01 - Theme of The Last Story
02 - Is That Road Justified?
03 - Timbre of the City
04 - Running in Struggle
05 - Crossing Intentions
06 - Bonds
07 - Order and Chaos
08 - Exposed to Light
09 - When Hearts Connect
10 - The Flying One (Instrumental)
11 - Hearts Bounce Loudly
12 - Infiltration
13 - Destruction
14 - War
15 - Just Being Near You
01 - Pride of Knights
02 - Conspiracy
03 - Evil Beast
04 - Castle Ruri
05 - Fallen Nobles
06 - Sneaking Sign
07 - The Dark Side
08 - Being Congenial
09 - Bout of Arena ~ Battle Banquet
10 - Glorify the King
11 - Lost Time
12 - The Other Side of Oblivion
13 - Declining Nobles
14 - Pub for Gathering
01 - Invitation to Madness
02 - Authority and Majesty
03 - With Decision in the Heart
04 - Death Dance
05 - Patina of the King
06 - Awaiting Disaster
07 - The One Ruling Everything
08 - New Days
09 - Joyful Voices Can Be Heard
10 - The Flying One
11 - With Unfulfilled Dream
12 - Feelings Conflict
13 - Meowmeowmeowmeowmeow~
The limited edition comes with this outer sleeve packaging. Nice!
The Last Story will be the first Uematsu composition I've heard wherein he isn't linked to Square in some way. Logically, no difference in quality should be expected, since Uematsu seemed to do much of his own work without direction. However, since Final Fantasy isn't involved in some way, will he take a different approach? This reviewer doesn't think so. He certainly maintains the same quality, since few composers can motivate me to play a game just with the music alone. Let's be honest: most people buy games--or at least try the--because of gameplay, plot, or graphics. Music typically takes a backseat to everything else. With Uematsu, though, I know just how much what he composes enhances the plot and total package of a game. People don't go out to a steakhouse to sample herbs and spices; they want a good cut of meat, proper seasoning, and just enough red in the middle to keep it juicy. Uematsu is the difference between a highway diner and five star restaurant.
I haven't played The Last Story, and I typically preface my soundtrack reviews by stating that having not played the game, I probably won't laud the soundtrack appropriately, since linking music to specific parts of the game enhances the experience. This isn't the case in this instance. I can't exaggerate over to the other end of the spectrum and claim that playing the game could potentially hurt how I feel about the music, because Uematsu's work stands on its own quite well, with or without a controller in hand. For those in love with strings and soft woodwinds, you will love this soundtrack.
Uematsu's past can't escape him. He has been accused of regurgitating sounds in the past, not that I think this is a bad thing. Regardless, I definitely detected hints of previous works here and there within this album. A specific example is A Mad Dash. Just listen to that and try not to picture Tidus in a fighting stance, shifting weight from side to side. In fact, throughout the soundtrack, I heard bits of Final Fantasy X. What felt especially nostalgic--and not necessarily to FFX, but overall--were the tracks in minor. In this soundtrack especially, Uematsu seemed to try to join woodwinds with slow strings. Another theme I found throughout was an emphasis on echoing percussion. These sounds paired together create some excellent imagery, as if residing in a tranquil meadow or deep green grove.
Speaking of imagery, one of Uematsu's many strengths has always lied in hurried tracks--those tunes that instill a feeling of immediacy. If you don't get the hell out of that reactor, you're done. Sure, the clock's tickin' and the annoyingly constant random encounters create urgency, but without the music demanding a quick escape, something would be missing. Evil Beast has that exact same feeling. The track name implies a boss battle, but why shouldn't boss battles offer a panicked feeling, helping your body pump out adrenaline?
When I first listened to this soundtrack, I intentionally didn't look at the track list until I had a good idea about what a track was trying to communicate: are we in a battle, a cave, or a dark forest? How about mythic ruins? Ruli Castle sounds familiar to something out of Final Fantasy VII, but it carries with it that forgotten civilization feel to it. The piano is capable of conveying so many different feelings. Fallen Nobles comes immediately after Ruli Castle, and, like the previous track, it creates some fantastic, haunting melodies. Unfortunately at about 1:15 it gets a little silly, which seems completely inappropriate. Even one of the RPG composer gods is fallible.
