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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 24 February 2012
Last Story is from the creator / father of the Final Fantasy series, and it really shines through - this is a classic style JRPG set in a beautiful world (even with Wii graphics!) and I enjoy playing it a lot.

I've been playing the asian version for a while now, and decided to base my review from that since it's excellent.

SOUND / MUSIC :
The sound design / score is done by the japanese composer who worked on the final fantasy series, so expect beautiful piano style scores and a wonderful mix of emotive music while playing. The character themes are great, and the main theme song of the game is fantastic. I would recommend getting this limited edition for the soundtrack CD alone!

STORY :
Very typical (some may say cliche) to the JRPG's of old, classic setting up of a troubled, orphaned mercenary who dreams of a better life, his gang of upbeat friends and of course, the lovely princess who has a lot of secrets. All mixed together in an overarching plot that features twists and turns and evil oppressors. It all feels very familiar but in a 'coming home after a long trip' kind of way. Very nostalgic to the earlier JRPG's such as the FF7-FF9.

The only down side to the story, is the main quest only lasting about 18-20 hours. If you add in all the side quests though there is easily 40+ hours here, and I havent even tried the multiplayer. The story is somewhat lacking in the usual 'fluff' and long dialogue scenes that are typical to this genre, favoring a faster paced and more action orientated story. There is never a dull moment and honestly, the story is fantastic. It will not disappoint, even though it's only 20 hours.

GAMEPLAY:
The combat system is awesome, the best I've seen on the Wii and probably in any RPG for some time. It's new, fresh and revolves around a real time system of covering, blocking, dodging and attacking much like an action RPG such as demon's souls. It's a welcome addition in a somewhat stagnated genre. If you enjoyed fighting mechanics in games such as Xenoblade on the Wii, be prepared for something a little more challenging and fun here. The other elements are your typical JRPG goodness, exploration is nice and the areas are vast filled with sidequests and some great little mini plots. You can customize all of your stats and the combat system goes way deeper than I care to display here, alongside customizing the look of your characters equipment which is great too.

WORLD / GRAPHICS:
For a Wii game, dont expect mind blowing HD visuals... but do expect a competent, VERY nice art style and a believable world. Most of the game takes place in the hub world city, with varying landscapes surrounding such as volcanic regions, forrests, castles and tombs. There are also some sections that take place on the open sea which was nice.

OVERALL:

This will hit home for classic JRPG fans, more likely ones who enjoyed games around the PS1 era, A must by for final fantasy fans, as the series creator definitely left his mark here. The game feels so authentic and confident in it's execution, the sound of the world is probably my favorite part. Couple this with great combat and a great story - it's a winner.
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on 3 March 2012
If one wants an illustration of what a good collector's / limited / special edition of a video game should be then The Last Story on the Wii provides a magnificent example! For £10 more than the standard edition asking price (though I ordered my copy when it was even less at £8) you get a considerable amount of added value. What's more, it's a beautiful antidote to many other so-called 'limited editions' of video games where they think that 'exclusive downloadable content' like weapons, armour, map packs e.t.c. somehow constitutes towards a good release, often being used as justification for an average £20-30 price spike on top of the original £40 RRP.

Those of you who are reading this are probably already aware of what the extra items are that are included in this release, but just to be boring I will reiterate the information because it's so much fun to do so!

* The standard white Wii game case that contains the game disc and an english
language instruction booklet (amongst other bits & bobs of paraphernalia)
* A hardback art / illustration book that is roughly the same size as a CD case
* A soundtrack CD that contains selected highlights from the game's superb
soundtrack (the disc is contained in a CD case with its own artwork)
* A superbly designed steelbook case that can house both the OST CD and the game
DVD (the artwork on this case is wonderful incidentally)
* A beefy instruction manual (sure, much of it are the same instructions expressed
through different European languages, but when it's as substantial in size and
weight as it is, you can't help but admire (and remember) what traditional game
manuals use to be like! It smells good as well!)

ADDITIONAL: It's also worth mentioning that the art / illustration book and soundtrack CD are both contained in a seperate and nicely presented box together titled 'The Elements of The Last Story'.

This limited editon is a very, very good one, be there no doubt about that. What enhances it further is the more-than-reasonable extra charge that goes with it. It also reminds me how good physical products can be, and this release raises further questions as to how the dreaded dystopian nightmare of a 'download-only' future will compensate for products of this nature and quality.

As for the game itself it's pretty good in my opinion. For traditional gamers (especially for those of us who gain great pleasure from the JRPG genre) this is (probably) like opium. It mixes traditional sensibilities with more modern gameplay design mechanics. Surprisingly the voice acting is very, very good; Japanese animè / manga character designs and British voice acting shouldn't work, but here it manages to do so. Very peculiar (in a good way as far as I'm concerned). The combat system is excellent in my opinion, as is the soundtrack. Relatively decent graphics as well. I personally prefer Xenoblade Chronicles, but having said that I'd certainly choose The Last Story ahead of Final Fantasy XIII-2.

