The Last of Us Preview

When the trailer for The Last of Us dropped during Spike TV's Video Game Awards a few weeks ago, the Internet was immediately abuzz with the potential displayed in this PS3 exclusive game. With a Naughty Dog lead designer stating that The Last of Us would "raise the bar for other video game designers" in terms of storytelling, it looks like the stage is set for a perfect game. Let's look at all the other details of the game and figure out what we'll be dealing with.

The Story So Far
What we know so far from the initial teaser trailers of riots and ant fungus and other leaked info is that a global pandemic has eclipsed the world. Some sort of fungus that was initially only troublesome for insects has spread to humanity. This fungus infects the host when the host breathes in the fungus's spores. The fungus then spreads to the brain and takes over the host's body.

In the subsequent trailer revealed at the VGAs, we see two survivors Joel and Ellie (looking like Nathan Drake and Ellen Page, respectively) as they battle against other survivors and people who have been infected by the parasitic fungus, who are now fast-moving zombie-type things with fungus growing out of their heads. Yep, that sounds just about right.

The trailer has a very "I Am Legend" vibe to it with the city overgrown with plants and the only other video game I can think of that compares as far as trailers go is "I Am Alive" and that's another one that's not even out yet. Both look like they're taking a different tack on the post-apocalyptic theme in that their environments are brutal and oppressive. It doesn't look like you'll be carelessly diving into combat; you'll be struggling just to survive. Kind of like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," which was made into a movie a couple of years ago. This is what post-apocalyptic games should be like and I'm looking forward to that kind of challenge if indeed that's what we get.

The Aesthetics
As you can see from the trailer, this game just looks beautiful. The trailer also promises that it was "captured directly from a PlayStation 3 system" which is nice. Far too often, we get CG trailers that look nothing like the game's gameplay. Yeah, maybe the cutscenes look nice, but that means nothing ultimately, as you'll spend far more time playing the game than watching cutscenes.

Let's hope that the gameplay in The Last of Us looks as good as the trailer. We all know it's possible, as games like Batman: Arkham City and L.A. Noire have shown us, so really there's no excuse anymore as long as your studio has the money to make it happen. Gameplay and cutscenes should flow together seamlessly, I say.

What About Gameplay?
The Last of Us PreviewSo far, we know nothing about the gameplay besides the fact that it will be third-person. First-person games are overdone nowadays, for my taste, so this is welcome. Beyond that, it's described as a survival horror action-adventure game. With there being two main characters, I only hope that complete online co-op will be available. Although co-op is getting more and more popular, many designers take the easy way out and don't include it, but it can be done without sacrificing the story. Here's hoping that the story they create leaves the way open for co-op.

Keep Up the Good Work, Naughty Dog
The hype is already pretty strong for The Last of Us and Naughty Dog is guiding it, so it's on their heads if it doesn't turn out great. They've even put little teasers into Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception for crying out loud! Some of the designers from that franchise are working on The Last of Us, so we should all have pretty high hopes. Of course, there will be naysayers as soon as the game comes out, but by and large if the developers stick with what they have so far The Last of Us should be awesome.

What do you think about what you've seen so far? Does this game have potential to turn into a great franchise or will it fall into obscurity?

The Last of Us is due to release late 2012/early2013.

Update - June 19, 2012
E3 2012 provided us with our first real look at The Last of Us with a gameplay demo at Sony's press conference. With that demo came a look at the gameplay, some of the game's inner mechanics and how Joel and Ellie interact with each other and the world at large. If you haven't yet watched the E3 2012 gameplay demo, do so now and prepare to be blown away.

While we still do not know much about the story, the characters themselves have undergone some changes. Ellie no longer looks like Ellen Page, possibly due to Ellen Page's voice and looks being used in a different PS3 game, Beyond: Two Souls. Joel still slightly resembles Nathan Drake but even he has undergone some changes. The basic plot is still the same, as the gameplay demo shows Joel and Ellie fighting off other survivors in an abandoned apartment building.

For the most part, combat resembles Uncharted; anyone who has played any game in that series will see many similarities in the combat in The Last of Us. What separates The Last of Us from Uncharted is the ability to approach levels any way you want. In Uncharted, levels were distinctly split into stealth and combat; in The Last of Us, you can complete every level by stealth if you want. Ellie will closely mimic your actions and pick up weapons and items to help you.

The Last of Us E3 2012This is best seen in the gameplay demo when Ellie picks up a brick; when Joel is out of bullets, Ellie throws the brick at the assailant giving Joel the chance to finish him off. Despite what many have thought, that entire scene was not scripted; Ellie's AI will investigate her surroundings and decide the best course of action. Had Joel not run out of bullets, that scene would have played out very differently.

We also get a look at the game's crafting system. Joel can use the items he finds throughout the game to create weapons and items. In the gameplay demo, he creates a molotov cocktail; in a separate press-only demo, Joel creates bandages instead using the same items. The crafting system ties into the overall theme of choice; players can choose how to play the game and what items will best serve them.

The gameplay demo has also shown that the game is violent; however, its only fitting giving the atmosphere and the severity of the situations Joel and Ellie find themselves in. The Last of Us will see release in 2013 and is looking to be not only one of the last PS3 games released but also one of the best.

Article by - Brett Huffman

Article Update by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 06/19/2012

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