Monday, June 4, 2012

Eeeee The Last Of Us Eeeee




So, Sony decided to close their E3-Presser with The Last Of Us, as seen above, which I think was probably the smartest thing for anyone to do ever, because goddamn, how do you top that?  You don't.  I don't care if you announce God of Star Wars after that in which Kratos goes and kills everyone in the Star Wars Empire brutally and single-handedly, or Grand Theft Auto:  Mushroom Kingdom, in which you drive Karts around a fully realized Mushroom Kingdom styled after the piecemeal bits of actual 'city' and 'buildings' that we've seen in games (mostly the RPGs) doing whatever the hell you want.  Those just won't top that friggin' video, though I very strongly urge the game industry as a whole to make me eat those words.  No really, I would love to see you try because goddamn, that is a slick friggin' video for what amounts to seven minutes of gameplay.

That is the key point here, as well, that this is gameplay, and whereas most companies, you would go "Pshyeah, right", this is Naughty Dog we're talking about and I have complete and utter faith that the game will look exactly like that if not better by the time it releases.  Which is currently unknown, unfortunately, but at the same time -awesome-, I don't have to really worry about that right now.  That's not the point, though, so let's just move on from that quickly and quietly.  The point is that "Holy shit" cannot be said enough times about that friggin' video, not only from exactly what's shown, but the implications of what's shown.  As you know, I am particularly good at taking trailers and such and picking them apart piece by piece to say just what it means on its own right.  And boy, is there a lot of that to be done with this game, what with the AI and the environment and this and that.

To this end, let's just skip how gorgeous the game is which is shown off in the first couple minutes of the video (as well as showing Ellie take interest in a movie poster which is awesome, and kind of makes me want a Naughty Dog Werewolf game) and get right to the 3:16 point in the video where we see the HUD pop up or rather, materialize.  Now, I'm not going to harp on it, nor am I going to say "Boo" to it, but I will say that it seems kind of strange for a blatant HUD like that (with a life bar no less) in a game that looks -this- realistic, where a more minimalistic approach seems the better way to go about it.  I imagine there'll be an option to turn it off, however, so it's a non-issue and it -is- rather important for a demo.  That said, I will also say that I like that the game has a lifebar, meaning medical supplies will be necessary rather than relying on mysteriously regenerating health which has unfortunately permeated entirely too much of the industry with about half the games that feature it even bothering to give an explanation.

The HUD features everything you would want it to - health, your current gun and the amount of ammo in said gun, so that said, it's capable at what it does and doesn't intrude all that much.  Even if it does prove to be a permanent fixture, I daresay it won't be that intrusive, and I think I only bring it up because of the minimalist approach Uncharted has taken, if you take away the menus and weapon icons and such.  We see it again later on after Joel chokes out (in a not-so-stealthy way, a nod to the fact that he's not a trained friggin' assassin) one of the "Hunters" and drops his Revolver.  Specifically, it shows the revolver ammo as a pop-up and has a note that tells you what to push to pick it up.  Because of what I'm assuming is the fact that Joel just kind of stands there for a moment after his kill/knock-out, he is then spotted in a realistic manner (especially after the noise that was made) by one of the other Hunters, sending everything into a shootout of sorts.

I would like to point out something very very vital here - the encounter that follows features only four men, but the way it plays out makes it seem that much more.  And that's purely because it's more visceral, it's more brutal, and it's more personalized, so to speak.  The first guy is taken out in the shoot-out, where the second waits behind cover for backup.  The third guy moves off into an adjoining room to set an ambush that Joel walks right into, yet comes out on the winning end of by taking him as a human shield.  He walks him out into the main room for the second guy, who briefly tries reasoning with Joel before he's gunned down and Joel loses the shield by knocking him out cold with a pistol whip of sorts.  And finally the last guy shows up as Joel takes cover and simply waits.  As the click of Joel's revolver sounds out, indicating that he is out of ammo, the final man feels a sense of confidence that brings him out into the open.  As in, he is literally lured out because he knows Joel has no ammo.  That alone is brilliant, to say nothing of the rest of what I just said.

