Naughty Dog turned the third-person adventure genre on its ear in 2007 with the release of the first game of the Uncharted franchise, Drake’s Fortune. In 2011, the developers announced they were taking a break from Uncharted and its charming protagonist, Nathan Drake, to pursue a new, darker project—and thus did we learn of the development of The Last of Us. Last year, Naughty Dog showed an exclusive playthrough to long lines of diehard fans at PAX 2012. This week, as the game nears completion, reports have surfaced of the first hands-on play sessions with reviewers and, well, our most anticipated game of 2013 is sounding spectacular.
The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic third-person survival shooter that follows the lives of survivors Joel, Ellie, and Tess as they navigate a bomb-ravaged, overgrown East Coast, dodging foes both human and... otherwise. While previous convention footage has focused mainly on the human threat faced by our protagonists, IGN’s Greg Miller details the newly-revealed infected threats in-game, known simply as runners and clickers.
The game’s infected enemies are particularly fascinating in that the inspiration for their design was derived from the now-infamous ant mind control fungus. In-game, initially-infected humans, or runners, appear to attempt to resist the infection with every stride they take, shuddering and jittering even as they blindly rush after you to spread their misery. The infection progresses in phases—the third phase results in the fungus bursting forth from the eyes of the infected, blinding them but heightening all other senses as they navigate the world through echolocation.
Kotaku reviewer Matt Cabral touches on the open-world, crafting, and stealth elements of the game in his preview, commenting on how the scarcity of supplies and versatility of the environment work together to create an accurate picture of truly being on the edge of survival. Gone are the days of assault rifles lying on sofas and ammo boxes around every corner. In The Last of Us, you scrounge and scrape for any weapon you can, including bricks, scissors, and two-by-fours, and count yourself lucky with what you find.
Miller also discusses how the importance of sound and accurate effects have been magnified in the game because of the focus on survival. There’s little music to be found in The Last of Us; instead, the emphasis is placed on listening for the moans, shrieks, and clicks of the infected, or the conversations and footfalls of human scavengers. Every noise poses a new potential threat or opportunity to the player.
The Last of Us launches on May 7, 2013 for the PlayStation 3.
In other gaming news this week, Dead Space 3 launches, Kirk Douglas does GTA, and the Witcher trilogy comes to an end.
- Dead Space 3 launched this week, in all its dismembering glory. Get your line gun ready. Early reviews note a few flaws, but by and large, an atmospheric, scary experience.
- If you live in Africa, then Grand Theft Auto: Kirk Douglas is already available in a Local Pirate Store Near You! GTA: San Andreas with Kirk Douglas and nothing else, including missions? Um, WANT. Follow the link for more hacked video game pop culture awesomeness from the malls of Nairobi.
- ShackNews has a preview of God of War: Ascension’s single-player campaign up. Breaking news: Kratos is still angry. Ascension launches on March 13.
- So, remember Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame? He covered the Skyrim theme this week.
- If last week’s peek at Bioshock: Infinite inspired you to pre-order the game from Best Buy, check your email and verify your order. The big box store encountered a computer glitch that somehow managed to cancel some 3000 pre-orders.
- In some unfortunate news this week, THQ’s promising Darksiders franchise appears to be dead, according to IGN.
- If you were a fan of Rockstar’s L.A. Noire and are a fan of Mad Men, check out the L.A. Noire gag reel, featuring some of your favorite actors from Sterling Cooper.
- Finally, CD Projekt Red announced the arrival of the final part of their fantastic Witcher saga in 2014. The developer claims the final game will be the “ultimate fantasy RPG experience,” taking place in a game world 30 times larger than that of Witcher 2. Geralt’s swan song promises to be a memorable one.