The Last of Us

I was lucky enough to attend a special E3 presentation hosted by Naughty Dog to witness their upcoming action thriller, The Last of Us. Already stunned into awe from gameplay footage of the game at Sony’s press conference, the group in attendance were eager to see more. Naughty Dog’s Game Director Bruce Straley was on hand to deliver just that.

The Last of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic urban setting sometime after a devastating plague has decimated the population of our planet. What’s left of the human race must all fend for themselves, turning feral and desperate in a ravaged wasteland of limited resources. Imagine a Mad Max, or Book of Eli type scenario.

 
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Survivors are ruthlessly killing each other in order to obtain food, weapons, or shelter and desperate gang-controlled territories have been crudely carved into the city landscape amidst the chaos. Caught in the middle of all of this is our hero Joel, a hardened survivor with a heart, and Ellie, a 14 year old girl with a kick-ass attitude.

Naughty Dog have put their usual attention to detail to full effect in creating a believable and compelling environment in The Last of Us. They looked to a wide range of influences to create an unique and immersive setting. For example, they were heavily influenced by episodes of the BBC nature documentary Planet Earth, which documented an ant infected with a brain-controlling fungus and its inability to function. Considering ants and humans both rely on a societal network, they considered that the effect of a similar infection in homosapiens could be equally devastating.

They also pulled references from movies like No Country for Old Men and The Road, the brilliant comic The Walking Dead, and Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend. Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells described The Last of Us as “a genre-defining experience that blends survival and action elements to tell a character driven tale about a modern plague decimating mankind.”

Watching the gameplay footage, the new, disease-ridden world in The Last of Us is surprisingly beautiful. However this is because mother nature has had time to encroach upon civilisation; vines and plants grow wild throughout the concrete surrounds of the city, creating an almost alien-like world that is both peaceful, and perilous at the same time. With the power grid down, there are no artificial light sources and every environment seems to blend an inviting urge to explore, but also a distinct sense of caution and fear, with odd shadows distorting man-made structures.

With Naughty Dog at the helm, The Last of Us already looks set to deliver incredible production values. They have worked extensively on animations and it shows; watching Joel and Ellie move around their hostile world is a joy to behold. Every character also features carefully modeled facial animations, neatly demonstrated on screen via a man being choked to death, complete with a painfully contorted face with eyes rolling back in his crimson head. On top of the visuals, the game also relies heavily on a solid script to cement a human connection between the two stranded survivors.

After my short time with the game, I already had a strong bond with the characters. Even the non-playable Ellie featured some remarkable AI that made her a living, breathing side-kick. Despite her young age, Ellie is no handicap either. She’s quick-thinking, agile, and even willing to fight her way out of a situation to help you if need be. Joel and Ellie will constantly work together to overcome obstacles, solve puzzles, and simply survive all the dangers thrown at them from every direction. I can just tell that Naughty Dog are planning some heartbreaking plot developments that will trigger some watery eyeballs later in the game.

Our gameplay demo took place in exactly the same area as what was on show at the earlier Sony press conference. However this time around, our survivors played through in a completely different way. Rather than use brute force, we instead watched Joel and Ellie sneak around their enemies, creating distractions and surprise attacks to get past them. We watched in awe as the game changed completely, with the AI adapting to suit our behaviour. For example, pulling a gun on the enemy will result in a bloody firefight. But approaching enemies with a plank of wood will result in a more careful, ammo-conserving fist-fight which can go either way.

The strong writing effort leading the game revolves around a constant high-level of tension, with players always checking their backs and needing to be wary of what lies ahead. It felt like a thinking-man’s Uncharted, where players must scope out areas, salvage any objects lying around them, and use their wits to survive the daunting odds (for yourself and Ellie’s sake).

The Last of Us was one of the highlights of this year’s E3 and, although it was slightly disappointing to see that Naughty Dog haven’t strayed too far from the beaten track laid down by Uncharted, this game looks like a must-buy for PS3 owners next year.

