The Last of Us

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The Last of Us
Video Game Cover - The Last of Us.jpg
Developer(s) Naughty Dog
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s)
Designer(s) Jacob Minkoff
Programmer(s)
  • Travis McIntosh
  • Jason Gregory
Artist(s)
  • Erick Pangilinan
  • Nate Wells
Writer(s) Neil Druckmann
Composer(s) Gustavo Santaolalla
Platform(s)
ReleasePlayStation 3
  • WW: June 14, 2013
PlayStation 4
  • NA: July 29, 2014
  • PAL: July 30, 2014
  • UK: August 1, 2014
Genre(s) Action-adventure, survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

The Last of Us is a 2013 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Players control Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting a teenage girl, Ellie, across a post-apocalyptic United States. The Last of Us is played from a third-person perspective. Players use firearms and improvised weapons, and can use stealth to defend against hostile humans and cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated fungus in the genus Cordyceps . In the online multiplayer mode, up to eight players engage in cooperative and competitive gameplay.

Contents

Development of The Last of Us began in 2009, soon after the release of Naughty Dog's previous game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves . For the first time in the company's history, Naughty Dog split into two teams; while one team developed Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception , the other half developed The Last of Us. The relationship between Joel and Ellie became the focus, with all other elements developed around it. Actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson portrayed Joel and Ellie respectively through voice and motion capture, and assisted creative director Neil Druckmann with the development of the characters and story. The original score was composed and performed by Gustavo Santaolalla.

Following its announcement in December 2011, The Last of Us was widely anticipated. It was released for the PlayStation 3 in June 2013; a remastered version was released for the PlayStation 4 in July 2014. [lower-alpha 1] It received critical acclaim, with praise going to narrative, gameplay, visuals, sound design, characterization, and depiction of female characters. The Last of Us became one of the best-selling video games, selling over 1.3 million units in its first week and 17 million by April 2018. The game won year-end accolades, including multiple Game of the Year awards, from several gaming publications, critics, and game award ceremonies. It has been cited as one of the greatest video games ever made.

Naughty Dog released several downloadable content additions; The Last of Us: Left Behind adds a single-player campaign following Ellie and her best friend Riley. The Last of Us Part II, a sequel, was released in June 2020. A television adaptation is currently in production by HBO, written by Druckmann and Craig Mazin and starring Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

Gameplay

The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror game played from a third-person perspective. [1] The player traverses post-apocalyptic environments such as towns, buildings, forests, and sewers to advance the story. The player can use firearms, improvised weapons, and stealth to defend against hostile humans and cannibalistic creatures infected by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus. For most of the game, the player takes control of Joel, a man tasked with escorting a young girl, Ellie, across the United States. [2] The player also controls Ellie throughout the game's winter segment, [3] and briefly controls Joel's daughter Sarah in the opening sequence. [4]

In combat, the player can use long-range weapons, such as a rifle, a shotgun, and a bow, and short-range weapons such as a handgun and a short-barreled shotgun. The player is able to scavenge limited-use melee weapons, such as pipes and baseball bats, and throw bottles and bricks to distract, stun, or attack enemies. [5] The player can upgrade weapons at workbenches using collected items. Equipment such as health kits, shivs, and Molotov cocktails can be found or crafted using collected items. Attributes such as the health meter and crafting speed can be upgraded by collecting pills and medicinal plants. Health can be recharged through the use of health kits. [6]

Listen Mode allows players to discover the position of enemies and characters by displaying their outline through walls, achieved through a heightened sense of hearing and spatial awareness. The Last of Us Listen Mode.jpg
Listen Mode allows players to discover the position of enemies and characters by displaying their outline through walls, achieved through a heightened sense of hearing and spatial awareness.

Though the player can attack enemies directly, they can also use stealth to attack undetected or sneak by them. "Listen Mode" allows the player to locate enemies through a heightened sense of hearing and spatial awareness, indicated as outlines visible through walls and objects. [7] In the dynamic cover system, the player can crouch behind obstacles to gain a tactical advantage during combat. [8] The game features periods without combat, often involving conversation between the characters. [9] The player can solve simple puzzles, such as using floating pallets to move Ellie, who is unable to swim, across bodies of water, and using ladders or dumpsters to reach higher areas. Story collectibles, such as notes, maps and comics, can be scavenged and viewed in the backpack menu. [10]

The game features an artificial intelligence system by which hostile human enemies react to combat. If enemies discover the player, they may take cover or call for assistance, and can take advantage of the player when they are distracted, out of ammunition, or in a fight. Player companions, such as Ellie, can assist in combat by throwing objects at threats to stun them, announcing the location of unseen enemies, or using a knife and pistol to attack enemies. [11]

Multiplayer

The online multiplayer allows up to eight players to engage in competitive gameplay in recreations of multiple single-player settings. The game features three multiplayer game types: Supply Raid and Survivors are both team deathmatches, with the latter excluding the ability to respawn; [12] Interrogation features teams investigating the location of the enemy team's lockbox, and the first to capture said lockbox wins. [13] In every mode, players select a faction—Hunters (a group of hostile survivors) or Fireflies (a revolutionary militia group)—and keep their clan alive by collecting supplies during matches. Each match is equal to one day; by surviving twelve "weeks", players have completed a journey and can re-select their Faction. [14] Killing enemies, reviving allies, and crafting items earn the player parts that can be converted to supplies; supplies can also be scavenged from enemies' bodies. Players are able to carry more equipment by earning points as their clan's supplies grow. Players can connect the game to their Facebook account, which alters clan members' names and faces to match the players' Facebook friends. [15] Players have the ability to customize their characters with hats, helmets, masks, and emblems. [16] The multiplayer servers for the PlayStation 3 version of the game were shut down on September 3, 2019. [17]

Plot

In 2013, an outbreak of a mutant Cordyceps fungus ravages the United States, transforming its human hosts into aggressive creatures known as the Infected. In the suburbs of Austin, Texas, Joel (Troy Baker) flees the chaos with his brother Tommy (Jeffrey Pierce) and daughter Sarah (Hana Hayes). As they flee, Sarah is shot by a soldier and dies in Joel's arms.

