|Dev: Naughty Dog|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Wirtanen
The Last of Us originally showed up on our radar with a series of enigmatic videos, teasing us with imagery of riots, chaos, and ants. Yes, ants. Soon after, though, we got a peek at the game via a full-blown trailer at the SPIKE TV VGAs. Ever since, there's been a slow stream of details coming out about this post-apocalyptic survival game, and we've been obsessing over each and every one.
In case you haven't heard of it yet, The Last of Us tells the story of a man named Joel and a girl named Ellie who traverse a dying world that's been plagued by an infection similar to that of the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus. This infection turns people into zombie-like creatures with swollen meaty sprouts coming out of their heads. It's fairly gruesome.
But, as thrice proven by the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog is a studio that's able to bring new depth to the video game as a storytelling medium. We've been told that zombies aren't going to take center stage in this title as they would in, say, a Resident Evil game. Instead, The Last of Us chooses to focus on the human element; what are human beings capable of when their very existence is threatened? Well, it's certainly not pretty, and the world you'll explore is a much more dangerous place as a result. But even so, it is also a world of human contact and connections.
Joel and Ellie leave the "safety" of the military quarantine zone in which they live, venturing out into a decaying urban landscape. As they travel, they encounter fellow survivors who may or may not have ulterior motives. Determining when to shoot and when to run will be a big part of the fun. It's very intriguing, even if it does sound a bit too close to the concept behind I Am Alive. (And we all know how that turned out.) Still, if anyone can pull this off, it's Naughty Dog.
Also, with Naughty Dog at the helm, we shouldn't have to worry about any potential Half-Life 3 situation, as the creative team is determined to see this thing to the end. Neil Druckmann, Creative Director on the project, told Game Informer that the project "has to be all-encompassing," and that the story will come to a satisfying conclusion rather than leaving fans with a cliffhanger or any such nonsense. Of course, that means they're not ready to start thinking about a sequel, but at least we won't be left waiting around for the end of the story. The Last of Us will have a definitive ending.
Another thing we've been told to not worry about is the A.I. Yes, Ellie will exist throughout the campaign as an A.I. companion, and we're guessing the game might feel at times like an escort mission. However, Naughty Dog promises the A.I. is going to be competent, and players shouldn't feel encumbered by Ellie. She will hide when there is danger, presumably without having to be stuffed into a trash can à la Ashley Graham in Resident Evil 4.
Speaking of Resident Evil, Naughty Dog has decided to revive some elements of the old survival horror genre. Health will not regenerate in The Last of Us, forcing players to play it a lot safer and more strategic than they would in, say, an Uncharted game or a Call of Duty campaign. Also, ammo will be fairly scarce, and you'll want to be careful about who you use it on. Sometimes it's just going to be smarter to run away than to open fire.
One thing that has our attention is that, in that same interview we mentioned earlier, Druckmann cited the set pieces of Uncharted 2 and 3 as an element that we'll see evolving in The Last of Us. However, he threw out the phrase "intimate set pieces." We don't know what it means exactly, but judging by how well the Uncharted series has used its own set pieces, this could be a very cool thing indeed. Personally, what comes to my mind is the museum scene with young Drake in Uncharted 3—the type of moment that is both fully playable and gives us unique insight into the history of a particular character and/or relationship.
Several more tidbits have been teased, including the possibility of online multiplayer, but we're holding our breath for what we get to see at E3 this year. So far, though, call us piqued. We sincerely hope we'll have plenty more to share with you next month when the expo is in full swing.
Editor / News Director
Date: May 7, 2012