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In a world taken back by nature, Joel and Ellie are kindred spirits, surrogate father and daughter, point and counterpoint. The Last of Us represents, not just a sea change for the survival horror genre, but a genuine shift in the stars for the developers at Naughty Dog.
In an E3 demo on Wednesday, Naughty Dog's Bruce Straley was kind enough to show us another angle on the gameplay section they played on stage at their E3 press conference. For those that missed it, the stage demo for The Last of Us was the highlight of all the press conferences.
While you can easily view that playthrough for yourself above, the version we saw behind closed doors took Joel and Ellie on a slightly different path, focusing more on stealth, enemy AI, and the world that's overgrown itself twice over.
Objects in the the environment can be used to trigger dialog between the two protagonists. A movie poster elicited a dismissive response from Joel, but the genuine curiosity in Ellie showcased how the female lead has grown up in a world without order and with a heaping helping of crazed lunatics and zombie monsters.
Moving forward in the demo, the two come upon the same group of enemies and instead use stealth to get past the bulk of them. On the second floor, though, their footsteps draw the attention of three enemies.
Joel again uses the bandages, alcohol, and empty bottle, but not to create a Molotov cocktail as he does above, but to heal himself after an injury and to distract enemies with a crash in an adjacent room. Players will be able to explore every nook and cranny for supplies, or even loot them from fallen NPCs, but how they use them will vary from situation to situation.
It's up to you to carve your own path through hostile territory. While Joel could have snuck by one enemy, he decided it best to make use of the lead pipe he picked up earlier in the demo. You could shoot an enemy, choke him out, use an environmental hazard, or stab him. Joel decided the enemy's brains weren't flat enough this time.
We still don't know how Joel and Ellie were thrust together or what circumstances propel them from the quarantine zones on the East Coast to the lawless West. Still, it's the mystery that makes The Last of Us so compelling and entertaining, so watch with us as we learn more leading up to the game's 2013 release.