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The Last Guardian

is a third-person perspective game that combines action-adventure and puzzle elements, developed by Team Ico. The game has been in development since 2007, and was... read more

6.1
Platforms PlayStation 3
Themes Fantasy
Developers Team Ico...
Engines
Status: In development
Release: 06-Dec-2016

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is a third-person perspective game that combines action-adventure and puzzle elements, developed by Team Ico. The game has been in development since 2007, and was formally announced at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo with a planned release in 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3.

In The Last Guardian, the player controls a young boy who befriends a giant half-bird-half-mammal creature, Trico, and the two work together to evade guards that are after them both. The player must manipulate Trico as they would a real animal, such as luring it with food, to use it to reach high platforms or other remote places, while evading enemies.

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The game has been in development since 2007, and was formally announced at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo with a planned release in 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3 video game console. The game has since suffered from numerous delays and further complications, including Ueda's departure as a full-time employee of Sony, though he remains as a consultant on the project. Sony has since left the release date and platform in question but, as of August 2014, stated the game remains in development.

Plot

The Last Guardian's story follows that of a boy who is trying to escape from a setting resembling the ruins of a large expansive castle. The game will revolve around the developing friendship between the boy and a giant, feathered creature resembling a griffin named Trico. The name of the creature can be taken to mean "prisoner", "baby bird", or a portmanteau of "bird" and "cat". Trico has spears and arrows stuck in its back, and is initially bound by a chain. Later, it is freed and is shown attacking an armored soldier. Screenshots, along with the E3 trailer, show the boy attempting to sneak past and attack other soldiers. Trico will at first be hostile toward the boy, but during the course of the game, the two will develop an emotional attachment to each other. Ueda suggested there may be similar creatures like Trico in the game, but could not confirm this.

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Some speculated, based on the tone of the 2009 E3 trailer and of Team Ico's past games, that The Last Guardian will end sadly; both Penny Arcade and Zero Punctuationpostulated the ending of the game would involve the death of either the boy or Trico. In response to these theories, creator Fumito Ueda addressed them by stating the story is "open-ended, and for you guys to figure out."

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Gameplay

The Last Guardian is a third-person perspective game that combines action-adventure and puzzle elements. The player controls the unarmed boy who can run, jump, climb and perform other actions similar to the gameplay in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The player may also need to use the environment to silently move around or defeat shadow-being guards, though initially the boy is weaponless. The guards, although slow-moving, can capture the boy, and if the player is unable to free the character in time, the game will be over.

The player's movements are augmented by interaction with Trico who the boy can climb upon and ride. As stated by Ueda, Trico is "driven by animal instincts", and it is up to the player to guide the creature, "taking advantage of his natural behavior", in order to complete puzzles. For example, the player may have the boy throw a barrel that gains Trico's interest, causing it to move to a specific location. The player may also need to find the way for Trico to sit still in order to allow the player to complete a section, while the natural tendency of the creature is to run ahead of the player. Unlike typical sidekicks in video games, which immediately react to a player's command, Trico will be difficult for the player to control, and may take several attempts to coerce the creature into performing a specific action.

The player will also have to care for the creature, either by feeding it or removing spears and arrows that are stuck in its body. Through the course of the game, the player will gain better command of the creature, an aspect Ueda considered equivalent to training a pet; initially in the game, the creature may wander off to explore something that interests it more than the boy, refuse to eat food it thinks smells badly, or choose to go to sleep when it wants to. By performing certain tasks, the player will be able to come to control Trico better, and Ueda believes "each player will have a different Trico to work with depending on how he or she chooses to interact with him". However, the player may still want to take advantage of the creature's natural habits; the game includes sections where by letting Trico roam free, new areas for exploration may open up.Image title

Development

The creation of The Last Guardian was partially based on the interaction between the player and the horse Agro in Shadow of the Colossus. Ueda desired to make this interaction and relation more of the central concept for the next game. Ueda stressed a central theme of The Last Guardian is the developing "emotional attachment" between the boy character and Trico and needed a means to express that through the creature. Trico also functions similarly as the giant Colossus creatures which the player-character had to climb in Shadow of the Colossus. As such,The Last Guardian has been considered by journalists as the combination of Ico and Shadow; Ueda admits "there's a bit of each of those [games] in there" within the gameplay of The Last Guardian. The relationship between the boy, Trico, and the human guards in the game was described by Ueda as a game of rock-paper-scissors that changes throughout the game; at times, the boy may need Trico to protect him from the guards, while the situation may be reversed at other times.

Ueda wanted to create a virtual creature that behaved as realistically as possible, avoiding "the unnatural idiosyncrasies of the virtual animal" that normally appear when virtual animals are attempted. The final version of Trico is an amalgam of several different creatures and the approximation of their behavior within the limitation of the game's engine; the design was "deliberately unbalanced because looking strange was important here", according to Ueda. The team wanted to avoid making the animal "cute" and instead focus on achieving realistic-looking behavior with "animal-like expressions". Such interactions include replicating the same "twitch" that cats exhibit when they are petted; Trico's ears will react if they come into contact with ceilings or other tall features using the game's mesh-based collision detection system, with Trico responding in a similar manner as a cat. Trico is also considered "adolescent" by Ueda, allowing the developers to inject humor through its actions at times. To achieve these motions, the development team used programmed key frame animations instead of the more popular motion capture techniques, allowing them to capture subtleties that would be difficult using live animal subjects. Trico was designed and programmed to give as much flexibility as possible to allow for creativity in level design and letting the creature's function adapt to it; this was in contrast to previous games where they had to design the level to meet the capabilities of the creatures they had already designed.Image title

The boy, although less detailed than his creature counterpart, is also animated with similar fluidity through key frame animation. The boy will naturally place a hand on a nearby wall if close, and will reach out to pet the creature without any player interaction. These animations, mimicking what real-life people would do, were necessary to help the player believe the game world to also be real. Ueda stated initially they had considered using a small girl instead of a boy to interact with the creature, but realized they would have issues with an accurate representation of the girl's stamina while climbing on the creature, and further issues with questionable camera angles during climbing scenes with the girl, wearing a short skirt.

The game uses a full physics engine, an aspect not included in Team Ico's previous games. Ueda said one scene in the trailer, which shows the boy throwing a barrel at the creature who then bites down and eats it, is fully based on that physics engine, including the contact of the barrel with the creature's beak. The game's engine builds on the team's previous development of AI processing from Ico and transformative collisions from Shadow of the Colossus. Ueda claims within the physics engine, the effect of wind is modeled separately for each of the creature's feathers.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article The Last Guardian, which isreleased under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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