I recently took advantage of Game’s extensive The Last of Us lock-in event tour (dates still available) to get some hands-on experience with the game. Naturally, I left wanting the game more than ever. Naughty Dogs’s post-apocalypse survival adventure looks set to offer so much more than the never-ending line of zombie games and shooters out there. So, I felt it deserved the Sunday Seven treatment this week. Here are seven reasons you should really want to get your hands on The Last of Us.
It’s Closer to Survival Horror than Resi 6
It wasn’t until I got to play The Last of Us recently that I realised just how differently it plays to Uncharted. This is a hard game. When faced with a Clicker enemy you really need to be careful, as they’ll rip your throat out with terrifying speed should they discover you.
Creeping around behind desks is a tense experience and the limited ammunition makes you very reluctant to use guns. The noise may attract more of the infected beings and you certainly don’t have enough bullets to take on multiple targets. Not to mention, Joel isn’t the best shot in the world and the targeting is very heavy to reflect this.
Better options involve throwing bottles or bricks to distract them before scurrying off in the opposite direction. Melee weapons like bricks, shivs, bats and so on are useful against ‘Runners,’ – early stage infectees that can still see you and will attack on sight. While one or two pus-faced runners can be defeated by smashing their face in with a brick, add a clicker to the mix and running away becomes a very valid tactic. It’s not cowardice, it’s survival. Honest.
Ellie Has Your Back…But Tess Doesn’t
As soon as Ellie nailed that bandit in the face with a brick at E3, we knew we were going to get along famously. She’s entering a strong arena of female sidekicks with the likes of Elika (2008’s Prince of Persia), Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite) and Clementine (The Walking Dead) being some of the best examples we’ve seen this gen. So, no pressure then.
We’re hoping the brick incident wasn’t just a one-off scripted event and she’s able to pull her weight throughout this dark survival adventure. From what I’ve played, Joel is going to need all the help he can get.
The other female character you may have seen in recent footage can stay the hell away though. Tess was an absolute nightmare during my playthrough. In an area packed with the infected, she was obsessed with opening fire, leaving the group open to attack and making my stealthy attempts at getting through utterly redundant.
This could be the result of dodgy AI (I was playing a pre-alpha build to be fair), or her personality may just be that of an easily panicked individual. Either way, I’m glad she’s probably only going to be involved in the early stages of the game.
Simultaneous MOCAP and VOCAP
As with Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog were keen to get the most out of their actors by having them record lines while performing actions on the motion-capture stage. This gives everything a more natural feel. When actors work on-stage together, the lines come out much better than doing individual takes in a recording booth. Drake and Elena? Those guys would never have made it recording solo.
Less Painted-On Background Objects
This is something we’ll be keen to really test out in the final game. One of the early demos showed a rack of coat hangers rattle and move when Joel leant against the wardrobe. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a little touch that adds life to even the smallest of game objects.
So many gaming environments are merely nicely painted glass corridors, with everyday items like chairs and books not being actual physical objects that we can interact with. While I’m not expecting every object to move if I touch it in the game (I’ve already tried punching an office phone, it didn’t move), I’m hoping to see more ‘coat hanger’ moments. Next-gen though, I want to be able to mess up everything, like a fat, drunk bull in a china shop.
Many of the scenes in the game will allow you to take multiple approaches. When a group of bandits stand between you and your goal you can either sneak past quietly without drawing attention to yourself, or take them out so you don’t have to watch your back for the rest of the stage.
Taking on enemies increases your chance of bagging some decent loot like valuable ammunition or salvageable parts for crafting shivs, molotovs or first aid kits. The aggressive approach is going to put Ellie in danger too though, which depending on how she handles herself, may be something you want to avoid.
The story’s infected enemies are based on a real-life concern of a certain aggressive fungus evolving to spread to humans. The Cordyceps virus is a fungus that erupts from the host, with explosive spores infecting nearby creatures eventually wiping out the local population.
In the jungle, the virus evolves across species’ to whittle down the numbers of any group that it decides are getting a bit too numerous. Who’s to say it won’t one day decide we’ve been breeding a bit too much? Check out the video of how it affects ants. This is the very same clip that inspired Naughty Dog to make the game.
It’s (Probably) Naughty Dog’s Last Game This-Gen
Nobody has come close to matching Naughty Dog’s achievements on the PS3 and with this being their last game before what we’re hoping is an Uncharted 4 reveal for the PS4, they’re going to want to leave the PS3 in style.
As mentioned earlier, this feels much more like a survival horror game than anything we’ve come to expect from the studio. While that might be concerning to some, as the studio haven’t tried their hands at this before, you only need to look at their track record of titles to see how a change of direction hasn’t stopped them belting out bona fide PlayStation classics. From the fuzzy orange days of Crash Bandicoot, then the open-world platforming paradise of Jak & Daxter to the Blockbuster-hammering spectacle of the Uncharted series here’s a developer that don’t change things up unless they’re confident of doing great things.
Have we managed to convince you that the Last of Us should be on your most wanted list yet? Don’t forget to share your thoughts with us below and there’s a lengthy demo and Q&A session for your viewing pleasure here too.
The Last of Us is released June 14th and an exclusive demo will be available to owners of God of War: Ascension May 31st.