Famitsu Samples The Last Guardian
Sony shows off a demo build, giving hints at some of the gameplay in Team Ico's long awaited PS3 debut.
Famitsu got a big scoop on The Last Guardian in this week's issue, with a play sampling and a developer interview. I won't have access to the magazine this week, so here's a second hand report based off our usual source for super detailed Famitsu summaries.
The magazine was able to get an early glimpse at the game in action. The demo the magazine saw was made specifically for demo play and offered situations different from the main game. Director and game designer Fumito Ueda walked the magazine through the demo.
When you first start off the demo, Torico will quickly fall asleep because of the inability to communicate with the boy main character. You can place something Torico likes in front of him, and his nose will move as he sniffs it. One example of a thing Torico like is barrels. You'll be able to use these as a means of starting communication with the creature.
This has been said in the past, but Torico moves of his own free will. He'll approach things that interest him -- things like barrels, small animals, grass and so-forth.
To advance in the demo, you'll need to make use of Torico. You can toss jars that release smoke. This will interest Torico, and he'll approach. If you get Torico in the correct position, you can climb on his back in order to get to the second floor of the demo area. This type of climbing mechanic makes use of the colossus collision detection schemes from Shadow of the Colossus.
Once you're up to the second floor, you'll find those armored guards that have appeared in past trailers. You'll need to move while taking care to avoid being seen. As the boy can't fight, this means hiding as you advance. You can also move to higher ground, as the guards can't follow because their armor is too heavy. The boy is also faster, so he can outrun the guards. While you can't use weapons against them, you can run into them to make them lose their balance, then flee during that instant.
The game doesn't immediately end if you're captured by the guards. They'll carry you off, but even in this state you'll be able to escape. However, if you're carried off to a certain spot, the game will end.
The guards will in general try to capture the boy. However, if Torico is in the way, they'll also attack him. They won't actually attack the boy, however -- they'll just attempt to capture him.
Torico does appear to have a life meter of some form. It's not something that you can see, but it may be internal. It looks like Ueda did not say what happens if Torico incurs too much damage from the guards and that "life meter" runs out.
Back on the demo's second floor, you'll find a switch which you can press. After doing this, you return to the area where Torico has been waiting. You'll need to make use of Torico to open a door and advance further. This is apparently where the demo came to an end.
Famitsu seemed to be impressed by the demo session, describing it as "exceeding expectations," and "reality that exceeds real."
The timing of this demo reveal article would suggest that the rest of the gaming press will get a look at the Game Developers Conference this week, so it's possible that we'll get some first hand English impressions and maybe even gameplay videos shortly.
COMMENTARY FROM UEDA
Ueda told the magazine that the thing he wants people to note from the demo are Torico's detailed actions. He has a number of reactions even when he's sleeping. Even the motions of his ears will change depending on the surrounding sounds.
As with past interviews, Ueda spoke quite a bit about the game's physics engine. As an example of the engine's robustness, he mentioned the movement of Torico's ears when they collide with a wall. The movement is not based off an animator's work, but off physical collision detection. Animators do have control over muscle movements, though, so they can make it so that Torico's ears will stand or fall.
Ueda also highlighted some of the boy's actions. When you approach a wall, the boy will put his hands against it. Similarly, the boy will touch Torico when you approach it. The reason for these details is to give the game world a feeling of existence by having the character itself identify and touch objects naturally.
Other points mentioned by Ueda:
- The game uses a fake language for narration.
- Torico won't eat just anything. If he eats something he doesn't like, he'll spit it back out.
- One of the concepts of the game is "height." There'll be situations where we'll see Torico jump.
- As you repeatedly communicate with Torico, it will become easier to advance in the game.
Joining the interview text, Famitsu delivered a bunch of new screens. It's hard enough to describe screenshots textually, and even harder to summarize a Japanese description of those screenshots, but here goes:
- A shot of the boy main character walking through a ruins area. This is apparently an area that Torico cannot enter.
- A shot of the boy slowly approaching a sleeping Torico.
- A shot of the boy climbing up chains. You'll be able to perform a variety of actions, including calling out to Torico, petting Torico, grabbing things, climbing and so forth.
- A few screens showing off the effect of light falling in on dark areas -- for example, light falling in from above into a dark, enclosed area where you see chains, a stone floor, and dirt.
TEAM ICO's OTHER GAMES
Famitsu also got to sample Team ICO's other PS3 titles, the remakes of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.
Regarding ICO, the magazine said said that you won't believe you're looking at a game from 10 years back. Team ICO is redoing the opening based off the original.
Regarding Shadow of the Colossus, the magazine said that seeing the giants in 3D is the highlight. However, the 3D matches the game as a whole. Even during exploration, you'll get a feeling of being there because trees and the fog can be seen in 3D.
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