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Naughty Dog, the studio that brought us popular franchises such as Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter and more recently, Uncharted, promises to give gamers an innovative survival action horror title that will have gamers at the edge of their seats. “The Last of Us” revolves around black market smuggler Joel, who is asked by his partner to smuggle a girl, Ellie, from out of a city under military rule. This proves to be no easy task, with the world infected with a fungus which renders humans to a zombie-like state.
From viewing the very first gameplay trailer in 2011, “The Last of Us” definitely brings tension and tough decisions to the forefront. Joel is tasked with protecting Ellie, but this does not mean she is a useless non-player character. If the player takes cover, she will do so as well. If she hears enemies near, she will alert Joel. She picks up her own weapons and uses them to assist Joel.
The choice of how to dispatch of enemies is completely up to the player. Straight forward methods such as using a gun are an option… until the player runs out of ammo. If the enemy hears your gun click it will know you are out of ammo and advance upon you. Other ways to kill include Molotov cocktails, stolen weapons, and performing choke holds on unsuspecting enemies. A highlight of dealing with enemies is being able to use the environment as a weapon, and being able to create your own weapons with items scavenged from the environment. The player can bash a thug’s head into a table or wall if they so choose. However, these choices will factor in later in the game for the player.
The environment in “The Last of Us” is surreal, as it is very clear that the earth is reclaiming the environment. The characters slug through stagnant water, as vegetation covers everything. Throughout the first trailer the monsters are strategically absent, but this does not take away from the preview of the game. The environment and human enemies give off more than enough tension and intrigue to keep the audience engaged. For example, sounds from footsteps, floors creaking, and wind blowing through empty buildings give off a feeling of isolation as Joel and Ellie traverse the city, attempting to escape. However, one little noise can disrupt the silence and put the player immediately on high alert.
The second trailer is a “story trailer,” which gives more insight into the dilemma of smuggling Ellie out of the city. The tension of the game is amplified by the reveal of the “zombie-esque” monster designs. They appear extremely grotesque as well as formidable, and are seen lunging at Joel and Ellie in the trailer. The designs for the creatures are a welcome breath of fresh air, as they do not look or feel like your typical zombie-like creatures. Their visage is obscured with oozing fungi that really do look infectious to the touch. The audience is also given more of a look at the military rule of the city, with constant soldier vigilance, and civilians being arrested. In addition, the relationship between Joel and Ellie is also being put to the test, as the stress from trying to escape both infected and non-infected humans is evident.
“The Last of Us” is very much anticipated and as such, gamers were disconcerted to hear that Naughty Dog is planning for the game to have a multiplayer component. As of now they are still very tight lipped about it, but believe it will not compromise the single player experience.
“The Last of Us” is a PlayStation exclusive set to be released on May 7, 2013. For pre-ordering with Amazon.com, gamers will receive “a digital download of the game soundtrack, featuring original music by Academy Award winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, a PS3 dynamic theme showing Joel and Ellie on their journey through a ravaged city and two exclusive PlayStation Network avatars featuring Joel and Ellie in winter survival gear.” For gamers that pre-order with GameStop will receive the same bonuses as Amazon as well as a “survival pack” for the game’s multiplayer mode.
Two special editions were announced on January 22, 2013 on the PlayStation Blog. The “Survival Edition” will cost $79.99 (USD) while the “Post-Pandemic Edition” will cost $159.99 (USD) and come with everything from the “Survival Edition” to a twelve-inch figurine of Joel and Ellie, but does not include the art book. The “Post-Pandemic Edition” will only be available from GameStop. Collectors will have a difficult choice to make between the art book and the figurine. On the bright side, the art book will be available for purchase in July.
Image Courtesy : Polygon