So, do I recommend the purchase of this game? Absolutely.
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on 10 March 2012
I purchased this game for my teenage son which he received this morning and he's been playing it non stop for 13 hours and is addicted to it. The graphics are excellent, controls and sound are also superb. The limited edition is pretty cool, comes with a soundtrack cd, a really nice steel case for the game disc and soundtrack cd, an art book and a full instructions booklet.
In my opionion i think the limited edition is well worth the extra ten quid and would make a really cool gift for any teenagers and adult gamers!
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on 9 April 2012
I could wax lyrical about this game forever. It is absolutely fantastic! I picked up the Limited Edition, which is very reasonably priced when the going rate for games is steadily on the up. All the elements of the Limited Edition: Steel box, art book, soundtrack (worth the extra money alone for this! Uematsu is an amazing composer!) etc are all wonderful. The pack is robust, weighty and was a delight to open.

As for the game; well, I just finished it. It is fantastic! Great combat system, really intuitive and cinematic, always different; with enough variation that you can approach each battle with various strategic mindsets. The sheer flexibility available is enough to sell this game - especially when RPGs do tend to be a bit of a copy/paste genre. But coupled with great art, great graphics for the Wii, customization, a breathtaking soundtrack, ENGLISH voice acting which is just top-notch and a system that constantly rewards you for your time - it is an absolute must own. Even better, the story is wonderfully non-linear unlike the recent iterations of the Final Fantasy series (which might as well have been on the rails for all the exploration it allowed you.)

As a final note; if you like adventure/RPGs, want something robust, with a challenging but not overwhelming difficulty incline and beautifully crafted that will give you a solid 20-40 hours game play depending on how fast you take it, then this game is an absolute MUST.

Just starting up my new-game+ file... Good gaming times ahead :D
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on 15 July 2012
The Last Story is a tale of mercenaries with a dream of being knights. The story unfolds on Lazulis Island. A fortified city located in between two warring continents. The story begins with the group of mercenaries trying to increase their standing, but it quickly escalates into a quest to find the reason behind the worlds decay. It's the latest RPG from Mistwalker, the studio behind the Xbox 360 epic Lost Odyssey and the Blue Dragon series. The Last Story is the first game Hironobu Sakaguchi has directed in 20 years. It represents a distinct departure from the traditional turn based titles of his past as he steps into the faster paced world of Action RPGs. Is this quicker, leaner style of game, a natural fit for the Maestro behind Final Fantasy or is it just one step too far.

Well let's start with the important bit, the battle system. For the majority of the game you will be controlling wannabe knight Zael. Before you even take control of the plucky hero, you should choose whether he auto-attacks by tilting the analogue stick or attacks manually via a button press. I've tried out both control setups and they seem pretty much equally effective. The only issue with auto-attack is sometimes when a posse of enemies surround you, the game struggles to differentiate between attacks and movement. Once you've decided which control method to use, it's not just a case of slashing away. There's a combo system at play, the basic idea behind it is, if you attack as a team you cause more damage than attacking alone. To increase your combo, you need to alternate attacking an enemy with a party member. You attack, he attacks, you attack, and then he attacks, and so on. If one of you attacks twice in a row the combo is broken.

From combos to cover systems. Yes, The Last Story has a cover system but it's not used in the way you would usually expect. Most games that use cover systems use them in a passive way, whether it's to avoid enemy fire or to employ stealth. The cover system The Last Story uses is clearly an offensive tool. It is best used when you've got a small army of Orcs trying to eat Zael's spiky head, because if you dive into cover they suddenly have no idea where you are. They become confused and are left susceptible to critical hits. It's not very realistic but then again neither was three chaps standing in a line playing Russian roulette with a dragon.

Near the beginning of the game Zael obtains the power of the Outsider, don't worry kids it's not a spoiler it happens within the first 20 minutes of the game. A large portion of the battle system revolves around making use of this ability as it allows you to revive party members up to 5 times. Outsiders seem a lot like genies with the whole arbitrary number of wishes deal. More importantly the Outsider enables you to draw the attention of all nearby enemies. Distracting enemies and absorbing their blows allows Zael to increase his attack power, and greatly reduces the amount of time it takes for party members to cast spells. You do have to be careful though Zael isn't invincible, when you use the Outsider you tend to become surrounded very quickly which amplifies enemy damage. The key to success in The Last Story is keeping your allies alive, good movement, using cover well and dispelling magic circles.

