Love it, hate it, love it again.. hate it again, this game divides my opinion of it like no other.

The Last Guardian Review

The Last Guardian first announced all the way back in 2007 has at long last been released. While always curious I was never to fussed about whether this game was actually going to be playable and while I’m glad it’s finally in the hands of the players one does wonder what the team was actually doing for all those years?

Have you ever wanted to run around some ruins with a big bird, dog, cat thing which *ahem* shoots lightning out of its tail? Well then The Last Guardian is most certainly for you. All jokes aside that is pretty much the game. As ‘the boy’ players wake up alongside ‘Trico’ a beast of some description chained up, covered in wounds and the remnants of armor, in a tutorial like sequence you build its trust and soon set out together on a quest of simply heading up. The story is very simplistic but not in a bad way. The boy narrates the story, but these moments are very rare and left intentionally cryptic. The story is instead mostly told through the interactions between the boy and Trico and is more about the journey than the final destination. There is little use of cinematics, no other main characters and no collectibles or similar story telling devices used throughout the game. The story has a very fairy tale like quality to it or a very Legend of Zelda type vibe and while not particularly complex it’s unlike anything else I’ve personally ever played. As such it’s hard to criticize the story seeing as it’s very unique and more importantly the kind of story that can only be told in video game format, but seeing as the game was in development for so long one wonders why the story could not have been something so much more?

As always gameplay is the most important aspect of any video game experience and this is where The Last Guardian is at its best and unfortunately at its worst. Even before embarking on the adventure the controls feel wrong. The camera for example I found to be very sticky and delayed, there are many moments when I simply wanted to stop and look around, the camera unfortunately did not make this as nice as it could have been, at other times as many other reviewers have mentioned the camera can be truly awful in tight spaces, particularly when riding on Trico. The gameplay itself mostly consists of platforming, light puzzle solving and a sprinkling of combat, the whole time players only ever control the boy with Trico acting of his own accord or taking basic instruction from the player. Again the controls just like the camera feel delayed and as such take some getting used to, when it clicks it clicks well but at other times simply moving around can be a pain as the controls often fight against you. One of the biggest joys of the game and one of the most frustrating is Trico himself. At times Trico will do exactly what you want him to do or will even do the right thing without the player needing to issue instruction. At other times however Trico will simply not obey player commands, will often leave you behind, will stand about looking confused and so on. I’m all for creating a believable creature after all the story and gameplay are built upon the relationship between the boy and Trico, this however means there are often unbelievably infuriating moments throughout the game where I literally wanted to smash the controller against the wall or wish I could make Trico shoot himself in the face with his lightning tail.

As mentioned above when the gameplay clicks it does so incredibly well. Platforming and exploring around the giant ruins as the boy is great fun and often awe inspiring. The puzzles while simple are satisfying to solve and make use of Trico in some fun and interesting ways. The biggest surprise for me was the combat aspect of the game. It’s not combat in the traditional sense, the boy can’t directly attack the lumbering suits of armor that chase him about but the mechanics at play here are more deep than you would expect. The boy can jump on enemies to topple them over, shove them to make them drop objects or push them off ledges, throw items to stun them and even pull their heads off. When Trico is at play the suits of armor will use spears and swords to attack him and planes of glass to make him cower away. In response Trico will enter a fit of rage and smash all the suits of armor in sight as he constantly strives to protect the player from harm. Later on in the game the boy gains access to an item to take control of Tricos lightning tail which adds another level of complexity to the combat. Unfortunately the suits of armor are used sparingly and like the rest of the game these exciting situations can be plagued by the wonky controls and while fun these sections are extremely easy. It’s a shame because towards the end Trico and the boy work in tandem to successfully defeat small armies of enemies and one can only wish there was more of it or that it posed more of a challenge.

Soundtrack wise the game is pretty good. It’s used quite sparingly but what’s on offer here is used nicely for both quiet moments and the games more dramatic and action oriented sequences. From quiet subtle melodies to rousing and loud assaults on the ear drums the soundtrack has a quality to it that remains consistent and engaging throughout the roughly 10+ hour playtime. In many ways however the soundtrack can be considered to be somewhat uninspired and often comes across as very by the books. It can leave a lasting impression but equally it will often pass by  having fulfilled a purpose but nothing more.

