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The Last of Us  




Preview: The Last of Us photo
Preview: The Last of Us

12:00 PM on 05.18.2013

Survival puzzle stealth action


I was skeptical of The Last of Us. Despite all the hype and high promises, to me, it looked like post-apocalyptic Uncharted. I wasn't sold on the dynamic nature of how the game progressed, and as we all know, zombies have been literally done to death in the past five years.

Then, I got a chance to actually play it. How many days until June 14th again?

The Last of Us (PlayStation 3)
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: June 14, 2013 (WW)
MSRP: $59.99

The Last of Us is the tale of the hardened Joel and the young Ellie, as they wander the post-apocalyptic United States, not unlike the BioShock Infinite tandem of Booker and Elizabeth. Cities are ruined, gangs roam the streets, and oh yeah, there are fungus zombies all over the place -- no biggie. To be clear, Joel is not the father of Ellie, and Ellie is not voiced by Ellen Page as many people think to this day (she's voiced by the capable Ashley Johnson).

My playable build opened up with Joel and Ellie in search of Bill in Lincoln, Pennsylvania. Almost right away, I was pretty blown away by the art style. Naughty Dog reportedly looked to I Am LegendNo Country for Old Men, and The Road (both the books and the films), for inspiration on multiple levels, and I'm definitely seeing that here. The bleak, yet brighter colors mix very well with the The Last of Us beautiful graphical style, and every character model in the game looks wonderfully detailed. In fact, you could say this is the closest to a videogame adaption of The Road as you can get right now in terms of more than just visuals, which is a major compliment.

As I was trekking through some wildlife on the way to the city, Ellie commented on a cute rabbit hopping into the trees, and a group of fireflies. In fact, she commented on a whole lot of things, which helped illustrate the dynamic nature of Ellie within the confines of the map. As you progress and enter certain events, Ellie will react differently depending on the situation. It's not a groundbreaking system for sure as there was some overlap during my multiple playthroughs, but like Elizabeth in Infinite, it's interesting enough to help build a bond between the player and Ellie -- and unlike Elizabeth, Ellie can die, which adds a whole new layer to the game.

But despite the comparisons, Ellie isn't as prim and proper as Elizabeth. She's foulmouthed, raw, and scrappy. This part of the build seems to be very early on in their relationship, as Joel is still asking questions about how he ended up with her. At one point earlier in the build she asks Joel for a gun or something to protect her with, to which he replies in a stern voice "No! Of course not." I could immediately tell through repeated (well-written) dialog that they we would see some growth between the two of them and not something forced or robotic -- something real, and raw.

Walking around with Ellie the entire time is basically an escort mission, but thankfully, Ellie puts Resident Evil 4's Ashley to shame with her quick wit, helpful hints, and interesting personality. There was this really funny instance where I opened an iron door with her on the other side and glitched the game, but I was able to reload a checkpoint from a minute before without issues after realizing what happened.

Joel will be solving the majority of the game's puzzles, which in the demo ranged from moving planks to cross over buildings to locating and disarming traps (hint: shooting them works great). Despite what I initially thought, this isn't Uncharted with zombies. Joel is formidable, but he's not a super-hero like Nathan Drake. He isn't going to be leaping across buildings with cat-like reflexes due to his very, very limited jump range. In fact, Joel needed help getting across one gap Nate could have jumped twice over.

Despite the fact that it controls very similarly to Uncharted, Joel's combat prowess is pretty limited too, as there are no 60+ maximum ammo pistols in The Last of Us. In fact, the six-shooter and shotgun that I obtained at the beginning had a scant few shots, lest I find a few lying around in the world. Monsters and humans alike will come running if you just go shooting willy nilly, further adding to the allure of stealth, and the realism of the game.

Stealth is so important that the game actually strongly suggests that you use it all the time, and that running is often the "best" course of action. Like Metal Gear Solid or Assassin's Creed, you can elude your pursuers and go back into a normalized state should you be seen, so thankfully that mostly eliminates the idea of constant forced action. Instead, the focus is on your survival, which I really enjoyed.

This is accentuated in the demo's second "Pittsburgh" portion, which pitted me against an all-human gang for the first time. The action picks up right after Joel and Ellie crash their car into a convenience store, putting them both into a corner, low on ammo with the gang rapidly approaching. I noticed that the AI was particularly sharp here, opting to constantly use cover, notice when I wasn't, and sneak around slowly to my position.

Tension were so high, I was constantly looking around in silence, watching both sides and flipping the camera as Ellie shouted their positions. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a thug try and go for Ellie, so I ran at him and busted his face in with a baseball bat, cracking the bat in the process and leaving me out of a melee weapon.

Quickly, I moved from cover to cover watching my back as I shotgunned a few other thugs, and shot another two in the head with a pistol. During all this I had to scavenge for another melee weapon, heal myself with a medkit -- which doesn't work instantly, and leaves you open as enemies rush towards you -- and constantly look for new cover. Given the limited amount of ammo and the tenacity of the enemies, I knew I was going to be in for a challenge in the core game.

There is one thing that felt really strange and took me out of the game a bit gameplay-wise. Basically, there's a polarizing mechanic that functions similar to Hitman Absolution's instinct mode (or the many other games that feature x-ray vision), where you can see enemies through walls. All you have to do is hold R2 to do it, so it's not like it has to be used sparingly or anything. It seemed weird and went against the realistic feel of the rest of the game, but thankfully, you can resist the urge entirely by turning it off in the main menu -- in fact, I'd recommend it alongside of a harder difficulty as that's where the game really shines.