Twenty years later, civilization has been decimated by the infection. Survivors live in totalitarian quarantine zones, independent settlements, and nomadic groups, leaving buildings and houses deserted. Joel works as a smuggler with his partner Tess (Annie Wersching) in the quarantine zone in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. They hunt down Robert (Robin Atkin Downes), a black-market dealer, to recover a stolen weapons cache. Before Tess kills him, Robert reveals that he traded the cache with the Fireflies, a rebel militia opposing the quarantine zone authorities.

The leader of the Fireflies, Marlene (Merle Dandridge), promises to double their cache in return for smuggling a teenage girl, Ellie (Ashley Johnson), to Fireflies hiding in the Massachusetts State House outside the quarantine zone. Joel, Tess, and Ellie sneak out in the night, but after an encounter with a government patrol, they discover Ellie is infected. Symptoms normally occur within two days, but Ellie claims she was infected three weeks earlier and that her immunity may lead to a cure. The trio make their way to their destination through hordes of the infected, but find that the Fireflies there have been killed. Tess reveals she has been bitten by an infected and, believing in Ellie's importance, sacrifices herself against pursuing soldiers so Joel and Ellie can escape. Joel decides to find Tommy, a former Firefly, in the hope that he can locate the remaining Fireflies.

With the help of Bill (W. Earl Brown), a smuggler and survivalist who owes Joel a favor, they acquire a working vehicle from Bill's neighborhood. Driving into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Joel and Ellie are ambushed by bandits, and their car is wrecked. They ally with two brothers, Henry (Brandon Scott) and Sam (Nadji Jeter). After they escape the city, Sam is bitten but hides it from the group. As his infection takes hold, Sam attacks Ellie, but Henry shoots him dead before taking his own life. In the fall, Joel and Ellie finally find Tommy in Jackson, Wyoming, where he has assembled a fortified settlement near a hydroelectric dam with his wife Maria (Ashley Scott). Joel decides to leave Ellie with Tommy, but after she confronts him about Sarah, he lets her stay with him. Tommy directs them to a Fireflies enclave at the University of Eastern Colorado. They find the university abandoned, but learn that the Fireflies have moved to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. The two are attacked by bandits, and Joel is severely wounded while escaping.

During the winter, Ellie and Joel shelter in the mountains. Joel is on the brink of death and relies on Ellie to care for him. Hunting for food, Ellie encounters David (Nolan North) and James (Reuben Langdon), scavengers willing to trade medicine for food. David turns hostile after revealing the university bandits were part of his group. Ellie manages to lead David's group away from Joel, but is captured; David intends to recruit her into his cannibal group. Refusing, she escapes after killing James, but David corners her in a burning restaurant. Meanwhile, Joel recovers from his wounds and sets out to find Ellie. He reaches her just as she kills David with a machete, an act that traumatizes her, and Joel comforts her before they flee.

In the spring, Joel and Ellie arrive in Salt Lake City. Ellie is rendered unconscious after almost drowning before they are captured by a Firefly patrol. In the hospital, Marlene tells Joel that Ellie is being prepared for surgery: in hope of producing a vaccine for the infection, the Fireflies must remove the infected portion of Ellie's brain, which will kill her. Unwilling to let Ellie die, Joel battles his way to the operating room, kills the lead surgeon, and carries the unconscious Ellie to the parking garage. He is confronted by Marlene, whom he shoots and kills to prevent the Fireflies from pursuing them. On the drive out of the city, when Ellie wakes up, Joel claims that the Fireflies had found many other immune people, but were unable to create a cure and that they have stopped trying. On the outskirts of Tommy's settlement, Ellie expresses her survivor guilt. At her insistence, Joel swears his story about the Fireflies is true. [18]

Development

Bruce Straley PAX Prime 2014.jpg
Neil Druckmann SDCC 2014.jpg
Bruce Straley (left) and Neil Druckmann (right) led development as game director and creative director respectively. [19]

Naughty Dog began developing The Last of Us in 2009, following the release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves . For the first time in the company's history, Naughty Dog split into two teams; while one team developed Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (2011), the other began work on The Last of Us. [20] Game director Bruce Straley and creative director Neil Druckmann led the team responsible for developing The Last of Us. [19]

While at university, Druckmann had an idea to merge the gameplay of Ico (2001) in a story set during a zombie apocalypse, like that of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968), with a lead character similar to John Hartigan from Sin City (1991–2000). The lead character, a police officer, would be tasked with protecting a young girl; however, due to the lead character's heart condition, players would often assume control of the young girl, reversing the roles. Druckmann later developed it when creating the story of The Last of Us. [21] Druckmann views The Last of Us as a coming of age story, in which Ellie adapts to survival after spending time with Joel, as well as an exploration of how willing a father is to save his child. [22]

A major motif of the game is that "life goes on"; [23] this is presented in a scene in which Joel and Ellie discover a herd of giraffes, which concept artist John Sweeney explained was designed to "reignite [Ellie's] lust for life", after her suffering following her encounter with David. [24] The Infected, a core concept of the game, were inspired by a segment of the BBC nature documentary Planet Earth (2006), which featured the Cordyceps fungi. [25] Though the fungi mainly infect insects, taking control of their motor functions and forcing them to help cultivate the fungus, [26] the game explores the concept of the fungus evolving and infecting humans, and the direct results of an outbreak of this infection. [25]

Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla composed and performed the score for The Last of Us. Gustavo Santaolalla (Guadalajara) cropped.jpg
Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla composed and performed the score for The Last of Us.

The relationship between Joel and Ellie was the focus of the game; all other elements were developed around it. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson were cast as Joel and Ellie, respectively, and provided voice and motion capture performances. [28] Baker and Johnson contributed to the development of the characters; [29] for example, Baker convinced Druckmann that Joel would care for Tess due to his loneliness, [30] and Johnson convinced Druckmann that Ellie should be stronger and more defensive. [29] Following comparisons to actor Elliot Page, Ellie's appearance was redesigned to better reflect Johnson's personality and make her younger. [31] [32] The game's other characters also underwent changes. The character Tess was originally intended to be the main antagonist, but the team found it difficult to believe her motives. [33] The sexuality of the character Bill was originally left vague in the script, but later altered to further reflect his homosexuality. [30]

The Last of Us features an original score composed primarily by Gustavo Santaolalla, along with compositions by Andrew Buresh, Anthony Caruso, and Jonathan Mayer. [27] Known for his minimalist compositions, Santaolalla was contacted early in development. He used various instruments to compose the score, including some that he was unfamiliar with, giving a sense of danger and innocence. [3] This minimalist approach was also taken with the game's sound and art design. The sound of the Infected was one of the first tasks during development; the team experimented with the sound in order to achieve the best work possible. To achieve the sound of the Clicker, they hired voice actress Misty Lee, who provided a sound that audio lead Phillip Kovats described as originating in the "back of the throat". [34] The art department took various pieces of work as inspiration, such as Robert Polidori's photographs following Hurricane Katrina, which were used as a reference point when designing the flooded areas of Pittsburgh. [35] The art department were forced to negotiate for things that they wished to include, due to the strong differing opinions of the team during development. Ultimately, the team settled on a balance between simplicity and detail; while Straley and Druckmann preferred the former, the art team preferred the latter. [36] The game's opening credits were produced by Sony's San Diego Studio. [37]

The Last of Us game designer Ricky Cambier cited the video games Ico and Resident Evil 4 as influences on the game design. He said the emotional weight of the relationship needed to be balanced with the tension of the world's issues, stating that they "wanted to take the character building and interaction" of Ico and "blend it with the tension and action of Resident Evil 4." [38] The team created new engines to satisfy their needs for the game. The artificial intelligence was created to coordinate with players; [39] the addition of Ellie as artificial intelligence was a major contributor to the engine. [40] The lighting engine was also re-created to incorporate soft light, in which the sunlight seeps in through spaces and reflects off surfaces. [39] The gameplay introduced difficulty to the team, as they felt that every mechanic required thorough analysis. [30] The game's user interface design also underwent various iterations throughout development. [41]

The Last of Us was announced on December 10, 2011, at the Spike Video Game Awards, [42] alongside its debut trailer [43] and an official press release acknowledging some of the game's features. [2] The announcement ignited widespread anticipation within the gaming industry, which journalists ascribed to Naughty Dog's reputation. [44] [45] [46] The game missed its original projected release date of May 7, 2013, and was pushed to June 14, 2013 worldwide for further polishing. [47] To promote pre-order sales, Naughty Dog collaborated with several retailers to provide special editions of the game with extra content. [48]

According to Jason Schreier of Bloomberg News , a PlayStation 5 remake of the game, codenamed "T1X", is in development, having started at Sony's Visual Arts Support Group studio but eventually moving under Naughty Dog's budget after some staff joined the project in 2020. [49]

Additional content

Downloadable content (DLC) for the game was released following its launch. The game's Season Pass includes access to all DLC, as well as some additional abilities, and the documentary Grounded: Making The Last of Us; [50] the documentary was released online in February 2014. [51] Two DLC packs were included with some of the game's special editions and were available upon release. The Sights and Sounds Pack included the soundtrack, a dynamic theme for the PlayStation 3 home screen, and two avatars. The Survival Pack featured bonus skins for the player following the completion of the campaign, and in-game money, as well as bonus experience points and early access to customizable items for the game's multiplayer. [52] Abandoned Territories Map Pack, released on October 15, 2013, added four new multiplayer maps, based on locations in the game's story. [53] Nightmare Bundle, released on November 5, 2013, added a collection of ten head items, nine of which are available to purchase separately. [54]

The Last of Us: Left Behind adds a single-player campaign which serves as a prequel to the main storyline, featuring Ellie and her friend Riley. It was released on February 14, 2014 as DLC [55] and on May 12, 2015 as a standalone expansion pack. [56] A third bundle was released on May 6, 2014, featuring five separate DLC: Grounded added a new difficulty to the main game and Left Behind; Reclaimed Territories Map Pack added new multiplayer maps; Professional Survival Skills Bundle and Situational Survival Skills Bundle added eight new multiplayer skills; and Survivalist Weapon Bundle added four new weapons. [57] The Grit and Gear Bundle, which added new headgear items, masks and gestures, was released on August 5, 2014. [58] A Game of the Year Edition containing all downloadable content was released in Europe on November 11, 2014. [59]

The Last of Us Remastered

On April 9, 2014, Sony announced The Last of Us Remastered, an enhanced version of the game for the PlayStation 4. It was released on July 29, 2014 in North America. [60] [lower-alpha 1] Remastered uses the DualShock 4's touchpad to navigate inventory items, and the light bar signals health, scaling from green to orange and red when taking damage. In addition, audio recordings found in the game world can be heard through the controller's speaker; the original version forced players to remain in a menu while the recordings were played. [64] The game's Photo Mode allows players to capture images of the game by pausing gameplay and adjusting the camera freely. [65] In the menu, players have the ability to watch all cutscenes with audio commentary featuring Druckmann, Baker, and Johnson. [66] Remastered features improved graphics and rendering upgrades, including increased draw distance, an upgraded combat mechanic, a higher frame rate, and advanced audio options. [67] It includes the previously released downloadable content, including Left Behind and some multiplayer maps. [68] The development team aimed to create a "true" remaster, maintaining the "core experience". [69]

Reception

Critical response

The Last of Us received "universal acclaim", according to review aggregator Metacritic, based on 98 reviews. [70] It is the fifth-highest-rated PlayStation 3 game on Metacritic. [lower-alpha 2] Reviewers praised the character development, story and subtext, visual and sound design, and depiction of female and LGBT characters. It is considered one of the most significant seventh-generation video games, [81] and has been included among the greatest video games of all time. [82] Colin Moriarty of IGN called The Last of Us "a masterpiece" and "PlayStation 3's best exclusive", [76] and Edge considered it "the most riveting, emotionally resonant story-driven epic" of the console generation. [72] Oli Welsh of Eurogamer wrote that it is "a beacon of hope" for the survival horror genre; [73] Andy Kelly of Computer and Video Games declared it "Naughty Dog's finest moment". [71]

Kelly of Computer and Video Games found the story memorable, [71] and IGN's Moriarty named it one of the game's standout features. [76] PlayStation Official Magazine 's David Meikleham wrote that the pacing contributed to the improvement of the story, stating that there is "a real sense of time elapsed and journey traveled along every step of the way", [78] and Destructoid 's Jim Sterling lauded the game's suspenseful moments. [83] Richard Mitchell of Joystiq found that the narrative improved the character relationships. [77]

The characters—particularly the relationship between Joel and Ellie—received acclaim. Matt Helgeson of Game Informer wrote that the relationship felt identifiable, naming it "poignant" and "well-drawn". [74] Eurogamer's Welsh wrote that the characters were developed with "real patience and skill", appreciating their emotional value, [73] and Joystiq's Mitchell found the relationship "genuine" and emotional. [77] PlayStation Official Magazine's Meikleham named Joel and Ellie the best characters of any PlayStation 3 game, [78] while IGN's Moriarty identified it as a highlight of the game. [76] Kelly of Computer and Video Games named the characters "richly painted", feeling invested in their stories. [71] Philip Kollar of Polygon felt that Ellie was believable, making it easier to develop a connection to her, and that the relationship between the characters was assisted by the game's optional conversations. [79] The performances also received praise, [74] [76] [83] with Edge and Eurogamer's Welsh noting that the script improved as a result. [72] [73]

Many reviewers found the game's combat a refreshing difference from other games. Game Informer's Helgeson appreciated the vulnerability during fights, [74] while Kelly of Computer and Video Games enjoyed the variety in approaching the combat. [71] IGN's Moriarty felt that the crafting system assisted the combat, and that the latter contributed to the narrative's emotional value, adding that enemies feel "human". [76] Joystiq's Mitchell reiterated similar comments, stating that the combat "piles death upon death on Joel's hands". [77] Welsh of Eurogamer found the suspenseful and threatening encounters added positively to the gameplay. [73] Tom Mc Shea of GameSpot wrote that the artificial intelligence negatively affected the combat, with enemies often ignoring players' companions. [75] Polygon's Kollar also felt that the combat was unfair, especially when fighting the Infected, and noted some inconsistencies in the game's artificial intelligence that "shatters the atmosphere" of the characters. [79]

An artistic design of a location in the post-apocalyptic United States. Reviewers praised the design and layouts of the locations. The game's visual features, both artistic and graphic, were also well received. The Last of Us visuals.jpg
An artistic design of a location in the post-apocalyptic United States. Reviewers praised the design and layouts of the locations. The game's visual features, both artistic and graphic, were also well received.

The game's visual features were commended by many reviewers. The art design was lauded as "outstanding" by Computer and Video Games' Kelly, [71] and "jaw-dropping" by Eurogamer's Welsh. [73] In contrast, Mc Shea of GameSpot identified the visual representation of the post-apocalyptic world was "mundane", having been portrayed various times previously. [75] The game's graphics have been frequently named by critics as the best for a PlayStation 3 game, with Helgeson of Game Informer naming them "unmatched in console gaming" [74] and Moriarty of IGN stating that they contribute to the realism. [76] Destructoid's Sterling wrote that the game was visually impressive but that technical issues, such as some "muddy and basic" textures found early in the game, left a negative impact on the visuals. [83]

The world and environments of the game drew acclaim from many reviewers. Kelly of Computer and Video Games stated that the environments are "large, detailed, and littered with secrets", adding that The Last of Us "masks" its linearity successfully. [71] Edge repeated similar remarks, writing that the level design serves the story appropriately. [72] Helgeson of Game Informer wrote that the world "effectively and gorgeously [conveys] the loneliness" of the story. [74] IGN's Moriarty appreciated the added design elements placed around the game world, such as the hidden notes and letters. [76] The plausibility of the infection was commended by Scientific American 's Kyle Hill. [84]

