After getting a bit lost in Piccadilly I eventually arrived at BAFTA 15 minutes before the evening was set to begin. All attendees were told to wait in the rather nice bar area, so I grabbed a drink and waited for the doors to be opened. Ten minutes later I was sat two rows from the stage.
The event itself was being hosted by BAFTA as part of the organisations efforts to encourage interaction between industry giants of film, television and games and their fans. The Q&A was hosted by Kelly MacDonald, IGN’s UK Games Editor, who did a commendable job. Of course, many of us were here to see The Last Story.
The Last Story is a Wii exclusive set in a fictional land, Lazulis Island.The story follows a band of mercenaries who dream of becoming knights, a point made by both Mr Sakaguchi on stage and Zael, one of the game’s protagonists, on screen. During the preview we were first introduced to a tavern in Lazulis City, which acts as the main hub in between quests.
Here we saw some of the conversation system of the game when the character Lowell tried to flirt with the barmaid. Mini spoiler, he gets shot down. However this little interaction managed to show off a bit of the in game humour and conversation system was nicely integrated. It also showed a little bit of the relationship between the characters which complimented Sakaguchi-san’s statement about creating “a group of characters with a variety of personalities.”
Next we were given a mini tour of Lazulis City which looked to be well populated by NPCs going about their own business. Mr Sakaguchi said that he was “more conscious of including more minute details.” One such way was showing us Zael bump his head on a sign and comment on it.
The main reason for including the tiny details was to create a world that was a believable setting. The immersion of the player is also done through trying to find characters who call out for you. This is done by switching to a first person mode and scanning the area you are in. It’s an interesting gameplay method that could be used in a few ways within game.
Another element that was discussed was the fast forward function. Instead of skipping cutscenes entirely players can fast forward through them and read the subtitles that come up to get the full story picture while getting to the action quicker.[drop]After the mini tour of Lazulis we were shown the battle system. The Last Story’s battle system is real time instead of turn based. Mr Sakaguchi said that the system was in place before the story and the battle system itself went through a year long experimental phase before it was finalised. Before a battle begins you are given a view of the field, which allows for a bit of strategic thinking.
Then the battle begins. One of the main parts of the system of issuing orders to the party is done through an over the shoulder cam view which allows the player to target an enemy or part of the field and issue an order. In this case the order was given to target a bridge an enemy was standing on and ordering the party mage to destroy it.
Another part of the system is an ability called Gathering. Gathering allows the player to make enemies target them allowing the rest of the party to formulate an attack against an enemy or a group of enemies. Again this is used as part of a wider strategy to take out enemies and would not always be beneficial for the player.
Though there was no demo of it, The Last Story also has online multiplayer. These modes include Co-op, Free for All and Team Deathmatch. The Co Op allows between two to six players to work together to fight against the various bosses that are encountered in the story mode. The other modes see players face off against each other and allow you to choose any of the main characters as well as some of the monster characters from the story mode.
After this showcase Mr Sakaguchi answered some questions from the audience. One of the questions was regarding whether there would be a sequel for The Last Story or if another game set in the game universe. Mr Sakaguchi said he was unsure whether there would be any continuation. Another one of the most interesting revelations was that Hironobu Sakaguchi is working on three iOS games and the first of those games will be a surfing one.
When asked why he was developing for iOS Mr Sakaguchi said “because I am an Apple fan.”
Though the gameplay preview only lasted 20 minutes I believe that we were shown one of the games that make a Wii worth owning. After years of shovelware The Last Story really has the potential to be the diamond in the rough for Nintendo’s system. Hironobu Sakaguchi and Mistwalker have made something that could be worth playing if you’re a fan of the likes of Final Fantasy and Lost Odyssey.
Dan is currently reviewing The Last Story and so I’ll leave it to him to judge the full title. Personally, I’m quite excited by the game.