The Last Story: The Early Life Of A Mercenary

By Jenni . September 6, 2012 . 4:47pm

Life is hard for a mercenary. They’re viewed as necessary evils in The Last Story‘s society. Sure, it’s fine to hire a group to win a war or retrieve stolen goods, but you wouldn’t want to actually let one in after he was almost fatally injured fulfilling a mission you’d assigned him. Such is the life of Zael, Dagran, Syrenne, Lowell, Yurick and Mirania. They’ve gone from place to place, trying to earn enough to live and perhaps find a permanent home where they’ll be successful and not shunned. In particular, Zael entertains dreams of being a knight.

 

Their search for money and steady work brings them to Lazulis Island. It’s well off, compared to the rest of the world, but plagued by enough monsters, bandits and other ne’er-do-wells to provide ample opportunity for Zael and his friends to find a place for themselves.

 

In fact, The Last Story picks up mid-mission with Dagran, leader of the mercs. The group has just arrived on Lazilus Island and the first task is for Dagran, Syrenne, Yurick and Zael to clear out Reptids, which are akin to anthropomorphic, violent lizard people. The groups have split up, with the straightforward warriors Dagran and Syrenne facing off against them with swords, while the sword and crossbow wielding Zael and magic dealing Yurick sneak around and bring up the rear.

 

Players will mostly control Zael in single player (although multiplayer allows more for fighting with whoever you want, whenever you want). This first story mission, however, begins with Dagran in control. This segment showed me exactly how active battle can be in The Last Story. Players don’t have to just run up to enemies and attack, a la Xenoblade Chronicles, though they can if they want to. These mercenaries are smart and can use the environment to their advantage. I could have Dagran hide behind cover, run out and stage attacks. He could vault over allies. Even before a major battle begins, all action briefly pauses to give an idea of where enemies are and think up the best attack strategy.

 

After an introductory exploration, Zael takes the stage. Zael could be considered a rogue in terms of class, as he doesn’t rely solely on the blade. He’s equipped with a bow and arrows and indeed, the initial introduction has him working with Yurick as backup, providing an assault from above. Shooting is easy enough, as a push of a button switches to a first person view. Unfortunately, you can’t just point the Wii remote at the screen to aim. You have to move the analog stick to search the area for potential targets. Also helpful is the fact that Zael possesses special kinds of arrows designed to take out mages and this view can be used to find weak points.

 

As the group regroups and scours the temple, they learn the area also happens to be home to ruins. This calls for more splitting up, to search for an exit, and a nearly disastrous outcome that almost results in Syrenne being killed and Zael being left alone in a hopeless situation. It’s then that a mysterious voice speaks, a strange light appears and Zael ends up gaining the Gathering ability from The Outsider spirit. When activated in battle, this ability makes enemies target only him, allows him to revive downed allies and lets his magic wielding partners cast spells better. He also eventually learns Burst attacks with it, but initially it serves as a means to resurrect the injured Syrenne and defeat the ruined temple’s guardian.

 

It’s after that victory that we finally get the first opportunity get to know the other mercenaries and explore the city. The base of operations is a tavern run by a village girl named Ariela and her family, and it’s here that Zael actually gets the opportunity to socialize with his peers and purchase some equipment. While weapons can be stronger or weaker, most standard armor tends to be equal aside from the bonus effects. All equipment changes the appearance of the mercs when equipped. Zael also has the opportunity to choose what he says in conversations with his friends, but I didn’t notice any striking differences if I chose to say something different.

 

I found I didn’t realize how pretty The Last Story was until Zael was able to explore the town. There’s only one, but the game makes up for it by making it absolutely gorgeous. Only a few basic areas with story centric spaces, shops and an arena are open initially, but more open up later and you can automatically warp to most areas you want. What helps the appreciation is the ability and need to shift to a first person view at times, since you can get a fresh perspective on what you’re seeing. It’s here that Zael meets the Count Arganan and General Asthar’s knights and remembers how much he longed to be one.

