Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

‘The Last of Us’ Demo and Trailer Revealed

“The Last of Us is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing triple A titles to be announced in a long time.” There’s a sentence that, if you were to read to me just after the game’s announcement, would make me laugh and call you names (If you then explained you were quoting me from the future, I’d probably call the authorities and/or ask to use your time machine for some…uh…private matters). That’s because the undead/mutant/alien apocalypse thing is one of the most tired ideas in video games, maybe only drawing a close second to gritty military shooters. Leave it to Naughty Dog, though, to take a concept I couldn’t care less about and infuse it with character, atmosphere and a story that bears delving into.

The Last of Us centers around Joel and Ellie, two survivors making their way through the remains of Pittsburgh after a pandemic has decimated the general population. As far as we can tell from what’s been revealed so far, the plague has mutated or otherwise turned its victims into grotesque, mindless swarms, making the environment fraught with danger at every turn. Resource management is a must, with the city in ruins and survival tools hard to come by.

At E3 Judge’s Week just nine days ago journalists were shown the first demo of the game, and though no footage was provided, Shane Satterfield of Game Trailers transcribed the experience for all to see on Side Mission. The demo apparently coincides with the latest trailer to come out, which appears to be the opening cinematic to the gameplay Satterfield and others were exposed to last week:

From Satterfield:

As it begins the pair is driving in a car and they pull up to an overgrown urban area. Joel has second thoughts and decides to keep going. As they drive along the player is shown the decay of a post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh until, eventually, a pair of staggering feet are shown. Joel draws his gun and tells Ellie to put on her seat belt. Ellie begins to panic as Joel barrels towards the injured man. She asks if they should help the injured man and he quickly states, “He’s not injured at all.”…

And some highlights from what we didn’t see in the trailer:

…Now the first guy who was feigning injury on the road comes in with a gun. Joel pulls out his own and the game goes into Uncharted’s cover-based gunplay as two more enemies appear. Eventually he runs out of ammo and Ellie tosses a brick, smashing the enemy in the head. Joel then rushes in and finishes him with a melee attack. He then drops another enemy with fisticuffs and finishes him off by bashing his head with a plank he finds on the ground.

…In a panic they climb out a window and begin hiding behind various vehicles. Joel has the plank he used earlier strapped to his back and eventually he creeps up behind one of the enemies and strangles him. He then scavenges his bullets utilizing the same exact interface and icons used in Uncharted.

Most interesting of all, though, is what Naughty Dog reportedly said before showing off the demo:

…Representatives from Naughty Dog took the stage to explain that the game is their take on the survival action genre. Set 20 years in the future after an outbreak has taken over the US, The Last of Us chronicles a cross-country journey shared by a middle-aged man named Joel and a young girl named Ellie. Naughty Dog stated that their main goal is to parallel the emotions of the player with Joel and Ellie and create a reality that you can invest in so that you believe that they exist. They want you to feel the same tension and survival instincts that they’re experiencing.

Lighting is paramount because there’s no electricity, so more ambient and soft lighting is used to make the environments feel richer. They also added that the music is not typical video game fodder. It does not parallel the action because they want it to foster some sort of emotional impact. They want the characters to feel real as they experience what Naughty Dog calls the balance of power. They explained that the pair will react differently based upon what resources they have and how many enemies they’re facing.

The survival horror/action genres are heavily dependant on atmosphere and emotion. Anyone who has played a success like Amnesia: The Dark Descent or a failure like Silent Hill: Downpour can attest to that. Naughty Dog certainly seems to be taking that into account, and considering the Uncharted series is one of the industry’s best in those categories, The Last of Us has potential to be another massive hit.

Grizzly Album Review: “Blue Slide Park” by Mac Miller

Since 2007, 19 year old Mac Miller has been gaining a well-deserved following, releasing a steady amount of mixtapes since he was only 15. Now, four years later, he’s releasing his first studio album, Blue Slide Park. Garnering an insane amount of hype on Twitter due to Miller himself posting a constant stream of tweets about it, Blue Slide Park is finally here, and it doesn’t disappoint.

As a newer and sometimes skeptical fan of Mac Miller, Blue Slide Park has a miraculous balance of classic Miller, while also boasting his ability to carry an entire album on his own. That’s right, not one guest spot on this joint, just pure rap with some catchy hooks. I have to say this is a refreshing and much-needed change of pace in a day when some songs have as many as 15 guest stars on them (see: All of the Lights by Kanye West). It’s calming in some ways to know that one voice really can carry a whole album from front to back with no pit stops.

For non-Mac Miller fans, this album probably won’t change your mind, but for fans of the Pittsburgh native, you’ll fall even farther in love with him than you already have. A 16-track album with not one dud is a pretty amazing feat considering the state of hip-hop these days. Miller is a young voice that almost every teenager can relate to in some way or another. I remember on his mixtape Best Day Ever, he has a song entitled “She Said” and in the opening he says, “Yo, I’m feelin’ ill! And not like, cool or anything, like I’m coming down with a sickness.” At that point, I knew this white boy meant business.

The only drawback that I can’t think of at the moment is that Miller is known for rapping about three things: weed, parties, and girls. He hasn’t deviated much from this pattern on Blue Slide Park, and yet in some ways he has, thinking of more creative ways to let the listener visualize these things.

Overall, Blue Slide Park is an extremely solid release, as well as one of the best albums of the year. It’s available now wherever music is sold (iTunes is probably your best bet though).

Best Track: Frick Park Market and Smile Back

4.5/5 Bears