The Last of Us’ demo was playable to the public for the first time at PAX East in Boston and IGN captured their time with it on camera. I’m going to take a look at the 3 videos and discuss what’s going on and if what we see is in line with what we expected. The footage is recorded off a screen so the quality isn’t great and we can’t really comment on the visuals, but it does look pretty nonetheless. Those not wanting to spoil anything for themselves should look away but this demo gives nothing away story-wise.
So it starts off in, what I’ve heard is, Boston and Joel, Ellie and Tess are in a rain storm. Rain water runs down the street as Joel looks up at two massive skyscrapers, one leaning on the other, which gives it a sense of scale. We see that there is a button dedicated to sprinting, and you’ll note that Joel moves differently than Drake, much slower and less agile. The three are talking to each other through out but it’s hard to hear what they are saying at times, so the banter from Uncharted is here, which is probably no surprise to anyone.
Button prompts appear to guide the camera to an area of interest, similar to Uncharted, and shows a building off in the distance. Joel heads for a nearby building, THE _OLYSTONE BUIL_IN_, which I’m guessing is The Polystone Building. We can really see that nature is reclaiming this city with bushes and ivy everywhere. A prompt reveals that the flashlight is toggle based (automatic in Uncharted) as they head inside. A semi circle health meter appears in the bottom right of the screen while Joel searches through desks for odds and ends which he can use to craft.
The rain streams down the glass windows as they continue through the building, we also see that weapons will be assigned to the d-pad and pressing R1 while not aiming will reload your weapon. We see that a victim of the fungus is in front of a door and the disgusting growths are blocking access, resulting in hammering Δ to pry him off. Joel then enters a crouch stance but I can’t tell if that was automatic or if there is an actual crouch button. After shoving open a door with Tess a clicker attacks, leading to the player having to mash ☐ while Tess killed it.
That made me worried, was combat going to be QTEs like the naysayers claimed?
Joel is hurt after the attack and Tess searches nearby cupboards and hands Joel some supplies to patch himself up (will companions always hand Joel items or was that scripted?). Joel takes off his backpack and we see the crafting menu, he makes himself a med kit and the player has to hold down R1 to apply it, similar to Left 4 Dead.
Joel picks up a bottle and we are shown that we can arc aim it or blind fire throw it. Joel covers his head with his hand as the player passes under a stream of water from the ceiling, a nice touch. The trio then enter an area with many hostiles, Joel throws items to distract the clickers while they sneak past. The stealth looks tense.
Continuing through the crumbling building they come across ‘Runners’ which are the enemy type most like zombies, unlike the clickers they can see but they are not as lethal however they do attack in groups and they are very fast. It’s here that we see Joel’s ‘listen mode’ in action. Pressing R2 allows Joel to ‘hear’ his enemies, it’s practically Batman’s detective vision but less advanced.
Now we get to see the combat which relieved any doubts that it would be all QTEs. Joel sneaks up behind an unaware runner and the player presses Δ to perform a stealth kill, however after pressing Δ, two more options are shown while Joel is struggling with the runner, Δ to shiv and ☐ to strangle, the player opts to strangle.
The player blows his stealth and picks up a plank of wood as runners rush him, ☐ swings the plank, as Joel smashes the runners over the head in a satisfying manner. After breaking the plank he resorts to using his fists, when he nears a wall he pins the runner against it and finishes him off. I love that the combat changes depending on the nearby environment, Uncharted 3 had this also but this seems like they’ve taken it a step further. Joel shoots the remaining runner but a nearby clicker is on his trail thanks to all the noise. Joel shoots it 3 times, once in the head, but that doesn’t stop it. The player foolishly runs up to melee it and the clicker shows just how lethal it is by ripping the flesh off Joel’s neck and killing him.
In short, The Last of Us is on track to be the great game that I have been expecting.