Hands-On With The Last of Us

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Hands-On With The Last of Us

The Last of Us on PS3

I’ve finally played a chapter from Naughty Dog’s eagerly awaited post-pandemic survival tale, and the first thing I want to say is this: The Last of Us is not a shooter. Well, not exactly. Though Joel packs a pistol, you’ll count yourself lucky to be holding more than 10 bullets at any one time. Most times you’ll want to avoid fights by sneaking and hiding. In other, more desperate times you’ll pull the trigger with a feeling of great reluctance — all the while praying that you don’t miss. The ultra-tight ammo supply imbues the game with a primal, high-stakes tension that brings uncertainty to every decision you make. One thing’s for sure: this is one mess you won’t be able to shoot your way out of.

“The Last of Us is not a shooter.”

As I guided Joel’s group around the dilapidated fringes of post-pandemic Boston, I saw constant reminders of Naughty Dog’s legendary attention to detail. Step under a trickle of water and Joel will raise his hand to keep his head dry; knock an enemy near a wall and Joel will pin him there to deliver a staggering punch. The environments also bristle with detail. Peer through a derelict car’s filthy window and you’ll see an interior modeled down to the steering wheel and gearshift knob. Shine a flashlight in a dark room and you’ll project your companions’ shadows softly and realistically against the wall and floor. Peek around a corner and you might spy a mouldering poster for “Fever Dream,” one of several fictional movie references dotted throughout the world.

The Last of Us - Concept Art
The Last of Us - Concept Art

With Tess and Ellie taking up the rear, I quietly entered a sagging skyscraper, my exploration accompanied by the ominous groans of tortured steel and a series of unsettling chirps. That’s when I spotted my first Clicker, a late-stage infected human with obscene fungal growths sprouting from its eye sockets. The Clicker is one of the deadliest enemies you’ll face, but it’s functionally blind, relying on a form of echolocation to navigate and hunt its prey. I hurled a glass bottle to distract the monster, then quietly guided Ellie and Tess further into the building, scooping up ammo and supplies along the way.

“Crafting is a necessity, not an optional sidequest.”

You’ll quickly learn that crafting is a necessity, not an optional sidequest. As you collect spare parts in order to craft gear and weapons, you’ll face tough choices on where to allocate scarce resources. Use a rag now to make a much-needed medkit, or save it for a molotov cocktail — just in case? You can also combine blades and bindings with improvised weapons (pipes, two-by-fours) to craft a powerful anti-crowd weapon. Or you can opt to make a short-range shiv that can instantly and silently dispatch one enemy. Whichever you choose, the game’s crafting interface provides a wealth of information in a lightweight and accessible UI. Despite the range of options I was able to find and craft anything I needed quickly and efficiently.

The Last of Us on PS3The Last of Us on PS3

The Last of Us - Concept Art

Based on the chapter I played, Naughty Dog doesn’t seem to be leaning on jump scares, fakeouts, or cheap tricks to gin up fear. Instead, The Last of Us develops a deeper, more oppressive dread by surrounding you with palpable decay and loneliness, turning off the lights and bombarding you with amygdalae-melting audio effects. Creeping through the filth-streaked corridors scrounging for scissors and tape didn’t make me feel like an all-powerful supersoldier, only a desperate survivor fighting to draw another breath. That bleakness permeates and propels the gameplay: No matter how bad it gets, you’re always worried that it’s about to get much, much worse.

Visually, the game is a knockout. The intensely detailed interior nooks and crannies contrast vividly with the massive scale of the outdoor scenes, such as the vine-choked skyscrapers of an abandoned Boston. The control scheme felt natural and intuitive, and Ellie and Tess felt less like advanced NPCs with great A.I. and more like companions on a dark, desolate journey.

And those were my experiences with The Last of Us! Have any questions? Let me know in the comments and I’ll answer any questions I can.

Comments are closed.


12 Author Replies

  • Something about that first screenshot looks wierd. Might be the dudes head :P

    Awesome game though, I look forward to playing this. Might be Playstation’s last big hurrah before the new console!

  • Good read.

    This is a game I definitely don’t want to miss out.

  • I’m sick and tired of zombie games but this one look awesome!

    I’ll wait for it.