Reviewers praised the use of sound in The Last of Us. Eurogamer's Welsh felt that the sound design was significantly better than in other games, [73] while Game Informer's Helgeson dubbed it "amazing". [74] Mc Shea of GameSpot stated that the audio added to the effect of the gameplay, particularly when hiding from enemies. [75] Kelly of Computer and Video Games found that the environmental audio positively impacted gameplay, and that Gustavo Santaolalla's score was "sparse and delicate". [71] Both Game Informer's Helgeson and Destructoid's Sterling called the score "haunting", [74] with the latter finding that it complements the gameplay. [83]

The graphic depiction of violence in The Last of Us generated substantial commentary from critics. Engadget writer Ben Gilbert found the game's persistent focus on combat was "a necessary evil to lead the game's fragile protagonist duo to safety", as opposed to being used as a method to achieve objectives. [85] Kotaku 's Kirk Hamilton wrote that the violence was "heavy, consequential and necessary", as opposed to gratuitous. [1] USGamer 's Anthony John Agnello wrote that the game consistently reinforces the negativity associated with violence, intentionally making players feel uncomfortable while in violent combat. He stated that the deaths within the game were not unnecessary or unjustified, making the story more powerful. [86] Kelly of Computer and Video Games stated that, despite the "incredibly brutal" combat, the violence never felt gratuitous. [71] Eurogamer's Welsh echoed similar remarks, stating that the violence is not "desensitized or mindless". [73] Matt Helgeson of Game Informer observed that the game's violence leads to players questioning the morality of their choices. [74] Joystiq's Mitchell wrote that the violence is "designed to be uncomfortable", stating that it contributes to Joel's character. [77] Prior to the release of the game, Keith Stuart of The Guardian wrote that the acceptability of the violence would depend on its context within the game. [87]

Many critics discussed the game's depiction of female characters. Jason Killingsworth of Edge praised its lack of sexualized female characters, writing that it "offers a refreshing antidote to the sexism and regressive gender attitudes of most blockbuster videogames". [88] Eurogamer's Ellie Gibson praised Ellie as "sometimes strong, sometimes vulnerable, but never a cliché". [89] She felt that Ellie is initially established as a "damsel in distress", but that this concept is subverted. [89] GameSpot's Carolyn Petit praised the female characters as morally conflicted and sympathetic, but wrote that gender in video games should be evaluated "based on their actual merits, not in relation to other games". [90] Chris Suellentrop of The New York Times acknowledged that Ellie was a likable and "sometimes powerful" character, but argued that The Last of Us is "actually the story of Joel", stating that it's "another video game by men, for men and about men". [91] The Last of Us was also praised for its depiction of LGBT characters. Sam Einhorn of GayGamer.net felt that the revelation of Bill's sexuality "added to his character ... without really tokenizing him". [92] American organization GLAAD named Bill one of the "most intriguing new LGBT characters of 2013", calling him "deeply flawed but wholly unique". [93] A kiss between two female characters in Left Behind was met with positive reactions. [94] [95]

Remastered

Like the original version, The Last of Us Remastered received "universal acclaim" according to Metacritic, based on 69 critics. [96] It is the third-highest rated PlayStation 4 game on Metacritic, behind Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 . [104] [lower-alpha 3]

The game's enhanced graphics received positive reactions. Colin Moriarty of IGN felt that the graphical fidelity of Remastered was an improvement over The Last of Us, despite the latter being "the most beautiful game [he'd] seen on any console". [99] GamesRadar's David Houghton echoed this statement, calling the visuals "jaw-dropping". [105] VideoGamer.com reiterated the graphical improvement over the original game, particularly praising the increased draw distance and improved lighting technology. [101] Liam Martin of Digital Spy also felt that the lighting system improves the gameplay and makes the game "feel even more dangerous". [106] Game Informer's Tim Turi stated that the game is "even more breathtaking" than The Last of Us. [97] Matt Swider of TechRadar appreciated the minor detail changes and the technical improvements. [107] The Independent 's Jack Fleming felt that the original game's visual flaws were enhanced in Remastered, but greatly complimented the updated graphics regardless. [108]

Many reviewers considered the technical enhancements, such as the increased frame rate, a welcome advancement from the original game. Turi of Game Informer felt that the frame rate "dramatically elevate[s]" the game above the original. [97] Jim Sterling of The Escapist complimented the upgraded frame rate, commenting that the original frame rate is a "noticeably inferior experience". [102] IGN's Moriarty stated that, though the change was initially "jarring", he appreciated it through further gameplay. [76] Tom Hoggins of The Daily Telegraph echoed these statements, feeling as though the increased frame rate heightened the intensity of the gameplay. [103] Philip Kollar of Polygon appreciated the game's improved textures and loading times. [100]

The addition of Photo Mode was well received. TechRadar's Swider named the mode as a standout feature, [109] while IGN's Moriarty complimented the availability to capture "gorgeous" images using the feature. [99] The adjustment of the controls received praise, with Moriarty of IGN particularly approving the DualShock 4's triggers. [99] Swider of TechRadar felt that the additional controls result in a better functioning game, [107] while Digital Spy's Martin felt that it improves the game's combat, commenting that it "increase[s] this sense of immersion". [106] Reviewers also appreciated the inclusion of the DLC and the audio commentary. [99] [98] [100] [103] [109] [110] These features led The Escapist's Sterling to dub Remastered as "the definitive version of the game". [102]

