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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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The Last Guardian

Watch Ueda go.

There's a sense of anticipation even before the doors to the presentation room open. With 20 minutes still to go, a large crowd of journalists has already gathered outside. Those at the front at the queue jostle politely for position, while those just arriving now rush up to the check-in desk, anxious to make sure their name is on Sony's list.

So what's got everyone so excited? First of all, the game we're waiting to see is The Last Guardian - the newest offering from Fumito Ueda, the man behind ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. It's been more than two years since the game was announced, and since then we've seen and heard very little about it.

Secondly, this is one of the biggest titles being demoed at this year's Tokyo Game Show. It's one of the few which hasn't previously been shown off at gamescom, E3 or GDC, and the air of mystique adds to the buzz.

Thirdly, Sony cancelled all scheduled interviews with Ueda just days before TGS kicked off. So all these journalists, many of whom have been paid to fly halfway round the world on the promise of delivering exclusive, exciting copy, are conscious that this is their only chance to get anywhere near the game and the brains behind it.

And fourthly, the room we're standing outside appears to be quite small.

But luckily, when the doors open and the crowd floods in, there's enough room for everybody. Ueda sits on the top table alongside the US producer of ICO, who is also working on The Last Guardian and performing translation duties today. (He referred to Ueda throughout in the third-person, but we've changed it to first-person here to make for easier reading.)

Is it a cat? Is it an eagle? Is that the kid out of Mysterious Cities of Gold?

The producer begins by informing us that no photos or videos may be taken during the session. This is a bit confusing, as he also confirms the trailer we're about to see was shown on the TGS show floor earlier today, where everybody's waving cameras and mobile phones with wild abandon. Plus, to be frank, the trailer doesn't tell us much more than we already know.

It begins with the boy character we've seen before hopping along Trico's back. (Trico is the name of the giant cat-eagle type creature.) He bounces gently along then jumps forcefully on Trico's head. The creature stirs and rolls over with a growl. Montage time.

In quick succession, images appear of Trico poking his head through a hole in the wall of a temple, grinding his feet as if preparing to do a runner and using his mouth to pick the boy up gently but swiftly by the scruff of the neck. We see Trico looking sad, looking angry and looking like he's puking up some kind of weird white stuff.

The spotlight turns to the boy now, and we watch him walking precariously along a wooden beam with his arms stretched out. Now he's throwing some kind of food to Trico, which the creature catches in his mouth; now he's shattering a stained glass window.

There's also a sneak peek at the combat - we see our hero taking on macho-looking enemies sporting armour and helmets which cover their faces. It doesn't look like he's waving a weapon, more as if he's kicking the enemies to knock them off their feet.

The colour palette is familiar by now - it's all soft pastels, gentle shades of green, brown, beige and lilac. As far as environments go, all we see are parts of ancient stone temples from a close distance. There are no sweeping vistas, no glimpses of any locations other than those already spotted in other trailers. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the trailer is the message which appears at the very end: "Coming holiday 2011."