  • Can’t wait for this game. Looking forward to playing the demo that comes with God of War, but after that I’m not going to be reading anything else or watching any gameplay footage. I want to be surprised!

  • May 7th can not come soon enough. Bring on The Last of Us Naughty Dog!

  • Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!
    Please Have a Multiplayer mode like Dayz!

  • Any date for a PSN Demo? :P

  • i’m bored of the zombie/infected trope in gaming. I doubt the emotional impact of this game will match Walking Dead the game.
    If i play this game, it will only be because i like uncharted 2. But even then, i’m only renting it from gamefly.

  • Is this more of an open world game or just a continuation of stages like uncharted that can be beat in 15 hours? If it was like the size of far cry 3 with this setting i’d be all over it….i hate spending 60 bucks on a game i can finish in a week.

    • I wouldn’t describe it as a huge open world ala Far Cry 3, but it’s more open and nonlinear than Uncharted, I’d argue. Lots of nooks, crannies, and paths to take.

  • Thanks Sanzaru for bringing a true Sly Cooper game to the vita, im loving every single second of it, good old platforming at its best.

  • When I first saw this game Ellie was looked and sounded very “Ellen Page” like. There was some chatter early on then they changed the character a bit. Anything to do with Beyond: 2 Souls?

  • oh and good Sly marketing uh sony? you went with the theme of the game and stealthily released it without no on noticing lol, good one sony.

  • @9 If its like Uncharted series, the campaign will likely be short and i have no interest in the lazy multiplayer they added to justify the $60.

  • it comes with GOWA!

  • Hey Sid this game sounds like it’s going to be so suspenseful. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and by that I mean when I get God of war Assention and they provide me with the demo . I have both of those games paid off :-)
    off-topic should we be getting extremely excited for February 20 ??Please respond

  • I love small details in a game! This is my most anticipated game this year.

    • After playing it, I’d have to agree. Though BioShock Infinite, GOWA, and GTA V are super high on my list too. Whadda year!

  • Looks incredible. Day 1 buy

  • Amazing ! i pre ordered the post-pandemic edition and i am 100% sure that i will like this game thanks Sid and thanks Naughty Dog
    peace out

  • already paid off my copy….sure to be a classic

  • As far as crafting goes do you know they number of supplies they will have in the final game?
    How many different crafting options will there be?
    Will there be other types of infected or just “Runner’s” and “Clicker”s?
    What are you most excited about for the final porduct?

    Brandon from Idaho

    • Hi Brandon! I noticed around 8 crafting components in what I played, from tape and bindings to explosives, blades, alcohol, rags and more. There are more than two types of infected…what I’m most excited by is the story and the relationship between Joel and Ellie.

  • This new IP in this long console generation is what we need. True hardcore game, from one of the best inside team :D

    Instant get the Survival Joel Edition.

  • Are you upset that the new Die Hard movie stole this game’s font?

  • Now that looks like a REAL old school survival horror, maybe Dead Space 4 could learn a thing or two with Naughty Dog (and yes, I say only Dead Space because I already gave up on Resident Evil, it’s more likely that thing becomes an FPS than a Survival Horror again).

  • human enemies, infected human creatures (not zombies) a scavenging crafting system

    the multiplayer for this game could turn out to be an interesting gem

  • Cannot wait for May 7th! Gonna go pre-order the survival edition sometime this week :D

  • Cant wait for the game! couldnt preorder due to blowing all my cash on Sly and GoW:A but I will definitely be picking this up :D

  • Game’s looking good, can’t wait. NAUGHTY GODS.

  • Other reviewers talked about LIsten mode. Did you like it? :)

    • Yeah, it seemed like a good way to take stock of exactly what’s around you. I didn’t use it a ton but I can see how it would be vital in the full game.

  • Sid, I was wondering if there is anything to collect or view throughout the game for replay value kinda of like Uncharted has the treasures? I did notice the movie poster in the game play video and you also mentioned one, so I am curious if the movie posters will be something to find throughout the game. Uncharted was my favorite new IP to come out this generation as I own and have beat all of them (2/4 platinum, the others coming soon) so I have high hopes for this game. Sony, keep bringing me awesome games and I will keep giving you my hard earned cash.


    • Yes, I did find collectibles in the form of notes (all hand-drawn and modeled in 3D in your inventory) that fill in bits of the backstory. Glad you’re digging the game!

