Jul 31, 2008

The Last Guy is a title that has caught our eye recently, simply because it's a game with a bizarre concept, and its developers are an equally odd bunch to say the least. Its strangeness has ensnared us, pulling us in; it's even gone as far as making us purchase it off the Japanese PS Store -- not waiting for a full English release. So we did just that, we bought the Japanese release and what we got was a delightful little surprise. Want to know how it faired?

When we fired up The Last Guy for the first time, we noticed right away that the menu was in English. There were three options, Start the game, "How to Play," and Tutorial. The "How to Play" bit was useless as it was all Japanese text; however, the tutorial was easy to follow, especially for non-Japanese readers such as ourselves, because it shows you how to use the controls with images/actual trial. So, if you can't understand a lick of Japanese, this game isn't a problem to import and play. In fact, when you start playing, you'll notice the HUD is completely in English as well -- you'll get the feel of it within seconds.

As you probably know by now, the world is ravaged by monsters and the objective is to go around the city as a member of the URF (United Rescue Force) and find survivors. You need to rescue people from buildings across town, then bring them back to the "Escape Zone." It appears that The Last Guy is an episodic title, so our download (which only costs ¥500/$5) had only three stages. Each stage took place in the exact same locale in Asakusa, Tokyo but progressively expanded with each subsequent mission. After finishing the three stages, there's sort of a demo reel which reveals possible other locales (for future episodes) such as London, Yokohama, and Washington D.C. in that order.

Now when you actually play the game, you'll have several tools at your disposal. If you hold down the X button, the screen goes into a night vision mode where you can see large green blips which represent people. This makes it easier to find people to rescue, but you won't be able to see monsters with this mode activated. Holding down the triangle button lets you run faster, but depletes your stamina gauge located in the lower left corner. You can increase your stamina gauge by finding items scattered across the map. R1 zooms out for a better aerial view of the city, while R2 zooms in. Use the left analog stick to move and the right one to shift the camera focus, so you can double check adjacent areas to see if they are safe to go through. All of this gives the game simple but engaging strategic gameplay.

Your main concern when rescuing people is, obviously, avoid the monsters at all costs. Running into them will cause them to break your line, scattering them and probably killing some -- ultimately shaving the total number of potential saved people. That's a problem because to clear a stage, you need to save a certain amount of people within the allotted time. Different monsters have different tactics; small purple ones will chase, if they spot you, but will give up once you're out of visible range. The one to watch out for the most are these green things with tentacles which are very fast and will not give up chase easily. You'll meet that difficult creature in the third and final stage. The difficulty overall is very easy; only the last stage gave us a bit of trouble.

Other interesting bits? Let's see ... the game is only 314MB. It has leaderboards so you can compare your scores online. You can rescue VIPs, but don't expect cameos like you'll suddenly be saving famous people like Hideo Kojima; VIPs are represented with a green person symbol and seem to only be there to give you extra points for your score. Lastly, we thought this was just weird: while the HUD and menus are in English, all other text is in Japanese, and the audio is all in the developers' native language of Hindi. How international!

If you're planning to get this game, it might be a good idea to wait for the release in your region as it is episodic and you'd probably want to enjoy the whole experience. Overall, we really enjoyed the game, even if it was way too short. It is, however, still a good value. If you can't wait, then by all means, go ahead and get it off the Japanese PS Store if you've got an account and a Japanese PSN card. We certainly recommend trying out this title and we're looking forward to the next installment.


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