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  • 6 months later...
  • 5 months later...

Just come in here to post a preview, and spotted my previous post with that release date. It's been pushed back a little, but not much, to 14th June. Not far off.


Long, but worth a read, if you're interested in picking this up. There is minor spoilery stuff in here, I guess, goes into some detail about a demo played;


GameCentral goes hands-on with two separate demos of Naughty Dog’s zombie epic, but does the game measure up to Uncharted?



It’d be nice to think that at the end of the year we’ll be naming a next generation game as the best of 2013. But the truth is launch games like Super Mario 64 and Halo are rare and, especially lately, things like Ridge Racer V and Perfect Dark Zero are much more typical of a new console’s first titles. A console’s last though tend to be it’s very best, and that certainly seems to be the case with The Last Of Us.


As the latest game from Uncharted creators Naughty Dog, the highly detailed visuals and pitch perfect dialogue and motion capture are immediately reminiscent of the adventures of Nathan Drake. But The Last Of Us is a much darker story and goes out of its way to break as many gameplay links as possible with its sister series.

The premise of The Last Of Us revolves around a near apocalyptic virus outbreak, started by mutated fungus. The world doesn’t quite end though and survivors are kept in quarantine zones under harsh military control. The story’s lead is Joel, a black marketeer who is convinced to escort a 14-year-old girl named Eliie to meet a resistance group named the Fireflies.


We know this only because it says so on Sony’s press releases, as the ‘beta’ preview (different from both the God Of War: Ascension and GAME lock-in demos) we’ve played provides very little context or backstory.


It’s a credit to the game though that you instantly grasp the situation, with the decaying American cities slowly being overtaken by nature and Joel and Ellie nervously whispering to each not to stray far. The beta preview comprised two separate demo levels, starting with one set in Lincoln (as in the capital of Nebraska, we assume).

The demo starts with the pair walking through a startlingly beautiful woodland, filled with herons and skittering rodents that are apparently unaffected by the fungus. The dappled lighting and vivid colours is very Uncharted, but things immediately get gloomier once we come upon the outskirts of the town and its ugly grey buildings.

We’re sure everyone’s been impressed by the footage that’s been shown over the last year or so but what’s always concerned us about The Last Of Us is exactly how the game plays. The marketing emphasis is, for obvious reasons, always on the cut scenes and storytelling, with only brief glimpses of the in-game action.


So it’s a relief to find that there is much more to the game than that. Getting into the town proper proves impossible thanks to a barbed wire fence and so instead we clamber up a smaller building and ponder how to get over to the larger one next to it. If it was Nathan Drake he’d just jump – it isn’t that far by video game standards – but Joel’s abilities are clearly more modest.


Instead he clambers down to find a large wooden plank, which after a while we realise we can prop up against the side of the building we were on. Getting back on the roof we then pull up the plank and use it to create a bridge. It’s a very simple puzzle, if puzzle is even the word, but the real world logic and physicality is satisfying and impressive.


After raiding the interior of the building for useful items we dabble with the game’s crafting system, which is relatively simple and works something like a more realistic version of Dead Rising. Pick up items like tape, scissors, and empty bottles and you can create items like Molotov cocktails and proximity mines; or upgrade your melee weapon from a broom to a broom with two pairs of scissors stuck to the end of it.


Exiting the building we come across our first infected. There seem to be too types: relatively traditional modern (i.e. fast) zombies and their more dangerous evolved form known as ‘Clickers’. This is a Clicker. Although they can instantly overpower you they’re also near blind and so a handy brick comes in very useful as a distraction. Although we can’t help but be tempted to use a shiv we’ve just crafted to stab it in the back when it’s not looking (well, hearing) just to be sure.


We wander along the deserted main street, as Joel chats to Ellie and outlines his plan to meet his associate Bill, who owes him enough favours to give them a car. Joel might not be a superhero in terms of his athleticism but his gruff stoicism seems to paint him as still a fairly standard video game trope.


Ellie on the other hand is much more complicated. She’s self-reliant and confident – and with a sailor’s flair for blue language – but her childish naivety and optimism still shines through as she nervously sings to herself or jumps out of the way of Joel. Her voice actress is excellent and we immediately felt as protective towards her as Joel clearly did.


