LAS VEGAS — People really like The Last of Us.
Naughty Dog’s postapocalypse survival thriller won game of the year tonight at the Dice Awards at the Dice Summit. The Sony PlayStation 3 video game also won almost every major category of award in which it was nominated.
Members of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences vote on the awards. As peer awards, they’re considered very prestigious and known as the Oscars of video games.
The Last of Us was a solemn and relentlessly sad game with strong characters, including the grizzled Joel and the 14-year-old girl Ellie. They try to survive in a postapocalyptic world where a plague has decimated the population and turned most people into zombie-like creatures. But it’s a far deeper and more emotional story than your typical zombie game, with near flawless execution from a team of hundreds at Naughty Dog who worked on the PS3 exclusive for years.
The sweep by The Last of Us is a big upset for other contenders for the top award such as Grand Theft Auto V, which was far more popular, and BioShock Infinite, which was also critically acclaimed. But in almost every award category, The Last of Us shut the others out. It was also my own favorite game of 2013.
Besides Game of the Year, The Last of Us also won for best game direction, outstanding character performance (Ellie), outstanding achievement in story, outstanding achievement in sound design, outstanding achievement in innovation, outstanding achievement in visual engineering, outstanding achievement in animation, and best adventure game.
Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, the creative leaders on the project, went up onstage so many times it became a joke. Todd Howard, a former game of the year award winner, said when he presented the award, “The last award of the night goes to … The Last of Us.”
Druckmann thanked the Naughty Dog team and Sony’s leadership. Straley joked, “You guys gave us enough rope to hang the team.”