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First Impressions: "The Last of Us"

Daniel Kendi ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Photo courtesy of www.psu.com.
Photo courtesy of www.psu.com.

At PAX East this past weekend many games were on display. One of the most prominent was Sony and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. The Uncharted developer’s new game puts players in an apocalyptic future where a fungus has spread among humans and infected most of the population. Cities have been abandoned and overgrown with nature, and most surviving humans are under quarantine. Players take control of a man named Joel, who is tasked with helping fourteen-year-old Ellie escape the quarantine zone. This Playstation 3 exclusive had a notable presence at this year’s PAX East with a large booth and a thirty minute playable demo.

The demo follows Joel, his partner Tess, and Ellie and as they make their way through Boston and to the Massachusetts State House (fitting for PAX East). From the beginning of this demo players see the amazing and beautiful environment that Naughty Dog has created. To get to the State House, Joel, Ellie, and Tess head through the “Boylston building” and then they navigate through the subway tunnels. The graphics and level design is so well done that even the signs on the subway tunnels are actual Boston T signs for different colored trains.

As the demo progresses, players are introduced to the different gameplay mechanics of the game. While the controls of the game are very similar to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, The Last of Us has a very distinct and different style. While Uncharted was an action adventure game, The Last of Us is survival horror. As Joel, players will use stealth to sneak past or silently take out the infected hunting them. Joel can use brute force against these enemies, but stealth is the best way to stay alive. The infected of The Last of Us are a dangerous enemy to fight. Attacking them head-on will most likely lead to a game over. To avoid these encounters, Joel has many tools he can use. Throughout the world of the game are items that Joel can collect and put in his backpack. Guns, ammunition, batteries, health, glass bottles and melee weapons are just a few of the items he can find. The glass bottles can be thrown at enemies or near them to create distractions. This item can also be used in various ways through use of the crafting menu. Joel can craft items like Molotov cocktails, or strengthen them by adding sharp objects to melee weapons. This crafting system is a great addition to the game that adds a lot of strategy.

Throughout the demo Joel, Ellie, and Tess encounter many frightening enemies. Perhaps the most frightening are the clickers. These creatures have been blinded by the fungal infection and cannot see; therefore they use echolocation to find their way around. Their name derives from the clicking noise they make. When Joel and his companions hear this noise they know a clicker is coming. This is an enemy to avoid and sneak around. Trying to confront this enemy is a dangerous task that can many times lead to a quick and violent death for the player. When Joel, Ellie, and Tess finally make it to their destination, the game shows off its amazing cinematic cut scenes. Like every The Last of Us trailer, the demo ends with a thrilling and intense moment before showing us the name of the game over a black screen. This sequence is just as good as, if not better than, many Hollywood films.

The Last of Us demo was violent, scary, and entertaining. This game has an immersive world that is exciting to explore and experience. The characters Naughty Dog has created are interesting and look gorgeous in the game’s graphics. The gameplay itself is fun and challenging (prepare to die violently in this game a lot, though). This was a very intense and difficult demo.

The Last of Us is a must have for PS3 owners when it launches on June 14.

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