The Last of Us
|The Last of Us|
International cover art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, survival horror|
|Distribution||Blu-ray Disc, download|
The Last of Us is a survival horror action-adventure video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation 3. It was officially revealed on December 10, 2011 during the Spike TV Video Game Awards and released worldwide on June 14, 2013. It was released in Japan on June 20, 2013.
The player takes control of Joel (voiced by Troy Baker), who is trekking across a post-apocalyptic United States in 2033, in order to escort the young Ellie (voiced and motion-captured by Ashley Johnson) to a friendly resistance group, the Fireflies. The player defends themselves against zombie-like creatures infected with the cordyceps fungi, as well as hostile humans such as bandits and cannibals, employing the use of firearms and stealth aided by capabilities such as a visual representation of sound in order to listen for locations of enemies. The player can also craft weapons or medical items by combining items scavenged in the world.
The Last of Us received universal acclaim, receiving perfect scores from many publications. Reviewers praised multiple aspects, including its choice-enabling gameplay, realistic action, emotional depth of the plot, sound design and environments. Several publications have declared the game a masterpiece and a significant title of the seventh console generation especially as it nears its end before the eighth.
The Last of Us uses a third-person perspective and players take control of Joel, while Ellie is controlled by the AI for the majority of the game, although the player switches control in the later sections of the game. The game involves gun fighting, melee combat, and a cover system with no preset cover locations, only crouching near objects and navigating normally. The player fights off the Infected – former humans infected by a mutated strain of the cordyceps fungi – and the Survivors – humans that are not infected, but are hostile towards Joel and Ellie. A new gameplay mechanic is a feature the developers call "dynamic stealth", meaning that there are many different types of strategies and techniques that the player can use at any given time as they approach a new situation, to which enemies will react differently.
Naughty Dog has developed an AI system called "Balance of Power". This new system allows enemies to react realistically to any combat situation they are placed in by taking cover if they see the player, calling for help if they need it and even taking advantage of the player's weaknesses, such as when Joel runs out of ammunition, is distracted, or when he is being attacked by other enemies. The player's variety of abilities mean they have multiple ways of accomplishing the same objective - this is typified in the "crafting" gameplay ability which allows the player to gather various items in the world and combine them to make weapons or items, for example gathering alcohol and rags and choosing to create a first-aid kit or a Molotov cocktail. The player must craft items quickly and at a carefully chosen time, due to the action not pausing while crafting takes place, and enemies potentially taking advantage of Joel being occupied.
The game begins by introducing Joel, a single father living near Austin, Texas with his daughter Sarah. On the night of his birthday, a sudden outbreak of a cordyceps-like infection ravages the United States, which mutates its human hosts into rabid, monstrous killers. As Joel, his brother Tommy, and Sarah flee the initial chaos, Sarah is shot by a soldier and dies in Joel's arms. In the twenty years that follow, much of civilization is destroyed by the infection, with pockets of survivors living desperately in either heavily-policed quarantine zones, independent settlements or nomadic groups.
Joel now lives in a quarantine zone in Boston. He and his partner, Tess, make a living as smugglers who trade with survivors outside of the city. Following an attempt on Tess' life, they hunt down a local gangster named Robert for selling off a cache of weapons promised to them. Before he is killed, Robert reveals that he traded the goods to the Fireflies, a group of insurgents dedicated to rebelling against the authorities governing the quarantine zones. Joel and Tess encounter the Fireflies' leader, Marlene, who offers to give double their stolen cache in exchange for smuggling a teenage girl, Ellie, to a small band of Fireflies hiding deep within the city. Joel, Tess and Ellie sneak out in the night, but after an encounter with a patrol Tess discovers an infected bite wound on Ellie's arm. Ellie claims that the wound is three weeks old (when a full infection would usually take 2 days or less ), leading the pair to realize that Ellie is immune. The trio fight their way to the drop off point — only to find the Fireflies they were to meet have been killed by the military. Tess reveals herself to be bitten, and when the military returns she makes a last stand so as to allow Joel and Ellie to escape.
