The Cinematic Joys of The Last of Us

Sony's The Last of Us presentation wasn't the action-packed explosion frenzy expected, but boy was it good.

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As a journalist, it's easy to become disillusioned with the very subject that you're exposed to, day in and day out. Don't get me wrong: this is a wondrous profession to be in, particularly when you're fortunate enough to be writing about something close to your heart. But the mad, sweaty dash though the cavernous halls of Gamescom is not to be taken lightly. Sessions and games that raised excitement in the planning stages are reduced to poorly run, 10-minute diversions that soon blur into one big, mushy, explosive mess of pixels.

But sometimes something comes along that reminds you why you're in this game in the first place. And today that came from the most unexpected of places, the most ubiquitous of all video game genres: the action game. Naughty Dog's presentation for The Last of Us was unlike anything I'd seen before. There was no drawn-out introduction. There weren't booth babes, or bands, or garish flashing lights, or overblown sounds to distract.

There wasn't even any gameplay to be seen, at least not in the shooting guns and fleeing zombies kind of sense. Instead, we were shown a scene: three characters, protagonists Ellie and Joel and a gruff, bearded man name Bill, and the tensest of atmospheres. We came into the scene entirely unaware of what had come before, and yet even without that context, it was still incredibly gripping.

More surprising was that the presentation wasn't given by the developers, but instead by Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, the voices actors of Ellie and Joel. If it had been any other game, that would have been a strange move. But there, as I watched the characters argue, plead, and toy with one another, Bill handcuffing Ellie to a post and Joel retaliating with a vicious punch, it all made sense.

The Last of Us isn't really about the action, or even its beautiful visuals. What it is, is a game that truly feels like a cinematic experience. In those five short minutes of the scene, I forgot I was watching a video game--I cared for the characters and got sucked into their world. It was helped, no doubt, by some masterful voice acting and smooth motion-captured animation.

Whether or not the gameplay reaches such lofty heights remains to be seen. But for now, this was one of the most impressive showings of a video game I've seen--certainly at Gamescom. It was left to stand tall on the merits of its characters alone, Naughty Dog showing that it's unafraid to break gaming conventions and rile up its audience in an entirely different way. And the best part? There's so much more to come.

Discussion

192 comments
fanis1997
fanis1997

το καλυτερο παιχνιδι που εχω δει μεχρ τορα ανιπομονω να ερθει λιγες φορες εχουμε δει τοσο ομη βια σε ενα action game με εχει πραγματικα καθηλωσει!!!

 

zpluffy
zpluffy

Naughty dogs are sooooo naughty!

eas022
eas022

bioshock infinite got me excited and this one too now. too bad its not going to be on the xbox

anshanlord
anshanlord

Naughty dog has always been awesome, I always buy their games without reading reviews or anything....

PesmergaYuber
PesmergaYuber

The XBOX has enough exclusives and games that were supposed to be PS3 exclusives but were delayed to be released on XBOX.

 

I am definitely looking forward to this

Kyrylo
Kyrylo

amazing and touching.....GOTY for me. 

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

The girl reminds me of that actress in Juno, I find it SO distracting, for some reason this annoys me a lot.

Moby_twice
Moby_twice

Like others I think, I sold my Xbox 360 Elite and got me a PS3 320gb. Was a bit dissapointed when I saw I can't install the games on my Hard drive and was like "wtf I'll use 320gb for". But then I played all God of War and now finished Uncharted 1 and 2 and bought 3 today. Can't wait playing it then starting the next exclusive, like metal gear solid, heavy rain and dark souls (and the other one, forgot it's name, I know it's ported to PC but heck better on pS3). Any other games/exclusives I should play?

MagnusArtanis
MagnusArtanis

I just watched the trailer.... impressive!!! Can´t wait any longer.... Now that´s how they (developers) put the craving in your mind... and how you anxiously wait for its release date!!

cptsauce
cptsauce

all of you guys complaining about not having a PS3 to play this, sell you xbox and buy one. I did that around 2 years ago and its the best choice I've ever made. You'll save more money in the long run not having to pay for xbox live and all. Plus you get all these incredible Naughty Dog games. All the PS3 exclusives are just worth it. And I'm looking foward to getting this midnight when it comes out :D

haara
haara

Looks amazing, story seems amazing and gameplay seems amazing.

jonnyb81
jonnyb81

It looked to me like a couple of the excerpts were displaying actual gameplay.  For instance, when the protagonist is in the hallway with a pistol.

KL3MP0
KL3MP0

Naughty Dog games make me want to buy PS3.

johny300
johny300

Love the sony playing in that trailer.

Mon6ana
Mon6ana

this is a copy-paste from Splinter Cell.. but its ok to me I'm not against rip-off.. I remember I was the only one who loved Dante's Inferno while all of you were against me and while about that it was a God of War rip-off

PernicioEnigma
PernicioEnigma

I must be missing something because that didn't look like anything special to me.

Anstark
Anstark

Awesome Trailer , This is one of the most EPIC and Mind blowing Games Coming Next Year 

Everybody and i Mean EVERYBODY is going to get : The Last Of Us.

Poodger
Poodger

These two characters look relatable and sincere, they did a good job with the design of how they look. But I think they missed the shot a bit with the voice acting. Doesn't seem to match how they look. Like the girl's voice sounds older than the girl's model does.

Gajan-K
Gajan-K staff

I wish we didn't have to wait til 2013 for this but it's looking like it will be well worth the wait!

kohle36
kohle36

 @kkxtrouble Ellen Page? Yeh, they supposedly changed the character model (probably because Page was actually working on / starring in another game at the time (Beyond: Two Souls). It's a subtle change, but the resemblance isn't really there anymore. Maybe they didn't want to get in legal trouble, who knows?

