Archives for posts with tag: The Last of Us

The postman has just made my day.

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Yes, my copy of Naughty Dog’s latest, The Last of Us, has arrived! As you can see, I got the Ellie Edition, and I’ll throw some images up a bit later to show you what’s inside the box. But now it’s time to fire up the game!

UPDATE – I’ve played a couple of hours now, and I’m a very happy gamer! The opening, which I won’t spoil, has surely got to be among the best videogame openings I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly much darker than any of the Uncharted series in terms of atmosphere – tonally, it reminds me of Telltale’s The Walking Dead; it feels very different from Naughty Dog’s past games in a lot of ways, which is exactly what I wanted.

I won’t say any more for fear of giving anything away, so here are those images I promised earlier!

Here’s the survival kit packaging out of the box:
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And here it is opened up:
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With (most of) its contents spilled. Left to right: TLoU mini comic; Naughty Dog sticker; Ellie controller skin; Ellie Edition game case.
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A closer look at that controller skin:
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You also get a nice large screen print effect poster, printed on stiff, thick paper:
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Lastly, the item I bought the limited edition for, the hardback art book:
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As tempted as I am to sit and leaf through that art book right now, I’ll be leaving it until I’ve finished the game; I’ve had a couple of plot points from other games ruined for me by looking through their art books and seeing certain designs of things that crop up later in the game.

You also get some extra downloadable gubbins that I’ll probably never even redeem:
Ellie Sackgirl costume for LBP
Sights and Sounds Pack (dynamic theme, soundtrack, 2 PSN avatars)
Survival Pack (MP extras, such as bonus XP and character skins)

It’s a nice set, and I’m looking forward to flicking through both the art book and mini comic once I’m done with the game – which I intend to take my sweet time with!

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Naughty Dog’s latest came into E3 2012 with something of a question mark over it’s head. Sure, we’ve seen a couple of scene-setting cinematics since it’s unveiling at last year’s show, and it almost goes without saying that it’ll be a gorgeous-looking game (it is, after all, from the people that brought us Uncharted), but what we didn’t know is quite how it’d play. Many worried it’d be Uncharted: Post Apocalypse with added escort missions, while others wondered if it wouldn’t head in a completely new direction.

What we got at the end of Sony’s E3 conference looks to be a bit of both worlds. Like Uncharted, it’s a third-person action game, and the same meticulous attention to detail in both the environments and character interactions returns in The Last of Us. The gameplay demo starts off with Joel and Ellie discussing how they’re going to reach a bridge seen in the distance, before moving into the ruins of what was once an expensive hotel.

Moving across the roof, the pair stumble upon a group of scavengers, and it seems stealth will play a greater role in The Last of Us, as the two leads drop into cover to stay out of sight. Moving back inside, Joel manages to sneak up on one of the scavengers, choking him out and stealing his revolver. Unfortunately, he’s spotted by another member of the group, and we slip into familiar cover-shooter territory, with a couple of noticeable differences; firstly, sustaining gunshots is a much more impactful experience, knocking Joel a couple of feet out of cover. Secondly, at the top left of the screen, we can see a health bar, and above that three squares – two empty, one filled with a cross, suggesting health packs will be an integral part of the game.

It looks like survival is a very important aspect of The Last of Us, and this is further reinforced by the next mechanic we see: some light crafting. Hiding from more enemies in one of the hotel’s rooms, Joel takes off his backpack, bringing up an item menu overlaid on the screen. Using this, the player combines items to create a molotov cocktail. This appears to happen in realtime, with the game carrying on in the background, suggesting that delving into your bag will be a calculated risk, much like bringing up the menu or watching video logs in Dead Space.

Combat in general seems to be a more visceral, bloody affair than in Uncharted and we also see that Joel can take enemies hostage in a similar fashion to Gears of War’s meatshield, allowing him to wield a firearm at the same time. Ellie also seems able to pitch in during combat, as she distracts a scavenger by shouting and throwing a brick, allowing Joel to get the upper hand, though it’s unclear whether this is procedural or scripted.