Joel decides that the only way to get Ellie to the remaining Fireflies is to find Tommy, who was a former member. With the help of allies along the way they trek across the country; struggling through abandoned cities and towns teeming with infected and violent bandits. Later in the fall, Joel and Ellie finally meet Tommy in a fictional Jackson County, Wyoming (likely standing in for Teton County, Wyoming), who has assembled a fortified settlement near a hydroelectric dam on the Snake River. Tommy's wife Maria tells Ellie of Joel's past. Joel contemplates leaving Ellie with Tommy, but after repelling bandits and being confronted by Ellie about Sarah he ultimately decides to stay with her. Tommy directs them to the University of Eastern Colorado, where he last remembers the Fireflies being headquartered. The two find the place abandoned, but learn that the Fireflies have since moved to a hospital in Salt Lake City. They are attacked by looters as they leave, who wound Joel severely during the escape.
In the winter, Ellie and Joel take shelter in a house in the mountains. Joel is on the brink of death and relies on Ellie to care for him. Ellie manages to kill a large stag while hunting, but encounters a pair of scavengers, David and James, who are willing to trade medicine in exchange for the stag's meat. Ellie and David fight off swarms of infected as James returns. During the exchange, David reveals that the scavenging party Ellie and Joel killed at the university were part of his group, but nonetheless allows Ellie to leave and administer the medicine to Joel. David sends a posse to track Ellie the following morning, forcing her to lead them away from Joel and be captured. Ellie learns that David and his men are cannibals and escapes after refusing to join them, only to be cornered by David in a burning restaurant. Joel awakens from his fever and interrogates two of David's men for Ellie's whereabouts. He finds Ellie just in time to see her viciously kill David.
In the spring, Joel and Ellie arrive in Salt Lake City. They make their way through the flooded highway tunnels but are caught in the rapids, with Joel barely rescuing Ellie from drowning. A patrol of Fireflies capture them. Joel awakens in the hospital and is greeted by Marlene. She informs him that Ellie is being prepped for surgery: so as to remove her brain and study her immunity, through which they can produce a vaccine against the infection while killing her in the process. Joel escapes and battles his way to the surgery room, where he carries a comatose Ellie to the basement parking garage. There he confronts and kills Marlene to prevent the Fireflies from pursuing them. On the drive out of the city, Joel tells Ellie that The Fireflies found many others like her who were immune to the infection and that they had failed to find a cure with all of them, but lies to Ellie that the Fireflies had stopped looking for a cure and fails to tell her it would've cost her life. The game ends with the duo stopping on the outskirts of Tommy's settlement, with Ellie dealing with her survivor's guilt as Joel consoles her. Ellie confronts Joel about his explanation to what happened with The Fireflies, to which Joel swears he told her the truth.
The game was first teased before the Spike Video Game Awards on November 29, 2011, with a billboard in Times Square mentioning "a [PlayStation 3] exclusive you won't believe". Initial trailers showed an apocalyptic event, including riots, epidemic, quarantine, and violence, as well as a clip of the BBC's Planet Earth showing an ant infected with Cordyceps unilateralis, a dangerous parasitic fungus that usually kills insects such as ants. On December 9, 2011, players of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception spotted an in-game reference to the aforementioned trailer with the newspaper headline "scientists are still struggling to understand deadly fungus". At the Spike Video Game Awards, Sony officially unveiled the game, a brand new intellectual property from Naughty Dog, created by a previously unpublicized 80-person Naughty Dog development team. A gameplay trailer, made up of in-game footage, showed a man and a teenage girl fending off other survivors and what appeared to be people with unusual fungal growth before running out into a dilapidated city covered in greenery, reminiscent of the film I Am Legend.
Shortly after the unveiling, Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells posted new details of The Last of Us on the PlayStation Blog:
The Last of Us is a genre-defining experience that blends survival and action elements to tell a character-driven tale about a modern plague decimating mankind. Nature encroaches upon civilization, forcing remaining survivors to kill for food, weapons and whatever they can find. Joel, a ruthless survivor, and Ellie, a brave young teenage girl who is wise beyond her years, must work together to survive their journey across what remains of the United States.
The announcement confirmed that the new project is being headed by studio game director Bruce Straley. Former lead designer on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Mark Richard Davies has been working at Naughty Dog on the game. After Uncharted 2: Among Thieves shipped in 2009, some of the development team from the game formed the team for The Last of Us, while the remainder worked on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception;The Last of Us marks the first time that Naughty Dog has become a two-team studio. It is also the first time the studio has introduced a second new intellectual property in the same hardware generation.
