Monday, December 12, 2011

'The Last of Us.' Why This Excites Me (PS3)


Over the weekend, Naughty Dog have announced their newest game coming from a secret second team at their Santa Monica Studios. We've learned about the basic setting for the story, the globe-trotting nature as well as our protagonist. We've learned that famed BEST GRAPHICS developer Naughty Dog will be developing the game that will obviously be exclusive to the PlayStation 3. We've learned that Ellie will be voiced by Ashley Johnson of 'Growing Pains' so many years ago, man has she grown, and Joel will be voiced by Troy Baker of Two-Face fame from Batman: Arkham City. Both of which will be covering their own mo-cap as well. (Nothing however, has been said of Nolan North as to whether he will play a character in the game and stay on at Naughty Dog, whether he will become a Lead at Naughty Dog as a Mo-cap Coach to help other mo-cap actors or whether he has engagements elsewhere.)

An interview was done with Co-President's Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra by the PlayStation Blog following the Spike Video Game Awards and Evan Wells recommended to those wanting to know more about the game to keeping watching the trailer to find those hints as to what we can expect in 'The Last of Us.' So, I took his advice and watched it time and time again. While I'm not a pro at this sort of thing, I can only speculate and could very likely be totally wrong. And this excites me about the game.

While we're still likely waiting until Sony's Press Conference at E3 in 2012 to see more about the gameplay, I really suspect the reason that Mark Richard Davies whom was the Creative Director for Ninja Theory that was once a PS3 exclusive developer responsible for Heavenly Sword and continued on with Ninja Theory with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and finally surely had something to do with the Devil May Cry reboot Ninja Theory contracted out from Capcom, I think Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is why he's there and the fact the two games share so many commonalities and the post apocalyptic vibe melds so well with 'The Last of Us.' We still don't know whose writing the thing but, Davies I think was brought on primarily with his experience with Enslaved as its primary inspiration was clearly Uncharted as is though Davies has worked on an Uncharted game before. But, I think the relationship that Trip had with Monkey, is something that carries over to the relationship between Ellie and Joel. Its not that sort of Nathan Drake/ Victor Sullivan sort of deal, as that would just be Uncharted all over again, but could be that sort of father/ daughter relationship.

But, as far as gameplay goes, as much as it may seem this game could play like Left 4 Dead, I don't really see it fitting in what Naughty Dog is going for this generation of consoles with their pulp-action adventure genre. With the talent working behind the title its likely to play similarly to Uncharted from a third-person perspective mixing in the sort of gameplay that Monkey and Trip had in Enslaved in which Joel may instruct Ellie through commands to solve puzzles that uses more interaction between two characters in puzzle solving.

What really catches my interest thus far, from what I know, is that we know this game is going be that sort of survival horror game. Lately, zombie games have been all about waiting for them to flood in through the door and tear them apart with gunfire. This is something that, for me as a big survival horror fan myself, has really lost its appeal to the genre and I don't play Resident Evil or Silent Hill anymore.

When I look back to playing Resident Evil on the Gamecube and Resident Evil 2 on the PSX, I often became frantic that I wasn't being frugal with my ammo at all. That I would just place shots to get the zombie out of the way. In Resident Evil on the Gamecube, you also had to burn the body of the zombie or it would come back and you'd have wasted your ammo already and were even more tight for ammo.

When I saw the trailer for 'The Last of Us,' I began to get really excited. This was going to be the survival horror game to get me back into the genre again. I couldn't help but notice that Ellie only had a switch-blade on her and became really excited to open the guys survival bag and find a few unspent shells. This exactly made me think back to those days playing Resident Evil when I was so ammo exhausted, that finding a pack of shells for my gun made me really excited. Ellie only finds a few shells on the body and she's equally as pumped. That was what survival horror was all about. It was an unbelievable force surrounding you that was the horror part, but it was all about making the best of the situation with what you had that made it the survival game. When games started to stray from that genre defining characteristic and became mindless gunfire up against a bunch of slow zombies or having all the ammo you needed at your disposal, it was just horror and no survival.

We can't wait to see what more Naughty Dog have to show us and you can bet that when we learn such, that it'll be right here online keeping you inside the X-Gaming Zone here at the XZONE!


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