 

But it isn’t always about doing Count Arganan’s bidding and coming closer to Zael’s dream. Upon returning to the tavern, the group learns Ariela’s little brother is ill and thieves have stolen the medicine. Zael, Dagran, Lowell and Mirania set out to make things right with a retrieval operation that not only results in the medicine’s recovery, but also introduces a former friend and current foe called Zoran and a plot to release Reptids and another monster in the city to cause confusion and damage. The group saves the day, showing what good mercenaries are capable of, but only Ariela, her brother Warren and her family will ever know what Zael did for both Lazulis and their family.

 

In the hours that follow, Zael and his friends are entitled to downtime after what happened, and coincidentally a fireworks show is happening that night to celebrate the marriage of the Count’s niece, Calista, to a noble named Jirall. In a series of events that reminded me of Final Fantasy IX, Zael meets a young woman named Lisa and not only helps her escape the cities guards in two separate incidents, but also shows her the market, introduces her to the mercs, and goes with her to see her star on his way to guide her home. Obviously, this is more than some chance meeting and the two’s futures are tied together.

 

This is basically what you can expect from The Last Story. Yes, there’s political intrigue, a healthy dose of fantasy and plenty of action, but there are also moments where our hero and his friends will do more than just the standard “save the world” quests. There are times when they’ll be called upon to help the people of Lazulis Island, and I found these moments were often more insightful when it came to character development.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. I was hoping to provide more insight on multiplayer, but there aren’t enough people playing. I only had three competitive battles, each with no more than three players, and two cooperative battles that only had one other party member in each match. On the plus side, even beginners can jump into multiplayer as the match will boost your level to make you an even match for your allies or opponents.

 

2. You can have manual or automatic attacks in battle. Automatic means characters will automatically attack in intervals and makes the affairs rather tedious. Manual gives you complete control and makes them more enjoyable.

 

3. I wish the whole “chapter” system hadn’t been implemented. It’s so weird to have it switch from one chapter to another when so little has happened. It also makes me worry that perhaps I missed something in one “chapter” that can never be accessed again in future “chapters.”

 

4.The Last Story features many of the standard video game tropes and you’ll likely spot and figure out any twists long before they happen.


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  • thaKingRocka

    Also note that the manual attack option reduces the attack power by about 30%. As for this game being pretty, I’ve been scratching my head over the emperor’s new clothes for a while now. I think the game is ugly and performs insultingly poorly. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Rather, I enjoy the battle system and the voice acting is decent, but I would never say that the game was aesthetically pleasing in any way really. The textures are of PS1 Tomb Raider caliber; the frame rate chugs frequently, and the character design/attire is awful.

    • SantiagodelosSantos

      “The textures are of PS1 Tomb Raider caliber” having played tomb raider on the ps1 i couldn’t disagree more. I remember saying that the game looked bad even back then when it came out
      I do agree that the game chugs, but it’s not enough to detract from the game (although some fights get really bad but it’s not common) but other than that i found the artstyle to be fantastic with some environments that look amazing. The character models are also really good (for the wii) with good animations and physics. 
      EDIT: the game does have textures that look like this http://static.gamesradar.com/images/mb/GamesRadar/us/Features/2009/07/Citizen%20Kanes/Screens/TombRaider–article_image.jpg

      • Jordan Coleman

        I too find the game to be graphicaly ugly. It’s art desgin and color pallate do not fit the Wii very well. Which is a shame since the games art design is pretty great and the game features some of the best character designs out there. The cast is pretty much the best looking jrpg cast out there.

        • SantiagodelosSantos

          Although it probably could have been more colorful i don’t see how anyone can call this game “ugly”. I never noticed any really ugly textures and i didn’t see any character models that where very low poly. I think for the wii the game looks great. Going through the town, seeing all the npcs walking along, petals floating in the wind, and Zael running along was pretty beautiful, especially with the music. (oh the music, it’s soooo good :D)

          • thaKingRocka

            There are many lovely touches and a grand scope to the environments that can be really impressive. Then, I see that the textures look lousy and the system can’t handle those touches without compromising performance and the game becomes ugly. Look at the photo I posted above to see the sort of texture work I’m talking about. Here’s another shot though for reference.

            http://media.gamerevolution.com/images/games/wii/the-last-story/the-last-story_037.jpg

        • Jordan Coleman

          But I don’t think the armor looks bad. It starts to look pretty awesome and not too crazy as you upgrade the pieces. 

