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The Last of Us – 6 post-apocalyptic visions that inspired the game

From the those initial teasing images to the first cinematic trailer, we've been intrigued by Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Even though the post-apocalyptic setting has been in pretty heavy rotation lately, Naughty Dog’s approach seems different. Maybe it’s just the pedigree of the Uncharted series, or having a developer from the underplayed Enslaved, we admit we’re excited for the stark tone and cinematic detail the early looks have shown us.

Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games are known for their movie-like presentation, with a focus on plot, character animation and performance. They took inspiration from the most rollicking adventure films - everything from Indiana Jones to Lawrence of Arabia - to do amazing things for the third-person shooter genre. Now that we’ve had a good hard look at The Last of Us during E3, we can’t help but start naming the cinematic “end of it all” scenarios that the gameplay brings to mind. So join us now as we name some of the most influential visions of the apocalypse, ones that already seem to have lent some thoughts to Naughty Dog’s latest, plus the ones we’ll be looking for down the line.

1. Children of Men

Set in a near future where people can no longer procreate, Children of Men's premise has a touch of sci-fi, but this movie will move and shock you with its grounded, visceral approach.

There are no zombies in Children of Men, no rampaging infected, just a panicked populous and out of control military forces desperate to retain order. It's not so much post-apocalypse as it is pre; the world is at the tipping point. Then along comes what could be the last pregnant woman on Earth. A resourceful group of political activists must escort her through a war zone and a military holding bay that resembles the most unsettling images of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. But the film's most famous sequence is a harrowing roadside ambush, not far off from the one Joel and Ellie fell victim to in a recent Last of Us trailer.

26 comments

  • Sonattine - July 2, 2012 3:09 a.m.

    I would just like to point out that "28 Days Later" is itself arguably a film adaptation of John Wyndham's book "The Day of the Triffids", with zombies in place of extraterrestrial christmas trees : Wake up in hospital, find the world has gone to hell, round up survivors, get help from a military group. But zombies !
  • Shinard - July 2, 2012 11:10 a.m.

    You've just described the plot of a whole lot of post apocalyptic films... A bit too tenuous, in my opinion. The blindness and the plants are sort of key to Triffids. Anyway, in the book the Triffids were very much terrestial and the blindness was caused by an unknown source (hinted to be government weapons).
  • GR Alex Roth - July 2, 2012 1:06 p.m.

    I wouldn't call it a remake or an adaptation, but they definitely have common story threads. Kind of interesting given that they are both UK productions. I was actually unaware that Triffids was a novel up until writing this piece. It's strange that the blindness would be caused by something other than the plants or the meteor shower. The whole thing with the Triffid invasion is that it would have been rather either to combat if not for them destroying two things we take for granted: sight and social order. May have to check this book out.
  • bebl09 - July 2, 2012 9:10 p.m.

    I thought everyone knew Day of the Triffids was a book lol. It's a bit old fashioned but still a great read.
  • Tjwoods18 - June 30, 2012 12:11 p.m.

    Children of men was FFFIIINN brilliant movie. They should have mad a game from that.
  • Clovin64 - June 29, 2012 2:42 a.m.

    I've never seen the The Road, but I've just started reading Cormac McCarthy's novel and one of the reasons I picked it up was in anticipation for The Last of Us. I read an interview with the developers in which the mentioned the book as one of the key inspirations for the game.
  • CitizenWolfie - June 29, 2012 2:09 a.m.

    Really glad you used the old format for this article. It seems the new style only has a few sentences to describe each slide whereas this was nice and in-depth. Great job. I'm even more excited for this game now considering I love 5 of those influences. I haven't seen Children of Men but I might pick it up after reading this article and seeing how highly other commenters rate it.
  • Rambo 11 - June 29, 2012 1:02 a.m.

    Thank you for mentioning Day of the Triffids, though the book is better than the film.
  • FierceVoltage - June 28, 2012 9:32 p.m.

    ZOMG Back to the old format thank you!!! I hated the new way of clicking through slides!
  • GR HollanderCooper - June 29, 2012 12:56 a.m.

    We only use it when it makes sense, and for stories with multiple images per page (like this) it really doesn't.
  • BackwaterRifle - June 28, 2012 4:32 p.m.

    I am currently trying to obtain a PS3 for the sole purpose to play this game, as a post apocalyptic junkie and some one who resides in the great city of Pittsburgh, I am very excited for this game.
  • BackwaterRifle - June 28, 2012 4:37 p.m.

    And now that I reached the end of the article, I would say my favorite apocalypse is one in which Goverment collapses from lack of non renewable resources. Also this is probably the best article I've read on the site in a while, good work.
  • SentientSquidMachine - June 29, 2012 9:22 a.m.

    Having lived there myself for 2 years I had to laugh a little when I read about the whole nature taking back the city because you know, once you leave downtown the rest of the city is embedded in hills with foliage aplenty. More games should be located in Pittsburgh.
  • avantguardian - June 28, 2012 2:23 p.m.

    children of men is one of my favorite movies of all time. the technical achievements of the film could easily be missed. the two extended, single shot scenes are just INCREDIBLE. the car/bikes scene is one, and it's very well done, but the ending sequence running through the war-torn town, done all in one shot, is nothing short of mind-blowing. oh, and michael caine!
  • GR Alex Roth - June 28, 2012 2:54 p.m.

    Yes, it's incredible! Have you seen the rig they used to film the car scene? It's in this article: http://www.fxguide.com/featured/Children_of_Men_-_Hard_Core_Seamless_vfx/ Also, Michael Caine listens to Radiohead! The. Best.
  • avantguardian - June 29, 2012 2:49 p.m.

    i hadn't seen that! thanks for the link!
  • JayQ - June 28, 2012 1 p.m.

    I liked "A boy and his dog" you can see where Fallout and Bioshock (especially infinite) got it's inspiration from. I Am Legend was decent but it would have been much better if they would have used the alternate ending where Will Smith didn't die and learned the "creatures" where intelligent.
  • GR Alex Roth - June 28, 2012 1:09 p.m.

    Agreed. And A Boy and His Dog is a total precursor to Mad Max as well, pretty sure I've heard the director say he likes it.
  • RedHarlow - June 28, 2012 12:20 p.m.

    The Road was fantastic, because it was so terribly depressing. The book was even more depressing (eating dead babies to survive, anyone?). I Am Legend was just a shit movie, it was a slap in the face to the novel. All they really have in common is a title.
  • MasterBhater - June 28, 2012 12:28 p.m.

    I thought I Am Legend was still a good movie, even though it didn't have much in common with the source material and the ending was a little weak

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