Naughty Dog as a developer has given us quite a few awesome franchises over the past three console generations all of which have been PlayStation exclusives. We have the Crash Bandicoot trilogy on the PS1, the Jak and Daxter trilogy on the PS2 and the famous Uncharted trilogy on the PS3. All three franchises have not only received rave reviews but also have put Naughty Dog on the map as one of the best game development studios out there.
Today, we had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the beta demo of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s latest venture in the world of gaming. The game is a third-person survival horror game where you don the role of Joel and have a 14-year old companion Ellie by your side throughout the journey.
Ellie isn’t a playable character and is somewhat like Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite. You can’t control her and for the most part you don’t have to protect her either. When you hide, she hides and there are interactive puzzles in the game that require the two of you to work together. There are moments in the demo when the enemy attacks Ellie and you have to rescue her, but this wasn’t a frustrating experience as it is in other survival games where you have a companion you need to protect.
The Last of Us (beta demo) is divided into two levels - Lincoln and Pittsburgh.
Starting with Lincoln, the stage is set in two parts. The first is a small forest that you navigate and the other is a deserted town. The forest looks lush, vibrant and as real as it can get in the virtual world. You have sunlight coming down from the gap between trees, sounds of animals and birds chirping and an ongoing conversation between Ellie and Joel.
The Lincoln level in The Last of Us is very linear which is to say that your objective is to get from point A to point B. There are different roots you can take to achieve this but they are nothing more than branching paths with collectables scattered.
The town however is very different from the forest in The Last of Us. It has the feel of a deserted city until you start encountering the traps scattered throughout. This is where you will be exposed to the “infected” population. The ones that have completely transformed into the infected are blind. They make a clinking sound and react to noise so you have to be very quiet around them. One bite from them and you are dead. The portions of the game when you are hiding from the infected are very intense. There is no background score apart from natural sounds and will surely keep you on your toes.
Remember that level in Dead Space 2 when you are hanging upside down and a lot of Necromorphs attack you? Well, there is a similar situation in The Last of Us where you are stuck upside down, with infected trying to attack Joel and Ellie.
The end of the Lincoln level in The Last of Us beta demo puts you in cinematic action sequence where you are chased by a hoard of infected and are on the run. This is where the game has a very “Uncharted” feel to it, giving you an adrenaline rush.
Next up, we have the Pittsburgh level in The Last of Us beta demo. This is a more action-oriented level where you take on the human enemies of the game. This is a gun-slinging and fist-fighting sequence where you can see some brutal action. Gun fighting feels very familiar to Uncharted but it is in the hand-to-hand combat where this game shows off its true violence. The way Joel smashes the human opponent’s head into the wall, or breaks a bat on another’s head, is very brutal. Even the facial expressions during these animations add realism to the game.
In The Last of Us, you can go all-out guns blazing and hope for the best (although that really isn’t such a good idea), or you could hide in the shadows, stalk your enemies and take them down one at a time. You can do this with your handgun, rifle, Molotov cocktail, handmade remote detonating bombs, and more. The best part about the game is that when you are going through your inventory to make these bombs and handheld mêlée weapons (yes, you can do that), you aren’t taken to a separate menu. You do this in game itself, and this is very good, as it doesn’t distract you from the gaming experience.
We were quite excited to get our hands on The Last of Us demo and after playing it, we really can’t wait to get our hands on the final version of the game. The gameplay is well-paced between stealth, action, survival, gunplay, mêlée and puzzle solving. The graphics look great and the attention to detail is phenomenal. If you picked up a copy of God of War Ascension, you will get access to the demo on 31 May. For the rest of you, the game launches on June 14 exclusively for the PS3. If you like third-person action games, or love survival horror games, The Last of Us should be at the top of your most anticipated games list this summer.