Although the soundtrack seems reminiscent of Uematsu's previous work, he is not without some surprises. Bout of Arena ~ Battle Banquet has a sort of salsa feel to it. To date, I don't think he has ever dabbled in castinettes, but I could be mistaken. Either way, the track sounds wonderful, and the unique instrument choice isn't overdone; its use is quiet at times, and complements the rest of the track quite well. Invitation to Madness also feels like an experiment in that it almost sounds cartoony--like Scooby Doo-cartoony at first. The track grounds itself after a minute or so, but it's still not indicative of Uematsu's previous work, which is always good to see; I'm glad that this old dog can still learn some new tricks--forgive the dog metaphor, Uematsu-sama! I get the inkling with this track that he may miss The Black Mages, though.
In the same vein as the aforementioned experiments, The One Who Rules All incorporates a good portion of Buddhist-esque chanting, leaving a sort of ominous atmosphere. Following is a hardcore, synthesizer laden track that has an uncanny sound to RPG battles of olde. I have to reiterate that this is not a weakness--Uematsu's music has a strong foundation, and double dipping never hurt anyone, except germaphobes. Oh, and don't let the random screaming later in the track freak you out too much. This is no One-Winged Angel, but it certainly rocks.
The music in RPGs is often overlooked. I have friends who mute RPGs and play CDs of their favorites bands, and I know others who view music as "extra." This may often be the case--that music serves to accentuate an already vivid plot or solid game design. However, a few noteworthy games boast a soundtrack that makes the game. The legendary RPGs of our past may not have been the same without certain pieces included--a riveting battle theme, somber character theme song, or thunderous overworld number. I don't know what kind of game The Last Story is, but I know that if the writing and gameplay mechanics parallel the music composition, it's a must have.
Reviewed by: Bob Richardson
Nobuo Uematsu's third major project with Mistwalker is a Wii-exclusive RPG that, as of this soundtrack review's post date, shows no signs of being localized. And, based on the music alone, I'd say that's a damn shame.
We've heard a lot of Final Fantasy soundtracks get synth upgrades over the years (examples: FF3 and FF4 DS), but imagine if Uematsu got to do recorded versions of dozens of his best tracks from FF6, FF8, and others? That's sort of what you're getting with Last Story. I'm not saying this is a recycled soundtrack. But die-hard Uematsu fans will recognize, for example, the waltz style of "Hearts Bounce Loudly" and compare it almost immediately to Waltz pieces from previous FF titles.
With a gameplay style similar to Final Fantasy XII, I suppose it's fitting that some of Uematsu's darker tracks on this soundtrack remind me of Sakimoto's themes as well. Who knew Uematsu had it in him? Tracks like "Destruction," "War" and "Evil Beast" really bring out this cacophonous symphony style. In contrast, the ballad-style instrumental "Just Being Near You" rounds out the end of the first disc in a style that really brings emotion to this soundtrack.
With as much darkness and mood this soundtrack sports, there is some lightheartedness. "Being Congenial" sounds like a classy jazz standard, and is very much in keeping with some of Uematsu's other "light" pieces over the years. A big shocker for me, however, was the next track: "Bout of Arena ~ Battle Banquet." This one is also "light" to an extent. But it's adventurous. It puts the Pirates of the Caribbean theme to shame. A Latin-flavored piece of music with a high-octave violin part at the top, I'm tempted to equate this piece's emotive power with Sakuraba's classic "We Form In Crystals," though obviously with a different created mood.
Speaking generally about the nature of the tracks, some quick math allows the reader to determine the average length of the tracks. Hint: they are long. Most are 4 or 5 minutes. We're getting a lot of substance out of these 40-ish pieces of music. Yet again, I find myself ready to compare to Uematsu's FF discography. Specifically, his three disc soundtrack for FF6 was packed with substance across 3 discs. Granted, I would argue FF6 is still the superior soundtrack to Last Story, but there are certainly memorable moments in this OST. "Invitation to Madness" and "Death Dance" may not outrank "Dancing Mad," but they're all "mad" good. Get it? No? Okay, that's fine. Just get the soundtrack then.
Quick note about Kanon's vocal theme "Toberu mono" ("The Flying One"): it's operatic, beautiful and well-structured. In my mind, it is on par with FFXI's "Distant Worlds." You'd be hard-pressed not to love it. Unless, of course, you have no soul. Great, now I've gone and insulted all of RPGFan's soul-less readers. Sorry about that.
If you can look past (or custom-playlist-out) some of the filler tracks, Last Story stands out as being on par with Lost Odyssey, but beyond that, also a return to form for those who adore his past Final Fantasy work. The recorded work is exactly what Uematsu has wanted to do more of, and I'm happy to hear him fulfilling his dreams while we, his fans, benefit.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann