When The Last of Us made its much-hyped debut on the 2011 Spike TV Video Game Awards, many viewers (myself included) wondered aloud whether the game's protagonist was, in fact, an older version of Uncharted's Nathan Drake. The bearded, grizzled figure in the trailer bore enough of a resemblance to Nolan North's most famous character for the notion to seem at least plausible.
Of course, we now know that is not the case. The Last of Us's male lead, Joel, is being brought to life by veteran voice-over actor Troy Baker, who also takes the lead in the upcoming BioShock: Infinite. In a recent interview, Baker claims that Joel is unlike any other video game hero -- in fact, he's not a hero at all.
Baker should know what he's talking about. In addition to the aforementioned roles, he has assumed vocal duties for an impressive number of high-profile games, including Ryu Hayabusa in March's Ninja Gaiden 3, Robin in Batman: Arkham City, and Snow in Final Fantasy XIII and its fantastic sequel.
Speaking with the Official PlayStation Magazine UK, Baker discusses what sets Joel apart from the typical video game protagonist.
“Joel is a survivor. He’s not a hero, he’s not a badass. He’s a guy that learned how to use a gun because he had to, and he’s fighting every day because that’s what you do. Does that mean that [he] steals this, that [he] does this? Maybe. But it’s not that he has a plan, or that he’s a strong archetypal character. I really think it’s gonna turn the model of the hero on its ass.”
Joining Baker in The Last of Us is Ashley Johnson as Joel's companion, Ellie. Johnson praises Naughty Dog's approach to character, particularly the developer's willingness to to embrace a female character whose sexuality isn't her defining characteristic.
“This is my first videogame. Not to be cheesy, but this is a complete dream for me — and knowing that I’m able to play a female character who’s stronger, younger and tougher, and not just tits and ass, that’s awesome.”
Take that, Soul Calibur V launch trailer.
Naughty Dog has a reputation for technical wizardry, but the studio's dedication to creating memorable characters may be its most distinctive trait. It's good to know that as the developer works to redefine gaming with The Last of Us, that dedication to character remains front and center. Now, about Jak and Daxter 4...
Ranters, what do you think of Baker's admission that Joel is not a hero? Does it affect your interest in the game? Let us know in the comments below.
The Last of Us is currently in development for the PS3.
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