The Spike Video Game Awards 2012 officially revealed The Last of Us to be released on May 7, 2013. However, Sony and Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann later delayed the release date to June 14, 2013 to give the developers more time to polish up the final game. Instead, a demo of the game has been activated for players who own God of War: Ascension on May 31.
The concept for The Last of Us arose after watching a segment of the BBC nature documentary Planet Earth, which documented a cordyceps fungus-infected ant, where the fungus takes over its brain and produces growths from its head; the idea that the fungus could infect humans became the initial idea for the game. Major artistic inspirations included the novels City of Thieves, I Am Legend, No Country for Old Men, The Road, the comic book series The Walking Dead, and their screen adaptations.GamesRadar pointed out the game's inspirations by the film versions of I Am Legend and The Road and the TV series version of The Walking Dead, as well as by 28 Days Later and the film versions of Children of Men and The Day of the Triffids.
While the fungus epidemic is the main backdrop of the game, The Last of Us is not a "zombie game", but "a love story about a father-daughter-like relationship", influenced in part by the interactions between Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, his mentor and fatherlike figure, in the studio's Uncharted series. Joel is a survivor and anti-hero, while Ellie is a 14-year-old girl with no experience of the world pre-apocalypse. The composer for the game is two-time Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla. The team wanted to focus on emotion with the soundtrack rather than horror.
On release of the initial trailer for the game Dead Island, the team was concerned that the two games would be largely similar, both exploring the human or emotional side to an apocalyptic event. However, on release of the aforementioned game, the team realized that the gameplay did not match up to that showed by the trailer; by contrast, lead designer Neil Druckmann feels that the trailer for The Last of Us is "very representative of what we're going for". Druckmann also stated that he wants the story in The Last of Us to raise the bar for other video game developers, as he feels the standard of storytelling is not as good as it should be within the industry. The developer showcased an extended length gameplay video at Sony's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012.
On the release day of the game IGN reported that players who downloaded the release day patch for the game experienced autosave issues which prevented their game progress being saved automatically. IGN also reported that players suffering from this problem could bypass it by manually saving their game progress. It also said that it had reached out to Sony about this issue. Sony quickly responded and stated that the problem was actually caused by an issue on Naughty Dog's servers and not due to the release day patch. They also said that they had addressed the issue and the players needed to quit and restart their game in order to resolve the problem. This issue was quickly resolved by Sony via a downloadable patch released on the same day of release.
The music score was composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, the Argentine composer who won back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Score for his work on Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006). The main theme is acoustic guitar-led, an arpeggiated figure in a minor key over tribal percussion, building to a dissonant climax of fiercely-strummed chords. The score has received much critical acclaim since its release. Many of the instruments in the score feature Mr. Santaolalla himself on guitar and other instruments. The orchestral portions of the score were recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville by the Nashville Scoring Orchestra contracted by Alan Umstead of Nashville Music Scoring.
A four-issue comic book miniseries titled The Last of Us: American Dreams was published by Dark Horse Comics. The comics have been written by Neil Druckmann, Naughty Dog's creative director and Faith Erin Hicks. The comics are a prequel to the game taking place a year before the events in the game and chronicles the journey of a younger Ellie and another young survivor Riley. The first issue was published on April 3, 2013. In a show of demand for the comics and the game, the first issue sold out and a reprint was made available on May 29, 2013. The second issue of the comics was also published on the same day. The third issue will be available on June 26, 2013.
|Computer and Video Games||10/10 |
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||9.5/10|
|Official PlayStation Magazine (UK)||10/10|
The Last of Us has received universal acclaim, scoring over 30 perfect scores from gaming publications, and currently holds a score of 95 on Metacritic and a 94.75% on GameRankings. The review aggregator Metacritic rated it as the best PlayStation 3 game of 2013, as well as being the second best PlayStation 3 game (alongside Batman: Arkham City and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves), falling behind 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV. The Last of Us is the second highest rated PlayStation 3 title of 2013 on GameRankings, behind BioShock Infinite.