          • thaKingRocka

            It’s chapter twenty for me and I feel like I only recently started to get things that looked like armor. I think the costuming is absolutely terrible.

          • Paradox me

            One of the game’s central themes is social class. Seeing as you start out as a lowly band of mercenaries, you’re going to be wearing rags for most of the game.

            Nothing terribly exciting, but not really bad either and it suits the game. In fact, the brief absence of gaudy JRPG clothes was somewhat refreshing.

            Overall, I felt the game had a nice art direction who environments were unfortunately hampered by the Wii’s hardware. Character designs were hit (Calista, Syrenne, Dagran, Therius) or miss (Yurick, Zael), and many enemy designs were really fantastic IMO.

          • Ryos

            The armor designs ranged from overly flamboyant to displeasing so certainly I can see your concerns there.  The final armor set looks hideous even after disabling the worst parts of it.  

            Fortunately you can make it all invisible and run around in your skivvies!  Er, that’s one everyone else did, right? 

      • thaKingRocka

        No, the ugliness and poor performance are not enough to ruin the game, but they only get a pass because the core experience is solid. I just can’t see how so many people have been celebrating this game’s visuals. The concept art is excellent. The in-game models are not. They are decent, but they are horribly marred by terrible costuming and hair.

        Look to the ground in this shot. This is not a one-off. This kind of texture work crops up often and the game still chugs. The environments are well-designed, but they are not pretty. A stylized aesthetic would have helped this game immensely. It does not do “realistic” well. Also, the lighting and color palette are surprisingly bland. I changed the colors on the costumes so that I could clearly see the character models and turned up the color setting on my television. This game might as well be running on UE3 in brown-scale in a lot of places.

        http://bnbgaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/The_Last_Story_Loot_2.jpg

    • Aoshi00

      Come on man, you let the graphics get to you :(?  Yeah, it looked a little blurry on an HD TV, but I thought it still looked great considering it was on the Wii..  I liked the story, gameplay, themes, design, atmosphere, spirit, and music.. I never thought it looked ugly at all.. I admit it did come across my mind how much better it would look as an HD title.. but the game being good was a result of the Mistwalker/Ninty collaboration.. color might be a little grayish.. I do like the weapons and clothes though and how you could mix and match.. maybe the Wii couldn’t fully realize Fujisaka’s intricate and detailed art, but I thought the design still came thru..

      I liked the various and unique British accent too.. actually I just started the US ver.. but I beat the Jpn ver before.. it might not look amazing compared to PS360, but it’s still one of my favorite recent RPGs, along w/ Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, & Archaic Sealed Heat.. I’m even enjoying Party Wave, yes, love the Gooch :)

      I did enjoy the multiplayer too when I was playing the Jpn ver, there were quite a lot of players back then.. I didn’t think it was tagged on..

  • Ryos

    Unfortunately, when it comes to online multiplayer and RPGs, I just assume there’s not much of a point in bothering with that function, much like I don’t bother doing any Dragon Quest searching.  Fortunately the single player campaign is solid enough that I don’t feel like I’m missing too much on the multiplayer (some of the drops aside). 

    But you’re right, that whole Chapter label was a bit forced to my mind because most games only have like 5 chapters and each chapter for an RPG will be 10 hours or so…and here a chapter could literally be 5 minutes.

    • $30632660

      I don’t like the tacked on multiplayer in this game.It’s completely uneccesary and because there is almost no one to find online, I’m kept from being able to get online only weapons and character customization items.

      I’d rather they just cut the multiplayer from the game and added to the Singleplayer experience, which is already pretty short by itself.

