The Last Guy

Imagine what would happen if zombies started to run riot across the planet (proper zombies, with all the flesh issues and stuff, as opposed to the average modern human). It'd be quieter on the roads, and there'd be less stupidity on tv, but the problem, obviously, would be the threat of death from the raving monsters. The solution, as always, is to rely entirely on one person, ideally augmented with a bit of dark naughtiness themselves (in this case, some zombie genetics, but with "good" nature intact). The novelty in The Last Guy is that, when controlling your zombie of greatness, you must do so from a Google Earth perspective.

The Last Guy

Looking down on real imagery from famous cities such as Tokyo (which starred in the popular country Japan), players can manoeuvre their human-zombie abomination of greatness through the streets of the city, past photo-realistic (literally) buildings, parks, rivers and trees. In doing so, survivors from the city-wide onslaughts will be found loitering in public areas such as swimming pools, stadia, restaurants and McDonalds, desperate to escape the madness. As your character passes by, streams of locals will start to follow, believing that you know a good route to a safe location. Thankfully, from your satellite perspective, spotting the safe zone is a doddle and getting the survivors to it is, well, challenging, but achieveable. By carefully avoiding the hordes of naughty bad zombies, guiding your stream of civilians through back alleys and clear streets to evade trouble, you can gradually set increasing numbers of tiny people free, until you finally reach the required total.

The most impressive thing about this concept is that it actually works, and creates an enjoyable experience. Character movement is quite fast, making scooting around the city a blast, while locals are pleasingly responsive, leaping out of their hiding locations as you pass, which helps to reduce frustration. Inevitably, things do increase in difficulty, with increasingly nerve-wracking tests of timing and route planning available later in the game, but this is definitely a good thing, and really helps to realize the potential of the game. The various targets for basic completion, through to perfectionist levels of stardom mean that there's plenty to do and, with decent replay value, the game is actually quite good value as a cheaper store title. There may even be trophy support for the game in future patches, adding further targets for players to try and meet.

The Last Guy

Graphically, there's not a huge amount going on, but it's clear that the raw satellite imagery has been improved and, most importantly, integrated into a pseudo 3-D environment. Entirely flat imagery wouldn't look particularly smart, and would hinder gameplay considerably, but despite the 2-D nature of the imagery available, the developers have done a good job with shading and perspective change to ensure that everything feels just a little bit more bumpy and textured. There are distinctive layers to the setting, allowing players to disappear and reappear from view behind particular objects. It may seem simple overall, but it's perhaps more technical than it might first appear. The photo-realistic visuals also provide a very fresh graphical look for games, which contrasts nicely with the many brightly coloured, cartoon-style games, like Calling All Cars! available on the store.

The music is quite retro and playful, which suits the style of movement of the characters. Restricted to the city plane, movement is reminiscent of games from the 1980s, and the music accentuates this fact, setting aside any thought of a modern, dramatic score along the lines of Harry Gregson Williams' Metal Gear themes. The effects are similarly basic, but as with many store titles, the expensive flourishes are put aside in the pursuit of pure, enjoyable gameplay. In this respect, The Last Guy succeeds to some extent, but is let down by the fact that there's a limited amount that can be done with the original concept. Using satellite imagery is a great novelty, but the gameplay is limited as a result. As satellite imagery progresses, perhaps more 3-D interaction will be possible in the future, or maybe more puzzle elements will be thought up in future iterations of the game, but in this first attempt, The Last Guy is enjoyable, without ever taking your breath away. There's also rarely any feeling of true immersion in the game, not necessarily due to a lack of cutscenes, but perhaps because the distant vantage point makes the game's characters seem like insignificant spots, which don't seem to allow players to invest in the experience.

Although there are a few limitations, The Last Guy is still a very good game, and one that pushes the industry in a slightly new direction, trying out something new for the Playstation Store. The PSN really has started to show good form as a home for new, original ideas that developers and publishers can take a risk with, without the extreme consequences of a failed full-game disc release. The Last Guy, in the current climate at least, would not warrant a full game on PS3, but as a store release, it's an interesting avenue to explore and an enjoyable game, worth a few pounds to experiment with.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Sony

Players:

1

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2008-08-28

Trophies:

23

Review summary

Gameplay:

A novel idea and addictive to play

Graphics:

Simple but with detailed imagery

Sound:

Simplistic but fun

Lastability:

Plenty of challenge to overcome

6.6

Aurora

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