The Last Guy (PlayStation 3) review
"Namaste. "The Last Guy" is, according to the commercial, made by Hindustan Electronics Limited, and is without a doubt the greatest game ever made. Number 1! How could it not be, with the development team praying in turns to the house god of infinite prosperity, their mascot running free in the office churning out fresh goat- milk, and very delicious curry- dishes are served regularly to keep up the morals. Also, the main programmer is the number one mathematician in the Himalays (by statistics)..."
Namaste. "The Last Guy" is, according to the commercial, made by Hindustan Electronics Limited, and is without a doubt the greatest game ever made. Number 1! How could it not be, with the development team praying in turns to the house god of infinite prosperity, their mascot running free in the office churning out fresh goat- milk, and very delicious curry- dishes are served regularly to keep up the morals. Also, the main programmer is the number one mathematician in the Himalays (by statistics), as he shows on his hand- held solar- powered calculator. The Last Guy!
But attempts at awkward and severly unpolitically correct humour aside, as a framing device the commercial describes the game perfectly well. Whether it is the Bollywood vibe or the retro tech references, since those are the major themes in the game. All the way from the 8-bit imitation artwork, to the synthesized arcade music, the presentation and the gameplay. The plot is similarly 8-bit. You are The Last Guy, sent from a relief- agency to rescue everyone, everywhere, after the planet has unfortunately been zapped by a mysterious Purple Light. The light turned every person hit by the horrible rays into zombies, forcing the survivors - who were watching tv and playing video- games at the time of the disaster - to huddle in consuming terror inside their homes. And only you, "The Last Guy" (pronounced with great emotion and flair), can rescue them from their fearful existence.
In the game, this is done by controlling the last guy - easily identifiable as the only one with a red cloak - from a top- down perspective around the map. Then, with the help of the heat- vision, you detect where people are hiding, approach the locations, and collect the survivors. They will then follow your trail to the designated safe- zones placed around the map, and airlifted to safety when the level- timer runs out.
Of course the dangerous zombies roaming the streets on the outside will try to stop you, so you must use your wit, the zoomable overview, strategically placed power- ups.. and super motivational powers to avoid them, along with the increasingly long trail of followers.
I don't want to give away the ending, but at some point there will be singing and dancing in the streets.
As much as the game relies on setting and presentation, the level design is somewhat compelling on it's own, though. Usually the next level has a new type of zombie, or adds a new gameplay mechanic. So instead of forcing you to do the same rescue againand again as before, just faster and with less margin of error, the game makes you gradually learn to change your tactics along the way. Since you (obviously) only have one life, the fact that the level is designed not to last overly long, is also something that helps pace the game, rather than make you constantly look at the timer while wondering what sort of voodoo the playtesters used to clear the level. The design also encourages you to stop and think for a short while before running to the rescue - it's a good way to challenge the player, simply put, by not creating "perfect" routes or tricks that are necessary to use for completing the game. And instead making you beat the game without breaking the concepts as they are presented to you.
Still, the game obviously does rely heavily on presentation - without the maps being made from authentic geo- maps of various known locations, all the level introductions containing some trivia about the different cities - or the appropriate music, the sound- effects, and the evolving gameplay - without this the game- screen wouldn't be incredibly interesting. I mean, it's 2d, top down, and you're controlling a small pixelated character, rescuing cheering green dots.
But in spite of that, the entire package manages to make a classic 8-bit experience fun to play, without relying on retro- nostalgia for a particular title or existing character. And that is a feat, no matter how you look at it. As well as perhaps a reminder for game- designers about what really matters when creating a game.
(...no, not zombies).
"The Last Guy", available on PSN, tested on the non- trophy patched EU version
Community review by fleinn (June 30, 2009)
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