The Last Story is a beautifully crafted JRPG for the Wii that should not be passed up, despite being fairly short.
You play primarily as Zael, a young mercenary part of a group of 6 who get by day to day life doing what they must. Each of the 6 characters (Dagran, Yurick, Syrenne, Mirania and Lowell) are very distinct and are very charming in their own way (especially Syrenne). They find themselves on Lazulis Island, the economic jewel of the empire and while there, Zael encounters a mysterious woman named Callista and it's through her that the fate of the gang begins to change.
Of the many JRPGs I've played, the story to this game is one of my favorites, filled with twists, heart wrenching moments along with heart warming moments. Also different from many others is that after the final boss is beaten, you still play to carry out the epilogue (through 4 different scenarios), not just a simple "go here and see the ending" gameplay.
I usually have pretty high tolerance when it comes to graphics, especially on the Wii, but The Last Story was rather murky looking with it's lack of vibrant environments and hub world that looks rather dreary instead of a sprawling economic center. The castle area is beautiful but that's only one part of the whole game. The characters themselves though look great and the effects of the game look flashy. Your characters' color palettes start off looking rather bland but I ended up making them look more colorful, also helped me identify them better during battle.
After playing games like The Last Story and Xenoblade and their full British cast, I've grown to prefer it over an American cast (always used to the accent since I grew up in Europe and watched British TV a lot). The voice acting is spot on for pretty much every character. The music, while not as memorable as some of Mistwalker's other entries, still is beautiful and accompanies the game perfectly.
Like Xenoblade, The Last Story changes up the battle system. Where Xenoblade was influenced by MMOs, The Last Story takes inspiration from Western RPGs by using a cover system and being able to change out weapons during battle. When it battle, if Zael takes cover, this confuses enemies and allows for Zael to unleash a powerful "Slash" attack, however, due to the limitations of the Wii, the AI has been programmed to be confused regardless of where you hide, even if you're in plain site so this is something easily exploited during battle. As you level up and gain more abilities, the game does a good job in instantly showing you how to use these new skills. Zael's most useful one is Gale, which allows you diffuse magic circles that your mages cast on the ground (which create certain effects depending on the element). Zael is also equipped with a cross bow which allows you to do the obvious and also identify enemies, their weaknesses, and identify weak points in the environment to use to your advantage. The drop system is my favorite so far as you can easily pick them up either during or after the battle.
One thing to take note of is that treasure chests are brown and tend to blend into the environment. This is the first JRPG in which I hardly did any sidequests, unless they influenced the story. Sidequests mainly serve to get you items (for trade or for upgrading) but it's hard to find people offering them, and even when you've gathered the items, the game does nothing to remind you where these people were. I had some sidequests that I started in the beginning of the game and it wasn't until the end of the game that I found the person who gave it to me. The game features a pretty good upgrade system, armor (while only giving different appearances at first with no difference in stat upgrade) would change depending on how much you upgrade it, suiting certain characters more than others. As for weapons, I will say hold onto 1 Dragon Fang because you're going to need it to get the most powerful weapon (I wasted all of them on other weapons T_T).
Unlike other JRPGs, the game doesn't easily allow you to become over powered, and although your characters will switch out a lot, it's VERY easy to get them caught up. The frame rate in this game is rather bad compared to most games I've played, while no means unplayable, when things get crazy like having multiple enemies and magic circles being placed everywhere, the game can slow down by a lot.
For a JRPG, The Last Story is the shortest I've ever played (not counting handheld JRPGs). With sidequests that are a pain to find and complete, and spending my extra time grinding (mainly for drops and gold since leveling up was easy ended the game at level 67), the game took me 29 hours to beat, compared to Blue Dragon which I spent over 50 hours and 80 hours on Lost Odyssey. I did wish this game was at least 40 hours long, but nonetheless, it was an amazing adventure to play through. The game does offer a New Game+ but unlike other JRPGs which carry over your items, gold, and skills, The Last Story also carries over your level which I thought is rather dumb since you'll be overpowered the entire 2nd time (on top of having very powerful weapons and armor). There's also multiplayer but I don't care for that so I haven't tried it, but it's there for those who enjoy multiplayer.
Despite its flaws, The Last Story is another amazing achievement by Mistwalker Studios, and compared to other developers, to me, they're one of the best at telling an amazing, yet unique tale. I'm hoping a sequel comes out for the Wii U that fixes these flaws and puts us through another epic journey.