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Last of Us Part I Conversation Isn’t Good Enough

This week has offered a unique opportunity: to get ahead of the marketing and see behind the curtain. A video of The Last of Us Part I leaked to negative reaction, meaning a likely hurried official blog post reveal was published early morning UK time to claw back the narrative.

Except it didn’t. The negativity around it just being another remaster with prettier graphics and a couple of extra game modes wasn’t refuted. But the language was flowerier and the vibe more positive, and so people were happy to accept it as proof that any earlier negativity was wrong. And herein lies the ridiculousness (and potency) of marketing.

This isn’t an article about whether the negativity is right or wrong, although I’ve touched on what I thought Part I should try and achieve before. Suffice to say, it falls extremely short of that.

Improved visuals isn’t a bad thing. Using the latest tech to raise immersion isn’t a bad thing. But that’s not what we were promised. Even in the PlayStation blog post we are promised ‘gameplay enhancements’. That is technically true, but what work that word technically is doing there. “AI will no longer bounce around like a raver on spring break” is a gameplay enhancement. But it is also the absolute bare minimum I would expect from a new release.

The trailer perfectly sums up what I’m talking about here.

It’s all about the technology. It’s all about the fact they could, for instance, improve the amount of stuff smashing around you. So they did.

The Last of Us Part I Trailer

This has no noticable gameplay benefit. It just looks cooler. And that sums up the trailer. Technical people, technical video. The Last of Us Part I, rebuilt for PS5, shouldn’t be The Last of Us PS3 with a new coat of paint. So much more than that is possible. Nobody is asking for Final Fantasy VII Remake, but take that original story, and bring it into the modern era. A lot can change in ten years. The Last of Us Part II proved that in a lot of ways.

The message that came from the leaked footage the other day was exactly that. People were disappointed that underneath all the shiny upgrades there was still a PS3 game. And bragging about adding extra animations when Joel tinkers with his gun is insulting to that.

When people talk about leakers ruining marketing campaigns, this is what they’re talking about. In this case, PlayStation were unable to set their own story before people started discussing it, and that will impact on sales. That’s not a good thing, because that, in turn, impacts jobs.

But the problem here isn’t the guy who leaked the footage. It’s not the thousands of people who watched it without Papa Sony’s permission. It’s certainly not most the people who created the game, or even appeared in that video.

The problem is whichever team of execs said “fuck it, people love buying stuff again if it means they get to… see more concrete fly in the air when it’s hit by a bullet”.

And maybe they’re right. But if not, it’s because they should have said “let’s enhance our game to truly realise our vision”. And yes, that last part has been said anyway. George Lucas said the same thing. In both cases they were wrong.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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