Joel’s pal Bill turns out to be an overly cautious survivalist and the town is covered in booby traps. Booby traps which provide a nicely organic way to learn how to crouch and move, and use a recovered bow and arrow to set off explosive traps.


In fact even at this stage in the game (we don’t know for a fact, but we assume it’s very early on) Joel is walking around with a huge arsenal of weapons on his back, and yet we’ve never seen a game so keen to encourage hiding and running away as the default course of action in a fight.


They’re wise words though, since you’re almost always outnumbered and the infected can very easily lose sight of you if you duck down. There’s no cover system as such but creeping around and staying out of range of enemies works very well in terms of the unfussy control system.


Everything seems to be going well until Joel is caught in one of Bill’s traps and ends up suspended in mid-air as Ellie tries to cut down the counterweight as the infected poor in to attack you. Naughty Dog exploits the disorientation of being upside to a tee and as soon as you’re cut down you run into Bill, as the three of you race to safety.


The demo’s only around an hour long and barely a quarter of that is outright combat, but the quieter moments beforehand are perfectly paced to raise the tension – so that when a fight does break out the shock of your mortality seems all the more alarming. The Last Of Us is clearly not an easy game and despite an almost complete lack of gore every thrown punch and lobbed missile feels brutal and damaging in a way most games never are.


The demo ends with the cut scene above, which we note is pre-rendered. So is the one at the beginning of the Pittsburgh demo, which is slightly surprising given the Uncharted games. There is a sense though that The Last Of Us is pushing the PlayStation 3 to its very limit, with even the odd frame rate judder – although that may be gone by the time the final game arrives.


The second demo is much shorter than the first and starts with the sequence above, as Joel and Ellie are ambushed in their car and set about by a gang of scavengers. There are no infected in this sequence, but instead lots of very angry men – most of who are armed with guns. Trapped in a dilapidated shop stealth is still vital, and popping up to smash a unsuspecting scavenger’s head into a freezer is hugely satisfying.




You have a kind of x-ray vision that’s meant to simulate Joel concentrating and listening, but even if you don’t use it Ellie will sometimes shout out to point out hidden enemies or approaching reinforcements. She doesn’t seem to do much else that is useful though and can be killed if you don’t save her from attackers.


After dealing with the scavengers we find their lair is filled with the dead bodies of previous victims. Luckily their sleeping area is filled with equipment and tools and we find a workbench too, that is the only way to upgrade guns.


There unfortunately though the demo ends and we, like everyone else, are left to wait until June to play the rest of the game. It’ll be a difficult wait though, as the game – or at least this preview – is a hugely impressive one. The exact quality of the final product though will depend on how well Naughty Dog maintains a steady stream of memorable set pieces.


The gameplay mechanics here are nuanced but they’re still fairly narrow in scope, and it’s clear the game wouldn’t be half as interesting without its stunning visuals and cinematic presentation. At the moment though there seems little reason to expect that this won’t be the best PlayStation 3 game of the year, and likely one of the best ever on the system.




Uncharted, but with a darker tone, superior & more meaty gameplay, and less guns? Count me in.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well I must have missed it, what was it?

It's a normal bloke, i.e. the guy playing the game, morphing into the character.


Edit: yeah, what Ingram said.

Edited by Stevo985
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That crossed my mind, but it wasn't exactly obvious. I need to be hit in the face with that kind of thing, like a big slogan at the end reading "THIS IS SO IMMERSIVE THAT YOU WILL BECOME THE CHARACTER (NOT LITERALLY LIKE IN THIS ADVERTISEMENT THOUGH)."

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some more gameplay 


edit: Might as well add this, some MP gameplay from it. Bad quality though. Have a feeling this might get taken down though, so watch it quick.

Edited by vandaq
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Some people have got access to the demo (dunno how), so I expect there will be a fair bit of gameplay footage on youtube now. Although the demo I heard about was a short early part of the single player, didn't hear anything about the multi.

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Exclusive to one platform?




That is all.


Edit: turns out they're owned by Sony, in which case I still think they suck, but for slightly different reasons.

Edited by Davkaus
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