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. I hope this doesn’t turn into the next Duke Nukem Forever in terms of development cycle and quailty as well. :S It looks like it could be a fantastic game but the lack of any news since 2010(?) is a bit worrying.

    I really hope it doesn’t end up in development hell. I admit, i’m surprised that Team ICO has managed to become a well known developer despite only having 2 games to their name. :O

    Anyway, i wonder if we will see any new footage at any major gaming convo this year? I really hope it doesn’t get cancelled as this generation of gaming needs new innovative IPs more then ever. Imo. :)

    • They’re well known because of quality, there’s loads of devs out there that wouldn’t be known, trust me..

      • I know that but usually, it takes more then 2 excellent games for a developer to become well known. Imo. I think it took Bioware 4-5 games before they became known for their excellent story telling.

        I’m just surprised that Team Ico managed to do it with just 2 games. :O

  2. There’s no excuse for this to be anything short of a masterpiece.

  3. I was surprised to not see Assassin’s Creed 3 on here. It’s been semi-mentioned but I suppose it’s not been official yet. Like a few I have seen I feel that the list is fairly unremarkable bar a few exceptions from the likes of Borderlands 2. I will be looking forward to some more news on GTA V and Overstrike but they may be 2013 releases. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is one of my preorders for this year :) not great anticipation but I’m sure we’ll be bombarded with mega titles as soon as E3 comes round (well, it’s usually the week’s before E3 that are the best).

  4. good game for me

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