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The Last of Us 'not a zombie game,' says Naughty Dog

Naughty Dog says that The Last of Us isn't a zombie game, but rather a story-driven title about the relationships between characters.

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When we saw the debut trailer of The Last of Us at the Spike VGAs, it was hard not to think it's another zombie game. A well-acted zombie game with Naughty Dog's signature style of witty dialogue from our charismatic heroes, but a zombie game nonetheless. But the developer doesn't like the stigma attached to that name.

"If the game was about the monsters, we would have not showed them," said creative director Neil Druckmann. "The story's not about them, so [we thought] let's get it out of the way."

Druckmann told Eurogamer that the real thrust of the game revolves around the lead characters, Joel and Ellie. "What are those non-verbal signs saying about how long they've known each other. What about the other non-infected person?" The infection here refers to the Cordyceps fungus, which actually infects and kills bugs with zombie-like symptoms in real life.

The game is "story-driven" according to game director Bruce Straley, isn't surprising given the narrative focus of its Uncharted franchise. The studio wants to push that since Druckmann says "storytelling is so poor right now." The distinction they're drawing seems to be that the story isn't about what caused the zombies, but rather with how the characters deal with it.

That's not to say combat won't play a role. Straley says the trailer drops hints at the gameplay. "If you break down the trailer, all the action there is meaningful," he said. "It's teasing the different kind of mechanics you're going to be playing with in the gameplay set-ups. There's some melee and a gun - where that goes as a strategy is kind of intriguing."

To us, a game in which you kill humans infected with a fungi that makes them act like zombies sounds an awful lot like a zombie game. But all we've seen so far is the trailer, and Naughty Dog wants to accent the hard work put into the story, so we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. You can re-watch the debut trailer below.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 13, 2011 9:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, The Last of Us 'not a zombie game,' says Naughty Dog.

    Naughty Dog says that The Last of Us isn't a zombie game, but rather a story-driven title about the relationships between characters.

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      December 13, 2011 9:02 AM

      So it's a zombie game.

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      December 13, 2011 9:03 AM

      This is like saying Left 4 Dead is about the interactions between the characters or the story. Even if that were true, it's still a zombie game.

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      December 13, 2011 9:12 AM

      I'd be more interested if it had nothing to do with zombies or whatever they want to call them. A straight up survival game pitting human with against human wit is what I want. I was super excited about the first Uncharted cause I thought it was exactly that.. and then they ruined it.

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      December 13, 2011 9:13 AM

      please be heavy rain meets left 4 dead, please be heavy rain meets left 4 dead

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      December 13, 2011 9:16 AM

      isn't that sort of what the guys who made Dead Island said their game was going to be? The characters were horribad.

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        December 13, 2011 9:25 AM

        This is Naughty Dog, though; if there's a company out there that's earned the benefit of the doubt, they've gotta be up there, especially as it pertains to characterization.

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          December 13, 2011 9:49 AM

          Haxim, you are the most passive-aggressive person in the world!!!

          also i bought power grid the other day during amazon's rio grande sale, check me out

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            December 13, 2011 10:07 AM

            About time you got something good! Now you just need to start liking Agricola and you'll be a real boardgamer.

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              December 13, 2011 10:11 AM

              I've honestly been thinking about giving it another shot.

              A friend of mine brought by his copy of Caylus last time he was over. The king leered at me from the box. I knew I was not ready. He knew.

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            December 13, 2011 1:03 PM

            what just happened here?

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        December 13, 2011 9:29 AM

        They never said that, people just assumed it based on that first trailer.

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          December 13, 2011 3:29 PM

          Bingo! And boy am I glad the trailer was misleading because the Dead Island intro is even better (as was the game).

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      December 13, 2011 9:25 AM

      Whats the estimated release on this one?

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      December 13, 2011 9:27 AM

      "Our game is not about the thing we showed in the reveal trailer."

      I hate this about staged PR plans, just a bunch of stupid teases. SSX buried itself in this fashion with its "SSX Deadly Descents", which got panned as "SSX:Medal of Honor", and many lamented that they were abandoning the style of games like SSX Tricky and SSX 3, which was not the case. But EA Canada didn't release any media to change those opinions until months later, when their PR plan told them to.

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        December 13, 2011 12:41 PM

        They specifically say that in the preview on Eurogamer, quotes in this link:
        http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=455351

        They say that the game takes influence from The Walking Dead, The Road etc.

        Also it premiered during the VGAs where a lot of trailers were CG, and to idiots it's in game. BioShock Infinite labelled it as well.

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      December 13, 2011 9:31 AM

      Earth No More?

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      December 13, 2011 9:58 AM

      [deleted]

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      December 13, 2011 9:59 AM

      "The distinction they're drawing seems to be that the story isn't about what caused the zombies, but rather with how the characters deal with it." Umm...The Walking Dead, The Living Dead and just about every decent zombie movie out there says "hello".

