switching over to manual provides a far meatier experience, and the range of tactics that can be employed help to seamlessly fuse the world of Strategy RPGs with traditional action-oriented ones.

Graphics

Mistwalker and AQ Interactive have definitely pushed the Wii hard for The Last Story, crafting intricate worlds, a slew of varied characters, and some extremely gruesome and inventive bosses. The only drawback is that the Wii hardware is starting to look a little rougher around the edges than normal, holding back the game’s visual allure in places due to minor technical restrictions.

Sound

If it was possible to give more than a perfect ten score, then Nobuo Uematsu’s magical score would deserve it, thanks to its truly wondrous composition full of haunting, magical, and heart-wrenching themes that will stay will players long after the credits have rolled.

Value

Whilst not quite as epic as expected after the mighty Xenoblade and its mammoth amount of extras and side-quests, The Last Story does still offer a sturdy quest filled with thrills and spills, plenty of story to draw gamers in, and enough meat on its bones to satiate those in need of more RPG action after last year’s flawless masterpiece from Monolith Soft.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

The Last Story definitely deserves to follow in the footsteps of Xenoblade Chronicles, appealing to RPG fans everywhere, tapping into what makes the classics, such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy so addictive, namely a strong focus on story with good pacing and a fluid battle mechanic that works almost flawlessly throughout the adventure. With only Final Fantasy XIII-2 as its main competition here in Europe right now, gamers should definitely be looking to snap this up instead as it proves to be far superior in almost every category. Hironobu Sakaguchi can safely say his latest creation surpasses his first ever.

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26.02.2012

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Developer

Mistwalker

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Staff Member

I'm probably the only regular member on C3 who doesn't own this (can't afford it + too many games to play). It was a good review Adam, and I look forward to playing the game when I can.

Stuart Lawrence
Follow Me on twitter :: @Stulaw90 || My Youtube || Backloggery
NNID: Stulaw
Anonymous (guest) 26.02.2012 23:16#2

Syrenne doesn't have a cockney accent. I can understand an American not being able to tell a Northerner when they hear one, but someone from the UK...

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sounded cockney to me...she's really meant to be a Northerner? Apologies from a me, a humble Mancunian then Smilie

Kelly Wenham - from Stockport? Wow, not far away at all. I'm in Chorlton Smilie

( Edited 26.02.2012 23:55 by jesusraz )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Bit surprised you thought Cockney, Adz!

Played briefly and first impressions of voices are very good. No Japanese option is a shame for those that prefer it, but I generally play my games in English anyway. The British accents make a very welcome change for me, and I'm glad it's not your typical 'la-di-da' Queen's English. British voices can be very good when they get the right people - FFXII, Tomb Raider, Alice: Madness Returns, Portal 2, Shadows of the Damned are good examples. I'm hoping more British dubbing will be used for more games, with the odd Welsh accent or two starting to creep in!

Looking forward to getting through this one anyway. Damn my work life limiting my game time!

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Staff Member

I just watched the beginning and she definitely sounds like a Northerner to me.

Stuart Lawrence
Follow Me on twitter :: @Stulaw90 || My Youtube || Backloggery
NNID: Stulaw
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Bahaha, listening to Syrenne sounds like I've got Coronation Street on! Smilie

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Yeah yeah yeah, mock me all you will. I've just been listening to more samples of the voice actress behind Syrenee's character...wow, how did I not realise?! Smilie

Az, this isn't like Xenoblade - if you hit it hard, you can probably polish off the main story in ~20 hours.

EDIT: I feel like I need to issue a formal apology to Kelly now! If you're listening:




Smilie

( Edited 27.02.2012 01:15 by jesusraz )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

So I've heard... which suits me fine tbh. Trying hard to clear many games on my shelf atm, so can't really be trudging through 50+ hour RPGs every week!

'Eyup! No Betty's 'otpot for you!

( Edited 27.02.2012 01:17 by Azuardo )

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I wonder if someone can grab some of the lines that the narrator reads. I could so nail that part...I kept finding myself talking over the guy who did it (Chris Fairbank), and my wife saying I had it spot on!

Did you know that Zael is voiced by none other than Jack Ryder - ex-Eastenders, and previously married to Kym Marsh (former Hearsay and solo singer)?! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

No way! Jack was a legend in Eastenders! Always wondered what he ended up doing after splitting up with Kym. Fair do's to him for doing some VG voice acting.

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Can't wait to get into this one, but might have to wait until the summer. I'm still not done with Xenoblade, or even Zelda!

Add me on anything. I'm always looking for new friends/opponents/town visitors/chances to appear more popular than I actually am.
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

That's the one problem with too many largescale games - simply not enough time to get through them all.

I see TLS has done moderately well in the UK, despite GAME ditching it. Shows that more people are buying online, methinks, or going to places like HMV.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I'm stuck on this....
..I am still laughing in the first town from people falling over Smilie

Please give our little random review show a try;
http://randomreviewshow.com/index.html
We have special effects and umm...stuff...
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Actually, that's one of my favourite pasttimes - bumping into those that give a response is hilarious! Some of them simply give you an affronted look. Really good addition Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Jay (guest) 27.02.2012 16:40#15

10 hours in at the moment, really enjoying the battle system to sum it up it's basically what you'd get if mass effect and the crystal chronicles had a baby.

