First Look: The Last of Us (PS3)

It looks like Naughty Dog were teasing us all along.  Whilst Drake and Sully were exchanging pleasantries in an East End London pub, a discarded newspaper warned of a ‘deadly fungus’ that scientists couldn’t quite understand.  And then the official PlayStation blog gets a background made entirely of overgrown foliage amidst teaser vids on a YouTube from 2006…

[drop]Nobody could have really put everything together, of course, without a dash of insider knowledge – but who’s to say there’s not more clues in Nate’s latest adventure or elsewhere around the web that – if nothing else – tie the timelines of The Last Of Us and Uncharted 3 close enough together to suggest that the outbreak kicks off whilst the gang are on their most extravagant world tour?

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A slow, gradual outbreak, then?   Indeed, the very prescence of ants in the initial snippets of information have had tongues wagging every since Geoff Keighley’s motormouth antics set Twitter alight a few mere days back, with armchair commentors enthuisastically going over every last detail that was teased our way.  Foliage, BBC footage of Cordyceps infected arthopods, noises over black screens.

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And then it hits – the VGAs trailer kicks off with the Naughty Dog logo and all the wild rumours are instantly put to rest.  Yes, it’s clear there’s some kind of contagious virus – certainly not your typical lumbering zombies at any rate given the way the enemies are portrayed – and the two protagonists seen, the eponymous ‘last of us’, desperately trying to survive a dystopian near future.

It matters not that the footage is all rendered directly from a PS3 – last time I checked the gameplay and mechanics took priority over fancy visuals, but it’s clear that this ‘second team’ at the developers are using at least some of the Uncharted engine.  Characters seem consistent in terms of detail and emotional clarity, animation right up there and textures lovely and sharp.

Of course, all we’ve seen are a few cut-scenes – not a single second of gameplay, and we’ve been here before with disappointing results.  Dead Island’s emotive, award winning trailer dispensed with the game’s engine entirely, of course, and whilst ensured that everyone knew about the game ultimated ended up overshadowing the actual code considerably.

Hopes are high that The Last Of Us doesn’t fall into the same trap.

The two leads are evidently long attached, grissled Joel (voiced by Troy Baker) playing off beautifully against the younger Ellie, characterised by Ashley Johnson, who also says that she’s done motion capture for her role alongside the vocal work.  Flashbacks to The Road, then, although a tale that hopefully won’t be quite as bleak in the telling.

The biggest surprise, regardless of Keighley’s relentless promotion, is that nobody knew about this until very recently.  It’s been worked on for two years, too, with Neil Druckmann confirming that he’s the creative director on the project, which makes the total lack of any leaks all the more surprising.  And whilst Enslaved’s lead designer is also confirmed as being involved, Community Stategiest at Naughty Dog, Arne Meyer, is suggesting that this game won’t play like Enslaved.

[drop2]”Totally glad you’ve figured out our entire narrative and gameplay mechanics from a two and a half minute cinematic trailer,” he said in response to a forum post.  “I was worried it wouldnt be evident. Groan.”

The issue is, of course, is that we’ve all no idea how it’ll play.  It’s still likely, naturally, that it’ll be a third person survival horror – that’s the common idea floating around.  But it’s possible, of course, that it could be a Move controlled shooter, or a top-down strategy game, or – hey – maybe everyone gets in Karts and dukes it out on the track.

All we can do is trust the press blurb.  “The Last of Us is a genre-defining experience that blends survival and action elements to tell a character driven story about a population decimated by a modern plague,” it says.

“Abandoned cities are being reclaimed by nature and the remaining survivors are killing each other for food, weapons and whatever they can get their hands on. Joel, a ruthless survivor, and Ellie, a brave teenage girl who is wise beyond her years, must work together to survive their journey across what remains of the United States.”

From that you can approximate scale – it’s not going to just be one city, it’s clearly most of the US, and that there won’t just be the two people we’ve seen left alive – you’ll presumably meet pockets of survivors battling the infected (and, by the sounds of it, mother nature herself).  Interestingly, I’m hoping that the plague-ridden won’t be limited to humans…

This has all the right boxes ticked, then – amazing developer, led by the same guy behind Uncharted 2, and an interesting concept that, thankfully, avoids the tired zombie traditions.  I can’t wait.

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44 Comments

  1. if its a move game i will not buy which would be a shame as it looks amazing im just not a fan of any sort of motion controls at all.

    • I agree with you, on the move motion. I don’t like it, I prefer my controller any day of the week. Its just another gimmick.
      On another note, this game does look good, looking forward to seeing more.

  2. Haha, yeah, it could be a kart game after all

  3. Can’t wait for this. Good as Uncharted has been, I’ve always thought the stories were weak. I am convinced this won’t be the case here. I base this on nothing other than pure hope, as this sort of survival story is right up my zombie-infested decaying world!

    • Wow did you really just say that the best cinematics and storying telling game by a million miles had a weak storyline?

      LOL, what’s a great storyline? Gears Of War? Don’t make me laugh. You just seriously destroyed any credibility you may have ever earned with than dumb comment.