      I'm intrigued by the game, but let's not kid ourselves. The creatures are LIKE zombies. Ellie LOOKS and SOUNDS like Ellen Paige. And right now, the gameplay hinted at seems a whole lot like Left 4 Dead. It's not a crime to borrow game and story elements from other franchises, but at least have the balls to say when you are doing it, instead of pretending to be wholly original. It's like they just assume we've never watched a movie or played a game like this before. It's kind of disappointing, coming from Naughty Dog.

      And what the hell does "Captured from a PS3" supposed to mean? It's not gameplay, it's CG. We know the PS3 can display fine looking CG sequences, we've been playing games with those since for years now. Who cares? Are we seriously going back to the disingenuous days of Killzone 2 where we're supposed to be wowed by CG and just take it on faith that the gameplay will be exactly the same? I don't see why Naughty Dog is resorting to this kind of tactic, and if Sony is pressuring them to, why there is a need for it. We already know that Naughty Dog and Sony are "In like Flynn".

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        December 13, 2011 12:53 PM

        They specifically say that in the preview on Eurogamer, quotes in this link:
        http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=455351

        They say that the game takes influence from The Walking Dead, The Road etc.

        Also it premiered during the VGAs where a lot of trailers were CG, and to idiots it's in game. BioShock Infinite labelled it as well.

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      December 13, 2011 10:49 AM

      Naughty Dog's story / creative guys seem to like to do this. When their creative guys give talks on "game design", they talk about story and characters and not about gunplay or levels.

      This, despite that cutscenes comprise something like 10% of your total playtime in Uncharted and shooting badguys or platforming is the other 90%. Not to say that there isn't story conveyed in the shooting / jumping parts, but obviously they feel like two very different areas.

      I guess Naughty Dog can get away with it because, not only are the cutscnes that fill that 10% great, but the silent guys building the 90% of their games are good at what they do too.

      But really, if Last of Us has me spending 80%+ of my time shooting zombies, it's a zombie shooter. I dont think a director should feel embarrased to say 'We're making a zombie shooter with a great story, like our Uncharted games. We don't feel there's been a truely great zombie game with a good plot and characters yet.'

      Heck, do we even know if it's a shooter yet? Maybe survival horror?

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        December 13, 2011 1:23 PM

        well it doesnt necessarily need to be one or the other. i mean movies with zombies do survival horror then transition into some kind of shooting or escape scenario. i think it would be better if the story wasnt just overlayed on yet another shooter

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      December 13, 2011 12:34 PM

      I wanna trust Naughty Dog, but I need to see more.

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      December 13, 2011 3:31 PM

      I don't care what it is. It's going to own because it's from Naughty Dogs.

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      December 13, 2011 3:32 PM

      Sounds like what they mean is you won't spend most of the game running from/killing zombies.

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        December 13, 2011 3:36 PM

        What they mean is that the zombies aren't about being zombies, maaaaan, they're, like, a metaphor for.... life and.... humans.

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      December 13, 2011 3:42 PM

      Oh boy! Relationships!

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        December 13, 2011 5:11 PM

        Hold Left Trigger to show your disappointment! Press Right Trigger to passively aggressively lash out!

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      December 13, 2011 5:07 PM

      Still a zombie game. What is this now, the 2,098,539,709,833 dead horse beaten?

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      December 13, 2011 5:24 PM

      Steve, the title of this article mis-quotes the developer. You are missing a KEY word, which completely misrepresents the situation. From the Eurogamer article on this same topic:

      Game director Bruce Straley, who held the same role on Uncharted 2, added: "It's not just a zombie game. It's going to be a completely amazing experience that no player has experienced for this genre, the characters, the development, everything."

      It's not just a zombie game. Just. So yes, it is a zombie game, and Naughty Dog does not deny that.

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-12-13-naughty-dog-wants-to-change-the-f-ing-industry-with-the-last-of-us

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        December 14, 2011 9:00 AM

        it's shacknews, Idon't expect much out of their "articles"

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      December 13, 2011 11:09 PM

      Say what you want about Dead Island -- me and my buddy have played through it Co-Op 3 times, starting our fourth soon. LOVED that game. This looks like it could take the bar to the next level.

      I hope it's not going to be EXCLUSIVE to the PS3, though it looks like it :( I'm a 360 guy all the way.

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      December 13, 2011 11:57 PM

      fuck you naughty dog. seriously.

      your fucking game with zombies in it is a zombie game.

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      December 14, 2011 1:06 AM

      I really hope its like a post apocalyptic ICO with zombies crossed with Uncharted

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      December 14, 2011 9:38 AM

      Its "the Road" mixed with "I am legend" with a hint of L4D

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      December 14, 2011 1:16 PM

      Not once when I saw this trailer did I think that this game was about zombies or creatures or anything of the kind. Even the title implies and suggest that this is a game ripe with mature themes ready to be explored and THAT is what peeked my interest.

      If I even thought that this was a run-of-the-mill third person shooter I would of fallen asleep, like I did for most of the Call of Duty Awards Shows, aka VGA Show.

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