Syrenne sounds like she's from bolton/lancashire, definetly not London lol.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Smilie Okay, okay, I admit I made a big mistake. Quite shocking from a Manc lad such as myself! Smilie The voice actress is from Stockport, I believe. Clearly I should have checked that out before posting the review Smilie

I love how that's become the main focus of the feedback, by the way Smilie Smilie

Anyone else care to comment on the game itself, or if it justifies the 9/10 rating? Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Staff Member

I've only played about 2 hours or so myself, but I can already see where the 9/10 is coming from, Adam.

I can see myself having a ton of fun with this game (like I already do) in both single and multiplayer. The beginning probably just barely scratches the surface gameplay-wise but I'm already really enjoying it. Extremely dynamic, vaulting over just about everything including your allies (the first time I accidentally vaulted over Syrenne caught me off guard Smilie ), taking cover, ambushing etc.

I had concerns about the localisation at first, and I still do have some, but I think I can enjoy it as it is. The voice acting is pretty good but some voices just don't feel right to me, particularly Zael's and Lisa's. The dialogue is great though. Got some good laughs and facepalms out of some lines and innuendos already. Smilie Speaking of the voice acting, I find it interesting how you guys are enjoying the British dubs so much. If I ever heard a single German line spoken with an Austrian accent in a videogame I play, I'd get an heart attack. Smilie

Another thing I noticed so far when it comes to sound is that there are quite a few places without any music at all. I always like at least some music in the background so it feels a bit empty to me when there's nothing at all. It's nighttime in Lazulis City right now and it's quiet...too quiet. Maybe I'm just spoilt by Xenoblade and its awesome music with more calm nighttime variations (like Gaur Plain at night). I still love the soundtrack whenever it decides to kick in though. Smilie

I've read some complaints about slowdowns in other reviews which made it look it's breaking the game but I only noticed a few slowdowns myself so far and while they are a bit irritating, they aren't a big deal to me.

That's about all I can say after this little playtime. I'll share more of my thoughts as I progress with the game. Smilie

( Edited 27.02.2012 17:48 by SirLink )

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Aquatic (guest) 27.02.2012 20:17#18

I like how the reviewer considers Syrenne's voice grating when he thinks she's cockney, but when it turns out she's from the north like himself it's suddenly perfectly fine.

Typical northerner.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Aquatic (guest) said:
I like how the reviewer considers Syrenne's voice grating when he thinks she's cockney, but when it turns out she's from the north like himself it's suddenly perfectly fine.

Typical northerner.


Has his opinion changed, though? Still reads the same in his review, no?

Syrenne's been a breath of fresh air for me. Well done to NOE (I'm assuming) for casting her, and hopefully this'll bring more attention to her and other VAs in the game for future work. The UK has such a diverse range of accents that it's about time people started to bring them into video games.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Rob64 (guest) 28.02.2012 14:56#20

Skyward Sword, Xeno, TLS, Pandora - all very different experiences! Great ones at that Smilie

Prada86 (guest) 28.02.2012 17:27#21

The soundtrack is amazing! Did any of you get the limited edition bundle? Gutted I didn't!

Didn't like this in auto attack mode. Deffo recommend manual.

Aquatic (guest) said:
I like how the reviewer considers Syrenne's voice grating when he thinks she's cockney, but when it turns out she's from the north like himself it's suddenly perfectly fine.

Typical northerner.


As a northerner myself, I find that quite offensive. What do you mean, exactly?

Anyway, you're wrong. See what the guy above you says. Context hasn't changed in the review!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

What do people think of the online modes? I had great fun in a team-based battle, running up walls and launching off at enemies, or flinging bombs in their direction.

The camera got a bit confused at times, but it was not a major problem.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Would have given the graphics a 7 imo, while the game certainly has it's moments of looking very nice the framerate can also chug quite a bit which is dissapointing.

Overall the game is fun, wasn't really sure how I felt about it for a while, the combat didn't really click untill at least chapter 10 or so.

Not a huge fan of the constant stopping the action for a bit of story telling though, certain chapters have more than others.

.

Also I kind of hate Zael, he is just....really lame lol.

In someways the games kind of reminds me in Fable on 360, bit of a technical mess but overall it's got some good gameplay and an interesting enough cast of characters to rise above the annoying bits.

jesusraz said:
What do people think of the online modes? I had great fun in a team-based battle, running up walls and launching off at enemies, or flinging bombs in their direction.

The camera got a bit confused at times, but it was not a major problem.

Yeah apart from a bit of lag and here and there (some hits not seemingly registering) it was better than I expected i played a few rounds of coop with 4 others and we all worked quite well in a team, shame we couldn't add each other to our friend lists ugh!

( Edited 01.03.2012 01:46 by Mr James2t3 )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I noticed quite a staggering drop for TLS in the UK. Are people having trouble finding stock, or is it more a case of it not catching the eye of those that loved Xenoblade?

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It was hard to find during its first week, in Belgium. But it was everywhere I looked, yesterday. Some stores which didn't have limited editions last week even had some, which made me really sad because I had already bought the normal edition, thinking I would never be able to get my hands on a limited one Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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