I saw the trailer for "The Last of Us" after the Spike Video Game awards and like so many others, I wrote it off as another shitty zombie game. Until I did a little research and found out there may be a lot more to it than that. I invite you to click on and hear me out before you continue with the same assumption.
A few sites and some easter eggs in Uncharted 3 have revealed that the game revolves around cordyceps, a deadly fungus that exists in real life but doesn't affect humans in any way. It's a really interesting contagion that thrives in jungles and rain forests with one purpose: insect population control. Every species of insect has it's own designated species of cordyceps and every time that insect becomes too abundant, the fungus takes action.
This fungus invades and takes over the insects brain, controlling it to it's will much like the head crabs of Half Life. Tiny spores start emerging from underneath the bugs exoskeleton and eventually completely erupts and emits more spores to infect others. Usually the bug, like an ant or grasshopper, is manipulated to move to a high branch so these spores spread out over a big distance to maximize the outbreak. I first heard about these in the BBC documentary Planet Earth and I was amazed at how disgusting and fascinating it was at the same time. Check the video below to see the segment.
It's pretty repulsive and it's crazy to see how mother nature uses checks and balances on itself. After I watched this I got to thinking how, other than cancer, humans really have no such natural population control. We are the most abundant and destructive force on Earth but the planet has no counter attack to it. And then I started thinking, how gross would it be to see humans become these mindless fungi that eventually erupt with these crazy giant spores. It would make the perfect zombie movie that didn't actually have zombies.
Then M. Night Shyamalan made "The Happening" which tread similar ground. If you haven't seen that movie, I'm going to do you a favor and spoil it for you because it sucks. The plot revolves around the Earth's trees getting angry at man and spreading an unknown, unseen crazy gas that makes people kill themselves in the most inefficient and unspectacular ways. So it took all the purpose and message behind the cordyceps and dumbed it down with terrible acting and unexplained circumstances and wrote off my idea for a cordyceps movie.
But now, with video games, that idea can come back. I'm not saying that the Last of Us doesn't look like a Left 4 Dead/Dead Island/Generic Zombie Game clone but I'm saying it has potential to go beyond that. It's too early to judge since we haven't seen any real gameplay footage or much more of a story revelation but I have faith in Naughty Dog's talents. But then again, cordyceps don't make their victims growl and eat people like it appears in the trailer. Here's hoping something good comes from it. Go above and beyond the typical game site commenters, NODJers. Don't prejudge it yet.