The Last of Us – Preview

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

About as close to Cormac McCarthy's The Road as games are ever likely to get.

Tantalisingly Naughty Dog have neither told, nor shown us much from their post-apocalyptic survivalist adventure, and yet already the gaming community has (quite rightly) exploded into joyous rapture at the first piece of gameplay footage to emerge.

We don’t know what caused the extinction-level event central to The Last of Us – perhaps we never will given the likelihood of an average Joe (or Joel in this case) having any idea of the whys and where fores once the brown stuff hits fan – and perhaps, in in a Cormac McCarthy’s The Road kind of way, “why” isn’t even important.

We do know that, aside from the rival human gangs picking through the remains of the abandoned cities of this empty world, there is another for assailant at work; a zombie or mutant type of ghoul which might well collectively known as “Clickers” – certainly one of the human raiders in the gameplay footage says they haven’t seen a ‘Clicker in a while’. The name conjuring images of a possibly insectoid type monster (which would tie in nicely with the The Last of Us’ teaser trailer which heavily featured insects).

More concrete than such insect-zombie-monster supposition is the scope of variety in approach demonstrated in the playthroughs of the game we’ve been privy too – one very much identical to the one released, and another shown only at Sony’s behind closed doors E3 briefing in which game director, Bruce Straley played through that same scenario but in an entirely different way.

The bone-crunching violence was there of course but in this longer cut of the same scene most striking of all was the father/daughter type relationship between Joel and his young sidekick Ellie – a fellow survivor who Joel has presumably taken under his wing. Quite why they are but two, and why they haven’t teamed up with their fellow survivors is again unexplained thus far, though perhaps echoes The Road’s tale of militarised opportunists and cannibals roaming the wilderness.

It was always the banter between Nathan Drake and his companions which went a long way to making Uncharted the game it was, and is, for me – that casual and easy flow of dialogue which seems effortless when be holding it but is far from easy in its manufacturing (hence why few games have dialogue so well written or perfectly delivered).

The Last of Us looks to carry this free and easy conversational style to new heights as Joel and Ellie swap stories based on what you decide to interact with – a series of film posters for example serving as catalysts for Joel to tell Ellie parts of his history. Fail to interact with the poster and you miss that particular moment of exposition – a recurring theme within a game which chooses to offer the player choice – or at least the illusion of choice – at every turn.

For example, take the one encounter so far demonstrated at which Joel and Ellie encounter a group of men whose motives are unclear (but it can be inferred that they aren’t the best intentioned lot given Joel’s first reaction is to hide). As mentioned, I’ve seen this encounter played out in an entirely different, one where Joel went for a more stealthy approach, throwing glass bottles to distract the enemy, and taking more use of cover, etc.

After a protracted game of hide-&-seek there followed a series of bare-knuckle encounters – where guns became meaningless and breaking out of half-nelson holds much more important. Once again Ellie became involved, hammering against those who’d got the drop on Joel, and once the numerical tables were turned the last hostile panicked, deciding to throw a Molotov cocktail at Joel which missed but shattered against a wall, so engulfing it in flames. Joel was then able to tackle the guy into the flames, so giving him a particularly painful end.

In fact in the brief time I had to discuss the demo afterwards Straley confirmed that the player need not have even engaged those particular hostiles at all, such encounters requiring a ‘cost versus benefit weigh-up’ on the behalf of the player.

Worth the wait? As I said at the top there’s a huge amount we still don’t know about The Last of Us. There are all those unanswered plot questions of course, but then there are more pressing gameplay unknowns too. How will encounters with the Clickers work; is Ellie ever controllable; how in depth is the briefly called up inventory screen; how much of game is linear versus open world?

I do know that Joel and Ellie won’t spend the whole adventure together though, as the longer playthrough I witnessed ended with Joel crashing down through an elevator shaft with Ellie stranded at the top – a less brutal end than the shotgun to the head abruptness of the shorter trailer’s ending at least.

For: PS3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony
When? 2013

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Technical Product Marketing Specialist - London - £70,000

    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Cloud Product and Solutions Marketin...

    Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

    £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

    £45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week