One thing that gives me pause for thought is something that was also present in Uncharted – Drake was a charming, likeable guy in the cutscenes, but a sociopathic murderer when under your control. As much as I like Uncharted (and I do – I own all four), I always found this a curious disconnect – not something that ruined the game, by any means, but certainly an aspect worthy of critical thought. I’m hoping Naughty Dog can reduce this mental gap with The Last of Us, and indeed, Ellie does offer a few (albeit mild) comments about the level of violence she sees from Joel. I understand the characters need to do what it takes to survive, but so does everyone else; this gives the developer the opportunity to create a really interesting, morally ambiguous world, where there isn’t any absolute good or evil – just people, doing what they need to do to survive. But there should also be some accountability for these actions, some semblance of guilt – surely normal people can’t do the things that we see in this segment and not feel their humanity slipping away? And as this is a game about ‘the last of us’, surely every human death is a grand tragedy?

Naughty Dog have given themselves a great opportunity to create something more than an excellent survival/action-adventure game with The Last of Us, and I really hope they take it. It’ll be interesting to see where it ends up when it launches next year. You can see the E3 gameplay video below.

E3 is almost upon us, so today, in lieu of the usual ‘Sunday Soapbox’ piece, I’ve decided to list some of the things I’ll be looking forward to or blindly hoping for. Because everybody loves a good list, don’t they?

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo starts on Tuesday June 5th at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, though Microsoft will be jumping ahead of the competition by having their press conference the day before. Yup, that means tomorrow!

So what am I looking forward to? I’ll try and group my thoughts by publisher or developer, so read on to find out, and then leave a comment to let me know what you’re looking forward to.

Microsoft
Seeing as they’re first off the blocks, I’ll get straight onto the Xbox 360 manufacturer, and the obvious starting point is Halo 4.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a massive, massive Halo fanboy, so I’m predictably overexcited about the prospect of seeing some single-player footage, learning more about the setting and figuring out just what in the name of Sergeant Johnson is going on. I’ve read a few previews that have all described the beginning of the game (which unfortunately doesn’t answer any of the above questions), and I have a feeling that this is what we’ll be seeing as an on-stage demo. Not that this would disappoint me of course – I really want to see what 343i have achieved with their first entry into the franchise.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the devs have to say about multiplayer; fans have been worrying that Halo 4 seems to be going the Call of Duty route, with perks and other xp-based unlockables. Halo has always been an open playing field – if you win, it’s because you’re better than the opposition, not because you have better equipment. Hopefully 343 will be on-hand to allay fans’ fears.

The new Gears of War game, titled Judgment, will also be a big draw for Microsoft’s conference, and again, I’m looking forward to find out what’s going on. It appears to be a prequel, given the existence of Locust forces and the fact that Cole looks very young, and it’ll also be interesting to see how deep Bulletstorm creator People Can Fly’s involvement goes. Essentially nothing is known about this title yet, so hopefully a full reveal will help to ground it somewhere in the existing Gears canon.

I’m also wondering whether we’ll see more of Crytek’s Kinect action game Ryse this year. It’s been awfully quiet of late regarding the former Codename: Kingdoms, so perhaps E3 is the perfect time to show it off. Sticking with the Kinect theme, I’m hoping to get a good long look at Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon. As a big, big fan of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon (all four games still proudly grace my shelf), the spiritual successor to that series is one of my most highly anticipated games this year. An on-stage demo would be great, as would a release date.

Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon.

Sony
What I really want to see from Sony at this year’s E3 is massive support for their new handheld. I absolutely love my Vita (I’m currently making my way through Resistance: Burning Skies), but most wouldn’t argue the point that it’s floundering in the marketplace at the moment. Some big new franchise announcements specifically for the Vita would certainly help alleviate the perception that it has no games. Seeing Ken Levine walk on-stage to demo BioShock Vita would certainly be a good start, and perhaps we’ll hear more about Killzone and Call of Duty. Aside from shooters, I’m hoping we’ll hear about some good RPGs coming to the handheld in the next year.

Besides the Vita, some gameplay footage of The Last of Us would be great to see. The trailers so far have got mouths watering, but we know nothing of how the game will play. Will it be a post-apocalyptic Uncharted, or will Naughty Dog pull out all the stops and head in a completely new direction? I can’t wait to find out.

Joel and Ellie, wondering what they’ll be doing for the next ten hours.