Sales

Within seven days of its release, The Last of Us sold over 1.3 million units, becoming the biggest video game launch of 2013 at the time. [111] Three weeks after its release, the game sold over 3.4 million units, and was deemed the biggest launch of an original game since 2011's L.A. Noire [112] and the fastest-selling PlayStation 3 game of 2013 at the time. [113] The game became the best-selling digital release on PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3; this record was later beaten by Grand Theft Auto V . [114] The Last of Us ultimately became the tenth best-selling game of 2013. [115] In the United Kingdom, the game remained atop the charts for six consecutive weeks, matching records set by multi-platform games. [lower-alpha 4] Within 48 hours of its release, The Last of Us generated more than the £3 million earned by Man of Steel in the same period. [117] The game also topped the charts in the United States, [118] France, [119] Ireland, [120] Italy, [121] the Netherlands, [122] Sweden, [123] Finland, [123] Norway, [123] Denmark, [123] Spain, [124] and Japan. [125]

The Last of Us is one of the best-selling PlayStation 3 games, and Remastered is among the best-selling PlayStation 4 games. [126] By August 2014, the game had sold eight million copies: seven million on PlayStation 3 and one million on PlayStation 4. [127] By April 2018, the game sold 17 million copies across both consoles. [128] According to Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, the game had sold over 20 million units by October 2019. [129]

Accolades

Some developers at Naughty Dog accepting Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards. The Last of Us development team, GDCA 2014 (cropped).jpg
Some developers at Naughty Dog accepting Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards.

Prior to its release, The Last of Us received numerous awards for its previews at E3. [130] [131] [132] [133] [134] It was review aggregators Metacritic and GameRankings' second-highest rated for the year 2013, behind Grand Theft Auto V. [135] [136] The game appeared on several year-end lists of the best games of 2013, receiving wins from the 41st Annie Awards, [137] The A.V. Club , [138] the British Academy Video Games Awards, [139] Canada.com, [140] The Daily Telegraph, [141] Destructoid, [142] the 17th Annual DICE Awards, [143] The Escapist, [144] GamesRadar, [145] GameTrailers , [146] the 14th Annual Developers Choice Awards, [147] Game Revolution , [148] Giant Bomb , [149] Good Game , [150] Hardcore Gamer, [151] IGN, [152] IGN Australia, [153] International Business Times , [154] Kotaku, [155] [156] National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers, [157] VG247 , [158] VideoGamer.com. [159] It was also named the Best PlayStation Game by GameSpot, [160] GameTrailers, [146] Hardcore Gamer, [161] and IGN. [162] Naughty Dog won Studio of the Year and Best Developer from The Daily Telegraph, [141] Edge, [163] the Golden Joystick Awards, [164] Hardcore Gamer, [165] and the 2013 Spike VGX. [166]

Baker and Johnson received multiple nominations for their performances; Baker won awards from Hardcore Gamer [167] and the 2013 Spike VGX, [166] while Johnson won awards at the British Academy Video Games Awards, [139] DICE Awards, [143] VGX 2013, [166] and from The Daily Telegraph. [141] The game's story also received awards at the British Academy Video Games Awards, [139] the DICE Awards, [143] the Game Developers Choice Awards, [147] the Golden Joystick Awards, [164] and the Writers Guild of America Awards, [168] and from GameTrailers, [146] Giant Bomb, [169] Hardcore Gamer, [170] and IGN. [171] The sound design and music received awards at the DICE Awards, [143] the Inside Gaming Awards, [164] and from IGN. [172] [173] The game's graphical and artistic design also won awards from Destructoid, [174] the DICE Awards, [143] the Golden Joystick Awards, [164] and IGN. [175] [176]

The Last of Us was awarded Outstanding Innovation in Gaming at the DICE Awards, [143] and Best Third Person Shooter from GameTrailers. [146] The game received Best New IP from Hardcore Gamer, [177] Best Newcomer at the Golden Joystick Awards, [164] and Best Debut from Giant Bomb. [178] It received Best Overall Sound, [172] Best PlayStation 3 Multiplayer, [179] and Best Action-Adventure Game on PlayStation 3, [180] and overall at IGN's Best of 2013 Awards. [181] It also won Best Action-Adventure Game at the British Academy Video Games Awards, [139] and The Escapist, [182] as well as Best Action Game from Hardcore Gamer [183] and Adventure Game of the Year at the DICE Awards. [143] The game was nominated for Best Remaster at The Game Awards 2014, [184] and received an honorable mention for Best Technology at the 15th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. [185] The game was named among the best games of the 2010s by The Hollywood Reporter , [186] Mashable , [187] Metacritic, [188] and VG247. [189]

Adaptations

A four-issue comic book miniseries, The Last of Us: American Dreams , was published by Dark Horse Comics from April to July 2013. Written by Druckmann and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, the comics serve as a prequel to the game, chronicling the journey of a younger Ellie and Riley. [190] On July 28, 2014, the cast of the game performed a live reading of selected scenes in Santa Monica, California, with live music by Santaolalla. The performance was hosted and directed by Druckmann, with graphics by Alex Hobbs. [191]

Canceled films

On March 6, 2014, Sony announced that Screen Gems would distribute a film adaptation of The Last of Us, written by Druckmann and produced by Sam Raimi. [192] By January 2015, Druckmann had written the script's second draft, and performed a read-through with some actors. [193] Very little work occurred following this, as Druckmann stated in April 2016 that the film had entered development hell. [194] In November 2016, Raimi stated that the film was at a standstill after Sony had a disagreement with Druckmann. [195] Druckmann stated in a 2021 interview that the film fell apart as there was too much studio focus on making big action set-pieces, a concept that he felt did not work well for the nature of The Last of Us which he felt was better approached as a smaller indie film. [196] Actress Maisie Williams expressed enthusiasm in playing Ellie, and was in talks with both Druckmann and Raimi to take the role. [197] In January 2020, images surfaced of an animated short film adaptation of The Last of Us by production agency Oddfellows. The 20-minute film was intended to "serve as a strong bridge" between the game and its sequel and would "reinterpret each of the chapters of the game with a unique visual treatment", but was canceled by Sony. [198]

