The Last Story

It was the game we Wii users were all waiting for. February 24th. “The Last Story” has finally been released.

It’s been a long time coming, a new RPG for the Wii that wasn’t a Zelda game, and by Hironobu Sakaguchi – the father of the “Final Fantasy” series.

However, it almost pains me to say it, but I didn’t find that the game ‘was all that’. Some elements of the story I’d seen before, some parts even mirroring games that I’ve played before – games produced by Sakaguchi himself. I expected more. A lot more.

As the opening story sequence begins the first thing you notice is the graphics. They aren’t great, they are reminiscent of a Playstation 2 game, and an early one at that. It’s very pixellated and blocky. Although I’m still debating whether that’s because the game has been produced on the Wii, which has no HD capability, or if the game was left that unpolished.

Then, you hear the voices of the characters… they all sound like they’re from different areas of Britain, which is great – except their voices are very bland. For instance, if there’s an enemy running up behind you, you’d like to hope there’s some urgency in the voices of your comrades, but there isn’t any. The voice acting is devoid of nearly all emotion. There isn’t even an option to change the voice language.

If you’ve ever played Final Fantasy IX, you will instantly make the connection between Garnet/Dagger, and Calista. They are both users of “White Magic”, both sheltered members of a Royal Family, knowing little to nothing of the world outside their castle. Both are taken in by a ‘gang’ – Garnet by Tantalus (a band of thieves) and Calista by a bunch of mercenaries. They both end up going on a grand adventure around the world, and let’s not forget to mention that Calista instantly falls in love with Zael, it’s almost painfully obvious. It’s almost as if they recycled Garnet as if nobody would remember her.

Anyway that being said, after the first five or six hours, the game gets pretty decent… if you can look past some of the many flaws.

After the opening sequence and once you gain control of Zael (the only character you can control for a VERY long time), the tutorials explain how to move and vault over obstacles, the basic game mechanics. You can even vault over your allies if they’re in your way, which is pretty awesome!

Then you get to the battle tutorials… have you ever tried battling with the same analogue stick that you use to move? It’s difficult. It was so difficult that I had to change the settings to make “Attack” the “A” button, but in doing so, Zael’s attack power automatically decreases! Way to hinder your players. But with a flourish here, and spells being cast there, it’s easy to enjoy the fast paced battles.

As you play through the tutorials, you get taught that you can direct your mages to blow up bridges and other constructs which prevent a continuous supply of enemies from thrashing your team. I have to admit, that’s really neat and one of the more strategy based elements of the game.

Before the conclusion of Chapter one, Zael gets his “Gathering” ability which draws the attention of all the enemies to himself and this makes him the sole target of enemies (except bosses). This ability is a double edged sword – your mages now are safe to cast spells to their hearts content, but Zael’s health and defence stats aren’t that great, so when you use the “Gathering” ability – keep an eye on his health!

The game really steps up a gear with the introduction of Zael’s Gale ability. When a mage casts a spell, it leaves a residual magic circle, and if Zael uses his Gale ability inside the magic circle, the effects “Disperse”. For example, if Calista casts a healing spell, only characters contained by the circle will get healed, but should Zael use Gale inside the circle, everybody in the party gets healed, although the healing effects are reduced. There are many different Dispersion effects depending on the residual spell circle, these range from dealing damage, inflicting hindering status effects on enemies, to healing the team, then there are overlap Dispersions… it gets pretty complex, but, you get the hang of it quickly.

The game is divided into a series of “Chapters” and until you get to Chapter 15/16 (which sees gaming time clock up to about 7 or 8 hours) prepare to be bored, frustrated or an unhealthy combination of the two. “The Last Story” does turn around… Eventually. And when it does, prepare to lose yourself in a pretty decent game. Before you know it, the birds are singing outside and you’ve spent 10 hours gaming straight.