The lights are on
I know that I said my next review would be of Pandoras Tower, but I decided to review The Last Story first because a few of my fans (lol) asked me to write a review of it. I probably won't even be able to buy it on day one because I spent all my money on Xenoblade.
A complaint often leveled against The Last Story is it's cliched story, and it's a fair complaint. You save a princess pretending to be a commoner and get thrown in prison, defeat an evil king, get granted magical powers by a mysterious force and more.But the story isn't all bad, there are good characters that you're likely to get attached to over the course of the game, a good script that manages to make you laugh every now and again, relatively short cutscenes (That can be fast-forwarded, not just skipped) that convey what they want to quickly and effectively, and good pacing. It's like if someone decided that they wanted to make a cliched story, but they wanted to makethe best cliched story they could.The greatest strength of The Last Story is it's combat. It's in real time and combines action and strategy. You can set attacking to a button press or leave it how it is automatically, with you automatically attacking if you move the control stick in their direction. You get several abilities for combat, like running up a wall and then coming down on enemies (it can break magic circles as well), slashing an enemy after jumping out of cover, and countering. Most importantly, Gathering, which allows you to distract the enemies attention.
You also have a crossbow and several kinds of arrows, including your basic arrow that is unlimited, stun arrows that paralyze the enemy, Wizard Slayer arrows that are - guess what - very effective against mages and healers, explosive arrows that can be used to destroy things, and prank bananas that cause enemies to trip. They can also be used to trip random NPCs.You have four bars under your health bar, and over time in battle they quickly fill up. When one is filled up, you can use Gale, an attack that lets you dispel magic circles for various effects. When a spell is cast, wherever it hits leaves a magic circle, and based on the spell different effects are activated. When all four bars are full, you can use command mode. It pauses the battle and lets you tell your allies what to do, and they execute it much faster than they would on their own. they have two standard attacks, a very powerful Spirit attack that can only be used when their Spirit gauge is full, and retreat, allowing them to jump back to a healer.
You can sometimes use the environment against enemies, for instance you can order a mage to attack a stalactite and bring it down on the enemies, or destroy a bridge that archers are shooting at you from. This is very underutilized though, and when you can they almost always make sure to tell you.Friendly AI is good, I never noticed them do anything stupid. When wounded they would try to get back to a healing circle, and they'd usually target enemies that made sense to target.You get a steady flow of new powers, but it practically stops about two thirds into the game. On the bright side, there are plenty of weapons that are actually different. Almost every sword has some sort of ability that makes it worth keeping around, instead of just giving your party members the weapons that completely outclass the other weapons and selling all the others.
Each group of enemies you fight (the Gurak and Reptids) has a few types that you'll fight often. Archers, mages, standard enemies, and a strong enemy. For the Reptids, Reptid Gladiators. For the Gurak, Ogres. In addition to those, you'll also fight giant spiders, mounted enemies (you can steal their 'horses' after knocking them down, too), and a large number of boss battles. There's everything from an almost invulnerable vampire to imitations of your party to 1 vs. 1 sword fights, and several others.
I'd recommend playing with the Classic Controller Pro. For the most part both control schemes are the same, but only the CCP has vertical camera movement. If you don't have a CCP, the Wii Remote+Nunchuk work well enough. The CCP only affords a large advantage in multiplayer on a few maps.
Speaking of the camera, it seems to glitch out from time to time. I'll be trying to turn, and strangely enough the camera stops moving any further.
There's also a cover system, useful for shooting enemies from relative safety. You enter and leave cover by pushing A and can aim or jump out and attack from there. There's also the option to switch to a nearby piece of cover.
It looks good, especially the character models. The environments are detailed as well, and the magic circles and other effects look great. There is a problem with slowdown, usually when there are a lot of magic circles and enemies on screen, but in my experience it was rarely enough to inhibit playing the game.
The Last Story took me about 20 hours to beat, and to add to that there is a new game + and multiplayer. When playing the NG+, most enemies are the same, but Ogres and Gladiators, as well as bosses are made much stronger. It also enables further upgrading of your weapons. The multiplayer is playable with 2-6 players and has co-op, Team Deathmatch and Death Match. All stats are made the same, so you don't need to worry about not having beaten the game 20 times and gotten to level 1000 before playing.The co-op pits a group of players against a powered up boss, and Deathmatch has players vote for a map and more votes giving it a better chance of being selected. There doesn't seem to be much lag unless you're the host, and I haven't noticed any balance problems. None of the characters seem to be abnormally popular, and each of them has some kind of disadvantage compared to others. Different types of arrows and weapons spawn on the map and can be picked up, and arrows can be collected by shooting them with arrows.
Nice! I freaking love the combat in this game.
Great review, man! If my Wii hadn't crapped out, I'd play this.