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Last Story review

Can Sakaguchi's Last Story match his Final Fantasy?

Despite its title this is, in many ways, a first story. The Last Story presents a cast of fresh faces in mercenary Zael and his band of cohorts, a new world in the lush diversity of Lazulis Island and a clutch of innovative new game mechanics in its fascinating battle system. Despite its originality, though, this game's DNA is timeworn and at times familiar.

Hironobu Sakaguchi joined the games industry almost 30 years ago, creating his first hit in Final Fantasy, a NES game named to reflect the fact he expected it to be his last video game.

It was bold and adventurous for the time, a unique Japanese take on the Dungeons & Dragons desktop games that had gripped America during the 1970s. In the game's threadbare story a group of young mercenaries rises up against an unspeakable, world-threatening evil, establishing a premise that would echo down the years to today's blockbusters.

Contrary to Sakaguchi's instincts, Final Fantasy proved to a success, popularising the role-playing game in Japan and giving rise to a series that would go on to sell more than 90 million games worldwide, not to mention countless associated spin-offs, movies, television series, figurines and even soft drinks.

Sakaguchi maintained a steady hand on the Final Fantasy tiller until 2002 when, following the gigantic flop that was the spin-off movie (it lost an estimated $120 million at the box office), he left the company to set up his own development firm Mistwalker, in Hawaii.

The Last Story is that studio's fourth game, the first for Nintendo Wii and arguably the closest in ambiance and ambition to the series with which Sakaguchi made his name.

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It's no accident that the words 'Last Story' offer a gentle play on the phrase 'Final Fantasy'. Perhaps Sakaguchi is hoping that his latest creation will replicate some of the staggering success of his first.

That's not to say that this sprawling, vibrant Japanese RPG is derivative. Its story focuses on a small group of fighters and mages, led by an orphan boy, rising up against an unspeakable, world-threatening evil. This game's style and execution are entirely its own, though, succeeding on almost every level - art, music and design - to carve its own path in the genre its maker helped to define.

And My Axe!

Zael is a mercenary, the sort of fighter who takes on missions for the right price and who is feared, but also looked down upon by the citizens of Lazulis. It's not his first choice of vocation. Zael has always dreamed of becoming a knight - a similar line of work that comes with a dose of respect - and this sense of inadequacy drives him to do the best in every task sent his way. Indeed, the young mercenary harbours dreams that he still might one day become a knight and it's this secret ambition that fires him through the plot like a speeding arrow.

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The game, which is split into 40-odd chapters, opens with Zael and his friends on a freelance mission which, when completed, sees the team head back to the local pub for some rest, relaxation and recreational flirting. The salt-of-the-earth cast is instantly likeable and is voiced in its entirety by British voice actors (boasting a fine range of regional accents, to boot) and the sense of camaraderie between each goes a long way to helping you to feel as though you are a part of something.

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  1. 2Black4U Thursday 23rd Feb 2012 at 17:32

    I can't wait to play this tomorrow, I pre-ordered the limited edition 8)

    ... Wait if Zael has the power of "Gathering" does that make him an immortal? :shock: :wink: :mrgreen:

  2. Toadmaniac2 Thursday 23rd Feb 2012 at 19:26

    Does the game use a duel layered disk (I think that's what they're called, unsure, the type of disk Xenoblade and Brawl use)?

  3. imbusydoctorwho Thursday 23rd Feb 2012 at 21:32

    Really want to get the Limited Edition,but I doubt I'll get it.

  4. 2Black4U Thursday 23rd Feb 2012 at 21:41

    Really want to get the Limited Edition,but I doubt I'll get it.


    Try HMV, that's were I ordered mine

  5. mckenzielad1297 Thursday 23rd Feb 2012 at 21:47

    Got this yesterday so far so good just how the hell do you diffuse magic circles stuck on a boss fight because I have no idea how did i miss something

  6. 91Yon Friday 24th Feb 2012 at 12:46

    Why is Game not selling this anymore?

  7. toffeeman30 Friday 24th Feb 2012 at 13:28

    nice review. i hoped for a 90+ score, but the technical problems have dragged the score down a bit. but i guess its still worth it. got mine from hmv. the ltd edition might be worth something in a decade or two

  8. OrangeRakoon Friday 24th Feb 2012 at 20:09

    Game apparently only had stock for people who had pre-ordered it. I picked up the limited edition today from HMV (40 with the art book, steel book and soundtrack? Sounds good to me!)

    Only played < 3 hours at the moment, but it seems really quite good. The combat system seems pretty nice and new, and the voice acting is pretty good actually, what with the British voices. Also, sidequests. Sidequests everywhere.

  9. ACRID Friday 24th Feb 2012 at 22:43

    @OrangeRakoon

    Game aren't selling it all, they cancelled and refunded all pre-orders yesterday, the day before release which is shockingly bad customer service.

    Got my Limited Edition today from Amazon, well worth the extra 8, been playing for about 5 hours now just reached chapter 5, spent about 3-4 hours running around the city doing mini-quests and Arena battles, still trying to figure out how to get the chest from behind the kid on the riverside though ha ha.

    Have to say I'm loving the game so far, the British accents suit the characters very well and the dialogue is quite funny.

  10. OrangeRakoon Saturday 25th Feb 2012 at 00:39

    That is bad from Game, it sounds like they are in a bit of trouble at the moment money-wise if they can't buy in stock.

    Played some more and it is definitely holding my interest - increasing it, if anything. I know I'm going to enjoy this game.

    I won't spoil anything, but the way to get the chest from behind the kid is pretty fun =D

  11. Eternal Darkness Saturday 25th Feb 2012 at 19:12

    I don't blame Game dropping it. Hardly anyone would buy it compared to the likes of what is coming out soon.
    Hell I'd even bet Street Fighter X Tekken will sell more than it.
    So drop a Wii game that would give them a massive loss, so they can aim to get back into the black? I'm fine with this.

  12. wilrc6 Wednesday 7th Mar 2012 at 22:54

    I absolutely love Zelda, but this game is so much better than Skyward Sword.

    I managed to get the limited Edition set and the quality is absolutely amazing, the CD soundtrack was in its own CD case and in a box, whereas Zelda Soundtrack just got a cardboard sleeve.

    Can't wait for Pandora's Tower now.

  13. master sword Wednesday 28th Mar 2012 at 18:23

    I don't blame Game dropping it. Hardly anyone would buy it compared to the likes of what is coming out soon.
    Hell I'd even bet Street Fighter X Tekken will sell more than it.
    So drop a Wii game that would give them a massive loss, so they can aim to get back into the black? I'm fine with this.


    Actually my local game store didn't even have copies of 'streetfighterxtekken' and due to their current state they haven't gotten any new games from the past two months, local shops and other smaller game stores are your best bet

    oh and props on the avi, always nice to see another fellow Katawa Shoujo fan ^^

  14. garsh303 Thursday 12th Apr 2012 at 14:32

    Seeing Pandora's Tower's review, this is now the last great Wii 'campaign' game (because the next supposed great game for the Wii will probably be it's last best, but it's the online Dragon Quest X)

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