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The Last Story
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Last Story is an action role-playing game for Wii with plenty of frenetic, non-bloody combat. The steady violence combines with some light sexual overtones, frequent reference to alcohol and intoxication, and mild profanity to make this a game suitable for teens and older audiences. The narrative revolves around a group of soldiers for hire, but they are good-natured and generally motivated to do the right thing when presented with hard decisions. They sometimes find themselves at odds with one another, but prove loyal friends in the end.
The Last Story has an invigorating story including well-developed characters avoiding any cliched cookie-cutter personalities seen in other RPGs. Kids will explore themes of unity, redemption, political intrigue and the importance of samaritanism.
Creator of Final Fantasy graces the dying Wii with another stellar RPG; perfect for teens.
As I said in my review of fellow RPG Xenoblade Chronicles, I'm a member of the RPG localization movement Operation Rainfall, which helped show Nintendo that there was a demand for this game and Pandora's Tower as well. While a US release for the latter is up in the air, The Last Story, on the other hand, has finally made it over here courtesy of XSEED Games. Europe's had this one since February of this year, and it's hard not to see why the gaming press over there has rated this one so highly: it's the first game directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, since Final Fantasy V - first released in Japan almost twenty years ago. Sakaguchi's overseen games such as Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, etc. with his studio Mistwalker, and like those titles, The Last Story oozes quality throughout. Although it's a relatively short RPG, especially compared to Xenoblade Chronicles (its companion piece of sorts), it nevertheless has many elements that make it an extremely worthwhile purchase for lovers of the genre and Wii owners looking for one last game. You're Zael, a mercenary swordsman who dreams of becoming a knight later on in life, and you meet an entertaining but somewhat cliched cast of characters, from your ragtag mercenary friends (leader Dagran, drunkard Syrenne, rookie Yurick, womanizing Lowell and mysterious Mirania) to outright royalty (your main love interest is the Count's niece Calista). The main focus of this RPG is the action, and there's plenty of it. The battle system is an odd but satisfying mix of elements from strategy RPGs, straight-up action games, and third-person shooters. However, do be sure to turn auto-attack off in the settings, as it gives players more sense of control. The Last Story is brilliant in other aspects as well. The graphics and art direction are extremely high-quality, and the cutscenes seamlessly weave into the game. Like Xenoblade, it has an all-British voice cast, and this gives the game a genuine sense of charm, especially with rambunctious characters such as Syrenne. Nobuo Uematsu, another well-known Final Fantasy alum, puts his musical skills in full force here as well. Plus, all first-print copies of The Last Story are nicely packaged limited editions that feature an artbook, which is surprising in the best way possible. In all, The Last Story is yet another five-star game for the Wii that is worth a look. The T rating can be attributed to several things. First and foremost, the violence, while fast-paced and clearly fantastical, can get quite realistic at times, especially in two cutscenes. The first depicts a soldier getting shot by an arrow, and the second features soldiers attacking several civilians. However, all of the violence in this game is bloodless (enemies always disappear in a cloud of black dust) and has a place in the underlying story. In the sexual arena, there's quite a bit of smooth-talking and flirting. Also, in one part of the game, you can overhear a conversation going on in a bathtub about a character being "well-endowed". You can also go inside the bath, and while you don't see anything, you do hear one of the characters calling you a "big pervert". Like Xenoblade, you have the option of making your female characters as scantily clad as possible if you wished. Language is pretty raw at times, with not only "d*mn" and "h*ll," but also frequent use of "b*st*rd", "p*ssed", and "*ss", and one use each of "*sshole" and "sh*t". Syrenne is the epitome of a drunk, albeit in a comic fashion, and she uses phrases like "Oi, barman! Give us the strongest booze you've got!" and "Look, I'm as sober as...whatever's...normally sober!" Still, for those looking for a cure to the common game, The Last Story is definitely worth $50. Better get it quickly, however, because this game will become rare fast!
Players take on the role of Zael, a mercenary with grander aspirations, in the action role-playing game THE LAST STORY. Designed by famed gamesmith Hironobu Sakaguchi and scored by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu -- the pair behind several of the most memorable entries in the Final Fantasy franchise -- this fantastical tale tackles everything from taboo romances and simple side-quests to warring states and the fate of a planet. Players spend their time chatting with others, engaging in fast-paced real-time battles, and collecting and swapping out gear in a constant quest for character improvement. The game also includes an online mode in which players can connect with friends or strangers, either battling each other or teaming up to take on extremely powerful foes.
Is It Any Good?
The Last Story is recognizably Japanese in both design and execution. Expect spiky-haired protagonists, massive swords, occasionally syrupy dialogue, and a plot in which the very world is at stake. However, it's also possessed of some Western game sensibilities. The characters are at times a bit grittier than you might expect, and the combat takes place in real time (even if players don't always have direct control over each and every strike). Plus, the game is loaded with side-quests that lend a richness and depth to the world and its people that's sometimes lacking in Japanese RPGs. It's an interesting blend that may lure in players who haven't taken to Eastern role-playing games in the past.
That said, it's a pretty linear experience, and the action begins to border on repetitive midway through. Players not invested in the narrative may find it difficult to see the game through to the end. Regardless, it's a welcome entry in a genre that has been sorely underrepresented on Nintendo's little white box.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Do you think this game's violence serves a narrative purpose, or does it exist merely for thrills and entertainment? Does this distinction matter when considering age appropriateness for kids?
Families can also discuss the depiction of alcohol in media. What do you think of characters who appear to take pleasure in frequent intoxication? What role does alcohol play in the lives of people you know?