Equally amazing is how the whole scenario plays out from there.  Earlier in the conflict, Ellie had, completely on her own, picked up a brick to defend herself with, as that is honestly a viable weapon considering the circumstances.  The guy that laid an ambush for Joel went with a lead pipe, even, which both of those -might- just suggest that you can use improvised weapons, which I am certainly hoping for.  Having moved into the room while Joel cleared out the other three men, Ellie hid herself to the side of the room and only after the last man cockily walked out, stalking over to Joel's position did she make herself known.  "Hey Asshole!" rings out from our wonderful heroine who then lobs said brick right into the face of this guy, leaving him wide open to be taken out by Joel who does so by making use of the environment in ways that make me get all weak in the knees.  Choking him against the wall, followed by slamming his head against a nearby desk is more than enough to take this last guy out and after a bit of small-talk between Joel and Ellie, they continue.  Again, this is just the game, it's not a cutscene, I doubt it's heavily scripted out to happen like this, it's just how this played out.

When they move along and hear reinforcements coming (which isn't all that far-fetched considering there -was- gunfire), Joel decides things up a little bit (I'm so sorry) by crafting a molotov cocktail.  I use the word Crafting purposefully, as taking off the backpack brings up a little menu that shows off ammo and just what items Joel has on him.  Selecting the bottle of alcohol he is possession of shows a few recipes to the side of it, showing what items are also necessary and, with said bottle and some medical binding, he has said Molotov Cocktail after a few seconds of putting it together.  It is then used for the exact purpose you imagine and sets one of the three people serving as reinforcements ablaze, much to the chagrin of Ellie who I imagine is a little horrified at the over-the-top solution to the problem.  At least the "Holy Shit, Joel!" that followed said reinforcement becoming the Human Torch would allude to that.

The second man serving as a reinforcement struggles with Joel as Joel tries to disarm him of his shotgun, spending a round in the process, before Joel wrestles it away and smashes him in the head with the butt of it.  He then loads in a new round (a nice touch) before being caught off guard by the last reinforcement who wails on Joel with a length of wood (once again alluding to an improvised weapon system) and trying to strangle him.  Joel struggles out vainly and it's only when Ellie stabs the assailant in the back with her switchblade that he is distracted enough for Joel to muscle out and gain the upper hand.  Picking up the shotgun and smacking him across the face with it, the man pleads with Joel, knowing the end is near.  He cries out "No!" as Joel finishes him off.  And that is when the video ends with a black screen showing the "Last of Us" logo.

I have to point out once more that this is all gameplay.  I don't quite know how it's all controlled, but I would assume that it's Uncharted-esque, so all these instances of melee, smacking with a shotgun, a revolver, struggling for the disarm and the like are tied to Square and react to the context of the situation.  The aiming is very obvious as, in doing so, the standard reticule comes up as the camera is full over-the-shoulder, likely controlled by L1 for aiming and R1 for firing.  I'm going to suggest that you don't control Ellie whatsoever, so I don't think there's a "Call for help" button, but I could see ordering her to stay or follow (which is done a few times in the video, albeit without a prompt meaning it can just be based on, again, the context) with some button, perhaps L2 or R2.  Everything else is fairly obvious in what it's likely tied to button-wise, so I won't mention it.

Yet all of that gaming is done with such a simplistic approach and it's mind-boggling.  Ellie's AI seems rather amazing and useful; I doubt she'll be a burden at any point in the game which is certainly saying something.  If anything, she has all the markers to be a real helpful boon as, in all reality, she saved Joel twice in just that seven minutes of gameplay by using herself as a distraction.  If you can really pick up just about anything to use as a weapon (or, hopefully, a distraction, like tossing a brick through a window would draw rather than alert to your presence), that's a whole other layer of complexity that can truly be amazing if implemented as it seems.  And you know how much I enjoy me some Environmental interaction, which the game seems like it will capitalize on in both finishers and context sensitive ideas (Ellie's brick, again), as well as, again, improvised weapons, should that be included.  Regardless, you basically just have to say "Naughty Dog" for me to partition Sixty of my dollars aside, but this video more than vindicates that by a wide margin.  Between this and REVENGEANCE, I'm honestly more excited for gaming than I've been in quite some time.


  1. I whole heartedly agree. Right now Last of Us is my Game of Show for that demo. If it's as dynamic as it appears to be - and that's a big if, but knowing Naughty Dog... yeah - then it's the most stunning gameplay debut I've seen since Metal Gear Solid 2.

  2. Also; can I just say I found it awesome that of all the stuff to announce/drop/get demoed yesterday, you and I agree on what The Single Best Thing Of E3 So Far is?

    1. Absolutely. It is pretty neat that regardless of our tastes (which admittedly are quite similar, but not completely so), that this one thing is so fantastic that it's just no contest whatsoever.