The 30-second TV spot. When it comes to game trailers — and movies face the same challenge — after allotting 4 or 5 seconds for titling/release date/platform information, there’s little time left to linger on dialogue, to simmer in silence or embrace a sliver of subtlety. The goal is mass appeal to a mass audience, whose collective attention span is expected to carry no mass at all. Excitement can’t be built; it needs to be unloaded.
And unload the latest TV spot for The Last of Us does. Previous footage for Naughty Dog’s apocalyptic survival adventure has taken a deeper focus on the game’s overarching plot, its varied approaches to combat, the emotions fueling and burdening its central characters or the nature of the Cordyceps virus that’s divided the human race into undead parasites and roguish survivors. But not this time.
Following a pattern consonant with its first TV spot — which debuted alongside an extended Red Band trailer in April — viewers are treated to a series of quick cuts and fast action. Ellie, voiced by Ashley Johnson, provides a brief narration about Joel’s turbulent past and fatalistic moral code (“You either hang on to your morals and die, or do whatever it takes to survive”). All the while, the trailer cycles through scenes of decaying urban wastelands, perilous encounters with the Infected and hostile survivors, and a final hint at the transformation Ellie herself will ostensibly choose in order to stay alive.
Releasing on June 14 — a week after E3 and a week before the summer solstice — The Last of Us, appropriately, represents the final string of PlayStation 3-exculsuve titles designated for the console before Sony devotes its publishing arm entirely to the PlayStation 4. (May 14’s DUST 514 and October 9’s Beyond: Two Souls also round out the small cabal; while Team Ico’s The Last Guardian appears increasingly likely as a PS4 project with each passing industry-event no-show.)
With that unique position, though, some have suspected Naughty Dog of leveraging the game for next-gen teases. The curious date of October 17, 2013 was found stamped on an eviction notice on one of the game’s deserted city streets; and a recent The Last of Us developer diary gave us a peek inside the Naughty Dog studios… where anachronistic, Uncharted-y costume drawings just happened to be on display. (This is a developer, after all, that teased The Last of Us within the opening act of Uncharted 3.)
Clearly Naughty Dog has plans in motion for Uncharted 4 and the future excursions of Nathan Drake. That being said, with its strong emphasis placed on marketing The Last of Us and our expectations for the game sky high, the studio may well enter the next generation with two franchises under its belt capable of blockbuster success.
How well do you think The Last of Us is shaping up just month away from its release?
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The Last of Us is slated to hit stores on June 14, 2013, exclusively for the PS3.