The Last of Us has a few elements that feel tacked on, but are wholly inoffensive, like crafting and workbenches. These systems are basically set up to allow some form of RPG gameplay, as you can level up Joel and your weapons through various menus. My guess is this will pay off for multiple playthroughs (if there is in fact a New Game + option), when the dynamic events dramatically increase replay value on higher difficulties. Like Dark or Demon's Souls, the game does not pause when you're crafting items, which is a nice touch.

I can't help but wonder if The Last of Us would be better without zombies in it. My absolute favorite parts were the ones with humans, in the depths of their depravity, brutally attacking Joel and Ellie. Either way, I'm sufficiently excited, as the game is leaps and bounds more challenging and unique than I thought it would be going in. I can't wait to be backed into a corner, five enemies approaching slowly, with one bullet left, ready to protect Ellie at all costs. Bring it on.





The Last of Us actress 'wasn't prepared for the positive' response to Ellie's sexual orientation photo


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Why I love The Last of Us multiplayer, in a nutshell photo


Sony: Last of Us actually deserves its GOTY Edition photo


The next multiplayer maps for The Last of Us will be free photo


How to stop sucking at The Last of Us multiplayer photo


The Last of Us has another ending that will never be released photo


Can you tell the difference between Last of Us PS3 and PS4? photo


Last of Us: Ellie's voice actor almost got in a fight with the first Joel photo


The Last of Us Updates, Screenshots, & Videos







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timeline following:
The Last of Us



10:30 AM on 03.13.2015
The Last of Us actress 'wasn't prepared for the positive' response to Ellie's sexual orientation

Last night Destructoid attended the videogame BAFTAs in order to do some hard-hitting journalism. Speaking to Ashley Johnson following her BAFTA win for Best Performance for voicing Ellie in The Last of Us and its story DLC L...more



9:00 AM on 01.27.2015
Last of Us film 'pretty faithful' despite 'some big changes'

The Last of Us writer Neil Druckmann is working on the screenplay for the upcoming film and he's just finished a second draft, along with a table read with "a bunch of actors," according to a Game Informer interview. Sam Raim...more



7:00 PM on 12.09.2014
Naughty Dog milks The Last of Us with more DLC

The promise of the subject line was alluring; the email's contents utterly deflating. Deadly new additions to The Last of Us multiplayer, Naughty Dog promised. Would it be a three-way firefight between Fireflies, hunters and...more



8:00 PM on 11.26.2014
Why I love The Last of Us multiplayer, in a nutshell

We're outnumbered, down to our last pair of lives. The clock is ticking, it's as much of a threat to my team's survival as the four armed men bearing down on our position. I don't like our chances, not one bit, but moments like this, they're the reason I play the game.more



7:00 AM on 10.25.2014
Sony: Last of Us actually deserves its GOTY Edition

Just like every other game these days, The Last of Us is getting a Game of the Year edition. However, unlike some other games, Naughty Dog's latest probably deserves one, Sony argues. "With over 250 Game of the Year...more



9:00 PM on 08.21.2014
The next multiplayer maps for The Last of Us will be free

Naughty Dog has been working to address issues with long wait times in The Last of Us' multiplayer matchmaking and while progress has been made on that front, there's more left to do. "Over the last two weeks, we've discovere...more



2:00 PM on 07.30.2014
How to stop sucking at The Last of Us multiplayer

Have you played The Last of Us yet? Maybe, maybe not. You probably should, though. It's really a lovely game. And it's now on PS4, which means there's an actual reason to use that thing as something other than a Netflix deliv...more



9:00 AM on 07.29.2014
The Last of Us has another ending that will never be released

During the recent Last of Us live event, in addition to live performances of scenes from actors and the soundtrack, there was a surprise for fans. It's an extra epilogue ending of sorts that takes place after the game, ...more



4:00 AM on 07.29.2014
Can you tell the difference between Last of Us PS3 and PS4?

I can't. Okay, okay, there's definitely some extra clarity in the brickwork and people look a bit more yellow than pink. more



4:45 PM on 07.28.2014
Last of Us: Ellie's voice actor almost got in a fight with the first Joel

Here's a fun bit of trivia: Ashley Johnson, Ellie in The Last of Us, almost got into a fight with one of the actors first considered for the role of Joel. A heated push during acting and subsequent push back almost led to fi...more




Naughty Dog

7:30 PM on 01.13.2015
Buying a new PS4? If so, you're gonna get The Last of Us too

Sony's sweetening the pot a bit for any prospective PlayStation 4 buyers. Beginning in the coming days, all PS4s will come bundled with a code to download a copy of The Last of Us: Remastered. The inclusion of Naughty Dog's m...more



10:00 AM on 01.12.2015
Don't worry, Naughty Dog isn't going to make Uncharted 4 'too dark'

In a video interview with Game Informer, Uncharted 4 creative director Neil Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley discussed the direction of A Thief's End and the inherent challenges to following up the critical...more



5:00 PM on 01.08.2015
PlayStation owners loved Destiny more than any other game in 2014

We're well into the new year, but not everyone's put 2014 squarely in their rearviewmirror. PlayStation Blog just finished tallying the votes to determine which games Sony fans were most fond of last year. All PlayStation pla...more



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