NZGamer.com appears at E3 2012 thanks to Orcon Broadband.


The Last of Us
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- Too similar to Uncharted?
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Comments Comments (11)

 
OrkMischief
Posted by OrkMischief
On Monday 18 Jun 2012 3:05 PM
1
With the cost of making AAA games and the risk of losing big bucks on original IP's offering something unique and different, companys are trying to play it safe when developing new IP's by offering the same cake with different icing, which works, but I am keen to see these big companys take a risk and bring fresh gameplay and innovation to the table.
I'm excited for this game and I love the Uncharted series, but I am hoping for more from games in the future, despite that I will be buying this guaranteed.
 
 
 
Posted by Scuba_Steve
On Monday 18 Jun 2012 5:06 PM
1
As for "not straying too far too far from the beaten track laid down by Uncharted" Why fix what aint broke??? While this maybee utilizing uncharted's engine, it appears they're rollin' a whole new vehicle here & I'm quite excited to get my hands on it.
One thing I really took from the Sony presentation was the banter. I had to question a couple times if this was gameplay or cutscene, the dialogue between Ellie & Joel was impressive to say the least. It gives the game just that much better immersion when they're communicating like you would in that situation I was impressed & this game will be got, no doubt!
 
 
 
cyber_shinobi
Posted by cyber_shinobi
On Wednesday 20 Jun 2012 11:25 AM
-3
18 June 2012, 05:06 PM Reply to Scuba_Steve
As for "not straying too far too far from the beaten track laid down by Uncharted" Why fix what aint broke??? While this maybee utilizing uncharted's engine, it appears they're rollin' a whole new vehicle here & I'm quite excited to get my hands on it.
One thing I really took from the Sony presentation was the banter. I had to question a couple times if this was gameplay or cutscene, the dialogue between Ellie & Joel was impressive to say the least. It gives the game just that much better immersion when they're communicating like you would in that situation I was impressed & this game will be got, no doubt!
I actually they fixed it. I thought uncharted had crap character animations.
 
 
 
Leachy1983
Posted by Leachy1983
On Wednesday 20 Jun 2012 7:36 PM
-
Rockstar done the same thing with Red Dead Redemption, using the same formula as Grand Theft Auto IV, and improved on it. Look how that turned out, 160+ GOTY awards. So if Naughty Dog is "playing it safe" with The Last Of Us using the Uncharted formula, then count me in for one arse kicking game.
 
 
 
Henry
Posted by Henry
On Thursday 21 Jun 2012 7:56 AM
-
To all who wants playing this game on PC sign the petition on http://petitionbureau.org/thelastofuspc
 
 
 
Posted by Scuba_Steve
On Thursday 21 Jun 2012 10:09 AM
-
21 June 2012, 07:56 AM Reply to Henry
To all who wants playing this game on PC sign the petition on http://petitionbureau.org/thelastofuspc
To PC gamers wanting to play Last Of Us... Man up & get a PS3! or go round to your mates.
Given this is published by SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT your chances of getting it on any platform other then PS3 is sh*t all to none.

Aside from this there's the technical side, given the Uncharted's were utilizing the bluray discs space I expect Last Of Us to be no different. That'd be 6 DVD's or one massive download (especially for NZ).
Then there's the fact consoles can handle 10,000 or 20,000 chunks of geometry in a frame at 30-60fps. On a PC, you can't typically draw more than 2-3,000 without getting into trouble with performance. The PC can only show you a tenth of the performance if you need a separate batch for each draw call. - Source ATI/AMD & Developers
And as Last Of Us is built for the console exclusively it will be utilizing the consoles much larger geometry ability (which in simple terms is the ability to have many different looking things, rather then the same thing replicated many times. so trees, objects etc can all look different & not the same tree/object multiplied)

Sorry if the truth upsets anyone, but end of day any petition is in vain given the technical & business reasons why the game will not leave PS3 exclusivity
 
 
 
HellraiserNZ
Posted by HellraiserNZ
On Thursday 21 Jun 2012 1:57 PM
4
21 June 2012, 10:09 AM Reply to Scuba_Steve
To PC gamers wanting to play Last Of Us... Man up & get a PS3! or go round to your mates.
Given this is published by SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT your chances of getting it on any platform other then PS3 is sh*t all to none.