Square-Enix
The Tokyo-based company recently announced their list of games they will be showcasing at E3, and all I can say is I hope they’re planning to hit us with a load of surprises. On the list were Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Heroes of Ruin and Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS. The rest are mostly mobile phone games.

Seriously Square-Enix? It’s Final Fantasy‘s 25th anniversary! Come on! They have to have something up their sleeves, don’t they? Final Fantasy Versus XIII is apparently not being shown at E3, although recent rumours have claimed it’ll be renamed Final Fantasy XV and will in fact be unveiled at the trade show… I’m taking that one with a barge-full of salt, but I am blindly hoping for some kind of big FF news at the Expo, considering the 25-year milestone. At the very least I want to see the PS3/PSV re-release of Final Fantasy X that we’ve heard absolutely nothing about in God knows how long. If Square-Enix’s conference holds no surprises, I’ll be very disappointed.

Nintendo
The house of Mario are expected to unveil their final Wii U hardware and, more than anything, I’m hoping to see a gorgeous HD Metroid adventure (hopefully from Retro Studios please!). Despite last year’s HD Zelda demonstration, I don’t expect to be seeing anything from Link and friends this year, though I imagine we’ll get a proper glimpse of a new Mario game. I think Nintendo will keep Wii U game reveals to a minimum and focus on the console and tablet and what they can do together, allowing third parties to take up the slack, as they did with their E3 2011 showreel.

Hopefully we’ll see some great new 3DS titles announced (perhaps a new handheld Zelda?) as well as get a good look at New Super Mario Bros 2, and I’d love to see more of Luigi’s Mansion 2.

Namco-Bandai
Having recently watched a Namco-Bandai presentation (at last week’s London Expo), I’m not foaming at the mouth (quite as much) to see Ni No Kuni and Tales of Graces f, though more on both would certainly be welcome. I’d love to get confirmation of a European release date for Tales of Xillia though, and I’d imagine we’ll be seeing more of the recently-announced Xillia 2. Tying into my earlier words about Vita games, I’m also hoping we’ll get a Western release announcement for the handheld’s version of Tales of Innocence R, too.

Others
Electronic Arts will no doubt have a strong presence at the show, and I’m looking forward to a full-on Dead Space 3 reveal, though I am worried about how far co-op will permeate the core experience of the game; let’s hope it’s entirely optional, though I’d prefer it if co-op was a separate side-story entirely. Crysis 3 will most likely also be a focus for EA, and I’ll be hoping it’s more like the first than the second, with large, open environments with flowing objectives and tactical options that allow you to feel like the Predator.

I’m hoping to get a good look at both Zone of the Enders HD Collection and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from Konami, and it seems they’ll also be tearing the veil from two new Castlevania games – a direct sequel to 2010’s Lords of Shadow and a 3DS spin-off.

Ubisoft are expected to show off tropical shooter Far Cry 3 and colonial stab-’em-up Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’ll be looking to THQ to show us how Metro: Last Light is coming along. Last but by absolutely no means least, I’m hoping for a solid release date for Jet Set Radio HD. And while you’re at it Sega, how about some Shenmue news?

Yeah, I’ll keep dreaming…

A new trailer for Naughty Dog’s new PS3-exclusive IP The Last of Us has today surfaced, revealing some design changes for main character Ellie.

The game’s creative director Neil Druckmann told IGN the changes were intended to reflect the personality of Ellie’s mo-cap actor Ashley Johnson, stating: “As we’re still in the midst of development with The Last of Us, the team has been continuing to put a lot of thought into the creation of Ellie.  After delving further into the game’s narrative over the past few months, we decided to modify Ellie’s model to better reflect Ashley’s personality, and also resemble a slightly younger teen more fitting to the story.  We’re happy with the final result shown in the cinematic we have released today, and hope the fans like her too.”

Honestly, I doubt I’d have noticed the difference if it hadn’t been pointed out, but it’s a good trailer; as much as I do like the Uncharted series, I’m looking forward to seeing something new from Naughty Dog. And sure, you could argue that the post-apocalyptic genre has been a little oversubscribed in recent years, but infused with the developer’s now-trademark interplay between their characters, I hope to see something with a bit of a different flavour come the 2013 release of The Last of Us.

See the new trailer below.