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The Last of Us is an upcoming action-adventure survival horror video game developed by Naughty Dog exclusively for the PlayStation 3 video game console. It was officially revealed on December 10, 2011 during the Spike TV Video Game Awards and is scheduled for a worldwide release on June 14, 2013 and a Japanese release on June 20, 2013.
The game focuses on two survivors, an adult Joel (voiced by Troy Baker) and the young Ellie (voiced by Ashley Johnson), trekking across a post-apocalyptic United States.
The Last of Us uses a third-person perspective and will take control of Joel, while Ellie will be controlled by the AI. The game will involve gun fighting and melee combat as well as a cover system. The player will fight off the Infected — former humans — and the Survivors — humans that are not infected, but are hostile towards Joel and Ellie. A new gameplay mechanic is a feature the developers call "dynamic stealth", meaning that there are many different types of strategies and techniques that the player can use at any given time as they approach a new situation, to which enemies will react differently. Naughty Dog have developed an AI system called "Balance of Power".This new system allows enemies to react realistically to any combat situation they are placed in by taking cover if they see the player, calling for help if they need it and even taking advantage of the players weaknesses, such as when Joel runs out of ammunition or when he is being attacked by other enemies.
The story is set two decades after a cordyceps-type fungus has killed millions, with nature gradually retaking the abandoned cities and towns. The survivors are hemmed inside quarantine zones, completely under the heel of the United States military, with order and screening for any Infected being viciously maintained under martial law. Joel, a hardened black-marketeer within one of the quarantine zones, goes through an event which makes him promise an old friend that he will get a young, fourteen year old girl named Ellie, away from the harsh regime to a resistance group known as the Fireflies. They begin a journey through the U.S., avoiding the Infected, humanoid creatures whose sole aim has become spreading the fungal infection. Joel and Ellie also have to avoid scavengers that survive outside the quarantine zones who see Joel and Ellie as their latest prey. Adding to their problems, the military is determined to find Ellie and bring her back under their power.
The concept for The Last of Us arose after watching a segment of the BBC nature documentary Planet Earth, which documented a cordyceps fungus-infected ant, where the fungus takes over its brain and produces growths from its head; the idea that the fungus could infect humans became the initial idea for the game. Major artistic inspirations included the novels City of Thieves, I Am Legend, No Country for Old Men, The Road, the comic book series The Walking Dead, and their screen adaptations.GamesRadar pointed out the game's inspirations by the film versions of I Am Legend and The Road and the TV series version of The Walking Dead, as well as by 28 Days Later and the film versions of Children of Men and The Day of the Triffids.
While the fungus epidemic is the main backdrop of the game, The Last of Us is not a "zombie game", but "a love story about a father-daughter-like relationship", influenced in part by the interactions between Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, his mentor and father-like figure, in the studio's Uncharted series. Joel is a survivor and anti-hero, while Ellie is a 14-year-old girl with no experience of the world pre-apocalypse. The composer for the game will be two-time Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla. The team wanted to focus on emotion with the soundtrack rather than horror.
On release of the initial trailer for the game Dead Island, the team was concerned that the two games would be largely similar, both exploring the human or emotional side to an apocalyptic event. However, on release of the aforementioned game, the team realized that the gameplay did not match up to that showed by the trailer; by contrast, lead designer Neil Druckmann feels that the trailer for The Last of Us is "very representative of what we're going for".Druckmann also stated that he wants the story in The Last of Us to raise the bar for other video game developers, as he feels the standard of storytelling is not as good as it should be within the industry.The developer showcased an extended length gameplay video at Sony's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012.