The Last Of Us : Hands On Preview – Part Two
This is the second part of our hands on preview of The Last of Us for PS3. You can check out the first part, where we look at the ‘Lincoln’ stage here: Last of Us Preview Part One.
Hands On Preview, part two: Pittsburgh
The pacing of the Pittsburgh level is drastically different to the Lincoln level. It begins with an ambush that was shown in an early trailer. While Joel and Ellie are driving around, a human tries to flag them down for help, but Joel doesn’t buy it and rams into the guy. They end up crashing into a store and you take control of Joel mid-struggle, with a quick-time event to stop your head being severed from your body. Straight away you have a choice: either go in all guns blazing, or you use stealth and distraction to pick the hunting party off one-by-one. I chose the former, and quickly died. I died twice more before deciding it would be wise to change my tactics.
With this in mind I took out the first two guys with my shotgun, then grabbed a bottle, sprinted outside the store and hid behind a car. As the second group of scavengers approached, I threw the bottle to distract them, then hurled a nail bomb between them, taking out all but one of them. I then took a stealthy approach, distracted the survivor and took him down quietly.
The game is seriously beautiful
With these enemies dispatched, it was scavenging time. Seems to be the common theme in The Last of Us that after a fight, you need to scour the landscape to find supplies and crafting items. I’m not complaining, mind, just saying it could become quite formulaic. Having collected everything, I moved onto the next area, where I learned from Joel that those guys were ‘hunters’ – men who kill any survivors they meet and take their supplies.
This was backed up by the bodies littered around the room I was in. It seems that a big theme in The Last of Us is morality, and making the player question how they would act if such a pandemic were to occur and what choices they would make in order to survive. It’s a scary thought but it reminds you about the evil that is inherent in our society, and how some people only need a trigger to unleash it.
Back to the game, and as I make my way through an abandoned warehouse I spot a glowing object on a workbench. When I go over to inspect, I’m given a brief tutorial about the crafting and upgrade systems. Essentially, Joel can collect supplies, used to craft new items and weapons, and spare parts, which are used to add upgrades to the guns in the game. The snag here is there is always a compromise to make: do you use the alcohol and rag to make a medkit or a Molotov? Do you upgrade your shotgun or your pistol? These sacrifices and compromises add replay value to the game, and will allow gamers to adapt their arsenal to their preferred gameplay style.
Further on, I encounter another group of hunters, and this time manage to take one down quite successfully with my bow and arrow – so it would appear I’m improving. I start to make my way through a military checkpoint, and it becomes clear that the hunters have designed this route as a death-trap filled labyrinth, funnelling hapless wanderers into choke-points where they are swiftly executed. I realise this as I wander into an armed trio and am swiftly dispatched. Second time around I use the distract and execute tactic to pick them off (it does seem the game favours stealth over gunplay) and I’m rewarded with extra ammo.
Teamwork is a central theme
Thinking that I must be near the end, I stride into the nearest building, and encounter the largest group of hunters yet – about fifteen in total. This is the section of the level where I became most frustrated, as I was killed repeatedly and didn’t appear to be making any progress. Essentially the first floor of this building was designed like a maze, and so it was important to take out the hunters individually, so they wouldn’t search and surround you. However, once I cleared the floor and proceeded upstairs, I was confronted with a full-blown shootout. Bearing in mind my limited success with aiming so far, my limited ammo and the seemingly unlimited ammo the hunters appeared to possess: things didn’t go so well.
Unfortunately my eventual strategy was to shotgun two guys, Molotov another two, and then sprint for the exit. Yes, I ran away from a fight because it was too difficult (Hard mode remember), but The Last of Us does at least give you this option, as well as the ability to sneak past conflict altogether, so I’ll just say I was experimenting with the mechanics.
With that came the end of the demo. Contrary to how it may sound, I actually really enjoyed my time with The Last of Us. It meets the high standards I’ve come to expect from Naughty Dog, and provides a new experience, one they’ve termed ‘Survival Action’. Although I felt the shooting was too difficult, the game controls very well overall, and the animations and graphics are beautiful, showing just what can be squeezed out of the PS3 this late in its life-cycle. The demo gave me a good taste the game, and most importantly left me wanting more. I’ll definitely be picking this one up when it come out in June 14th,
I just need to remember not to jump into Hard mode right of the bat.
Don’t forget to check out the first part of our hands on time with The Last of Us!
Read all of our The Last Of Use coverage at our Central for Naughty Dog’s latest!
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Hailing from 'The Grim North'; Joshua is about to graduate and enter the real world - and so has decided to throw himself into talking about the one thing he knows best: video games! As money is tight, he's ploughing through the plethora of retro games present in his student house. Just as soon as they pay the electricity bill.