Feeds

Out with a bang: The Last of Us lets PS3 exit with head held high

The current generation of consoles can still thrill

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Game Theory I’ll soon be offering my thoughts and reflections on this year’s E3, but before all that it seemed worth waxing lyrical about new PS3 exclusive The Last of Us, a game that points the way to what the next generation should really be aspiring to do.

Gaming’s Citizen Kane moment? Maybe, if Mr Kane was being chased by zombies.

The Last of Us

Streetfighting man

You stalk your prey silently, invisibly, hugging the edges of the long-defunct cars and concrete barriers that litter the streets in this rotting world. Your target, a Hunter on patrol, is carrying a shotgun filled with precious ammo, and now, still completely unaware of your presence, he’s within range. You keep low, take careful aim and fire.

Darn, missed! Before you know it the Hunter has dived behind the nearest cover and has started taking pot-shots at you. You move and fire, avoiding taking any hits but missing yourself and then... "click". You’re empty. The Hunter hears the click too and charges. You panic and frantically try to reload but it’s too late. The boom of a shotgun is the last sound you hear...

OK, so you’ll hopefully excuse my sojourn into creative writing, but describing a typical encounter in The Last of Us seemed about the best way to sum up why it’s a bit special – well, one of the ways.

The Last of Us

Snow hope

You see, developer Naughty Dog has accomplished almost everything it has attempted with its latest release. That means that the combat is dynamic and rarely predictable, as enemies adapt their strategy on the fly depending on their strength in numbers and your current state of well-being.

The narrative is particularly strong too, managing to avoid the usual clichés of survival horror. It features dialogue that is natural and convincing in a manner rarely accomplished in the medium. Puzzles, meanwhile, don’t involve the collection of hexagon-shaped keys, but rather the more prosaic bridging of gaps with wooden planks.

Naughty Dog has been brave enough to allow its title to build up slowly, so allowing room for the characters to develop naturally. The effect is a lack of need for one bombastic boss fight after the next - here's looking at you, RE6 - to keep the player hooked.

The Last of Us

Pipework

Yes, there is action constantly throughout, but encounters are buffered by, well, nothingness really. Just moments of calm used to build suspense and develop narrative and characterisation – two facets of design that are so often discussed by games developers, but are so readily bypassed when the final product hits store shelves.

I’ve already described a typical encounter with human Hunters, but then there are the fungus-engulfed zombies, here known as Clickers, to contend with too. Taking them on is ever stressful, for not only will the matured ones insta-kill you, but the fact they’re blind – but possessed of a bat-like radar – means you’re ever looking for that next bottle to throw as a distraction.

It’s also here that "Listen Mode" comes into its own, in which character Joel sits stock still as his view turns black and white and the silhouettes of hostiles appear through walls. It’s an essential tool to use if you’re to guide him through situations where he’s hopelessly outnumbered.

The Last of Us

Serving cocktails

The game is not without its share of flaws, however. Ellie and other NPCs get blocked off by Joel a little too often for believability to be maintained, for example. Enemies have the nasty habit of often looking straight through Ellie, disregarding her if she's not in cover - as long as Joel is. Such issues are perhaps unavoidable in such an intricately woven game and easily overlooked.

Boost IT visibility and business value

Next page: World War Me

More from The Register

next story
Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax
Without representation, too. Time for a Boston (Lincs) Macbook Party?
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Apple gets patent for WRIST-PUTER: iTime for a smartwatch
It does everything a smartwatch should do ... but Apple owns it
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.