bill-swift - June 18, 2012
The Last of Us has been moving to the top of many most wanted lists in the last six months as more and more details about the game's story and gameplay elements come to light. We've still got some time before Egotastic! can dive in and get a full understanding of the control, the enemies, the inventory and all of the other gameplay systems because this game will surely have some sophisticated intertwining elements. However, we did learn a few things via observation about The Last of Us that make this game look very promising.
Two things jumped out in the presentation we saw. First, the game constantly communicates the number of enemies you're dealing with when you encounter them. Second, Ellie (the secondary character to Joel, the dude you're controlling) seems to be more of an asset than a burden. These two pieces blend together which might be a third observation point, now that I think about it.
We still have only seen the other human survivors and none of the infected people that have taken over a fallen United States some years after a viral epidemic of some kind. Your fellow human scavengers appear to be major threats as we see Joel and Ellie encounter a group in what seems to be an old motel. Ellie is always updating you on the number and attitude of human you encounter. She tells you when a group of four turns out to be six and that they're distracted, or angry, or armed with weapons. Being stealthy also seems important as it allows you to get a full understanding of the situation and devise a plan on the fly.
Knowing the number of enemies let's you count bullets in your weapon and, in this case of the demo we saw, see that you don't have enough head shots for everybody. This is probably how it's going to be in The Last of Us. Accuracy, planning and maybe a little luck will be currency in this game, not running-and-gunning. Something tells me though, that whatever you call the infected humans, they won't go down with just one bullet to the dome. That's just how it is in video games.
At first glance, I thought The Last of Us might be one long escort mission where you, as the hero, have to protect this helpless kid while moving through a hostile environment. This might involve a lot of running back and forth, stashing and retrieving and other tedious work. And The Last of Us might still turn out that way. However, in the demo we saw, Ellie was a clutch teammate more than anything and she did it without picking up a weapon. The little girl stays hidden and creeps around better than you. When Joel is stuck in a tight situation and only has five bullets for seven bad guys, it's Ellie who pops up, distracts the bad guys and throws an object upside his head. In the demo, Joel is then free to rush the bad guy, disarm him and win the day.
The official line on The Last of Us says that this is a game about "love, loyalty and redemption." If Ellie and Joel truly watching each other's back is how this is going to be expressed then we're on to another chapter in survival games.