  • By far one of my most anticipated games this year. The design, especially sound, is just amazing.


  • What was the control scheme like ?

    • Simple, lightweight, intuitive. Aiming and firing are on L1/R1 as you’d expect; L2 was sprint, and I think R2 was “Listen Mode.” Square is melee, X is to climb up onto ledges (no jumping though), Circle is crouch. I forget what Triangle does. :) You click R3 to turn your flashlight on and off, and the d-pad handles your inventory selections. Of course, the final controls may change leading up to launch, but I liked what I played!

  • The “monster” in the first screenshot looks like a guy wearing Majora’s Mask.

  • You guys keep hitting it out of the park.

    Game is looking amazing and I can’t wait, and this from someone who is easily scared and usually just won’t buy anything like this. But it looks too good not to play, plus the story telling is bound to be amazing, and I can’t miss it.

  • So here’s my question, and maybe I missed the answer somewhere. Since we have been getting a lot of psn preorders lately and GOW is one of Sony’s most popular franchises, am I to assume that it will be released on PSN also and if so will we be able to access the demo for The Last of Us with a digital purchase?

    • Good question! Not clear on the full details on either question but I’ll ask around. I suspect more details will come out regarding this a little closer to 3/12.

  • With this game, GOWA, GTA V, Sly returning, Bioshock Infinite, and a new Metal Gear on the horizon, oh and I can’t forget about the promising looking Tomb Raider reboot. This will definitely go down as one of the best gaming years in my 26 years that I’ve been playing.

  • How bad are the clickers? If they hear you is there any chance of getting away? Can you run away or jump out windows or slam doors in their faces or is it the end if you don’t have any bullets? If you dash away and hide can you throw them off the scent? How fast do they move when they hear you? Do they dash around at full speed or leap after you? Does fighting with other types of infected also call attention to them?

    • From what I played, Clickers can kill you in a flash – much more quickly than a Runner, so you need to keep them away at all costs. Misdirection by creating noise is a big element here, but direct combat may be your only hope. It’s worth saving your bullets just in case you run into a Clicker you can’t escape. They’re a little slower than Runners, so there’s a chance to run away and hide.

  • I agree with Elvick. I usually pass on scary games. Took forever for me to try Walking Dead, which was fantastic. My first game as a new Playstation gamer was Drake’s Fortune and the zombies in that scared the bejeezuz out of me but who doesn’t get totally hooked on Naughty Dog so yeah, CE already pre-ordered.

  • I can’t wait till this comes out! I already pre-ordered it soo I can get the bonuses! Got any tips or tricks for me?

  • I’m dying to play this. I’ve already pre-ordered via Amazon (was going to do PSN but I want the box.) . Shame about the demo going through Ascension first (or is that only?!) – I’m sick of Kratos and won’t be getting the game but I look at it as building the anticipation for the full title. Drooling over the fine work you all have done at Naughty Dog and looking forward to the ZBrush Central posts! lol.

  • Any news about the multiplayer?

    Can’t wait for knowing more about it!

  • This is the kind of top quality game that PS Vita needs in order to survive,I hope this year i see more original games for PS Vita.

  • Great stuff ND, I’ve got the Pandemic Edition pre-ordered, I cannot wait, thank you ND, oh Yeah and you’re not too shabby either Sony. :P ;) :)

  • Seeing details on the horror focus of the game is where I stop being interested in The Last of Us. I absolutely loved everything that I saw up to this point, but I do not like horror/survival horror games at all so this is the first Naughty Dog game that I’ll skip.

  • Hello The Last Of Us will be released for pre-sale on psn store?? ty

  • Oh god, all these good games!
    This year is gonna be a good one for the gaming community.

    I’m positive that I’d purchase this immediately!

  • Can’t wait for my Survival Edition. I’m not normally one who buys a collector’s edition, but I can resist a quality art book.

  • I hope my local store is selling this at midnight. Would be my first midnight buy. Sit up all night playing this while having a few beers, cant get much better than that. I guess I’ll be calling in sick the next day :D

  • Would have loved to read this article and the, always witty comments but, I’m on total lock down for this game. I know enough to know that my pre order was well placed. Now, I just want the experience to be fresh and new, with as little more knowledge about it as possible.

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