Visually many people have likened The Last Guardian to the likes of PS3 era graphics, while the game was intended for a PS3 release I find this criticism to be unfair. The game is not the most visually impressive thing to experience on the PS4 nor is it the worst. The game takes place entirely in one location and the sense of scale and the interestingly designed buildings constantly beg for exploration. The games biggest fault on its visuals however is that the entire journey looks the same, the areas at the start look the same as the areas at the end apart from the segments taking place in the games big finale. The lack of visual variety for the most part is pretty disappointing as most games always do something to shake things up visually from time to time. That said what’s on offer here can be truly beautiful and awe inspiring, particularly as you get higher and higher the game is often best enjoyed by taking a step back and taking it all in. From the peaceful tranquility of small wooded areas to gazing out at the next massive tower you have to reach.

So one part masterpiece, one part infuriating, tedious trash. Despite the criticism however The Last Guardian is unique, coming out in a year in which most AAA titles involve massive killing sprees with machine guns. It often evokes feelings of nostalgia taking players back to a time when more games like this where made during the PS2 and PS3 era. I can’t recommend that people pick up and play this, but at the same time I feel it HAS to played so that you can figure it all out for yourself.

Battlefield One Campaign kinda bad?!

Battlefield One Campaign Review

So, Battlefield One was released not too long ago and has received excellent reviews across the board. Not just for its amazing multiplayer which truly is amazing but a lot of praise has been given to its single player as well. Having now played though its entirety twice here are some thoughts and feelings on why the campaign isn’t all that great.

Unlike most single player campaigns Battlefield One tells a series of smaller unconnected story’s from around the globe, from the trenches of France to the Mountains of Italy. This both works for and against it. First, some positives, on one hand this allows the player to see the war from multiple viewpoints with characters from different walks of life, from a traditional tribeswoman fighting a guerrilla war against the ottoman empire to a chauffeur turned tank driver taking on the might of German defences. This of course also means that gameplay is very varied from vehicle focussed missions to all out-infantry combat to sneaky open ended stealth affairs.  There are five war stories to play though (six including a short prologue) each with multiple missions to play though. There are some great moments to be had here particularly on the tank and aeroplane missions, featuring some truly awesome battles and cinematic moments and with the more interesting and personal stories to boot.

Of course, the actual production values of the game are nothing short of amazing. With some truly amazing facial animations and for the most part some authentic, believable and great voice acting. The graphics and sound design are overall truly incredible from the thundering sound of shell being fired to the echo of a sniper round, the game also features an appropriately themed and rousing soundtrack used to great effect in both epic and quieter moments.

However, while there are great moments to be had there are plenty of downsides to the campaign. Most notably its length is a major issue. The player only gets to experience one set of characters for a short time, notably not nearly enough time to grow attached or care for the characters, and not all the war stories are equal with two of them being pretty spectacular and the other three somewhat average both story and gameplay wise. Often there are stealth sections that are often tedious and boring, partly due to the very by the books and uninspired stealth gameplay. At other times the player will often feel like an action hero, single handily taking on ridiculous situations, you could argue there’s nothing wrong with that but it certainly doesn’t sit well with the WW1 setting, particularly when enemies will often stand out in the open to be shot at. At other times the campaign will often feel like a missed opportunity, there is certainly limitless potential in the War Stories format which players can only dream of. At other times one can only wish that they decided to flesh out a few select stories rather than having multiple or even focused on having a fully-fledged traditional campaign.

Overall the campaign is by no means bad, what’s on offer here certainly adds value to the overall package with collectables and challenges for those wanting to squeeze out all the content the campaign has to offer. Unfortunately, the length, the often tedious and boring gameplay and the overall direction of the narrative holds this back on what could have been something truly special. Let’s hope that in the future we will see more single player games set during WW1.