Speaking of which when someone casts a spell, residual magic is left behind on the ground. The remnants of these spells have both a status and elemental effect. To make use of the element left behind by the spell, you simply attack while Zael is inside the magic circle. To make use of the status effect requires you to dispel the magic circle, Zael has two abilities that can do this. The first is the vertical slice which sees him run clean up a wall and attack an enemy from above, yeah you read that right Zael makes Jackie Chan look like a pensioner... who's not Jackie Chan. The second is a move called gale which sees Zael swoop across the battlefield it's easier to use but requires 1 bar of the skill gauge. The skill gauge is the equivalent of an MP system. It recovers over time and allows you to use Gale and Party Commands. Each party member has two specific actions and a special move. They will only use special moves when you tell them to. It's a simplistic system that's main purpose is to avoid party members healing an enemy, which absorbs a particular element.

The one downside to this system is it takes a while to get used to, not because it's overly complex but because the tutorial is one of the worst I've ever seen in a game. First of all it's overly long and secondly there is no real reward or consequence for following or ignoring the instructions. This means you don't take what the game is telling you in. The idea of a tutorial is for the player to get to grips with the controls and the game's concepts. It absolutely fails at this. Then quite suddenly at about the five hour mark, the developers take the stabilisers off. It goes from do whatever you want, to start using all of your abilities now or die, in the blink of an eye. It's a difficulty spike that relies on you having paid attention to the tutorial, which you almost certainly haven't. Complaints about the first five hours aside it is a really fun and engaging battle system. As the game progresses it just gets better and better, culminating in one of the best final boss battles this gen.

Other than the battle system the one thing that Mistwalker really nailed is the characters. On paper there really isn't anything special about them. If I were to ask you to describe the seven different types of character most commonly found in JRPGs. Chances are the descriptions you'd give me, would be identical to that of The Last Story's cast. It's not who the characters are that's the interesting bit, it's how they interact. The balance in the script between humour and drama is excellent. It is so easy to get that balance wrong (If you're interested in seeing a game fail this balancing act spectacularly check out No More Heroes 2). The characters really do feel like a group of friends, no one seems like they're straight out of a bad anime, they just feel and sound like normal human beings. The localisation team really needs to be congratulated. British voice acting in combination with a Japanese game can so easily not mesh well and end up sounding completely alien but to their credit, in The Last Story it fits snug as a glove. The one issue with the characters chatter is that sometimes it gets cut off, due to the next scene being triggered. My advice is to wait until the characters have finished talking before moving through an area.

The quality of the characters is almost matched by the world they inhabit. Lazulis City is beautifully constructed. It feels like a character in itself. The way the city changes as the story progresses is very nice to see. You really do get the sense that people are going about their daily business and it really feels like a living, breathing town. From a technical stand point Lazulis City is also very impressive. My number one complaint with Mistwalker's previous game, Lost Odyssey, was the sheer volume of loading screens. They were everywhere; you couldn't walk down a back alley without encountering one. So I was pleasantly surprised when I first started exploring Lazulis City I found that this huge detailed area didn't feature a single loading screen. You won't spend all your time on Lazulis Island but it is the main hub and focal point. The game is divided into chapters and it's structured so that you will complete a handful of chapters then return to the Island before heading out on another quest. The city itself features shops, side-quests, treasure hunts and the arena. The attention to detail is a really nice touch from Zael banging his head on signs to knocking over baskets of fruit in the market.

Almost every part of the games presentation is first class. The character designs are really well done, the art direction looks like Lord of the rings and Final Fantasy IX had a baby. The animation in particular is of a very high quality. The way that characters react to walls and narrow passages is a level of detail you rarely see in games. The music is another highlight but it's the ever reliable Nobuo Uematsu at the helm. Mistwalker stop getting points for that now. It feels similar but different to his usual work, you can definitely feel the final fantasy influence in some of the boss music but for the most part it feels like a different direction. It sounds more like a movie soundtrack, slightly more subdued than usual. The main theme 'Toberu Mono' is the stand out piece and it's used to great effect. There must be five different variations of the song used within the game. I did say `almost' every part of the presentation is top draw because there are two aspects that are not so nice. The first is the frame rate which takes a considerable drop from time to time. This mostly occurs in cut-scenes where the game is obviously pushing the Wii to its limit. It's not terrible but it is definitely noticeable. The second issue is that some of the dialogue is lip synced but other parts well aren't. There are a few occasions where characters will just sort of stop mid-dialogue and do a pedo stare(General Asthar and Zael in particular), which is a little bit odd.

So far I've mostly had high praise for The Last Story but there is a snag that prevents it from becoming an all time classic, and that snag is the plot. The reviews I've read criticize it for being cliched. I don't think the cliches are the issue. The problem is the flow of the story, it felt a bit too much like they'd cut out scenes from the Final Fantasy series and sewn them back together into a deformed quilt. If you've played Final Fantasy I through X you end up getting distracted by the number of nods to the series. Instead of being completely invested in the characters and the story, I was busy playing guess the Homage. This is a real shame because the characters really are well written and acted. It just feels like the scenes and plot were picked up from the Square-Enix recycling centre.

