The game of 2013 is without a doubt the Playstation 3 exclusive, The Last of Us, developed by Naughty Dog. The company who brought us the dynamite Uncharted series and Jax and Daxter have, with The Last of Us, put the gaming experience on a new level.
Although the game does have at least one person who isn’t too fond of it. Actress Ellen Page got onto Reddit over the weekend to complain that the character of Ellie looked too much like her saying, “I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness, but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated.”
It is quite possible that Page is more upset because she is in the mentioned Quantic Dreams and David Cage creation, Beyond Two Souls, which is due out later this year; “Souls” is also a Sony PS3 exclusive.
But Ellen Page’s irritation at the likeness doesn’t take away from the solid performances of the two actors who brought the two main characters to life. Troy Baker as Joel and Ashley Johnson as Ellie made the two protagonists in the game seem almost beyond real.
Naughty Dog agrees, in a response to Ms Page’s apparent displeasure, Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann went to Twitter to tweet his response, “Ellie from The Last of Us was perfectly played by @TheVulcanSalute. No one could’ve done a better job. Please go follow her and retweet.”
Leaving aside “image issues” and the actors ability to bring the game’s characters to a whole new level, Playstation 3 have taken the game to heights that were only hit briefly by Quantic Dreams’ Heavy Rain, which was also made by the Beyond Two Souls creator David Cage.
I’m sure that Cage isn’t too upset by the likeness as it will probably serve as a springboard to fans who want to “play” Ellen Page.
Naughty Dog have made a name for themselves with games that are scripted to feature protagonists who have “real” character interactions and believability factors that feature realistic arcs for the denizens of the game verse they inhabit.
They also utilise game play that is not too complicated and makes logical sense for the game that you are playing. Their Uncharted series was a huge hit with fans the world over and not only put the company itself in a new category, but it made stars out of Nolan North and Emily Rose. Their latest offering allows gamers to experience a zenith of gaming perfection with only the smallest of complaints from the people who have played the game.
The Last of Us takes place in a world that has been irrevocably altered by a pandemic that has decimated humanity and left an ever present threat of zombie-like creatures who are attracted by noise and spores that still infect those who breath them in.
The major protagonist’s are Joel, who lost his family in the initial outbreak of the viral contagion, and Ellie. Ellie appears to be something very special and a group called “The Fireflies” are very interested in her. Joel has to escort Ellie to them. Of course the plot is much more involved than that, but I don’t want to get into spoiler territory here.
The game could be called a “Third Person Shooter” but the game’s mechanics involve much more than the usual “let’s go in and blast em” mentality of most “shooters.” You use a blend of what Naughty Dog calls Dynamic Stealth, crafting, shooting, melee and a sort of puzzle solving, but not in the traditional sense.
It also features an AI system that Naughty Dog call the, “Balance of Power” an “improved” AI system that reflects the actual needs of the character that the artificial intelligent game character then supports and aids. While it is not perfect, it the closest I’ve ever seen in terms of gameplay and interaction.
The Last of Us features that perfect blend of believable characters; great character developing plot, and a world so real that it feels as though when you’ve finished the game you can open your front door and be confused as to why your (our) world looks so different.
The textures and the colours of the game are explosively real. While the game itself can best be described as “grim and bleak,” it can boast a new level of game play and a gaming experience that is head and shoulders above the other games on offer.
Oddly enough, the only other game that looks as though it might deliver a similar experience is the Ellen Page “starring” (along with that brilliant actor William DeFoe) Quantic Dream offering, Beyond Two Souls. With the release of a game play” trailer recently, it looks to have the same sort of character driven plot and the same sort of endearing protagonists.
I can honestly say the the Playstation 3 exclusive The Last of Us affected me in ways that only David Cage and his Heavy Rain game did before. I sometimes laughed, but mostly I got involved, cried; got angry; felt sad, and truly cared about Joel, Ellie, Tess, Henry and even the surly loner Bill. This was a game that I lived and it took the gaming experience to a whole new level. Expect to see Naughty Dog clear the boards come award time this year. If you play nothing else this year, make sure it is this game.
By Michael Smith