The Last of Us Preview (PS3)

June 7, 2012Written by Anthony Severino

It’s been 20 years since an outbreak deadly fungal spore devastated the United States of America. There is no living, there is only surviving. Nature has reclaimed the world, and relying on carnal instinct is your only means to stay alive. This is The Last of Us.

Naughty Dog cleared up the E3 Press Conference demonstration by saying it wasn’t at all scripted. But the next day during a private closed-door meeting, they aimed to shatter the notion. It was, in fact, the very same demo and segment of game as seen in the Sony presser—the same one that earned cheers and standing ovations from those in attendance. However, Joel and Ellie took a completely different approach and ended up along a new path, proving that The Last of Us ditches the linearity of the Uncharted series.

Rather than burst through the hotel rooms guns blazing, Joel, who finds a glass bottle on the ground, tosses it through an adjacent hotel room window, causing a diversion. As the enemies tend to the disturbance, Joel and Ellie make their stealthy advance. Joel puts the sleeper hold on an unsuspecting lunatic. Another hears the commotion and attacks. The punchy kickback of Joel’s revolver hits the eardrum hard, but not quite as much as the brain-splattering round to the face of the victim.

It’s clear that this isn’t one long escort mission. Ellie needs no babysitting. While innocent, and uneasy with Joel’s hardened brutality, Ellie can handle herself just fine. Ellie’s AI is built in such a way that during heavy combat, she takes cover and lets Joel handle his business. But when Joel’s in a pinch, it’s Ellie that can do the rescuing, providing supplies or cold-cocking a brick off the side of an enemy’s cranium.

She scratches his back as much as he looks out for her. The father-daughter relationship bore from the necessity of survival has turned into a warm and caring co-existence. The two banter, and genuinely seem to care for each other. It’s the only glimmer of humanity left in The Last of Us, and it’s pure and precious. Everything else…is insanity. Hell on earth.

A perfect example of just how bleak the world has become is discovered in another hotel room, where a corpse is found in a bathtub, wrists slit and bled out. Suicide is less painful than facing the pandemic plaguing the world. In the same room, they search through a cupboard for something, anything to help them on their journey across the United States from the quarantined zone to a region overcome by infection.

Joel keeps an backpack inventory sparsely littered with minimal supplies, which he can use to heal wounds or craft weapons. A glass bottle found in the same manner as the beginning of the demo can be crafted into a molotov cocktail with nothing more than bandages and alcohol. It’s an unconventional tactic, but you’re up against the very edge of humanity, on the brink of survival.

Exploring for supplies is necessary, and ammo is limited. Enduring is painfully difficult. This is The Last of Us.