Talking of recycling though there are a couple of reasons to play this game again, there's the new game plus where each of the bosses have a significant leap in difficulty. Also it's worth making sure you haven't missed any of the optional chapters. I completely missed the Epilogue on my first play through and the extra scenes are definitely worth seeing. There is also an online mode which is ok but nothing to write home about. It includes standard death match and co-op boss fights but it suffers from the same problem as Battalion Wars 2, it's fun but the community is pretty much dead.

So did Sakaguchi and co succeed in their experiment? Well to an extent, yes. The battle system is fresh and innovative but for some reason, the developer's successful combat experiments had to be tempered with stories so stale, fungi and plant life have been spotted growing on them. This is a fun game but it could so very easily have been a truly great game. The Last Story feels like a final farewell to the Final Fantasy series and maybe even a goodbye to turn based battle systems as well. It may not be the flawless masterpiece we hoped for but it does seem like a first stepping stone onto something special. Hopefully The Next Story will be a perfect combination of Lost Odyssey's beautiful storytelling and The Last Story's exciting battle system.
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on 12 January 2013
Pros:

- A Classic tale filled with elements you'd expect but very elegantly delivered and very memorable;
- Well developer cast of characters and Romance;
- The main town hub is filled with detail and content, it has a soothing charm to it;
- Memorable soundtrack, and one of Uematsu's most distinct and best works;
- The versatile real time battle system is very rewarding, intelligent and progressive through the campaign;
- Battles are always delivered in the context of the story so each battle plays out in an unique way, leveling is executed well accordingly to that mechanic and Summon Circles make grinding an optional and always available feature;
- Unique visual style is well complemented by the rich environments inside of the town;
- Lots of good gameplay integration such as inspection mode and context sensitive actions to enhance interactivity;
- Intelligent new game plus scales only bosses for greater challenge and adds new items and materials to scavenge and upgrade our equipment even further;
- Properly made Epilogue wraps up all the story and moments of the game in a conclusive and memorable fashion.

Cons:

- The game's engine somewhat holds back the ambitions of the battle system, needed more fluidity in its animations;
- Visuals while unique and beautiful on its own can strike an unimpressive first impressive due to its natural bleakness.
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on 7 April 2013
A must have for people who have an interest in Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy.

The graphics are stunning for the Wii console and the music is stunning (which you can have as a soundtrack in the limited edition). The artbook is tiny and only has the basic character designs, but it's still a nifty little collectible and good for references. To top it all off you have a shiny steelcase cover with pretty illustrations.

The game itself is very enjoyable with a good playtime length. The humour is very witty and light hearted but the story also has quite emotional moments to pull your heartstrings. The only downside is the wii mote not being used to it's full potential. The wii mote is not used as a sword due to the fighting system attacking automatically, you only control the movement of the character with the joystick and select special attacks (similar to final fantasy: Crisis Core and Kingdom Hearts).
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on 2 April 2012
Simply put, this is the best way to buy this game.

You get a top-notch bundle with:
1) a great steel case for both the game and the soundtrack (normal case ALSO included for the game AND the soundtrack);
2) a nice art-book (comes in a CD sized squared box, which also fits the soundtrack CD inside);
3) 7 track (could be more) soundtrack CD by Uematsu;
4) you even get the a second instructions manual, similar to the original one but with different languages (it's big, can't be put inside the game box);
5) the game of course, as mentioned comes in it's original simple Wii case. You decide which case you want to use

You can definitely feel the love on this limited edition.
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on 17 April 2012
I have to say this is one of the best games I've played to this day. With its amazing storyline, enchanting soundtrack, exhilarating gameplay and spectacular graphics for the WII it would be wrong of me not to give this a 5* rating. The only thing I would say was a minor negative is that it lagged right at the end. Haha, the created a game that overdid the WII its self.

The special edition pack includes: The game, a really thick multi lingual instruction book, a collectors aliminium case, the premium soundtrack and an amazing art book.

Even if your not a final fantasy fan, this is a must have game for the WII and you will be seriously missing out if you choose not to purchase it.
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on 15 April 2012
The Last story is a good game and fun for hours. After the Xenoblade Chronicles the game seemed a little short but nevertheless addicting and there was a lot to do besides the main quest. Each character has skills that can be used for combining with others. That gives a little variation to tactics on what to use in combat but to my taste there could have been few more skills per character. After the first game you can continue to a new game where the level cap rises on monsters and tactic becomes more important than just the basic bashing.

Besides the few rough dialogue scenes and lack of character skills the game was good one an a must buy for a rpg fan.
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