A new game from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi these days is something of an event. Freed from the often-formulaic shackles of his best-known creation, his recent efforts have all had the air of a creator happy to be experimenting again – and Wii-exclusive The Last Story is definitely experimental.
For one, it’s faster-paced than might be expected. The battle system sits midway between automated – you merely need to approach an enemy to attack automatically – and considered, where strategic overlays offer variable approaches to combat. Stealth elements play a large part too, allowing opportunity to ambush from afar or scope out your surroundings. For example, you may choose to destroy a support pillar with a fireball to kill a room full of enemies, rather than wade into battle one on one.
The dancing through menus expected of J-RPGs is present, but minimal – you’ll likely spend more time navigating them to try-out customisable colour schemes for your party than you will dithering about with statistics. Everything about The Last Story is designed to refine the RPG experience into a smooth and streamlined new form, one less anachronistic than its peers.
One area that’s definitely not taking any risks though is the story, a fairly typical mix of Japanese RPG tropes. Young mercenary Zael travels the world with his friends, uncovering both a secret power within himself and a dire threat to all that lives. While it’s not innovative, it’s a serviceable and well-written example of the genre.
It’s lamentable that the game is not high-def, as Sakaguchi’s team have created easily one of the best looking games on the Wii, full of imaginative locales and bustling cities, plus a glorious musical score from composer Nobuo Uematsu. With its speedy combat and robust adventure, it’s also one of the finest releases players are likely to find in the twilight days of the console – a must for Wii owners.
Reviewed by Matt Kamen