Pros: Well written characters with a story that wraps up everything by the end
Cons: Really held back by the Wii's hardware, cliche filled story, tedious final boss
The plot follows a band of mercenaries called to Lazulis Island by it's ruler, Count Arganan in an effort to solve the mysteries of why this land has been unaffected by the slow decay of the land. What follows is a well written, if cliche tale of Knights and Princesses with a Japanese twist. Everything about the plot is broadcast clear as day and few things will come as a surprise when it comes to light. What carries it are the characters, even if they are stereotypes they are well written and acted. The plot revolves around Zael's quest for Knighthood and his romance with Calista, princess of Lazulis. It is disappointing that Calista gets so little screen time and is often absent from the party, as she is a highlight of the cast.
The Last Story is short, clocking in at under 30 hours even with optional chapters thanks to being carefully scripted. Rarely is time wasted on trivial details on the critical path, resulting in a very focused experience. This is the perfect RPG for those who no longer have the time to spend on a 60 hour adventure.
I have to give special mention to the epilogue, even after beating the final boss, several bonus chapters remain, and whatever you do, do not skip them and go straight to the end, you will be missing out on a lot of story if you do. (Including one of my favorite scenes in a JRPG) Consult a guide if you have to as it isn't obvious how to access them all because it is worth it. Be sure to create a backup save file at this point, you will probably want to replay these chapters. I really want to say more, but I won't dare spoil it.
Tip one, turn off that accursed auto attack option and stick to manual attacking, you will thank me for that. Combat is in real time and provided you took my advice, plays much like a hack and slash. There isn't much depth here, but it is a very well developed combat system, the only thing holding it back is the Wii's hardware. The game employs summoning circles along the main path for those who want to grind, but it is never needed until the final boss, which feels unbalanced compared to the rest of the game. Weapon and armor upgrades show on your character and are fully customizable. If you don't like that new shoulder pad that the latest upgrade added, just disable it. Don't like the color of your shirt, change it at will.
Even for a Wii game the graphics aren't the greatest. Character models are better than expected, enemy models leave a lot to be desired. The framerate suffers from slowdown quite often, even when simply walking through town. Areas are cramped and few are visually impressive.
The British voice cast deliver a solid performance that is a perfect fit for the setting. Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack is superb. Dual Audio is sadly absent for those who like options.
While it falls short of it's pedigree, The Last Story offers a compelling experience that shouldn't be missed. Hopefully the ideas in this game are given a chance to shine in a sequel on the Wii U.
480p Widescreen running at an unstable 30fps
Played to completion in 28 hours on my Sharp 70LE732 with stock speakers