      • RPGamer

        I find the multiplayer to be quite fun and very addicting.  What more reason do you need?  Why should the online mode have to to be “necessary”?  Couldn’t you criticize every game that has ever had an online mode in that same manner?  I usually don’t have issues finding people to play.  Anyway, the online mode plays slightly different and provides an entirely different experience from the single player mode, IMO.  And I don’t know why some are rushing through their game and then calling it short.  It’s not the longest game I’ve ever played but I took my time to try to do as much as possible and, even ignoring the fetch quests/most of the arena, put in about 45 hours into my game.  There is actually quite a variety of things to do.

        • $30632660

          I can’t have fun and get addicted to an online mode that people barely plays.Why should a tacked on multiplayer be necessary to a SINGLE PLAYER rpg game?I don’t criticize games that are actually made for the online experience like Anarchy Reigns.

          Just because people finish their games faster than you doesn’t mean they are rushing.I did everything there was to do in the singleplayer mode just over 40hrs.

          • RPGamer

            My point is that enjoyment is enjoyment and there’s no need for it to be “necessary” in order for it to exist.  It’s not like you’re going to get penalized for not playing online.  Those who enjoy it will play it and those who don’t won’t, that’s all.  Also, if you actually took 40 hours to finish yours…isn’t that pretty standard for a JRPG?  Most run anywhere between 40-60 hours.  When you said “short”, I was thinking something else.  Most who complain of it being short spent about 20 hours on theirs.   

          • $30632660

            Part of the weapons and effects are online only, I am being penalized by being prevented from having access to that content because of no one playing the online multiplayer.There is no enjoyment in that and it’s an unnecessary tacked on game mode.

            “I did everything there was to do in the singleplayer mode just over 40 hrs”.Did you not read that sentence correctly?I assume you know what everything means.If I was to just do nothing but continue the story, the time would be significantly lower than 40hrs.

    • thaKingRocka

      I would normally ignore MP in a game like this, but the combat system is fun, so I figured I’d give the co-op MP a shot. I was glad I did. Coordinating attacks is really fun and the weapons and upgrade items you get to use in SP are pretty good. Sometimes, when I start the game, I jump into a few rounds of MP just to get warmed up again.

      As for the chapter system, I like it. Some chapters seem short because we make them shorter than they need to be. It’s usually a key event that pushes the chapter forward and I am pretty sure it does lock off access to some branching story paths. That’s fine with me. Having chapters also does a great job of establishing easy reference points.

  • SantiagodelosSantos

    I actually liked it a lot. It fixed a lot of things that i hated about jrpgs (i never had to grind, fighting was actually fun, the characters aren’t all emo girly men, it was more linear but in a good way, the sidequest automatically warp you to where you need to go and the sidequests are actually REALLY good (the haunted mansion level was really interesting), I liked the lute system and being able to upgrade weapons and armor, there didn’t feel like there was filler, you could win most battles with a good strategy instead or relying on stats, the story is very simple and not convoluted like how i find the tales games to be(sorry tales fans), and the locations where really interesting. 
    I did have some problems too. The game chugs every once in a while, Enemies don’t stand out a whole lot, Hitting enemies could have felt more satisfying (think Zelda, kingdom hearts, etc), and there where a TON of cliches. 
    Overall, the good things greatly outweighed the bad for me, but i can see why people wouldn’t like it. It’s very linear for an JRPG, although there is exploration the world is much smaller and isn’t as connected as say xenoblade. I prefer this because i don’t like being lost or having to walk a long distance, but this does take away from the spirit of RPGs. The story is better than most jrpgs i have played…but it’s not great. I didn’t like the princess, but the other characters where really like-able and made the story for me.
    I haven’t beat it yet, i’m almost done, but THIS is what i want from JRPGs in the future, and i would love to see the last story 2 on the Wii U sometime in the future :)

  • $30632660

    Auto attacks are just as fast as Manual attacks.It’s not done in intervals like Xenoblade at all, did you even play the game?Assuming you’re using classic controller pro, you just tilt the left stick in the direction the monster is in and the character attacks just as quickly as you tilted the stick in whatever direction.

