The Last of Us is one of the most anticipated 2013 titles, releasing June 14th worldwide. It is a PS3 exclusive from Naughty Dog, the developers of Uncharted series and the Jak and Daxter games. The story centers around Joel and Ellie in a post pandemic world, fighting for survival against human and not so human enemies, the infected.
The latest footage features Joel and Ellie in an abandoned train station shrouded in darkness, there is no light other than the torch held by Joel. The first thing you notice about the decrepit environment is the sound. The room is silent, save for the guttural clicks, cries and moans of the infected. No music plays, and a real sense of abandonment and fear set in. The atmosphere this game creates is not created through the soundtrack, but by the hushed whispering of Ellie to Joel and the slow sound of his footsteps as you traverse and avoid the infected.
The two main types of infected shown in this demo are the clickers and the runners, each behaving quite differently. The runner is an infected in the early stages, it displays the fight for control in its body through its movements, crazily charging and moaning in anguish upon attack. The other type, as seen in earlier trailers, the clickers are the next tier infected. They have pronounced growths of fungus spouting from the eye sockets, making them rely on a form of echolocation rather than eyesight as they are blinded by the growths. As their name suggests they emit a clicking sound to detect movement and human presence in the environment. The use of these two types of infected makes for some versatile and frantic game play.
The demo shows of the main mechanics of The Last of Us, some clever uncharted-esque gun-play, stealth, and the use of sound and the environment to combat your enemies, or to sneak by unimpeded. The frantic actions of the infected when you make too much noise echoes through the confined spaces, and the brutality of the game comes into view as the player attacks. Enemies can be killed with pistols and shotguns, with ammo being scarce and important, but enemies can also be dispatched with environmental objects such as bricks and poles. The gruesome sounds and splitting of skulls when hit by a bullet or smashed with a brick really sets the tone for the game; survival at all costs.
Enemies can also be distracted by sound, with gunshots and loud noises drawing the infected to an area, either to swarm you or to be evaded. Patience in these situations is rewarded, as players can conserve supplies and strategically move around and kill enemies, saving them from dying or wasting ammunition.
The demo also shows of The Last of Us’ simple yet effective crafting system, allowing you to use pieces of equipment that you have scrounged for to be made into useful items such as med kits, Molotov cocktails and even improvised weapons. Whist crafting you are vulnerable to attack so the player must constantly keep their eyes open, but most importantly listen, sound is one of the most important elements of the gameplay.
This gameplay demo is quite revealing and exciting, showing off what we shall see when the game is released in May. The use of sound and the stunning setting, as well as versatile enemies make this a game that appears to be deserving of the anticipation, I for one can’t wait to pick this up on release and to get sucked into the world of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.