A Political Promise in a Box
The Last Guy is a perfect example of a Political Promise Game. It comes up to you and promises you that it’ll completely knock your socks off with its unique game play, encapsulating graphics, outstanding gimmick, and no survivor left behind. The problem is it fails to deliver on all of these fronts. Allow me to explain:
The idea behind The Last Guy is that you are – presumably – one of the few survivors on Earth after a large... erm... space beam hits the earth and kills everyone outside, while simultaneously creating monsters. No explanation beyond this, just roll with it. Your job, then, is to roll around town and save the few remaining survivors while dodging the mega-zombies. As you rescue these survivors, (who are about as intelligent as a slightly rotten pear), they follow you around like an ever-growing snake until you take them to the aptly named ‘escape zone’. The game promises to offer some unique game-play elements; like how your trail of survivors grows larger and larger as you rescue more, until, like a giant unwieldy snake, a section gets cut off by some super-mutant. Then you get the pleasure of going back and rounding them up.
Graphically speaking, The Last Guy is an interesting experiment. The biggest pull the game uses to make itself unique is real-world cities taken directly from Google Earth. So, when you’re roaming the streets of London, you’re looking at satellite images of London itself. While pretty nifty at first, it’s the game’s only gimmick, and it wears thin after the first level or two. It also leads to a few game-play holes. Firstly, you’re stuck using roughly a dozen pre-loaded cities. One would think that if we can load a song into Audiosurf and get a unique track in seconds, we could load some co-ordinates into the game and get to use any city we’d like. Also, with the character models used for the protagonist, as well as the super-zombies, you’re 40 god damn feet tall. If I’m a survivor in an apocalyptic situation, the last guy I’m following is the 40-foot tall, pitchfork wielding fellow. So while roaming the real-world streets of many metropolises is a really unique concept, it would be nice to see the idea expanded more, and allow users to import cities of their choosing.
Another minor issue that led me to wanting to pitch my controller out of the window is the in-game menu system. With most games, when you pause, your options are usually Resume, Retry and Quit. This one skips the Resume button entirely, with Retry as the default. Also, when you hit Retry, it doesn’t have the courtesy to ask, “Are you sure?” It just restarts the game. Typically, it plays out like this: Ten minutes into the game – nearly beat the level. What’s that? My phone is ringing? *pauses, comes back and hits X to resume the game* “FUUUUUUUU…” Also, the game doesn’t end when you meet the number of survivors to pass; it just keeps going until time runs out. I’ve ended levels with upwards of five or ten minutes to go, and was left with the option of either delving back into the city to get more survivors, or just sitting and twiddling my thumbs. (I soon found out I’m a very proficient thumb-twiddler.) Minor things like that plague the game and make it very difficult to really get lost in it and enjoy the experience. When you’re not trying to corral a hundred survivors, you’re restarting the game by mistake.
Another thing that completely befuddles me with this game is the sound. Some games have great sound (Dawn of War 2!), and some games have terrible sound (the Hunter series). The Last Guy’s sound just leaves you wondering what the hell you just heard. The menu’s music is this pseudo-ancient Japanese sounding music, while some guy yells at you in Japanese. I’m not making this up, I have the game in the menu as I write this, and he’s screaming something at me. I think he wants me to go to Six Flags. Once you actually get into a game, the music switches to a painfully generic techno-beat usually found in games like Crimson Lands. Then when you complete a mission you’re greeted by a song that sounds like a warm-up to a big band Vegas show.
Overall, this game leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It promises so much: Unique game-play! Awesome use of Google Earth! But after you’ve started it you soon realize it’s going to do the bare minimum to fulfill these promises. It gives you game-play that’s novel at first, but it wears thin and becomes frustrating by the second level, and its use of a very powerful technology is limited at best – that is, when you’re not restarting the game by mistake. I wouldn’t suggest this game to anyone I liked, or to anyone who owes me the $10 it costs on PSN. It left me feeling hollow, empty, and confused. To simulate this feeling, look at the website: http://www.jp.playstation.com/scej/title/lastguy Ten dollars to the first person who has any idea what’s going on there…
Story: 2/5 It manages to take a generic genre and make it even more bland.
Setting: 3/5 I love the idea of using real layouts of real cities, but it’s implemented poorly, and feels incomplete.
Gameplay: 2/5 Basically a complex version of Snake. The gameplay is interesting, but very quickly becomes repetitive and frustrating, with no changes between levels. New levels, same grind.
Art and Graphics: 3/5 The maps are implemented nicely, and the character models, while enormous are neat looking, as well as the million man march you soon get following you.
Sound: 2/5 What is this? I don’t even…
Overall score: 2/5 Panicked survivors