[Hands-On] A First Look At The Last Of Us

Naughty Dog is scaring me!
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: May 19, 2013
page 1 page 2   next
Sometimes when Iím sure Iím going to like a game (well, as sure as I can be about that considering how much the times Iíve been let down still sting) Iíll declare a personal ďmedia blackoutĒ where Iíll actively avoid information about the game because I love the feeling of satisfaction from discovering things organically within the game. Itís the same basic reason I didnít find out the sex of my children in advance.

Of course my job makes it hard to avoid all information, so I did know the basics of Naughty Dogís upcoming Uncharted departure piece The Last Of Us before we were sent over access to the ďbeta demoĒ (this is the first time Iíve seen that terminology) the other day. Iíve long championed games that go heavier on atmosphere and exploration over simple combat, and most of the tidbits Iíd picked up made The Last Of Us sound like a great blend.

After impatiently waiting through a lengthy install process (damn Demo Betaís!) that was made a bit better by some mesmerizing arts on the loading screen, I finally was greeted with the main menu. The demo contained one full-length scene taking place in Lincoln (not Nebraska) and a limited slice of a scene in Pittsburgh. I hopped into Lincoln, and prepared for the ride.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was just how lonely the world was at first. Erstwhile smuggler Joel and his 14 year old charge Ellie spend a lot of time alone, and in that time they engage in dialogue that feels very authentic. While I didnít get any backstory going into the demo, I was able to fill in a lot of pieces of what had brought these two together just by listening. Often times a conversation would start up after one of the pair noticed a random object in the environment and that would lead to all sorts of interesting revelations. Even if it wasnít clear from the story, the player can quickly infer this isnít a father-daughter relationship. Youíd never see a dad shrugging his shoulders and letting his daughter do some of the things Joel (sometimes reluctantly) lets Ellie do.

This lonely world hides a lot of secrets though. First and foremost, the traversal system from Uncharted is used to great effect in The Last of Us. Most environments can be explored vertically as well as horizontally, and careful exploration will reward you with a lot of hidden areas that might not be vital to visit, but they WILL provide something, be it background info, a good scouting locale or an alternate method to bypass an area. I spent a LOT of time just climbing into windows, onto roofs and under openings to take a deeper look at the world.
page 1 page 2   next