A look back at the swan song of the PlayStation 3…
Around this time a year ago, the reviews for Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us were flooding in; perfect tens were being issued left, right and centre and the anticipation for its imminent release was at an all time high. But even this hype couldn’t have realised just how significant and consequential The Last Of Us was going to be for the gaming industry.
I remember picking up and playing The Last Of Us on release day. I remember its first 30 minute prologue having more of an effect on me than whole play-throughs of other games I’d experienced. I remember completing it within in 2 days and then mulling over and thinking about it for the next 2 months. I remember attempting to platinum it (and I never attempt to platinum games) just because I thought it deserved every iota of my attention. And as I remember this, I’ve reminded myself why it remains my favourite game of all time. But what’s changed since The Last Of Us was released, and why was it The Last Of Us that changed it?
A recent documentary cited The Last Of Us as a prime example of a video game that has “changed the world” (an over-exaggeration, I know… but not a complete fallacy either). The literary prowess of its story and writing has not only renewed the question “Can games be considered as art?”, but has answered it with a resounding “Yes”. The very convenient and timely fact that the game won several “Game Of The Year” awards over Grand Theft Auto V reflects the rising legitimacy of the idea that not all games involve mindless killing but can instead boast quality story-telling rich with themes, poetic nuance and emotional punches that are on par with any great novel or film.
The Last Of Us has also proven that, for one, video game voice-over actors such as Troy Baker (whose career opportunities and stardom seem to have shot up since his performance as Joel) can be of the highest talent and calibre comparable to any other on-screen actor. The quality of motion capture has also finally been proven once and for all as a medium that can be incredibly powerful and impressive when wielded correctly.
The commercial and critical success of The Last Of Us also appears, though this link is more speculative than factual, to have had a significant effect on the inner politics of Naughty Dog itself. Neil Druckmann, lead director and writer of the game, appears to be a rising presence in the studio, especially considering the fact that several significant employees such as Amy Hennig have left or, as some suggest, been pushed out, which is undoubtedly having a worrying effect on the development of the next Uncharted game. Druckmann has also been signed on to pen the screenplay for the movie adaptation of the game. The fact that the idea for a film became so quickly initiated into a concrete project, with big figures such as Sam Raimi involved, reflects the impact that The Last Of Us had on entertainment and mainstream culture.
Not only this, but a re-mastered version of the game for the PlayStation 4 is set to release this summer and Sony has already registered the trademarks for The Last Of Us 2 and 3. Ironically, it looks like we won’t quite yet be seeing the last of The Last Of Us.