What is this sorcery? This is not a game! It’s a masterpiece! Shane the Gamer was given early Preview code of the PlayStation 3’s juggernaut title; The Last of Us, developed by our good buds at Naughty Dog.
Traditionally with BETA’s and early preview code, one expects a glitch or three to be present. A render that has gone awry, heinous (or hilarious) graphical glitches or even gameplay to be not as expected.
This was not the case. It was perfect.
Two playable Levels were on offer; Lincoln and Pittsburgh vast cities now laid to ruin and abandonment.
Both atmospheric eeriness and forebodement hang in the air.
From the onset of the first Preview Level it was immediately apparent, from both the character banter (the way both characters in the game) played off one another that this was different to anything ever played before.
You really gained a feel for the persona, relationship and relate ability for both Joel and Ellie as Ellie would assist Joel with tasks.
The lush scenery, adaptable environment, and weaponry selections / choices were not only wide ranged but attention to detail was to the extreme and then some.
Using high places was the usual mode to get from A to B. Scavenging old planks of wood to use as makeshift bridges between rooftops is not only essential, it was unique.
Scavenging for items to use is the only way to survive and move forward.
There is not always one way to do things either and, if you are not sure, listen to Ellie as at times she can be the more astute one.
Changing items or weapons sees the main protagonist; Joel takes off his satchel and opens it, whereas it was always a common factor for a ‘Menu’ to pop up as the game paused and you fished around your Inventory.
It is within your satchel (backpack) that every carry-able item is kept, from rifles to pistols, bottles and bricks, aswell as much needed scrap which you will need to collect in order to perform upgrades.
Asides from other survivors, who are hell bent on protecting their ‘areas’, your most common foes are the Infected.
As a viral outbreak annihilated the populous, those with the virus turned into a cross breed of human and, well, something that looks like they have fungus protruding from their heads.
There are varying degrees of those that are infected. Some still look relatively normal-ish, more like your run of the mill Zombies, and then there’s those above.
The more infected they are the stronger they are and subsequently, will take more to take down.
The combat as seen more so in the first one against the infected included quick time events. Nothing new, but the game owned them. They were a much needed ingredient within play.
One of the preview Levels had a vertigo segment with Joel trapped,. Hanging upside down from the ceiling as a wave of these infected swarmed in.
While Ellie was trying to free you from a counter weight (a fridge) you took out all that you could with a pistol only, or melee if they got too close, using quick-time buttons.
While Ellie is helpful, you are also her protector and must be sure to maintain her in good health and assist when she is under attack aswell. That said; she is rather good at combat herself.
As mentioned, other non-infected folk are around the cities. There are some who Joel has known previously before the outbreak such as a paranoid trap setting bloke called Bill (we had to find him in the Demo) and some that you will meet during the game. These become allies, some more unwilling than others.
But those that are still human and not allies are just as bad, if not worse than the infected to deal with.
There is a shoot out within the second playable Level which was extreme and again, while not particularly new (reminiscent a little bit to the latter Uncharted) it did have a very original melee aspect to it, say, if an enemy got in your face.
You could also take an enemy and use them as a human shield. I also noticed that if you had one of these guys grappled as a shield, his buddy (while facing you) would not shoot, thus an easy double take down for you.
Weapon (pistol as an example) re-load time was a bitch – but that was an upgradeable if and when you had enough parts and could find a workbench.
With entire cityscapes to roam in and explore, this game is big. Real big.
Both playable demo’s that we were given were the perfect size. Not too short and not too long. They left me wanting more and I infact replayed them a few times to explore areas I didn’t previously.
With just two Levels or areas, I carved out an entire weekend’s play. So expect this game to be huge.
Storyline and the way the cinematics work into them is top shelf artistry.
No competition – this is the game of the 2013; superbly, magnificently outstanding.