When The Last of Us was first revealed by Sony at last year’s E3, a lot of people thought it would simply be another generic zombie shooter. Thankfully, the latest trailer shows us that Naughty Dog’s latest blockbuster is anything but generic.
Fans of Naughty Dog’s other big franchise, Uncharted, will immediately recognize a few elements in The Last of Us: Uncharted has always been lauded for its cinematic presentation, and The Last of Us is no different. This game is absolutely beautiful, and each area seems like it was hand-crafted with an attention to detail that some other games never manage to achieve in their entirety. The game also features the same “realistic platforming” that Uncharted has, as protagonists Joel and Ellie spelunk their way through the game’s ruined urban environment.
But as soon as The Last of Us’ action starts, it becomes clear that the game’s combat is very different than Uncharted’s free-wheeling, almost arcadey action. Joel starts off the encounter with by sneaking up behind an enemy for a stealth kill, but unlike stealth kills in other games, it isn’t a quick or clean affair; the man struggles and scratches at Joel’s face as the life is slowly and brutally strangled out of him. Joel picks up a gun from the man he just murdered, but ammo in The Last of Us appears to be scarce: the revolver only has 6 shots in it, and the shotgun that Joel acquires at the end of the trailer only has 3. The Last of Us’ approach to combat is really interesting: while the graphic and realistic portrayal of violence will be off putting to some (especially those used to the white-washed, glorified violence of other games,) it appears that Naughty Dog is balancing the game so that every single enemy is a threat. Most shooters try to create challenge by simply throwing wave after wave of brainless, faceless foes at you, but it seems like The Last of Us will feature encounters against small groups of well-armed or intelligent foes.
I wasn’t excited for The Last of Us at first; when the game’s first trailer revealed that there were zombies in the game, I immediately thought of the zombie/immortal guy/whatever monster levels from Uncharted, which were always the worst parts of those games. Thankfully, it looks like the zombies are only one element of The Last of Us’ gameplay, and what they’ve shown so far of the game looks absolutely amazing.