Top 100 of 2012: 1 – The Last Guardian

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.

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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.

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41 Comments

  1. Ironically, I bought a PS3 two years ago for this game alone.

    Although I’m a serious Ueda fan, my interest for TLG has vanished with each successive postponement — to the point I wouldn’t be bothered if the game was silently canceled. Sony and Team Ico really dropped the ball on this title, mismanaging the production almost from day one despite working on a powerful platform. You should never spend six years and a half on the development of ANY game.

  2. Can you really call a studio consistent after only mentioning two games?
    I’ve an eye on this, but only from reputation. I never played Ico or SotC, although I’m waiting for them to be in a sale on the PSN before I buy one or both.
    Anyway, here’s hoping that it’s a good one, and that it releases in 2012!
    Some great games have featured on this list, add in games like The Last of Us, GTAV (it does have a slim, very slim chance of 2012, but I’d bet March 2013), and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD and 2012 looks like yet another stunning year for gaming! :)

    • I was going to buy SotC on PSN the other day, but was more tempted by Oddworld. I’m sure The last Guardian will be better than good but I for one wont be getting it. The three games you mention are the big ones for me. Add Bioshock on that list too

  3. Next year seems like it may be a really, really poor yeah for games :/ Only really looking forward to the next FIFA, really…

  4. surely I can’t be the only person who hasn’t minded the setbacks and delays since 2008? I was excited for that game then, and through little releases about things, the whole barrel-eating developer video that went around earlier this year (which didn’t get talked about?), I feel like it’s not such a mystery.

    definitely looking forward to this game massively. this and Journey and Mass Effect and Bioshock and Borderlands and Hitman and Farcry. and many others. ugh, expensive year.

  5. Boring top 10 i thought:-/ Apart from this game[The Last Guardian] & Journey & StarHawk for the PS3:P

  6. Going to givve the Ico Collection a go before considering getting this game

  7. This has always looked like it was going to be a great game, and I think when it finally gets released it will, but I’m just not sure I’ll be in 2012’s line up!

  8. This game looks awesome, but TLG doesn’t interest me.

    • That makes no sense, isn’t that a contradiction? How can it look awesome but not interest you?

      • To be fair it does make sense, something can look awesome but hold no interest for someone. Transformers movies or Avatar would be good examples of this, for me at least.

      • So Shakugan was using awesome in an objective way and was being subjective with the non-interest, is that basically what you mean? I guess that makes sense, still a little confusing though.

      • It does make perfect sense. For instance Portal 2 is awesome but doesn’t interest me.

      • Aye evil, that’s how I read it mate :) Though I guess only Shakugan could say how he meant it for certain

  9. Cannot wait for Dead space 3, Mass effect 3 and Darksiders – also im really hoping this is the year that Final Fantasy VS XIII is released :D

  10. Oh almost forgot looking forward to Tales of Grace’s f :D

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