    Not to mention Auto mode doesn’t decrease the damage, unlike Manual Mode.Auto mode has more attacks that the Manual Mode does not so I don’t understand the OPINION that Manual Mode is more enjoyable than Auto Mode and why people love to state that as a fact.

    • SantiagodelosSantos

      Manual mode makes it feel like you are actually doing something. It feels…well more fun IMHO

      • $30632660

        All you’re doing is mashing the A button and doing the same 2 slashes with the occasional kick to enemies in directions other than directly in front of you.

         But I understand why people would like Manual mode better.

  • SantiagodelosSantos

    I’m actually surprised a lot of you don’t like the game that much. I’m also extremely surprised anyone calling the last story an ugly game. Playing through it i remember thinking “wow, that’s pretty” several times. It was what i wanted from a jprg for a long time, but i guess people don’t have the same tastes i do.

  • Nasser Al-Ojayan

    When you first start the game with Dagran look behind you ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Atem-Yugioh-Elbotamy/9347791 Adam Elbahtimy

    It’s worth noting that the combat actually does get more complicated than just hitting attack, with sneak attacks, dispels, and commanding your party, and adds a fair amount of strategy to the hectic combat. I personally use auto attack, because I don’t think mashing the A button adds much to the experience, but having the option to choose is nice.

    I’m still fairly early on (I’m still getting new commands, even), but I enjoy what I’ve played so far. I like that the structure is somewhat atypical of most RPGs, so its more like a strategic action game with RPG elements. An interesting counterpoint to Xenoblade’s sprawling structure.

    • 猫 黒

       It does, but not by much.  Hiding behind cover INSTANTLY pulls enemies off you, so you can just crouch, sneak attack, crouch, sneak attack and instawin any fight with cover (though admittedly not all of them have cover).  Whereas command is mostly useless except when you NEED a spell cast and the AI is too stupid to cast it (unlike in Xenoblade).  Basically the game appears to give you options when you’ll just end up using one or two throughout the game. 

      Likewise there are lots of interesting enchantments and you can upgrade weapons, but you’ll just find a couple of brokenly strong weapons halfway through the game and stick with those.  There’s even less variety in armor, where you’ll have seen all/most of them 1/3 of the way through the game. 

      Arrows are a fun gimmick but mostly useless due to pitiful damage, except anti-mage arrows which are useful against mages because (again) your teammates’ have bad AI and won’t prioritize taking out mages for you.

      The city better be pretty, not only because it’s the only city, but because it’s the only free explore area in the game.  I’ll admit I haven’t explored it much, but it doesn’t seem that much better than standard RPG fare.  On the other hand, take a look at Eryth Sea in Xenoblade, or Makna forest, or even the starting area Colony 6.  Most gorgeous areas in video game history.

      Why does it seem like I’m a Xenoblade fanboy?  Back when both games where in development/just released (Operation Rainfall-era), I had very high expectations of TLS and thought Xenoblade looked like a typical boring JRPG.  Then I played TLS.  Then I played Xenoblade.  Then I sat down and thought about it for a bit.  Xenoblade was breath-takingly good and TLS was a letdown.  Both tried to revitalize the JRPG genre.  One succeeded marvelously.  The other tried… and failed.  Kudos for trying, but hey.

      • RPGamer

        I don’t see why you’re comparing the AIs in TLS to the ones in Xenoblade.  TLS’ battle system was designed with the intent that you’re supposed to micro-manage your AIs.  In other words, unlike Xenoblade, your AIs in TLS are as smart as you make them.  Obviously, you’re with the opinion that command was useless, hence, I can see why you’re now complaining about how dumb your AIs are.  And, isn’t it a bit contradictory that you’re saying you can just repeatedly crouch and sneak attack, yet, at the same time, you’re admitting you can’t always do that?  Have you tried using that technique with the bosses?  I ended up using and mixing up the various elements that I learned: gathering, gale, command, vertical slice…and found them all to be pretty essential. 

