E3 2012 – The Last of Us, a generation beyond

There are a few times in the history of video games when you see a new game, and it seems like a generation beyond. Games like the Metal Gear Solid series which brought about special uses for memory cards in boss fights, and artificial intelligence that could be played with and which brought more personality to the experience. Mario 64 was the first game that took full advantage of the analog stick, showing everyone else how subtle and precise movements could enhance 3D gameplay. After watching The Last of Us at Sony’s E3 2012 press conference, I was absolutely blown away. This game is a glimpse of the future.

An enemy hesitates to shoot after he sees that Joel is holding his friend hostage.

Based on the video shown (posted below), I got the sense that The Last of Us is bringing a sense of survival and realism that has never been done before. There’s no regenerating health to be found here. Instead you have a standard bar of health that goes down from being shot, and you’ll even slowly lose health when you’re grappling with an enemy and losing the fight. Joel will need to stop to use health packs to stay alive. You won’t find any kind of spamming of bullets or grenades in this game either. The demo shows Joel putting together a single molotov cocktail from items he found in the environment. I get the feeling that we’ll be desperately searching for supplies just to survive. I’ve always enjoyed games that limit the abilities of the players during confrontations–those seem to be the ones that turn out to be the most intense and memorable.

Joel is out of bullets, and the enemy knows it. Ellie takes advantage of him being distracted by chucking a brick at his head, allowing Joel to further assault him.

The Halo and Metal Gear series helped to evolve artificial intelligence, and The Last of Us looks to be taking it a step further. The enemies do things like call out to their friends to alert them of your presence. It’s going to be a bit unnerving knowing that they can react to things such as the empty click of your gun, and then bravely advancing upon your position, thinking that they’ve got the upper hand. It was at a time like this that Ellie chose to throw a brick at the advancing enemy, giving Joel just enough time to knock him senseless against the wall. The context-sensitive take-downs are some of the smoothest I’ve seen. I can’t wait to see in what other ways Joel and Ellie take on the human and zombie-like enemies. The best part is, Ellie seems helpful and capable, unlike most AI which too often turns into a annoying task of making sure the other character isn’t getting into trouble (or healing you at the wrong times…::cough::Sheva::cough::).

Aside from the combat, which looks to be quite visceral and thrilling, The Last of Us presents a story from the eyes of two characters who are surviving a harsh environment where it’s (just about) every man, woman, and child for themselves. The trailer seems to hint that perhaps similar to the Uncharted games, the focus will shift back and forth between storytelling while the characters are moving to the next destination and scavenging, and other times when they must outwit hostile humans. At one point, the two happened upon a movie poster which could have been interacted with. I’m assuming that if you do choose to activate it, the characters will have a conversation about it, helping to flesh out the world that was, and giving us insight into how the characters feel about what their world is like now.

If you pause the video at 6:02, you can see a list of the items and weapons Joel will be using throughout the game. For weapons, Joel can get a 9mm, revolver, shotgun, rifle, and bow and arrow (or crossbow). Other items such as bricks can also be thrown at enemies to harm them, or distract them for a bigger attack. Other items include a flashlight, medical supplies, melee weapons, grenades. It looks like you might even have to search for food and water, though it’s difficult to tell what those bottom icons are.

Mark my words, the internet over will be hailing The Last of Us as a milestone in gaming. I knew Naughty Dog was good, and I expected greatness. This may well end up being one of the best games of the decade.

check out the trailer for The Last of Us and let me know if you’re as impressed as I am with it.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>