The Last Guy (PlayStation 3) review
"The Last Guy is a pretty unique game. The first thing you might notice are the “graphics.” The game has a directly overhead view. Each level is a city, and although you can adjust the view, you generally are looking at from very high up. That's because each level is made up of actual aerial photographs of the real life cities they are set in. As you might imagine, this is pretty stinkin' cool."
If The Last of Us is TLOU, then The Last Guy should be... TLAG? Let's go with that.
The Last Guy is a pretty unique game. The first thing you might notice are the “graphics.” The game has a directly overhead view. Each level is a city, and although you can adjust the view, you generally are looking at from very high up. That's because each level is made up of actual aerial photographs of the real life cities they are set in. As you might imagine, this is pretty stinkin' cool. The photos are very crisp, and I'd be shocked if they weren't touched up a bit, but they look great, and it's crazy to think that you're looking at the city in an actual state it really existed in.
In The Last Guy, “zombies” have invaded earth. In this case, “zombies” just means giant monsters. The standard zombie is a humanoid guy walking on all fours that seems to be 3-5 stories tall. There are many other varieties as well, such as giant bugs, weird giant poof-balls, and a few others. You play as the titular Last Guy, a good guy zombie super hero who is trying to save people. You run around the cities and get people to follow you to evacuation zones. When the time runs out in the level, a rescue ship flies in and picks everyone up and defils. It's a Japanese game.
People in each level are typically hiding in buildings. When you go near a building, they come running out into the street, and if you go near them, they start to follow you. The weird thing is that they form an almost single-file line behind you. Since you rescue large numbers of people at a time, that means that for most of the game a long line of people is trailing along behind you. In fact, it often gets very, very long. Zombies wander the streets in set patterns. If you run into them, it's game over. If they touch your line of people, it is cut; you keep all the people between you and the point of contact, but everyone on the other side of the point of contact flees into the nearest building and has to be picked up again. This makes having long lines a big risk, but usually a necessary one as you need to move as many people as possible as fast as possible. You can also use big lines to surround buildings and instantly rescue everyone inside, which saves you time if you are able to pull it off.
Each of the different types of zombies have different behaviors and attributes. The standard ones charge you if they see you but ignore your crowd of people. Others will slowly follow you for a long time if you are spotted. Some patrol the whole city and are fast moving, others guard certain areas. There is no way to kill zombies, they must be avoided. The main way you keep you and your crowd of people away from the zombies, beside planning the safest route possible, is by using the Last Guy's stamina. Pressing triangle makes the Last Guy run. The crowd runs along behind him. Pressing circle makes the crowd rapidly rush to the Last Guy and gather the whole line in one spot right next to him. You must use these two maneuvers constantly to run through the city streets and alleyways and pull the crowd along with you. Both of these moves rapidly deplete Last Guy's stamina meter, which starts out very small to begin with. The meter constantly recharges, and it grows permanently bigger as your line gets bigger, which is another advantage to making as long a line as possible. The stamina system is very tightly balanced as you almost constantly need to both use it and save it. It works really well.
The typical strategy is to get a line of as many people as you can and then head back to the escape zone to drop them off before the line becomes too hard to control. The longer it is, the easier it is for you to loose track of a zombie and have it wander into the line. When the line is long, you need a long time to call the whole line to you using circle, and it can sometimes be easy to mistime a movement so that your line gets cut. The pressure is always on though; each level is timed and has a quota, and you loose if you don't have enough people in the escape before it's time to leave.
As you move around the city, you can switch to thermal mode at any time by holding X. This let's you see where survivors are; all survivors light up in green in this mode, and the bigger the green is, the more survivors there are. You're able to see exactly which buildings and areas contain the most people, which helps you know where you need to go. As long as you are in thermal mode, you can also see exactly where you are able to walk and where pathways are blocked, which is not always clear in normal mode. At first, the lack of clarity as to where you can walk seems like a flaw, but after a bit I realized that the pathways through the streets and buildings of each level are carefully designed, and the need to constantly check thermal mode to see where you can go is intentional. That's because zombies are invisible in thermal mode. So you need to be in normal mode a lot to see where the zombies are and thermal mode to see where the pathways are. The tension between these two view modes, and the need to constantly zoom in and out to see the big picture and your local situation mean that you are constantly trying to get as much visual information as possible. It's a unique formula that makes the otherwise basic gameplay of walking around and avoiding bad guys a lot of fun.
It might sound like it would get old level after level though, and it probably would if the levels didn't constantly throw curve balls at you. Every level offers a different wrinkle to the formula, be it new enemy types you haven't seen before with strange new behaviors and attributes, weird environmental effects, or wildly different level set ups. Every level feels fresh and has something weird going on in it, so the game never gets boring.
Before each level you see a map of the whole city, which is a good time to plan out your strategy. The map shows you survivor locations as well as the locations of the level's power-ups. Power-ups in the game include items that refill your stamina gauge, stop all enemies for a short time, make you invisible, and most importantly in my opinion, teleport you back to the escape zone. Almost all of my plans involved hitting the parts of the city with the highest concentration of survivors and then high-tailing it for the nearest teleport power-up to get everyone to the escape zone with as little traveling as possible. Of course, you can only use the power-ups once, and they are semi-randomized, so even in the same level you might not get the setup you want.
Once you beat the game you can go for high scores and 3-star rankings. These are typically achieved by making really, really long lines of people and rescuing specific people called VIPs. You can also unlock bonus stages by getting high scores. The bonus stages are challenging and weird variations of levels you've already played. They are pretty fun, but very hard. The last two are the only two levels I was unable to get 3-star rankings on, to my shame. They were fun to earn and beat though.
The Last Guy has really cool music. It's hard to explain. The main theme you hear in a lot of levels is this very quirky electronic song. It almost sounds like a homemade electronic song that one of your friends made, but actually has a lot going on in it; much more than your friends could manage. It also sounds great when it is sped up, which it is as you near the end of the level. This really adds to the frantic tension if you are not quite there on your quota as the level ends. There is also a more brooding, serious sounding song in some of the levels that feature the really weird stuff... It's good too.
The other sound element of The Last Guy that is interesting is the constant chatter and talking you hear in all the menu screens and from the people in the line of survivors following you. They talk in Japanese, and often say English phrases in Japanese accents. This element of the game is a lot of fun and really enjoyable. I love it when a level starts and a Japanese guy yells, “Go! Go! Go!” or “Last Guy” followed by a bunch of Japanese I don't understand. It fits in quite well with the bizarre scenario you are in.
The Last Guy was fun and engaging for much longer than I thought it would. I had quite a few long sessions with it where I tried levels over and over again until I beat them. And I had a lot of fun doing it. The unique look of the photograph levels is downright awesome, and I love that the names of famous landmarks pop up onscreen as you pass by them and thinking about the real life locations I am running through (see that car; that's a real car that was really parked there. Somebody owns that in real life!). The quirky music, presentation, and Japanese chatter give the game a great atmosphere, and the gameplay is challenging and fun. It's a 3 out of 5.
Community review by Robotic_Attack (May 30, 2015)
Robotic Attack reviews every game he plays... almost.
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