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The Last First Story?

Developer: Mistwalker | Publisher: XSEED Games
Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action/RPG

Release Date: 07/31/12

Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy, and some consider the father of the JRPG, is on to his next project, The Last Story. My first thoughts of the game are based around the title. What exactly is Sakaguchi's fascination with titles that speak of the finality of his games? How could there be a Final Fantasy sequel when it was final? If there is another the Last Story, how can it be the last one?

Despite Sakaguchi's naming coventions, we went to look at The Last Story in our closed door meeting with XSEED Games. What we saw and heard were Sakaguchi's plans to redefine the way an Action RPG is played on a home console.

Sakaguchi has been concerned about how long it takes a player to start a new RPG. From the opening menu, to the credits, and then usually a story sequence, the player has to wait a while to start up the game. The Last Story is changing all of that. Once the opening logo pops up, you go right into the game and controlling the main hero--Zael.

Another innovation Sakaguchi is bringing to The Last Story is having the characters talk to each other during battles. This is something he noticed Western games doing this generation and felt it was time for a Japanese game to also add this element. And I must say, having characters bicker, fight, or just talk at any moment adds a great deal of interactivity to the experience and makes the story flow naturally.

Gameplay provides action between up to six characters in your party at once. To assist the western players, who are accustomed to the MMO style of gaming, The Last Story will provide an auto-attack so you can get close to your targeted enemy and fighting will begin with your basic attack. There will not be an option to have special skills or spells with an auto-attack.

Not content to be a standard button mashing Action RPG, The Last Story has a cover system to add some strategy to the gameplay. As the battle begins, the game shows an overheard perspective to give you a glimpse of the number of enemies, their location, and different areas you can move to for cover and to gain an upper hand.

Fans of the RPG genre may be a bit disappointed to see Sakaguchi lead The Last Story away from grinding levels in order to beat the game. To help give those players the sense of accomplishment they get from grinding levels, there are summon circles setup around the world where you can call in enemies to fight and level up. But the emphasis isn't on old-style JRPG gameplay. This is the direction Sakaguchi feels the genre should go to continue evolving. This means around a 20 to 25 hour quest to ensure the game isn't completely overwhelming to newcomers to the genre while still giving around 4 times more gameplay than most single player games on the market today.

Combat gives you five lives per battle. These lives reset once combat ends. This gives newer players an easier time with tough bosses and ensures intense battles don't have to be replayed if you somehow wipe in the middle of the battle. If you like to control other members in your party, Command Mode allows for you to do just this. But if you don't care to interfere with the other party members, players can let the AI handle things while you concentrate on Zael's actions.

Further expanding upon trying to make The Last Story friendly to all player skill levels, you can easily auto-equip your entire party and a large number of checkpoints will also be included. This will keep the action moving along and make sure you don't worry about save points and what equipment is best for each party member.

You can even customize your characters by changing colors of individual pieces of armor or just remove them if you don't like the look. There is even invisible ink to go a bit more bare. Just don't try to use invisible ink on their underwear! This isn't that type of game!

XSEED Games confirmed that all first run copies of The Last Story will come with a free art book. If you plan on securing this, don't wait until release to purchase your copy. We recommend preordering. Whether or not you end up with the art book, you are guaranteed to get what should be the last great Wii game on the eve of the WiiU launch.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 07/03/12

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