First Impression on “Last of Us”

Posted: June 4, 2012 by Matt Keleher in Gamenomics - Video Games, Sony/PlayStation
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In world where cover based shooting is quickly becoming the norm, it’s nice to see a game that seems to require more than just running and gunning. The Last of Us is a game that takes its visual cues from the Uncharted series, mixed against the dystopian backdrop of a Stephen King novel.

Set in a plague infected America, Game Director Bruce Stratly set out to create “A world being reclaimed by nature” where humanity is turning just as primal as the environment the player is immerged in. Stratly sought to juxtapose the familiarity of an urban landscape with huge plants and vivid mosses to signify a world returning to nature, as the characters struggle to figure out how to survive. Survival and adaptaion are heavy themes in the game, and are things Stratly hopes players will be immersed in. From the trailer at the Playstation press conference, it seems to be a world setting humanity back to the days of hunter gatherers.

You take the role of Joel 30-something Caucasian male accompanied by Ellie, a young girl who acts as your companion throughout your travels. In addition to gun based combat, there also appears to be a heavy emphasis of close quarter combat, through the use of quicktime events.

Neil Druckman, the game’s Creative Director wanted to create a world where “each and every enemy you face could be the end of your journey”, with a complex A.I. that can respond effectively and intuitively to different situations. For example, a group of enemies might be more aggressive towards a player who is low on ammo, or back off a player that has a high powered weapon. Druckman and his team also created numerous contextual based attacks that allow you to make use of not only weapons, but the environment you fight in as well. This serves as an excellent way to blend the beautiful visuals seamlessly with combat, making fighting varied and fresh.

The trailer also showed your female companion Ellie assisting you during combat, which would make the combat more organic and the story more engaging. It could also potentially allow you to coordinate different strategies to deal with potential threats. Stratly mentioned during an interview that this was one of his goals for the game was encouraging players to use what he called “Dynamic Stealth”: Running from heavy combat while using the environment and scouting to take down groups of baddies.

I for one, welcome a game that requires some planning and strategy rather than just running in guns a-blazing.

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