Television series

In March 2020, a television adaptation of the game was announced in the planning stages at HBO; [199] it was formally greenlit in November 2020. [200] Druckmann and Craig Mazin will write and executive produce the series. [199] Additional executive producers include television producers Carolyn Strauss and Rose Lam, Naughty Dog president Evan Wells, PlayStation Productions's Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan, and director Johan Renck. [201] Kantemir Balagov will direct the pilot episode, [202] with Ali Abbasi and Jasmila Žbanić set to direct later episodes. [203] The show is a joint production between Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Naughty Dog, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games; it is the first show produced by PlayStation Productions. [199] [204] Santaolalla will compose the score. [205] The show will star Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, respectively. [206] [207] Gabriel Luna will play Tommy, [201] Merle Dandridge will reprise her role as Marlene, [208] and Nico Parker will play Sarah. [209] Druckmann noted that some of the show's scripts borrow dialogue directly from the game, while others deviate more significantly; some of the game's action-heavy tutorial sequences will be changed to focus more on the show's character drama, at the request of HBO. [210] Filming for the series will take place in Calgary, Alberta from July 2021 to June 2022. [211]

Sequel

In February 2014, Druckmann said Naughty Dog were considering a sequel but needed to find a story "really worth telling, and that's not repeating itself". [212] In September 2015, Druckmann stated that a small team had begun building prototypes, but shifted development to Uncharted 4: A Thief's End , released in May 2016. [213] Sony announced The Last of Us Part II at the PlayStation Experience event on December 3, 2016. [214] The story takes place about five years after the first game; Ellie and Joel return, with players controlling Ellie. [215] Santaolalla returned to compose the music, [216] and Druckmann returned to write the story alongside Halley Gross. [217] Straley did not return as game director. [218] It was released on June 19, 2020 to critical acclaim; it was praised for its performances, characters, visual fidelity, and gameplay, though the narrative polarized critics and players. [219]

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 The Last of Us Remastered was released on different dates, dependent on territory: July 29, 2014 in North America; July 30, 2014 in Europe, Australia and New Zealand; and August 1, 2014 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. [61] [62] [63]
  2. The Last of Us is the joint fifth-highest-rated PlayStation 3 game on Metacritic alongside Red Dead Redemption (2010), Portal 2 (2011) and LittleBigPlanet (2008). The PlayStation 3 games rated higher are Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), Grand Theft Auto V (2013), Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009) and Batman: Arkham City (2011). [80]
  3. The Last of Us shares its status as third-highest-rated PlayStation 4 game on Metacritic with Persona 5 Royal . [104]
  4. Other games that remained atop the UK charts for six consecutive weeks include FIFA 12 (2011) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012). [116]

Related Research Articles

Naughty Dog, LLC is an American first-party video game developer based in Santa Monica, California. Founded by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin in 1984, the studio was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2001. Gavin and Rubin produced a sequence of progressively more successful games, including Rings of Power and Way of the Warrior in the early 1990s. The latter game prompted Universal Interactive Studios to sign the duo to a three-title contract and fund the expansion of the company.

<i>Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End</i> 2016 action-adventure game

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a 2016 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the fourth main entry in the Uncharted series. Set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, players control Nathan Drake, a former treasure hunter coaxed out of retirement by his presumed-dead brother Samuel. With Nathan's longtime partner, Victor Sullivan, they search for clues for the location of Henry Avery's long-lost treasure. A Thief's End is played from a third-person perspective, and incorporates platformer elements. Players solve puzzles and use firearms, melee combat, and stealth to combat enemies. In the online multiplayer mode, up to ten players engage in co-operative and competitive modes.

Neil Druckmann American video game designer

Neil Druckmann is an Israeli-American writer, creative director, programmer and co-president of Naughty Dog, best known for his work on the Uncharted and The Last of Us video game franchises. He was born and raised until the age of 10 in Israel, where his experiences with entertainment would later influence his storytelling techniques. He studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon University before searching for work in the video game industry.

Bruce Straley American video game designer

Bruce Straley is an American game director, artist, and designer. He previously worked for the video game developer Naughty Dog, known for his work in the video games The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Straley's first video game work was as an artist at Western Technologies Inc, where he worked on the Menacer six-game cartridge (1992) and X-Men (1993). Following this, he formed a company, Pacific Softscape, where he worked as a designer on Generations Lost (1994). After the company disbanded, Straley was eventually hired at Crystal Dynamics, where he worked as a designer on Gex: Enter the Gecko (1998) and was initially game director for Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko (1999); he left the company partway through development of the latter.

<i>The Last of Us: American Dreams</i> Comic book series

The Last of Us: American Dreams is a four-issue comic book series based on the video game The Last of Us. It was written by Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann and cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks, with illustrations by Hicks and coloring by Rachelle Rosenberg. The series was published by Dark Horse Comics between April and July 2013, and a collected edition was published in October 2013.

<i>The Last of Us: Left Behind</i> 2014 action-adventure game

The Last of Us: Left Behind is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released worldwide for the PlayStation 3 on February 14, 2014, as a downloadable expansion pack to The Last of Us. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the game switches between two stories: the first, set three weeks before the events of The Last of Us, follows Ellie as she spends time with her best friend Riley in an abandoned mall in Boston. The second takes place during the "Winter" chapter of The Last of Us and focuses on Ellie's attempts to scour an abandoned mall in Colorado for medical supplies to heal Joel, who was gravely injured in an ambush, while dealing with enemies and reminiscing about her time with Riley.

