The Last Story Preview
Goin' out on a high note.
In just a few months, Nintendo's Wii U will push aside the Wii from store shelves, its memory will begin to fade from our gaming consciousness, and that little blue light will shine no more. With one last epic RPG The Last Story coming out this week, it's not a bad way to die.
The Last Story’s narrative takes you to Lazulis Island, the one region that continues to prosper as most of the mainland decays due to conflict and desolate land. The main character, Zael, and his band of mercenaries travel to this island in hopes of finding work. They become employed by its ruler Count Arganan which is extremely important, because if they meet his expectations, they will gain enough fortune to sustain their group's existence and their poverty will be a thing of the past.
As fate would have it, things get more complicated when Zael acquires a mysterious power while on their first mission. This power, known as “Gathering,” is one of the main aspects of The Last Story’s unique combat engine. When using it, Zael attracts the attention of his enemies, giving him and his allies a strategic advantage. Here, enemies lose their vantage point and give Zael and his partners the upper hand, even giving his spell-casting allies the time to cast.
Aside from that main hook, the gameplay is relatively simple though it does have some complex nuances to it. In order to attack, all players need to do is point the control stick in the direction of the enemy. There is also a “manual” option which lets players attack with the A button if that’s what they prefer. Unlike most JRPGs, this game takes a few cues from modern western RPGs. The first, and most evident example of this is the cover system. Taking cover lets you gain strategic advantage over opponents. By pressing the Z button, players can use Zael’s crossbow to not only strike down enemies from safety, but attack places on the map to give players even more long-distance advantage.
For example, if a player is taking cover and they notice that a few enemies are standing by a weak column, players can shoot at the column and destroy it. Doing so will cause it to collapse and damage, or even kill the opponents. This element of gameplay proves that combat will not only be strategic, but reliant on everything going on in the battlefield, even the environment itself.
One interesting thing to note about The Last Story is that the game is said to be 20-30 hours long, which in terms of the average length of JRPGs is quite short. However it will boast a more contained and straightforward story that cuts out a lot of fluff, and gets to the good stuff quicker (such as plentiful side quests). Not to mention the game comes with a full-fledged competitive and co-operative online multiplayer mode based on the game's combat engine.
There is a lot to be excited for when it comes to The Last Story. The combat system looks extremely promising and the story has an interesting premise, so players should be excited to delve into both. We’ll see if this game delivers on its promises when it releases on August 14, 2012.