      • They’re clichéd nonsense.
        It may be good for a game but that’s exactly the point… for a game, it’s not a patch on many books & barely even reaches the low points of summer blockbuster movie story-telling (many of which are great spectacles but the stories are almost always told better elsewhere.

      • why do you play games if you don’t think there a patch on books or even films? personally i think throughly enjoyed the uncharted games and would say the campaigns are up there with the top films in the same genre (action/adventure)

      • Woah trialbyfire & david24! Don’t go all fanboy on us.
        Uncharted was an awesome game, but game story-telling has a long, long way to go to catch up with other long established narrative story-telling.
        I don’t thin either Michael or cc_star were dissing the games themselves,
        but if you like your games cliched, incestuous Eastender stylee story-telling,
        then horse on.
        Me personally, I prefer epic far-reaching, initial lead character may not see it through
        type story-telling, which to be honest, I’ve yet to see a decent computer game
        tell properly – with the rare, exception to prove the rule, how come the 2 sequels
        fell short, Modern Warfare?

        Can’t believe I actually just typed that but it’s true – I was genuinely
        quite gob-smacked when they dropped the nuke in MW1 and also in
        that Sum of all Fears filmee – I generally much favour the sci-fi route!

      • People seem to be getting confused by stroyline, storytelling and gameplay. For me, uncharted’s storytelling is excellent, the storylines are fairly weak, and the gameplay is nothing we haven’t seen before a million times. But the games are great because of the characters, the humour, the graphics and the storytelling, which is not the same as the plot or the storyline.

      • You’re absolutely right MR

      • Oops, hit enter to early.

        Anyway, you’re absolutely right there Mr Cawley. The story telling in the Uncharted series is wonderful. The dialogue is fairly hammy, but absolutely appropriate. The plots, whilst fairly “deep” are nothing we haven’t seen told before in numerous formats whether it be film (Indie Jones), game (Tomb Raider) or novel (anything from Sherlock Holmesto spit The Da Vinci Code) however overall the storyline generally plays out not much better then the lesser cheesy brands of Statham-esque films.

      • Anyway, coming back to the original point.

        Uncharted engine, Enslaved narrative & judging by the trailer, a well told story,
        zombies or not, this looks exceedingly promising.

      • Feck, too much vodka – I’m sure I meant to type Enslaved storyline & well delivered narrative but hey, whatever. Must go watch some anime now which probably ticks none of the boxes other than just being awesome!

      • Hey now don’t over-generalize anime, there are plenty of great shows that excel at plenty besides just being awesome, by it’s very nature anime is a very flexible storytelling medium.

        My copy of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya arrived this morning and that’s as good an example of superb storytelling as anything.

      • Lol. Absolutely, MCE! Also a lot of dross.
        I’m currently making my way through

      • Doh, interrupted by a call there, sorry.

        Anyway, working my way through Claymore at the moment, which is shaping up quite promisingly so far..

      • I’ve been wanting to get Claymore for awhile, it got a really nice artbox in it’s release here (Australia). I got the Soul Eater bluray recently so that’s what I’ll be starting next.

        Agreed about the amount of crap anime, there’s way too much otaku pandering going on these days.

  4. Let’s enjoy what they produce and try to be sensible with the information they offer to the media (and consumer). People will jump to all manner of conclusions but we could always let the coming months unfold and see what’s what. I know… “crazy ol’ bunimomike” but a guy can dream of simpler times, eh? :)

  5. I’m still sceptical about this. Yeah, it looks pretty, but it just looks like another I Am Legend or Dead Island. And the characters don’t look original at all, it’s just Leonidas from 300 and the girl from Inception.
    Hoping to be proved wrong, but I’m not going to be getting excited over it just yet.

    • The same could be said about Uncharted. It’s just another Tomb Raider with a generic adventurer. What happened to the times when gamers were full of hope? It’s Naughty Dog. How bad could it possibly be? :P

    • She does look like Ellen Page! But she’s cute so I don’t mind :P

  6. The difference here was Dead Island’s trailer wasn’t in-game or at all representative of the finished product, whereas this is A cut-scene that are at least featured ‘in-game’ and we all know how well Naughty Dog can tell a story!

  7. “I’m hoping that the plague-ridden won’t be limited to humans…” – Considering the first we saw of this was in infected ant, it implies it isn’t bound to humans.

    • Yeah, could lead to some interesting bear/wolf/mountain lion developments, to name but a few animals. Hoping this is a goodun, eh!

  8. Wasn’t really impressed with the trailer but Naughty Dog have a proven track record as a top developer so hopes for this are high, naturally.

    • Indeed, all the uncharted serious has totally destroyed anything else out there, it doesn’t take much imagination to see this will do the same.

    • I’m with Aerobes on this one!

  9. Please be better than dead island! Please be better than dead island!

    That game had so much potential but didn’t feel complete…

    I loved I am legend so if this game shares that same theme/setting I’d love it!

    • I was thinking I am Legend too, if you like the film, you should read the book. It’s better than both movies (Omega Man also based on I Am Legend) and well worth a read.

      Looking forward to Last Of Us, however they use the Uncharted engine, I’m sure it will blow its competitors out of the water.

      • I Am Legend is one of my favourite books! Pretty dark, but amazeballs.

  10. Look good, but just another gore game to me.

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