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The Last Story Review

Marshall Honorof | 20 Aug 2012 21:00
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As you level up Zael, you learn increasingly complex techniques, each of which requires a different combination of buttons to activate. Between running up walls, manipulating magic by diffusing area-of-effect fields, and luring specific targets away to pick them off separately, The Last Story keeps battles exciting without ever sacrificing strategic depth. This is particularly evident during the intense boss encounters, which usually require manipulating your surroundings to solve a puzzle in the midst of a chaotic fight.

Battles are usually lots of fun, but they can get messy very easily, with characters and monsters getting stuck on each other or behind scenery. As Zael you can hurtle over his companions or lure enemies away with ranged attacks to get around this, but by the time you've repositioned your party, half of your fighting force might already be KO'd. The controls for attacking from behind cover, performing special moves, and running up walls can be sticky at times, and although the camera is relatively helpful, targeting is never quite as clean as it should be.

While level-grinding can bring the game's challenge down somewhat, The Last Story takes a few very intelligent steps, such as eliminating random encounters and keeping respawning enemies to a minimum, to keep the focus on advancing the story rather than endlessly grinding the same monsters. The game has a plethora of sidequests to confer further experience and items for the game's robust upgrade system, but most are tedious fetch missions without helpful map waypoints or journal entries. Worse still, it's possible to miss some of the meatier sidequests entirely, omitting whole chapters from the game.

The game's high production values only add to The Last Story's strengths. The music, composed by industry veteran Nobuo Uematsu, begins with a haunting, mournful string arrangement, and ranges from the frenzied highs in battle to desolate lows during the story's sadder moments. Large, detailed character models, an impressive array of weapons and armor, and a palette that embraces both subtle earth tones and bright primary colors make this game one of the most attractive on the Wii. However, some of the level backgrounds and layouts are sparse at best and downright ugly at worst, while minor clipping issues during cutscenes can take you out of the experience.

The Last Story makes a few missteps, but they are eminently forgivable when weighed against the game's resounding creativity and memorable presentation. The Wii could have used a few more JRPGs like this during its heyday, but if there's only one last story to tell, it stands to reason that it should be one of the best.

Bottom Line: The Last Story isn't perfect, but its engaging characters and strong gameplay are more than enough to carry it through any rough patches.

Recommendation: If you like JRPGs and own a Wii, this one's a no-brainer. Action gamers looking for something a little more strategic would be wise to give it a try, too.

This review is based on the Wii version of the game.
Game: The Last Story
Genre: RPG
Developer: Mistwalker
Publisher: XSEED
Platform(s): Wii
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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