Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Last Story: a Final Fantasy Parody?

The Last Story


JRPGs has experienced some amazing, even record-breaking success over the years. Since the 1980's to, well, roughly around 2003 or so, JRPG seemed like they could do no wrong. Of course, Final Fantasy was the main flagship of the genre, and for good reason. But what we've seen over the last few years, perhaps starting with Final Fantasy 12 is that the franchise has been in somewhat of a slump. And with a Goliath like Final Fantasy plumit the way it has many wondered if JRPGs simply lacked what gamers want in a video game these days. The Last Story definitely alleviates any worries and notions that the genre has gone stale. Should you buy it? Yes. New, used, or rented, you should get your hands on this game. And here's why.

The Last Story Trailer Youtube vid by IGN






The Last Story Western or Eastern RPG?


The Last Story is a culmination and conglomeration of the best JRPGs have to offer with a few Western twists here and there that create a fresh-feeling experiences while staying true to what makes JRPGs so memorable and satisfying.

The Last Story Characters and Development


The plot of The Last Story revolves around Zael and his pals, a few light-hearted, charming swords-for-hire. Like any good plot, this group of supposedly average Joes end up in events and circumstances much bigger than anything they could imagine. Nothing very new there, that's the basic formula for most RPGs. But what The Last Story does so well is character development, something that should be a staple for just about any RPG. Players will learn more and more about the characters and what makes them tick. Yes, like many RPGs some of the characteristics and backgrounds can be a bit cliche, but The Last Story manages to make you care about the characters, most of them for entirely different reasons than their companions.

The Last Story Interactions


The protagonists in The Last Story aren't exactly mysterious and compelling on their own. What makes them stand out and feel organic is their interactions with the other characters. They have real chemistry. When they have a heart-to-heart it feels genuine and not forced. When they simply banter it works in a believable way, not trying too hard like many other games. When they fight and argue there is a sense of realism. One can't help but think of the times when they fought with someone and how they felt.

The Last Story Battle System


Now, let's get into the main selling point of the game, and arguably the most apparent mix and mash of Western and Japanese influences. The combat in The Last Story is unique to most JRPGs. It's real time. The heroes will still hack at opponents, cast spells, etc, all with those numbers appearing out of thin are JRPGs are known for to indicate how much damage is being dealt. Doesn't seem very new and exciting on the surface, but I'll get to the best part.

The Last Story System Game Mechanics


You want to attack with your sword? Point towards the intended target and the character will start slashing away. Or, simply hide behind cover and snipe the monster in the head with your trusty crossbow with different properties such as poison. Lure an unsuspecting enemy away from the crowd and kill him with a stealth attack.

While battling in the traditional JRPG style, running around and trading blows, you'll soon learn Zeal and his friends are somewhat smarter than the heroes of games such as Final Fantasy, and approach battles with a more Western approach to RPGs. They can block attacks, even dodge them, and use the environment to their advantage such as knocking over crumbling walls or pillars on a group of monsters. Vault over obstacles in your way. Even run up a wall like a ninja, brace, and launch yourself off the wall for an awesome areal attack on the towering monster's head and neck.

The Last Story Gameplay Trailer Youtube by NintenDaanNC



The Last Story Abilities


Like any true RPG, Zael and his compadres will learn new abilities to aid them in battle. About halfway through the game you'll feel almost unstoppable. One of my favorite things about the combat system is the execution itself. Say you cast a fire spell. It hits its mark and a ring forms around the monster. If Zael and his pals are within the ring's borders, they gain the elemental power to their standard weapons. This works for any number of spells, from damage spells to healing spells.

Is the Last Story too Short for an RPG?


Let's face it. Many of us don't have 100+ hours to spend beating a game, finding all the secrets, getting all the best items, leveling the characters into demi-gods, and completing hundreds of quests. And while The Last Story has a fair number of quests to complete and things to do, you can expect to beat this game in about 18-25 hours. Quite possibly less if you're good and even faster with the New Game Plus mode in which you can play the game again only with your beefed-up characters. Some may like the relatively short length for an RPG, especially a JRPG, and others won't. How much time do you have?

The Last Story Multiplayer


This game has multiplayer. WHAAA? Actually, it may be a bit of a disappointment for those looking for furious, chaotic mayhem. If this is you, go back to your online shooters. For others, this may be one of the best features of the game, provided the servers pick up a bit more. But kudos to The Last Story for being one of the first to really give it a go with a JRPG. Players can fight against bosses with friends, up to five others. Or thrown down in Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch.

The Last Story Final Verdict


As you can see, The Last Story is overall a very solid and fresh spin to the traditional JRPG. And it's more than welcome to stay and make itself comfortable in my opinion. I just hope future RPGs have the guts to try something unconventional and take a few risks here and there in the future. There are, however, a few problems. The camera in The Last Story can be atrocious at times. For the love of God, science, whatever you worship, don't get pinned against a wall or corner as you won't know what the heck is happening other than you're getting your rear handed to you. There's some lag in parts of the game. And there were a few instances when the controls didn't work the way they were supposed to. But in all, this is a game worth looking into and one of the best for the Nintendo Wii. The Last Story earns an 8 out of 10.

You Decide


A small bonus for those who made it this far :p  The man behind The Last Story Hironobu Sakaguchi, yes, all hail the legendary mind behind the creation of Final Fantasy, has been accused (jokingly in most cases) that The Last Story is simply a spoof of Final Fantasy. Even he has jokingly made some comparisons, from the title, to the characters and plot, to the overall gameplay. However, in the long run, The Last Story is its own game, separate and distinct (For the reasons listed above, among others I didn't mention in the interest of saving the reader's time) from Final Fantasy. But for those who have played the game, what do you think? Leave a comment below. Is The Last Story its own thing? Or does it rely too heavily on the brainchild of Hironobu Sakaguchi? I gave my opinion, let's hear yours. And for those who haven't played the game yet, give it a try and decide for yourselves.

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