Being The Last of Us: PAX East 2013 Preview
March 23, 2013
First place I visited during PAX East 2013 was the Sony both which was demoing The Last of Us. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but it felt like a pretty slow demo. Not that it’s a bad thing. I’m so used to being showed the most action packed parts of a game, only to be let down later when a game doesn’t play the way it was demoed.
From what I played, Last of Us feels more like a survival game as opposed to a horror, action, or thriller. Most of the images and video we have seen thus far have only shown two characters traveling together, but in the demo there is a third: Tess. The three are heading through broken down Boston, trying to reach something of value, but it is never fully explained what they are searching for. It must be pretty important since Joel warns of how dangerous the trip will be.
There is very little music, and this is a good thing. It helps add to the emptiness of the city; only hearing the sounds of the city crumbling around you. There is a very tense atmosphere because you know danger is near, you just don’t know where. The scenery helps add to the tension with its abandoned, broken down buildings and dark corridors. Unless you pull out your backpack the HUD is pretty clean. You get an indicator for ammo count and health, but there are no directional indicators to tell you where to go. The game will funnel you to where you need to be for the most part, but stumbling into the wrong place can lead to your death. Besides finding your way in the demo and traversing the crumbling building you’re in, you will come across Clickers: the first type of infected that you will come across.
Clickers use sound to determine your location, so if you’re quiet you can sneak around them or you can make noise in other areas so you can draw their attention elsewhere. Can you kill them? Of course. The problem is any noise will attract Clickers. Sneaking up on one and trying to take it out may alert other Clickers to your locations. Even if you have a bunch of ammo this is still an issue since if they get behind you they can kill you in one bite of the neck. Also, in order to kill certain infected you will need certain items.
During the demo I snuck up behind a Clicker and thought I was going to suffocate it. Negative, Ghost Rider. Apparently I needed a shiv to kill it, but I had already used the one I had on another Clicker. So that’s one way to die. Besides the Clickers I also saw Runners. They are newly infected and can still see. If you’re wondering why they are called Runners…. it’s because they can run fast. Runners can be suffocated at any time, but it will cause noise. In areas that had both Clickers and Runners you can see where this would be an issue.
If you want to avoid running into unexpected enemies you’ll want to use Joel’s listening mode as soon as you hear anything that could be an enemy. Using this shows where infected or other enemies are located through walls. Very helpful in areas where you need to shut off your flash light to avoid being seen. The demo lasted about 30 minutes, and from what I can see it is just a bad idea to engage the infected in anyway. The shotgun is usually my go to weapon in games like these, and even that couldn’t stop me from being taken down by a sneaky infested that got the jump on me.
You’ll find different types of supplies throughout the environment. Things like batteries, scissors, cloth, etc. I thought these were just items I could use later, but it turns out they were supplies I needed to craft items I could actually use like health packs and weapons. You can also upgrade certain weapons with supplies.
I was hoping the demo would show more of the relationship between the characters, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see much. Even the dialog was pretty thin. If anything, I have no love for Tess. I’m hoping it will be addressed, but in areas with infected if one came close to her (even if it didn’t attack), she would start firing at it; causing other infected to come in our direction. I died a few times because of that and it was very frustrating.
Overall, I enjoyed what I played and I like where they are going with it. With the exception of the Tess situation, I though the game play was enticing and am looking forward to playing more in the future.