I'm a huge fan of JRPGs, have been for a solid 15 years. Lately though, I've been getting disappointed a lot over the past four or five years. I ended up purchasing The Last Story on a whim, my sister being a huge advocate of the "Operation Rainfall" fan movement that brought this game over to the NA region. Me wanting Pandora's Tower for so long, I knew of this game, but little else.
I was quite pleasantly surprised, needless to say. The combat system is very simple, and emphasizes tactical movement and fast decision making. Any JRPG where I actually enjoy getting into battles has clearly done something right. It's difficult to actually describe and do it justice, as it's so different from the action-based combat systems I'm used to. While a little jarring at first, within the first hour a person can get pretty comfortable with it.
Being the game is for the Wii, the graphics aren't anything to write home about. In comparison to other Wii games however, they are very good. The use of bloom and atmospheric lighting is very well done. Walking around the main city during the night parts, one can't help but feel the creators did the game a disservice by making it for Wii- this would have been gorgeous in HD! That's just my personal opinion though.
The music is standard FF-esque Nobuo Uematsu affair. At this point, I think it's expected to be good and full of life. After a while it can get a little repetitive though, especially the battle music. The calmer tracks are so pleasant to listen to though, enough for me to want the soundtrack.
But really, what any RPG comes down to is the storyline, and this is where I was most impressed. After playing so many JRPGs, one comes to expect certain tropes and stereotypes, and while The Last Story has its share, the way they are executed makes the storyline very fresh. I don't want to go into too much detail. Unlike a good chunk of JRPGs, The Last Story has a very tangible romance, a clear bond between the characters, and some really touching moments. Voiced monologues in JRPGs are really hard to pull off, but The Last Story does it with grace.
Overall, a solid 4 out of 5. I'd recommend this to any JRPG fan, any day. You might have your faith restored just as much as I did.