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The Last Guy
Score: 100%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Japan Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Arcade/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:
In an interesting approach to a top-down (above-view) game, The Last Guy has adopted a very Google Maps-styled interface. The levels you play in are actual cities and the maps look like they may well have started as satellite imagery, then been cleaned up a bit.

This map interface allows you to zoom in or out to your choice of five different levels, from a closeup on your local area out to a view that shows the entire map of the current city. The default view is the second closest one, but you can press (R2) to zoom in or (R1) to zoom out as you see fit. When you're zoomed out to the furthest level, there are some additional Heads-Up Display-style indicators that show where the enemies are and how far they can see and in what direction. This information can prove invaluable, if you can properly put it to use.

One interesting thing about zooming in and out is that the music and (ground-level) sound effects get fainter as you zoom out, being replaced by wind sounds. This is an interesting effect, but it forces you to trade audio information (hearing an approaching baddie) for visual information (seeing more range and information about the baddies). This adds complexity to the possible strategies.

There is a warning at the beginning of the game that says that people who are susceptible to seizures should not play the game. This warning is definitely needed for The Last Guy, as there are a lot of "flicker" effects used to give the appearance of aging video equipment. For a perfect example, the flicker effect used when the game is paused is likely to either induce a seizure or, at the very least, a headache, if you stare at it long enough.

The theme song in The Last Guy is just as strange as the rest of the game. It seems to be an original song, but sounds heavily influenced by Hot Butter's Popcorn.


Gameplay:
The Last Guy's gameplay is deceivingly - and fiendishly - simple. You are the world's last superhero (or "Guy") and your job is to find and rescue all of the citizens in a city being invaded by "zombies." There are different types of zombies, each with their own type of movement, but for the most part, they seem to have the same effects. If they come into contact with the line of people you're rescuing, they will scatter off into the nearest shelter, be it a building, a car or just into the woods. This is bad for you, because it takes time for the people to pour out of these locations, and you're dealing with limited time. If you come into contact with a zombie, the game is over, so it's much better for the zombies to hit your line of rescued people, rather than for them to hit you.

One thing that sets The Last Guy apart from a lot of games is that you can't take any offensive actions. You can't shoot the zombies or kill them or lock them up in any way; the most you can hope to do is to Stop their movement temporarily, through the use of a power-up on some of the maps. Other power-ups that can prove helpful include one that makes you turn Invisible, one that Returns you to right next to the Escape Zone and a couple (Energy and High Energy) that replenish your stamina, which is used up when you run quickly around the map or gather your rescued people up to you by pressing the appropriate buttons.

Between the time limit, the inability to dispose of any zombies and the increase in challenge as the line of people you're rescuing increases in size, there is quite a challenge and a lot of opportunities for honing your strategies.


Difficulty:
While challenging, The Last Guy is rarely frustrating; I always found that I would learn more tricks with each attempt and after each failure I would think that I could probably get it with "one more try." Part of this stems from the fact that there is no concept of "lives" in the game. You can retry as many times as you like without running out of lives, which personally, I find a bit ironic for a game named "The Last Guy" - you never have to worry about getting down to your last guy.

The levels in The Last Guy are challenging enough to keep you playing for hours, but not so frustrating as to make you want to give up. I found that taking turns with someone else made for a more enjoyable gaming experience; one person plays for an attempt or two, while the other player watches out for zombies and tries to come up with new strategies, then the players switch positions, giving the original player time to think about new ways to approach the level and to help watch for zombies while the other player takes his turn at it.

If you find a level to be too difficult to pass after several attempts, you might consider going back a level or two and working on improving your abilities by practicing something a bit easier. Sometimes a small difference in your abilities can make all the difference in the level. Another good idea is to spend several minutes studying the briefing map at the beginning of the level and planning what your route and course of attack will be. Finally, another tip is to see if you can get more favorable power-ups than what is initially dealt you. If you select a level and get all the way to the mission briefing screen and don't like the power-ups that show up, you can back out to the mission select screen and then re-select the same mission and get all the way back into the mission briefing screen again and sometimes you'll find that some of the power-ups have changed.


Game Mechanics:
The combination of the simplicity of concept and the challenge of the levels makes The Last Guy a truly fun game, with hours upon hours of gameplay. The fact that the game costs just under $10 USD makes it an amazing deal.

One aspect of The Last Guy that increases its replay value is the fact that the minimum goal for passing them is challenging for a beginner, but there are more people to be rescued. This means that once you've beaten the game, you can return to the various levels and play them to improve your scores and try to rescue all of the people. The Last Guy has an online Leaderboard feature that will let you see how you compare to other gamers as you work to improve your score.

I found The Last Guy to be highly entertaining, innovative and addictive - well worth the price of downloading it. I would readily recommend it to any gamer looking for a challenging puzzle game for the PS3.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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