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

  • Sid, Got a question for you. On a gameplay video (gamespot), I noticed that pick-up items have these red circles around them. Is that standard fare, or some sort of visual helper for the video? When I saw the gameplay video, the hud striked me as being kind of ugly, what is your opinion on the hud?

  • still want to see more gameplay before dipping in :P

  • Please take my money I’m begging this is a monster year for Playstation!!

  • Glad to hear that Sony dropped their horrible advertising agency and now is with a new one. I hope they do a LOT better job at marketing this game to death and PS products in general. Sony and PS in general got so lil advertising this console generation it’s just so sad. So many great games deserved to get higher sales than they did.

  • Eagerly awaiting the game. My only concern is the game will be littered with collectibles which are so tiresome nowadays. If it does include collectibles, a suggestion for a future DLC for the game would be a map for a nominal fee to save us gamers wasting in excess of hours looking for a single collectible hidden at the top of a tree or something like that.

  • Yeah, Sid your one lucky SOB haha! Can’t wait to get my hands on this, seen on the E3. Wooooooo! The only games I care about this year really is this and GTA5. Just those two alone would make my year.

  • @55: Like the DLC for Uncharted: Golden Abyss? That was reasonably priced too. I’m always down for ‘helping’ DLC like that. I always end up, in Uncharted 1-3 needing to look up 20 or so of the treasures anyway. Would be better if I could just buy some DLC for it.

  • I don’t even have to think about it, I will buy it, of course!

  • Will there be multiplayer free roam?

  • Well I only have pretty much a simple question! How many Post-pandemic Editions are there going to be available???? … and by the way this game looks like it going to be sweet!!!!!

  • Looks really reeeaallly amazing, and even though I do not usually like games that have zombies mixed in it (unless it is a zombie game), but in this case I have a very good feeling and high hopes.

  • I didnt pre-order it but I’m def getting it. This is a must buy before God of War and the PS4.

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