Since the creation of the Crash Bandicoot franchise on the PlayStation One all the way up to the completion of the Uncharted Trilogy on the PlayStation 3, Naughty Dog Software has an impressive track record where each of their games released to widespread acclaim. Now, those guys from the first-party developer are currently putting the final touches on their latest and possibly last game for the PlayStation 3 era; The Last of Us. This game has caught my interest since it was first unveiled in 2011, and the direction that Naughty Dog is going with this game has caught me hook, line, and sinker. Let’s not waste any time and get straight into it.
Going into the beta of this game, I kept an open mind as to see where the developers are taking their new game into the genre of action-adventure with survival horror elements. After going into it with open mind, I actually became very surprised with what all was offered. Starting up on the demo, there are two levels to choose from; Lincoln and Pittsburgh. The level in Lincoln is more attuned to learning the basics of puzzle-solving and weapon customization while trying to use your wit as Joel to bring down the infected in the most effective ways possible. Some of the things you do as the player involve searching for items to customize deadlier weapons, projectile distractions, and healing items in case you get hurt. Not only that, you have to avoid booby traps and learn to cross open gaps with ladders and cardboard planks to solve some of the puzzles that are present. Be wary that you have limited resources at your disposal, so constantly firing your gun like a madman will make you die quicker without using the most rational tactics you have on you. There are doors that you can pry open with shivs which lead to areas that may contain items and ammunition that you can collect and put into your backpack. In the end of the level, you go through the town of Lincoln to find Joel’s friend who can help you move forward into the story, and it starts off being a bit easy until near the end when the infected start to ambush you without stop. Throughout the whole ordeal, Lincoln is the longest level you will go through that will take at least over 30-60 minutes in the first run.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, turned out to be much shorter than anything. The second level doesn’t do much as Lincoln as it was more akin to learning the basics from finding items, ammunition, and files to learn more about specific aspects in the gameplay and story. However, the Pittsburgh level involves both Joel and Ellie surviving a brief onslaught of Hunters who beg for sympathy in disguise of their cruel nature to kill. You’ll have extremely limited resources on you as you have to use your fists or any other melee weapons you can find like plywood or pipes as the crazies will come with guns ablazing and fists swinging at Joel and Ellie. If you manage to survive that, you are treated to a few minutes of looking for items and ammunition, and the final part of the level introduces everyone to the firearm customization mode via secret worktables in buildings. After that, nothing happens after leaving as that part of the demo abruptly ends.
That’s basically the beta demo in a nutshell. You can do all sorts of things to benefit the levels in your own setting such as difficulty, controls, visual adjustments, and the works. Everything from the gameplay, presentation, story, and sound gives off enough substance to consider this game a true, AAA title. I mean, having Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voicing the protagonists? What more could you possibly ask for?
The Last of Us, based on the beta demo, continues the tradition of Naughty Dog delivering us a breathtaking adventure that will surely appeal to fans of Sony and gamers alike. It’s even enough for me to warrant a purchase of this game. Whether or not this may be Naughty Dog’s swan song for developing games on the PlayStation 3 remains to be seen, but this game is destined to become another critical and commercial success for the PlayStation brand. If Sony and Naughty Dog creates a franchise out of this game is still too early to call, but the journey through the post-apocalypse will be a fresh change for the developer’s creativity. Joel and Ellie’s journey for survival begins on June 14, 2013 when The Last of Us hits retailers from around the world. Are you ready?