There are plenty of parallels to be drawn with the previous two games in the Ico trilogy. The Last Guardian has, at its core, a buddy system: Just as Ico protected Yorda in the first game and Wander's horse Agro sacrificed itself for him in the second, so too does the as-yet-unnamed young boy in the new game rely on the Trico, a gargantuan bird-cat hybrid with a mind of its own.
"Real-life interaction between humans and animals is not always smooth," said Ueda at the presentation, explaining that the Trico will not always respond to the player's commands.
But bonding with the beast will be crucial to cracking the environment-based puzzles, which appear similar to those in Ico.
Gameplay footage flashed across a screen showing the Trico swiping at guards with its mammoth paws or crushing barrels in its mighty jaws; another clip showed the boy scaling the slumbering creature's feathered body and waking it with a bounce on the head.
"This is our fi rst game for PS3, and with all that extra power, we're making the most of the scale of the Trico character and the boy, and the dynamic between them," explained Ueda.
He also hinted that the beast may interfere with partly destructible environments, hampering the boy's progress from time to time.
The boy, by the way, has had a sex change. Originally, Ueda had intended the hero of The Last Guardian to be a heroine, to accentuate the difference in proportions between the playable character and the Trico.
"The Trico is a very powerful creature," said Ueda. "If we'd had a beefed-up, powerful hero, it would have thrown off the balance a little bit, so the design naturally drove me to create an adolescent female character who was light on her feet.
But in the end I decided a boy would have a little more grip power to climb the Trico. Another problem is that girls tend to wear skirts, and The Last Guardian features a lot of climbing..."
The landscape will be just as impressive as you'd hope, with an oversized derelict fortress not dissimilar to that in Ico seemingly providing the game's main arena.
While the Hi-def PS3 reissues of Ico and SOTC will render these spaces in 3D, Ueda has yet to decide whether to include it for the new title. Not that a game this ambitious needs to rely on such gimmicks: its late 2011 release will be huge. Or did we say that already?
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