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UPDATE: I've finished the game and it's as excellent as I thought it would turn out.

So I have to be totally upfront with you -- I haven't completed "The Last of Us" yet. You can blame E3 for this one. However, I did manage to marathon about 9 hours of it last night just for you! But sadly, the call for sleep finally hit me around 4 or so this morning. So with that said, this isn't a review so much as an extended impression.

Even with the few hours I've played, "The Last of Us" has so far presented one of the best gaming experiences I've had on the PS3. Naughty Dog has strained out every ounce of Sony's 7 year old system and put out a fantastic, narrative driven and genuinely horrifying, and at times emotionally draining game.
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By Miguel Concepcion

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Ok, for some reason I forgot about the zombies in "The Last of Us" until last week. Were there zombies at Sony's E3 press conference last year? I suppose the consumer in me, having thoroughly enjoyed Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, imposed an unconscious media blackout for the last year. Yet, Sony had other ideas as they recently sent over a preview code that featured two of the game's settings. Aside from this reintroduction of zombies, here 9 other things I learned from playing "The Last of Us".
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Naughty Dog taps into the idea of fungal infections for the zombie-like enemies Joel and Ellie will have to sneak by or otherwise blow apart in the soon to be released "The Last of Us" video game. The latest ViDoc explores this idea a bit further and introduces you to the various types of creepies you'll encounter.

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by Joseph Leray

The scariest thing about “Killer7” wasn’t that the Heaven Smile enemies were invisible or bloodthirsty terrorists, it’s that they emitted a blood-chilling cackling laugh before blowing themselves to smithereens. “BioShock”’s Splicers were equally vocal: I always heard their crazed muttering before I saw them, and it always set me on edge.

If “The Last of Us” is as atmospheric and tense as Naughty Dog promise, Clickers will carry those previous games’ torch as harbingers of fear. As Neal Druckmann, creative director for Naughty Dog, explains in this developer diary, Clickers are infected humans who have been totally blinded by an aggressive, parasitic fungus and who use echolocation to find prey.

As players explore the ruined world of the “The Last of Us,” those throaty clicks will let them know a Clicker is nearby, which is bad news for anyone interested in keeping their face and torso in one piece.

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Last week, journalists were transported to Smashbox Studios in West Hollywood to get a hands-on preview with Naughty Dog's survival horror epic "The Last of Us." The latest peek at the plague-ravaged North America created by the “Uncharted” studio has me looking forward to their survival horror epic even more than I was when it was first announced.

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While industry veterans have been criticizing the state of storytelling in games, Naughty Dog lead game designer Richard Lemarchand thinks the situation is quite the opposite.

"I think we're in the middle of this incredible renaissance in video games," he said at the 2008 Games for Change festival earlier this week in New York. "We've had this huge explosion of creativity in the last few years."

Speaking on a panel with other industry bigwigs about how social-change games can be profitable for the mainstream games business, Lemarchand, who worked on "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune," said he evens thinks games can be as influential as great literature.

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parappa_firstplace.jpgEvery dog has his day...

And today is that day for one video game dog (or wolf).

This year, we've embarked on a quest to find the Greatest Animal in the History of Video Games. First, we had judges choose the best horse.

And now, our fine panel has chosen the Greatest Canine in Video Games from a list of nominees that we listed last month (along with readers' suggestions).

This time around, our judges panel included:

  • Brian Crecente, managing editor of Kotaku

We've weighted each judge's top three picks, and the winner is...

PaRappa the Rapper, who topped the list for three out of our four judges. Meanwhile, Brown from "Rule of Rose" took second place, and the undead dogs from "Resident Evil" were third place.

And the Readers' Choice winner: a four-way tie, with readers giving props to K.K. Slider from "Animal Crossing," Amaterasu from "Okami," the "Duck Hunt" dog and Sam from "Sam & Max."

Do the judges know what they're talking about? Read on for the judges' individual choices and reasoning. First up, Evan Wells of Naughty Dog... Read More...

uncharted_platforming.jpgWhat is a "platformer"?

Or what isn't a "platformer"?

That's the question that came up in my interview last week with Naughty Dog's Amy Hennig, the Game Director of "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune," which is in stores tomorrow. According to her, "Uncharted" is not a platformer.

The third-person action-adventure game is similar to "Tomb Raider" and "Prince of Persia." While there's plenty of shooting/fighting sequences and some puzzle-solving, "Uncharted" is still essentially a platformer at its core: The player navigates Nathan Drake as he scales ledges and jumps to and from suspended platforms. So if it's not a platformer, what is it?

Reps from Sony and Naughty Dog (the development studio that created "Crash Bandicoot" and "Jak and Daxter") have been calling the game "traversal," so I asked Hennig to explain...

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nathandrake281×2111.jpg"Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune" is a third-person action-adventure about a modern-day treasure hunter.

But according to "Uncharted"'s Game Director Amy Hennig, it could've been "BioShock" or "Resistance: Fall of Man."

I caught up with Hennig on the phone earlier this week to talk about Naughty Dog's first release for the PlayStation 3 (in stores next week), and we discussed how they came up with the premise for "Uncharted." When the Sony-owned, Santa Monica-based developer of the "Jak and Daxter" series was tossing around ideas for their first next-gen game, a slew of concepts came up -- including ones that may have been similar to "BioShock" and "Resistance: Fall of Man." So what happened?

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