Dec 10, 2016

Stupid Dog-Bird-Thingy

If a game spends too much time in development it has a fairly high chance to disappoint. In a best case scenario it may look and feel a bit dated when it finaly hits store shelves, however it is at least as likely to simply just not deliver to all the hype and expectations that where build up over the years. And when Team ICO announced The Last Guardian back in 2007 that game actualy was a reason for me to get a PS3 because I liked both ICO and Shadow of the Collosus that much. Back then no one could have guessed that the game would end up on the PS4 instead, but that´s just how things go down sometimes. Similar to Duke Nukem Forever it is a wierd feeling to finaly have the game in your hands and to play it. And while some games do change drasticly during development, espescialy if they are in development for almost a decade, or sometimes even longer, I have a strong feeling that the version of The Last Guardian we get to play now is actualy fairly close, if not exactly the same, as what was intended years ago to be released on the PS3. Of cause this has both good and bad sides, on the positive side you get a unique artstyle that is just as beautiful today as it was years ago in the first official trailers, on the bad side however you get a camera straight out of hell that makes the cameras in most N64 games look good in comparsion and a control sheme that feels just a bit off every now and then.

As with the other games from Team ICO the Story isn´t the strongest point of The Last Guardian, and to be honest it doesn´t have to because what really matters here are how the boy and Trico (that´s the Dog-Bird-Thingy) interact with each other and how their realationship develops during the game, and every gameplay element is build around what the boy and Trico can and can´t do on their own. The boy has to open gates, find food barrels and get rid of eyes made from stained glass, otherwise Trico either can´t or won´t progress any further down the path, on the other hand Trico will help the boy to reach places he could never reach on his own and since the kid can´t fight the enemies on his own the beast will deal with them for you and in return you remove spears that get stuck in his body during combat to ease the pain. Usualy it is very clear or at least easy to understand what you have to do in order to progress and even the two or three places where it isn´t as obvious you probably won´t need a guide to figure the solution out on your own. However even when you know what you have to do it isn´t always easy to achieve your goals, and that´s because Trico can be a pain to deal with, you see, the feathered beast has a mind of his own and while that gives him a lot of personality it can get in your way. Sometimes it takes him ages to follow you or he decides to jump down the tower you just climbed up only to go up again the moment he reaches the lower platform before finaly making the jump with you he was supposed to do in the first place and every once in a while you get pushed around while giving a target for Trico´s ranged attack, however while getting pushed around you now aim either on Trico itself or on a blank wall.

From a technical perspective you don´t have much to complain here. Sure, textures tend to be on the lower side of the resolution scale and on a regular non-pro PS4 you get Frame Rate drops down into the 20-ish region, but it´s always playable and at least for me it´s not a dealbreaker. And while the Soundtrack is great, there isn´t a single piece of music in the game that I could remember. Don´t get me wrong here, that isn´t necessarily a bad thing, but outside of combat situations the music tends to be very quiet. The only real issues I have with The Last Guardian are the insane amount of patience you sometimes need to get Trico to do what you whant him to do, the camera that on a regular basis doesn´t focus on what would be important at that moment or just doesnt work properly at all when you are on Trico´s back inside a smaller room and my third issue are the climbing controls when you try to get on or off Trico. In my opinion it is the weakest of the Team ICO games, wich doesn´t mean that it is a bad game, I just think that if it had been released on the PS3 back when it was supposed to that it wouldn´t have felt so wierdly outdated in some areas, but still, the game comes highly recommended none the less.