Top 100 of 2012: 1 – The Last Guardian

Reaching the top.

Remember those chains, the well, the mystery? That was way back in January 2008. It seems rather unreal and unworldy now, but it was four years ago when we got our first glimpse of what Team Ico were planning. It’s not nearly as bizarre, though, as the fact that we still don’t know a great deal about the game, let alone have the chance to actually own it.

The years have clearly been tough on the studio, the leak of an internal demo in May 2009 undermining Team Ico’s big E3 reveal, playtests have been secretive and hushed, and subsequent trailers amounted to little more than progressive enhancement.

And then, of course, there’s Fumito Ueda’s departure from the team’s principle line-up – a sign that development might not have been going terribly smoothly, we suspect that somewhere at Sony there’s a bin full of calendars with lots of Xs marked on them and a very unhappy bloke fed up of signing cheques.

Team Ico don’t rush games – that much is a given – but we can barely imagine the budget that must have already been spent on a game that, really, we’re all still struggling to quantify. The Last Guardian, then, is now hopefully finally limping towards the finish line – battered, bruised and already kicked off the pre-order lists of one retailer.

Let’s face it: it had better be damned good.

But therein lies the reality: it almost certainly will be. How much can you pre-empt a title given the developer’s track record? When it’s Team Ico, with but two games behind them and a still somewhat niche set of ideals, it’s a question that faced us yet again this year when putting together our top one hundred most anticipated games.

Not everyone voted this at the top, of course, but enough of us had enough faith in what Ueda had set up and put into motion to put our hearts on the line. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are both magestic, towering examples of last generation gameplay brilliance, but does that necessarily translate to a third game?

Subjection’s an easy path, one of least resistance and yet questionable foundations. Personally, Team Ico rank up there along with a smattering of Nintendo’s internal teams and the likes of thatgamecompany as studios that really click with me: consistent, frequently inventive and always trying to do things a little differently.

Bravery is rare in the publisher-led climate that the industry is now enslaved within, and if nothing else we should be rewarding those that offer an experience that few others would even dream of. In a world of recycled annual fluff and safe bets, The Last Guardian stands out like a sore thumb.

I guess that’s why it’s here. Like last year’s Journey, Team Ico’s third adventure represents what gaming should be about: the thrill of the unknown, the sense of wonder, the moments that stick with you for years. The paradox is, of course, that we don’t know what the game is beyond the thematic clues we’ve been given over the years.

But then we felt like that about the previous number one, and have no regrets at all about ranking Jenova Chen’s staggering vision so highly twelve months ago. Let’s just hope that the irony of Journey still not being out doesn’t affect The Last Guardian’s chances of a release in 2012.

41 Comments

  1. 2012… 2013

    Since the list has been compiled things have taken a grim turn for ‘that BBC game’

    *fingers crossed*

    • I totally forgot about that name for it. Good memory :)

  2. Wouldn’t be surprised if The Last of Us releases before this one.

  3. After giving Ico a first try when the HD collection came out this slipped out of my top 10 games that I personally want in 2012. I’m still slightly interested in the game but the bad press about people leaving the team and the lack of information about the progress is definitely not helping.

    • I agree. Team Ico’s games don’t really appeal to me that much. The settings, the plots are not my kind of thing.

  4. Right, well that’s me then, having read every one of these articles I can confirm I’m not actually looking forward to anything at all next year except mass effect 3.

    • That’ll be one cheap year for you then.

    • Pretty much agree. For me it’s Bioshock Infinite and this one only, and I’m getting a little worried for the industry if this year will really turn out so poorly, especially after a fantastic 2011. At least a lot of time to catch up with games I didn’t get around to play. But probably this is just me…

    • really?
      i think was a quite awesome list with games like Dead Space 3, RE Operation Racoon city, SSX, PROTOTYPE2, The Darkness 2, Soul Caliber 5, FIFA Street, GRID 2, SARPBC 2, I Am Alive… and many more =D

      *sigh* 2012 is going to be an expensive year!

      • Honestly mjb, the only game you’ve listed that I’m interested in is dead space 3, the rest I’m just not bothered about.

      • Dead Space 3 is my most anticipated game in 2012=)
        maybe a few demos can change ur mind later in the year, who knows ;)

  5. I’m not sure what to make of TLG. Having not played ICO or SoTC I have no idea how the game plays or what the stories entail. Saying that though I’ve heard enough about Team ICO to know that they will likely make a masterpiece and for that reason alone, I’m looking forward to this.

  6. Yay! This is also my no.1! It’s not just the fact that it’s by Team Ico or because i’ve enjoyed their previous games – i was simply captivated by Toriko in that first trailer and it kind of feels more like i’ll be adopting a new pet rather than getting a new game. In fact watching the trailer reminds me of my childhood .. playing out mini adventures with my first dog :). I’ve never felt such an emotional tug from a game before and seeing that first trailer was a landmark moment in gaming history for me, i can’t wait!

  7. Awesome, I’m very hopeful that this is as good as it’s been looking.

  8. Bought the Ico and SoTC bundle on PSN yesterday, and just put an hour into the former. Quite lovely.

    It lets you just figure things out for yourself with minimal hand-holding… (See what I did there?) It’s quite a lovely puzzle-platformer.

    Looking forward to eventually moving along to SoTC, and fingers crossed for The Last Guardian. The little footage we’ve seen looked fantastic. I just hope that it can live up to the potential.

  9. A worthy number one. Team Ico games are so beautiful, playing SoTC I invariably spend most of my time riding Agro, wandering aimlessly and chasing lizards. While I was a little dubious about some of the placings on this list I have to say this is a completely right choice.

    Cheers on the articles too, I do miss Kovacs but you did a very good job :)

  10. Personally, this isn’t my #1 but I’m still looking forward to it. It’s mysteriously intriguing and that is what makes me want it, but I haven’t seen enough for it to be this high up my list for 2012.

    Great job with all these articles though! :)

    • My feeling is about the same as yours with my interest stemming from pure intrigue.

    • I have huge anticipation for this game, the trailer evoked such emotion. Oh, the mystery. To me this represents the very best of what I hope gaming could be.

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