E3 saw the release of more footage from Naughty Dog’s much anticipated new game The Last of Us, and boy was it brutal. Although initially it looks very similar to the Uncharted series, as the trailer progresses it has a distinct feel, conjuring up the tension and eeriness of I Am Legend or “The Walking Dead.” Joel certainly has a touch of Sheriff Rick Grimes about him.
The trailer sees Joel and Ellie attempting to reach a bridge and escape the city. They are strangers in this territory, controlled by scavenging hunters. The player remains in control of Joel, and the level felt reminiscent of the French Villa chapter in Uncharted 3, with Sully offering banter and, later on, support.
However, the game itself seems to flow smoother than Drake’s last outing, and whereas that world took some liberties with the action, The Last of Us looks to be more grounded in reality. There are no funny quips here. This is survival, kill or be killed. The game seems to have more of a focus on stealth, but once discovered, Joel has no alternative than to kill a group of hunters in order to protect himself and Ellie. AT one point he even uses a hunter as a human shield. Ellie helps out when Joel runs out of bullets; although it was unclear whether this was an automatic reaction by the companion AI, or whether it was an action directed by the player.
The other main distinction from the Uncharted series is the lack of ammunition and reliance on hand-to-hand combat or improvisation. After Joel has run out of bullets, we see him create a Molotov cocktail from items in his backpack, and setting fire to one of the hunters, before wrestling the last one for a shotgun and blowing his face off as he begs for his life. This is not merely a shooter; there is a gravity to the killing here, you can hear the regret in Troy Baker’s voice acting.
This, coupled with the foreboding musical score by double Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla makes The Last of Us all the more compelling, and my most anticipated title for 2012 (or maybe 2013).