Proof that big things come in small packages is no less apparent in The Last Guy, a decidedly simple, yet horribly addictive PlayStation Network offering from the boys over at Sony Computer Entertainment’s Japan Studio. However, don’t let this stripped-down affair deceive you; The Last Guy stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the PSN’s biggest titles of the year in terms of pure entertainment value.
The scenario? Earth has become infested with zombies and other ghastly creatures, and it’s up to your character – a zombie from the Himalayan Mountains, dubbed ‘The Last Guy’ – to rescue survivors from 14 major cities around the world by escorting them to the escape zone for evacuation.
Utilizing Google Earth-esque maps to render locations including San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and Asakusa, players must guide the caped protagonist around the city streets collecting survivors along the way, whilst avoiding the nearby zombified population. Each mission has a specific number of survivors to rescue within the allotted time, forcing you to make some quick decisions as you go in order to accomplish your goals. The more survivors you accumulate, the longer the ‘line’ behind you grows, thus affording your enemies a greater chance of attacking the group. Should a creature touch The Last Guy, it’s game over.
Fortunately, our hero has a number of abilities at his disposal to facilitate the rescue operation, coming largely from the Stamina Meter. Located in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, this special meter allows The Last Guy to execute a variety of special manoeuvres providing the bar is full. Functions include the ability to dash, allowing you to avoid incoming foes more easily and help ferry survivors across the map quicker. Meanwhile, hitting the Circle button will group together all survivors you’ve collected up to that point, allowing you to manage them more efficiently and keep them out of harms way.
This component must be implemented in a strategic fashion, as you’ll have to manage your Stamina level effectively and use it only when necessary, or you may find yourself in a delicate position later on. Collecting energy power-ups and increasing the number of survivors who join your party can recover stamina, but you’ll still need to keep a close eye on it at all times just in case. As such, this ensures you can’t abuse your special powers, meaning you’ll be taking a cautious approach to every mission, thinking about where and when its best to employ your Stamina without compromising yourself later on.
The Last Guy can also pick up an invisibility power-up allowing him to sneak past enemies unnoticed, which is particularly useful for crossing infested streets in a timely fashion. Civilians themselves are strewn all throughout the city, waiting in open streets, buildings and other assorted structures. You can also hop into thermal view mode by holding down the X button, allowing you to easily scope out the locations of hidden survivors. However, this feature does come with a drawback – you’ll be unable to see your enemies while in thermal view, so you must be cautious when utilizing it (though one particular enemy can only be detected by thermal vision) Furthermore, if an enemy touches a group of survivors, they’ll be forced back into hiding, requiring you to track them down again.
In regards to the zombies themselves, you’ll face a plethora of different enemies ranging from your standard lumbering, humanoid creatures to more advanced foes such as giant insects, scorpions and other assorted monstrosities. Each one follows a set path, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on your enemy’s movements if you’re to avoid them successfully. Other factors to take into consideration include barriers that can only be broken down once you have a certain number of survivors in tow, so you’ll have to think twice about dropping off a large number of people at the escape zone unless you’ve already combed most of the city. Add all this up, and you’ve got what may seem like a relatively simple task, but in reality requires a lot of thinking and on the spot decision making exacerbated by the presence of the ever-ubiquitous ticking clock. Needless to say, the satisfaction comes when you’ve managed to outmanoeuvre your foes, collect the required amount of civilians, and still have time to search around for some more to improve your score once you finish the level.
There are a few niggles to speak of, however; firstly, as accurate as they are, the maps themselves can sometimes prove difficult to discern friend and foe alike, although fortunately the game allows you to enhance the magnification by hitting one of the shoulder buttons to zoom in. Elsewhere, some players may find the game’s difficulty pretty steep from the get go, from the number of survivors required to be rescued, to the time constraints applied.
As such, don’t be surprised if you find yourself repeating the level over and over again until you’ve devised a near fall-proof strategy to come out on top. The game itself is also quite short with little additional features to speak of other than online leaderboards, though those of you who feel compelled to do so can always head back into the fray to improve your end of level scores and compare them with the rest of the gaming community to see how they stack up.
Overall, The Last Guy is a highly entertaining yet short-lived outing that comes highly recommended for those of you wanting to inject something a little different into your gaming calendar. Priced at a measly five quid, you’d be hard pressed to find a better bargain.
-The Final Word-
Short but sweet, The Last Guy is a worthwhile investment for any self-respecting gamer.