Aside from this there's the technical side, given the Uncharted's were utilizing the bluray discs space I expect Last Of Us to be no different. That'd be 6 DVD's or one massive download (especially for NZ).
Then there's the fact consoles can handle 10,000 or 20,000 chunks of geometry in a frame at 30-60fps. On a PC, you can't typically draw more than 2-3,000 without getting into trouble with performance. The PC can only show you a tenth of the performance if you need a separate batch for each draw call. - Source ATI/AMD & Developers
And as Last Of Us is built for the console exclusively it will be utilizing the consoles much larger geometry ability (which in simple terms is the ability to have many different looking things, rather then the same thing replicated many times. so trees, objects etc can all look different & not the same tree/object multiplied)

Sorry if the truth upsets anyone, but end of day any petition is in vain given the technical & business reasons why the game will not leave PS3 exclusivity
Are you high? When did consoles from 05/06 outperform current gen PCs.
 
 
 
Posted by Scuba_Steve
On Thursday 21 Jun 2012 10:53 PM
-
21 June 2012, 01:57 PM Reply to HellraiserNZ
Are you high? When did consoles from 05/06 outperform current gen PCs.
No, are you? I never said they outperform (overall) but they do outperform (quite heavily) on this one aspect. This is FACT! accept it.
This comes about due to Devs being able to program "Direct-To-Metal" on consoles as they know exactly what they are working with, whereas on PC they must go through API's (which add heavy overheads) as they can't guarantee or know exactly what configuration the games will end up on.
 
 
 
Jake
Posted by Jake
On Thursday 21 Jun 2012 11:15 PM
-
21 June 2012, 10:09 AM Reply to Scuba_Steve
To PC gamers wanting to play Last Of Us... Man up & get a PS3! or go round to your mates.
Given this is published by SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT your chances of getting it on any platform other then PS3 is sh*t all to none.

Aside from this there's the technical side, given the Uncharted's were utilizing the bluray discs space I expect Last Of Us to be no different. That'd be 6 DVD's or one massive download (especially for NZ).
Then there's the fact consoles can handle 10,000 or 20,000 chunks of geometry in a frame at 30-60fps. On a PC, you can't typically draw more than 2-3,000 without getting into trouble with performance. The PC can only show you a tenth of the performance if you need a separate batch for each draw call. - Source ATI/AMD & Developers
And as Last Of Us is built for the console exclusively it will be utilizing the consoles much larger geometry ability (which in simple terms is the ability to have many different looking things, rather then the same thing replicated many times. so trees, objects etc can all look different & not the same tree/object multiplied)

Sorry if the truth upsets anyone, but end of day any petition is in vain given the technical & business reasons why the game will not leave PS3 exclusivity
Well if EA can dumb down BF3 from PC to Consoles, making it look a little ugly then surely it can happen vice-versa?
 
 
 
Kyure
Posted by Kyure
On Saturday 23 Jun 2012 9:56 PM
1
This game is the only game that I plan to purchase when it is released. This game looks stunning.
 
 
 
Posted by Scuba_Steve
On Sunday 24 Jun 2012 10:04 AM
-
21 June 2012, 11:15 PM Reply to Jake
Well if EA can dumb down BF3 from PC to Consoles, making it look a little ugly then surely it can happen vice-versa?
Nope unfortunately doesn't work like that. BF3 was written on API's (even on console) and written for multi-platform. Last Of US has be written "direct-to-metal" for the PS3 so it would involve an almost complete re-write to port to any other system, along with the "dumb down". Which brings it back to not making business sense, along with the overlooked fact this is a 1st party title not 3rd party like BF3.