Nightrain50
Nightrain50

 @kkxtrouble She used to look like her but they changed her, she no longer looks like her to me at all

Musharasur
Musharasur

 @Moby_twice Valkyria Chronicles. You can find it for around $16 new at Newegg. One of the most overlooked games of this console generation. It was released around the time the PS3 was still prohibitively expensive for most.

Moby_twice
Moby_twice

Oh remembered Infamous 1 and 2 ! :D

chang_1910
chang_1910

@cptsauce im saying i agree btw... i read my post and it doesnt sound that way.. lol... ps. yea, ps3 pretty nice to have, specially now at days... :) enjoy

chang_1910
chang_1910

@cptsauce or just be happy with the 360... i couldnt (or didnt see a point of having both, for me at least) so i choose ps3... are they games on 360 that i would like to play, yea (witcher and fable looking at you) but i have enough of nice games, so "nice looking game, find out for 360" i dont even comment or cont reading abiut it.. what is the point...

vbgbn
vbgbn

Good decision!

Cavum1
Cavum1

 @jonnyb81 It was actual gameplay. They did a gameplay demo for E3.

Chuckiefresh1
Chuckiefresh1

 @KL3MP0 Same here! I don't want to buy a PS3 this late in the game though. The Last of Us looks incredible. The story line is just what I like.

fearless_alive
fearless_alive

 @KL3MP0  Totally agree with you there. The Uncharted series and now this. Naughty Dog and Quantic Dream should make PC releases too. Really wanted to play Uncharted and Heavy Rain. Just wasn't really thrilled about the idea of buying a PS3.

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @Anstark except the bitter 'unfortunates' under 15 year old whiners on here saying this game looks crap. They probably pestered their parents into buying them a Star Wars Kinnect bundle so they could play CoDMW3 on live, and know their parents can't afford a PS3 as well. Now those kids know they actually made a terrible mistake after seeing Uncharted 2 and 3, and the ones who haven't wouldn't know any better till they actually get to play the next naughty dog game :D Besides Gears franchise and a few others, Microsoft has been so keen to port 360 games to PC it gives much less incentive to buy a 360 for the exclusives like this, that's where Sony gets them. BTW what the hell is going on with 'The Last Guardian'; does anyone here know anymore? I cannot wait for that damn game, bring it on Sony! :D

Poodger
Poodger

 @Anstark I don't know about everybody. I certainly want it, but I am not buying a PS3 for it. If only it was released on Steam or something

bhyesilnil
bhyesilnil

 @fearless_alive they wont and they never will. they will only and only make games for sony devices cuz they are bound to it

P4dd3y
P4dd3y

 @Culochilegge this is nothing like splinter cell.  The only comparison i can draw is that joels walking animation looks like sam fishers in conviction. Huge similarities there :P

ronnet
ronnet

 @Poodger This looks like an impressive game and it would definatly have been a console-seller earlier into the generation.

 

However Sony could certainly make the PS4 very interesting to X360 owners like myself if they make the PS4 backward compatible with the PS3. That way the PS4 would launch with a bunch of triple X titles I haven't been able to play before.

 

IMO the X360 was a great console because it was backward compatible and played games XBOX games like Knights of the old Republic, Halo 2, Fable, Jade Empire, Elder Scrolls III, etc. Hopefully this time Sony will put more efford into the backward compatibility as well.

kohle36
kohle36

 @Moby_twice Nope, I am alive was also out on XBLA. As per others, get Demon's Souls (predecessor to Dark Souls), it was never ported to pc, was imo more atmospheric than DarkSouls, and the servers (may) be going down in October. Trust me, you want to play this while they're still up, was my favorite game this gen and one of the most intense gaming experiences I've ever had. You can find greatest hits versions at any best buy for $20.

There's a list of PS3 exclusives on wikipedia (keep in mind it doesn't list games also released for Vita), but what to actually get depends on your tastes as a gamer. What do you play mostly? If you're into strategy, Valkyria Chronicles is a really awesome tactical rpg with an amazing art style and interesting story. Journey is definitely worth a look, if nothing else just for a very different kind of game experience (it's short, but really good).

If you played back in the NES/SNES era, try out 3D-Dot Game Heroes (basically a love letter/wholesale ripoff - depending on your take) of Legend of Zelda (if you never played Zelda as a kid though, I can't really recommend it). If you like more 3-D Zelda adventures but never owned a PS2 or Wii, download Okami HD when it comes out later this month - it was a really solid adventure game that arguably outZelda'd Zelda.

A lot of people keep recommending Heavy Rain (it's like an interactive movie more than game), but I haven't played it myself so I can't vouch for it. The same dev is going to be putting out another exclusive (Beyond:Two Souls) pretty soon, and it does look pretty interesting.

Someone above mentioned Killzone (2 was better than 3, but 3 has more of a multiplayer presence I think), and Resistance 3 was supposed to be really good (never played it myself so I don't know if you needed to play the originals for a bit of background)

If it's ever released, The Last Guardian will (hopefully) go down as one of the best games this gen - it's why I originally bought a PS3, but am (sadly) still waiting for it. Also, a little known development studio called VanillaWare is currently working on a PS3/Vita game called Dragon's Crown that harkens back to the side-scrolling brawler days of Golden Axe. Their M.O. is basically 2-D side scrolling rpgs with insane attention to artwork that you rarely see these days.

Anyway, sorry for the essay, but there's a lot of PS exclusives worth playing!

Moby_twice
Moby_twice

 @bhyesilnil

 Uh, yeah, litle big planet 1 and 2. Platformer right? What about I am alive. Isn't that exclusive?

JJB03
JJB03

 @ronnet I doubt they will, but I think its likely that these games will be available to download on PS4 instead, in which case it could still round up those X360 owners still eager to play the older exclusives they have.