Genius…Did you notice it? Naughty Dog, I see what you’re doing with The Last of Us
You guys are something, geniuses I tell you! But I see you Naughty Dog, I may just be “The First of Us”…LMBO.
It all started with an Ant….
Naughty Dog pulled off what I believe is a successful deprogramming of our minds and deterred Us gamers who were ready to typecast the Last of Us to be a zombie killing fest. I think Naughty Dog’s approach is more like ‘The Walking Dead’ (TV series) and less like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (Movie) or even ‘Resident Evil’ (The game or movie) for that matter. You see ND; specifically creative directors Neil Druckmann along with Bruce Straley seem to be showcasing more the “human” element; relationships and the everyday struggle of survival. So instead of Zombies being the stars and the typical you have to wipe out the zombie plague plot (Zombies or Creatures whatever ND coins them to be) it’s all about the humans — Zombies just happen to be there.
Ever since the intial “Ant” trailer/Riot teaser videos leading up to the Spike VGA 2011 reveal, debut and official footage of the new IP; showcasing these zombie-like creatures, I haven’t heard a peep from these monsters….well until the recent gamplay and trailers. Initial Reaction? Besides incredible? Another Survival Horror Zombie game, with gamers still excited but maybe subconsciously and in some cases outright, suggested an over saturation in the genre. But think about it, when you look at it there really isn’t, Resident Evil has turned into Call of Duty, Deadspace is more of the alien breed and is…well in space! Besides that it has received a fair share of criticism as well for becoming more action-oriented and introducing co-op. IMO there actually needs to be more, at least quality ones anyway.
So because of this reaction I believe in my heart-of-hearts Naughty Dog took notice of this big time! In the coming days following the awards they spent a better portion of their time dispelling the notion of such claims — saying something in the vein of “It’s not a zombie shoot ’em up, it’s more survival — less zombie”. So to drive this point home what do they do? Not show a single trailer going forward about the so called (in our mind) stars of the show.
They preceded to implement this plan in what I call “Operation Overkill” (lmbo). What is operation overkill? Glad you asked, It’s taking every opportunity and I do mean every opportunity to dispel the initial feeling from gamers by focusing tremendously over the coming months on Joel and Ellie’s (aka main characters) relationship — how they work together. Also the survival aspects; how to maintain when there is chaos everywhere with no food, no water, no supplies and everyone is about themselves; self preservation if you will. All while doing this ND is hoping we slowly start to forget that we haven’t even seen monsters/zombies/creatures in any of these trailers; focusing Us back on what they deem is important and in some cases — if they were real successful, gamers may have forgotten that monsters/zombies/creatures are even in the game!
When ND deemed it comfortable to “come out and play” sort of speak they finally released another video on these mysterious creatures, not only that they gave Us details on the different creatures we would be encountering. I believe they believe we now get the point — Operation Overkill, a success.
See, they wanted Us to get the point; that it’s not about the creatures but at the same time not exclude them so much to the point where they’re irrelevant because after all, they are a part of the game right? To pull that off however would’ve had to be handled with the greatest of care and timing — I think if what I speculate is the case then they’ve done a great job.
Now I could be saying all of this and in the end it could turn out to be that “They are who we thought they were” (Lmbo – former NFL football coach Dennis Green reference) but we’ll cross that bridge…well, hopefully we’ll never have to. For now we look at The Last of Us just as ND wanted Us to: As humans surviving….. humans VS humans, humans VS animals, humans VS nature and humans Vs errr…monsters? In a nutshell, whatever I need to do to live and whatever I come across I’ll deal with accordingly.
Did you notice this strategy as well? CCU wants to hear from you.
Want more! Check out our Opinion Pieces section with more original content on various topics in the game industry.