Development of <i>The Last of Us</i> Development of 2013 video game

The development of The Last of Us, an action-adventure survival horror video game, began after Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' release in October 2009. Sony Computer Entertainment published The Last of Us for PlayStation 3 on June 14, 2013. The three-year development, led by studio Naughty Dog, was kept secret for the majority of development. In the game, players assume control of Joel, a middle-aged smuggler tasked with escorting a 14-year-old girl named Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States in an attempt to create a potential cure against the world-ending infection to which Ellie is immune. Creative director Neil Druckmann was inspired to include the Infected as a main enemy in the game after discovering the Cordyceps fungi. Set 20 years after the outbreak has destroyed much of civilization, the game explores the possibility of the fungi infecting humans.

The music for the 2013 action-adventure survival horror video game The Last of Us, developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, was composed by musician Gustavo Santaolalla. Supplementary music for the game's downloadable content The Last of Us: Left Behind was composed by Santaolalla, Andrew Buresh, Anthony Caruso and Jonathan Mayer. Both soundtracks were produced by Santaolalla, Mayer, and Aníbal Kerpel, with separate segments recorded in both Los Angeles and Nashville. Santaolalla, known for his minimalist approach to composing, was excited to work on the soundtrack due to the game's focus on the characters and story. He began composing the music early in the game's development, with few instructions from the development team on the tone that they intended. In collaboration with each other, the team and Santaolalla aimed to make the soundtrack emotional, as opposed to scary. Santaolalla used various instruments to compose the score, including some that were unfamiliar to him.

Ellie (<i>The Last of Us</i>) Video game character

Ellie is a fictional character in the video games The Last of Us (2013) and The Last of Us Part II (2020). In the games, developed by Naughty Dog, she is portrayed by American actress Ashley Johnson through performance capture and voice acting; in HBO's upcoming television adaptation, she will be portrayed by English actress Bella Ramsey. In the first game, Joel Miller is tasked with escorting a 14-year-old Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States in an attempt to create a cure for an infection to which Ellie is immune. While players briefly assume control of Ellie for a portion of the game, the artificial intelligence primarily controls her actions, often assisting in combat by attacking or identifying enemies.

<i>The Last of Us Part II</i> 2020 video game

The Last of Us Part II is a 2020 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. Set five years after The Last of Us (2013), the game focuses on two playable characters in a post-apocalyptic United States whose lives intertwine: Ellie, who sets out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby, a soldier who becomes involved in a conflict between her militia and a religious cult. The game is played from the third-person perspective and allows the player to fight human enemies and cannibalistic zombie-like creatures with firearms, improvised weapons, and stealth.

Evan Wells American video game designer

Evan Wells is an American video game designer and programmer, and co-president of Naughty Dog. Wells' first video game was at Sega, where he worked on ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, before moving to Crystal Dynamics in 1995 to work on Gex and Gex: Enter the Gecko. He was employed at Naughty Dog in 1998, working on several Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter titles before becoming co-president of the company alongside Stephen White in 2005; White was replaced the following year by Christophe Balestra, who retired in 2017. The two oversaw the release of the Uncharted series, and The Last of Us. Wells remained the sole president, overseeing the release of The Last of Us Part II, until Neil Druckmann's promotion to co-president in 2020.

Joel (<i>The Last of Us</i>) Video game character

Joel Miller is a fictional character in the video games The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II by Naughty Dog. In the games, he is portrayed by Troy Baker through performance capture; Pedro Pascal will play the character in the upcoming television adaptation. In the first game, Joel serves as the main protagonist and is tasked with escorting the young Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States in an attempt to create a potential cure for an infection to which Ellie is immune. He also appears briefly in the downloadable content campaign, The Last of Us: Left Behind. In The Last of Us Part II, Joel is killed by a woman named Abby, whose father he had killed, prompting Ellie to seek revenge.

The development of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, an action-adventure game, began after Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception's release in November 2011. Sony Computer Entertainment published Uncharted 4: A Thief's End on May 10, 2016 for the PlayStation 4. The four-year development, led by studio Naughty Dog, was kept secret for the majority of development. In the game, players assume control of Nathan Drake, a former fortune hunter who is reunited with his older brother Sam and longtime partner Sully to search for clues for the location of Captain Henry Avery's long-lost treasure.

The Last of Us is an upcoming American television series that is set to air on HBO. Based on the 2013 video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog, the series will follow Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States. It will also feature Tommy, Joel's younger brother and a former soldier.

Abby (<i>The Last of Us</i>) Video game character

Abigail "Abby" Anderson is a fictional character in the video game The Last of Us Part II (2020) by Naughty Dog. She is portrayed by Laura Bailey through performance capture. A soldier of the Washington Liberation Front, Abby seeks to avenge her father's death by killing Joel Miller, and her alliances later become unsettled when she befriends ex-members of the Seraphites, a religious cult with which her militia is locked in a war. Abby is one of two main playable characters in the game, alongside Ellie.

Development of <i>The Last of Us Part II</i> Video game development

Approximately 2,100 people developed The Last of Us Part II over several years, led by the 350-person team at Naughty Dog. Sony Interactive Entertainment published the action-adventure game in June 2020 for the PlayStation 4. A sequel to the 2013 game The Last of Us, core development on Part II began after the 2014 release of The Last of Us Remastered. Neil Druckmann returned as creative director and writer, while Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau were selected to be co-game directors. After its announcement in 2016, the game was fervently promoted with press showings, cinematic trailers, and special editions. Its release date was subject to several delays, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The development reportedly included a crunch schedule of 12-hour work days and was slowed by the enormous turnover of employees following the development of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (2016).

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