The Last Story is the latest RPG from Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series. The game was originally released only in Japan, but it came over to the US as a result of Operation Rainfall and is the last “big” game released for the Wii. As with many RPGs in recent memory, The Last Story follows a familiar outline: the gameplay is fairly linear, the plot is full of clichés, and most of the characters are forgettable. It can easily appear to be just another disappointing game on a console that is full of disappointments. The truth, though, is that The Last Story is no disappointment. The game’s excellent battle system, beautiful music, and lovable (albeit familiar) characters more than make up for the game’s shortcomings. The Last Story rises past its clichés to become one of the year’s best RPGs.
The Last Story does a fantastic job of putting a spin on the classic JRPG battle system. It forgoes a turn-based battle system in favor of a unique style of gameplay that is innovative and a blast to play. However, it starts out incredibly basic, but more and more features are added until the game has one of the best battle systems seen in years. At the beginning of the game, it’s simply third-person sword combat. As the game goes on, the gameplay mechanics found in third-person shooters, strategy games, and even stealth games are added to the mix. This results in an awesome hybrid of a variety of genres. In many ways, this JRPG feels much more like a Western game than a Japanese game. The Last Story even has a competitive multiplayer option. The fact that a JRPG has a competitive multiplayer mode shows just how strong the gameplay truly is.
The gameplay in The Last Story is rewarding and rarely frustrating. Many of the annoyances that are usually found in JRPGs are nowhere to be seen. Usual frustrations of the genre like random encounters and steep difficulty curves are completely absent. The absence of these annoying aspects of JRPGs makes The Last Story even more fun to play.
To put it simply, The Last Story is simply the most innovative JRPG in years. The developers at Mistwalker Studios weren’t afraid to take a chance by making a completely new battle system. This seriously paid off. The battle system in The Last Story is like that of no other game. The gameplay in The Last Story makes the game stand out in the ever-crowded RPG genre.
JRPGs have always been famous for having great music, and The Last Story is no exception. As soon as you click on the game’s channel on the Wii menu, you are greeted by an absolutely beautiful melody. I honestly found myself taking a few extra moments to just listen to the music before actually playing the game. The Last Story was scored by Nobuo Uematsu, the same guy who scored most of the Final Fantasy series and Chrono Trigger. Although Uematsu’s work here might not be good as his work in other games, The Last Story still boasts one of the year’s best soundtracks.
Solid Voice Acting
The voice acting in The Last Story is done entirely by UK voice actors. The voice acting might sound weird at first, but it doesn’t take long to get adjusted to the variety of accents. It’s very well done, and really brings the game’s characters to life. Although most of the characters aren’t notable by themselves, the chemistry that all of the characters share adds some depth to the game. It’s especially easy to get attached to the game’s two biggest characters, Zael and Calista. The great voice acting for the two characters causes them to stand out among the rest of the game’s cast.
Unfortunately, there is not an option to play the game with the original Japanese audio, but the voice acting is good enough that the lack of Japanese audio is not overly noticeable.
The Last Story starts out overly simple. The battle system is ridiculously basic at the beginning of the game and it doesn’t completely open up for quite some time. The game holds your hand for the first several hours. For most of the first half of the game, combat really doesn’t involve much strategy or skill to complete. It’s not until the second half of the game that The Last Story’s fantastic qualities become apparent. The lack of difficulty in the first half of the game doesn’t rob it of greatness, but it can rob players of interest. It can take some time for the game to completely open up, but it really is something special when it does.
The Last Story does a lot of great things to separate itself from the crowd, but the game’s plot is not one of them. Ironically, The Last Story’s story is the game’s weakest attribute. The story has been done goodness knows how many times. The plot revolves around an orphaned boy who meets a princess with magical powers. The two must then save the world with the help of their rag-tag group of friends. The plot is full of all of the familiar twists that you would expect from a JRPG. I was literally able to predict the game’s final moments from around the same point that the game started. A few great characters help make up for the story’s lack of originality, but even they aren’t enough to keep the story fully enticing.
Ultimately, The Last Story’s unique gameplay makes it one of the best JRPGs in years and one of the best games on the Wii. The Last Story makes some missteps along the way, but it more than makes up for them in the long run. The Last Story feels very reminiscent of classic JRPGs while still remaining unique. In an industry that has lacked innovation in recent years, The Last Story manages to be one of the most innovative JRPGs ever made and is easily one of the best games of the year.