        As far as revitalizing the JRPG genre, it’s opinions.  I personally didn’t really enjoy what I played of Xenoblade.  I could only stand enough of that game to play a little at a time and I’ve left off on it for so long now that I don’t believe I’ll ever go back to finish it.  It’s too tedious.  TLS, on the other hand, I found to be addicting.  I put 45 hours into it under a week and completed it with no issues.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001531081700 Vale LN SkreiHolme

         The funny thing is if you look at the clouds they look like real fucking damn clouds

        Besides you should totally get this game even if it is just to hear Yurick scream like a little girl or Lowell get his balls attacked for being a naughty little boy

  • Farid Belkacemi

    A great game, don’t miss it ! 

  • kool_cid414

    Beating the game about a week ago I’m thankful for this post in order to give my opinion on it. I LOVE THIS GAME. Other than being a bit short rpg wise(which can be a plus depending whether you like games to be long or not) the game was fun and well paced with sometimes hilarious interactions between battles (and sometimes during) the characters felt real although I would of like to learn more about Syrenne and Lowell’s past although their personalities made up for that. I found Yurick to be well defined in the game and found his backstory quite cool. I would of like to have seen more of Mirania but other than that I found the game and it’s story and music to be really good.Others may disagree but I personally felt this game to be worth it’s price and would have loved to play this game sooner. Now I’m off to finish Xenoblade or die trying lol.

  • RPGamer

    I personally really enjoyed The Last Story.  It was a very different experience from most JRPGs I’ve ever played(and I’ve played lots) but I loved it, nonetheless.  Despite the story being straight forward and on the predictable side, it was well-told, well-paced, and exciting enough that I wanted to be there to witness all the events unfold as well as to see the reactions of the characters.  Even if some characters didn’t have as deep of backgrounds as they could have had, they were all likable and the banter between them was fun and enjoyable. 

    Aside from the dungeons looking a little muddy, I found the graphics, in general, to be quite beautiful and polished for a Wii game.  I thought the saturated look and color palette suited the game pretty well, giving it a slightly more realistic feel.  I also liked the blooming effect(Xenoblade could have really benefited from it).  Uematsu also did a great job on the music.  It’s not his strongest OST but there are definitely some great, memorable pieces in The Last Story and, I must say, the music very much suited the game’s cinematic approach. 

    IMO, what makes this game truly stand out from the crowd is its extremely engaging and varied gameplay.  The game never fails to change things up and you never feel like you’re stuck in a place or doing something for too long.  I was quite impressed by this.  The battle system was extremely fun, one of the most engaging battle systems I’ve ever experienced.  I admit it took a little getting used to but once I got the hang of all the different elements involved, it was addicting.  The game constantly tossed you into different situations and the bosses required that you do things a little differently to take them each down.  I was also impressed by the amount of little details in this game: bumping your head on signs, sitting on benches throughout town, bumping into people, the change in the citizens’ views on you over the course of the game, rocking ships, raindrops on the camera, distance blurring, etc.      

    My only real issue with the game was the technical side of things.  There were frame rate issues that caused slow-downs and, once in a while during battles, the camera would seem to get stuck.  They honestly weren’t that huge of a deal to me though, certainly not enough to deter my enjoyment of the game…but they did occur.

  • XypherCode

    I’ll be getting the game soon. Can’t wait :)

  • Valkenhayn

    I’m on NG+ and Just powering up my equips for co-op.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001531081700 Vale LN SkreiHolme

    Loved the game was kinda short though  guess im used to longer JRPGS the story was pretty good took me 36 hours to beat the bosses were kinda hard, though I wished they didnt have two krakens and two spiders and gave some more bosses to fight against.
    The battle system feels different from other JRPGS I would describe it as your a tactician in the middle of battle, leading a small army, other Real Time Battle System RPGS feel like your a group just wailing at the monsters working together (Xenoblade ) or your just pulling out all the stops to raze down the enemy (Tales)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001531081700 Vale LN SkreiHolme

     The New game plus on the game is actually rather fun though compared to some of the other games

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