Go away 2010. You were rubbish. It’s now all about 2011, and the games we can’t wait to play. That’s why throughout the first couple of weeks of January I’m going to be going through some of the games I’m most looking forward to in the coming year. Today's game? The Last Guardian.
The Last Guardian When Steven Spielberg rattled off some nonsense about games becoming legitimate art when they made people "cry" I thought to myself, "shut up Spielnerd".
Games have been making me cry for years. I cried when my parents bought me Superman 64 for Christmas. I cried when I found out that Jet Set Willy was legitimately uncompletable - and I cried bitter, bitter tears when I realised my six year old legs weren't long enough to reach the pedals in Hard Drivin'. Short Round-style pedal blocks weren't going to cut it.
And you know what? I am 99.9% sure that The Last Guardian will make me cry.
Hell, even the bloody trailer had me welling up. And I've watched it at least 47 times. There's just something about the sacred bond between boy and cat-dog-bird that sets me off. Maybe it's the fact that I grew up in a household of pets, maybe it's my unnatural love for The Neverending Story, but the idea of building up this symbiotic relationship is one that I have absolute faith will translate brilliantly - in both an aesthetic and functional way.
In Ico, Fumita Ueda gave us the 'hand-holding' mechanic - a simple innovation that created an instant emotional connection. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the connection between The Last Guardian's protagonist and the Cat-Bird-Thing will be just as tangible. The expectation is, of course, that said Cat-Bird-Thing will die protecting the boy in some romantic sacrifice that'll have us all sobbing and bawling, but creator Fumita Ueda has wisely cautioned againt that assumption, instead insisting that we should expect the unexpected.
Ueda has also discussed how there is a level of realism can only be realised through the imaginary - which is the reason why The Last Guardian's 'Guardian' is an imaginary creature, that takes inspiration from a number of tangible, indiscrete sources. The design is incredible, and with only a vague frame of reference, the development team is able to create something new that we can relate to without using the real world as a foundation.
The Last Guardian has managed to inspire fervour and hype, despite expertly hiding the finer details of the game itself. We know very little about The Last Guardian at this stage, but there seems to be little doubt that it will be one of the most finely crafted games of 2011. Part of that comes from the reputation of Ueda and his team, but part of it comes from the hunger for a new type of experience in gaming. Let's hope that The Last Guardian provides that experience.