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Naughty Dog on The Last of Us: “We Pushed the PS3 to 110%,” Early Combat was More “Martial Artsy”

July 10, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

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I know I’ve mentioned before how busy Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley have been promoting The Last of Us (it paid off), but looking at the amount of interviews they’ve done over the past few months is still mind-boggling. Hopefully they get to rest up soon and start work on The Last of Us 2: Even Less of Us for PS4.

But before Neil and Bruce decide to make anything else, an interview with the WSJ was held, where Neil said how difficult it was to make The Last of Us “for lack of a better word, fun” because the game is so steeped in reality and “reality is hard to make fun!”

On the development side of things, Neil talked up how he doesn’t “think we could have done this game five years ago,” explaining:

We’re standing on the shoulders of Uncharted insofar as the technology is already there to build upon, to advance. The performance-capture techniques are something we started with Uncharted. Without those nuances, the dialogue would have to be more on the nose. And without dialogue being as smart as we were able to make it, we would have to make the combat more game-y, as you were saying, to make it more engaging. It took a lot of effort for us to build these systems up and then for us to become confident enough in them to design by subtraction, to remove a lot of things that we were using as crutches before to create this kind of experience.

Bruce offered up his opinion on The Last of Us being possible years ago, saying that he doesn’t “think you could do this in another era.” If you did though, “it would have have to be different graphically, so you’d have to compromise there” and “then you’d have extreme compromises somewhere else.” In total, Bruce says they “pushed the PS3 to 110% at this point.”

Learning about cut content or something they removed early on in development is always fun and allows you to see how the game evolved over time. We already know about the dog that was originally planned for the game and the slightly alternate ending, with Neil revealing how “we had stuff in the game that was more gruesome than what we ended up with, but it wasn’t useful. And then we had other moments where the violence wasn’t brutal enough. So, it needed to be ratcheted up to show just how primal people can become when their back is against the wall so when you see those tender, calmer moments between Joel and Ellie, you understand contrast, you understand why the love between these two characters is so important. And how far they’re willing to go to preserve it and save one another.”

Addressing some moments that weren’t violent enough, Neil noted how some of the early combat was “much more…martial artsy? Kind of Hollywood, over the top” and Bruce added that “it didn’t feel like humans battling humans for survival.” As a contrast, Bruce discussed how “there were times when the violence was so over-the-top that it just took you out of the moment.”

What subtitle (non-spoilery, please) would you want to give The Last of Us 2 if it ever happened? Let us know in the comments below.