Edge gave the game a perfect 10/10 rating, stating that "Naughty Dog has delivered the most riveting, emotionally resonant story-driven epic of this console generation. At times it's easy to feel like big-budget development has too much on the line to allow stubbornly artful ideas to flourish, but then a game like The Last Of Us emerges through the crumbled blacktop like a climbing vine, green as a burnished emerald."Eurogamer gave the game a perfect 10/10 ratings, stating that "At a time when blockbuster action games are sinking into a mire of desperate overproduction, shallow gameplay and broken narrative logic, The Last of Us is a deeply impressive demonstration of how it can and should be done. It starts out safe but ends brave; it has heart and grit, and it hangs together beautifully. And it's a real video game, too. An elegy for a dying world, The Last of Us is also a beacon of hope for its genre."ABC show Good Game's hosts Steven O'Donnell and Stephanie Bendixsen both gave the game a perfect 10/10, making it only the ninth game in the show's run (2006–present) to do so.
Empire gave the game a perfect 5 out of 5 score, stating that "The Last of Us is not just the finest game that Naughty Dog has yet crafted and an easy contender for the best game of this console generation, it may also prove to be gaming's Citizen Kane moment, a masterpiece that will be looked back upon favourably for decades".PlayStation Official Magazine also gave the game a 10 out of 10 score, calling the game "A work of art in which amazing sights and sounds fuel an emotionally draining, constantly compelling end of days adventure".IGN's Colin Moriarty gave another perfect 10.0/10, stating "The Last of Us is a masterpiece, PlayStation 3's best exclusive and an absolute must-play". In a 10/10 review from Destructoid, Jim Sterling praised the game as a complete package, saying "There is more to The Last of Us than just combat and "emotional" story tropes... The Last of Us had achieved everything it needed to achieve in order to provide me with everything I wanted."
Although overall positive, Polygon's Philip Kollar was more critical of the game, noting that the game restricted itself to the conventions of the third-person shooter genre, forcing players to constantly fight off waves of enemies in order to progress, which Kollar found to be jarring in comparison to the rest of the game. Kollar also described the combat as "messy" and that the player was constantly forced to restart from checkpoints.GameSpot's Tom Mc Shea, giving The Last of Us 8/10, also criticised this final point, highlighting the way checkpoints were staggered far too regularly, which spoiled the tension as the player never truly felt as though they were in jeopardy.
First week sales estimates for The Last of Us have been reported as 1.3 million copies sold, making it the biggest video game launch of 2013 so far.
The Last of Us won multiple awards after the E3 2012 showing:
|Best PS3 Game||Best of E3||IGN||June 6, 2012|
|Best of Show||Best of E3 2012||PlayStation Universe||June 11, 2012|
|Most Anticipated Game|
|Best of Show||Destructoid: Best of E3 2012||Destructoid||June 6, 2012|
|Best PS Game|
|Best of Show||Best of E3 2012||Machinima.com||June 12, 2012|
|Best of E3||Best of E3 2012: Editor's Choice||GameSpot||June 6, 2012|
|Best PS3 Game||Best of E3 2012||G4TV||June 6, 2012|
|Best Sony Exclusive||Best of E3||Digital Trends||June 6, 2012|
|Best PS3 Exclusive||Best of E3||Game Informer||June 13, 2012|
|Best of E3||Best of E3||The Electric Playground||June 12, 2012|
|Best of Show||Best of E3||The Telegraph||June 12, 2012|
|Most Valuable Game||Most Valuable Game of E3 2012||GamesRadar||June 12, 2012|
|Best of Show||Best of E3 2012||Electronic Gaming Monthly||June 11, 2012|
|Best PS3 Game|
|Editors Choice Award:E3 2012||Editors Choice: E3 2012||The Verge||June 12, 2012|
|Best of E3 2012||Best of E3 2012||Yahoo!Games||June 12, 2012|
|GameRevolution: Best of E3 2012||Best of E3 2012||GameRevolution||June 12, 2012|
|Best Overall Game||Best of E3 2012||Cheat Code Central||June 11, 2012|
|Most Anticipated Game|
|Best of Show||Best of E3 2012||Game Critics Awards||June 26, 2012|
|Best Console Game|
|Best Original Game|
|Best Action/Adventure Game|
|Special Commendation for Sound|
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- "Most Valuable Games". Gamesradar. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
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- "E3 Editors Choice Award". The Verge. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
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