Hideo Kojima paid a sneaky visit to see The Last of Us at E3, reveals Naughty Dog boss Ethan Wells on twitter to learn the secrets of why PS3's flagship game looks so fantastic. The answer is down to bearded hero Joel's 'punch lasers' The Last of Us seamlessly blends its dynamic animations into the action using an invisible series of 'lasers' - creating moments like when Joel brutally smashes an assailant's head into a bookcase during the E3 demo, while the camera pans and zooms. "A lot of people are wondering about the fluidity of animation", says Jacob Minkoff, lead designer on The Last of Us. "When you push the punch button, it fires a bunch of rays around the game world, and says 'What's nearby?'. Oh, there's a wall nearby. Or there's a desk nearby. So if you press the punch button and make contact, it will smash this guy against the wall". The result is that fights can look different every time you play, subject to the situation. "We've developed this engine over four games now, over a period of six years, and have a system that dynamically looks around and sees contextually what sort of animations would be right to play in the area", reveals Minkoff. "For instance, maybe he'll throw a punch and succeed, and the guy hits the wall, or fail and hit his hand against the wall, and go 'Ow!'. We have this library of dozens and dozens of animations streaming off the disc at all times based on what's happening in the environment". Joel and Ellie's voice actors record dozens of lines, so their dialogue reflects your actions and environment. For example, we were treated to an alternate version of the Sony conference E3 demo, where Joel and Ellie chat about the movie poster they spot on a bus shelter (press triangle to interact with lightly glowing objects like this). "I saw this... before the outbreak", reveals Joel. 'You did? Who dragged you to see it though?", replies Ellie, "I don't know...let's just stay focused, alright" says Joel, eager to push on. In our alternate demo, Joel and Ellie enter the damaged building via a new route. Joel spots a ladder on a broken floor above, so Ellie clambers up to get it. She kicks it down, Joel picks it up (triangle again) and places it in position to join her, while a fresh dialogue string plays out. The main combat section is tackled far more stealthily, with Joel edging along to a new entrance window, and lobbing a bottle inside (found on the floor) to distract the guards. "What was that?... Rats or something?" utters a foe, before Joel sneaks around to choke him out. "Not a fucking word!" urges Joel, choking him out as the guard hisses and splutters. Taking an alternate route, Joel and Ellie sneak into a grimy bathroom, with two dead 'infected' - or partially infected - in the bathtub. "Guess they took the easy way out, huh?" says a shocked Ellie. "It ain't easy", adds Joel. "A lot of people thought it was better than a 100 infected doing it for them". The pair search the bathroom, and find some bandages in a cupboard. The next section is as violent as the press conference demo, only different. "What the Flubber!" shouts a guard, as Joel brutally smashes him with a pipe. The juxtaposition between silence and violence is what lends The Last of Us its power.One second, all you can hear are tweeting birds, creaky floorboards, heavy breathing, or a leaky tap - the next the crack of steel on skull, or explosion of a revolver. Short. Sharp. Powerful. Combat brutally destroys the equilibrium of the world, but you do what you must - at any cost - to survive. Ellie covers her ears and cowers when a gun is fired, and looks visibly shaken when examining the body of a guard Joel has just shot in the forehead, blood slowly seeping across the floor - almost as if she's shocked by the actions of the person she most trusts.At the end of the demo, Joel and demo locate a lift shaft (press R2 to look for environment clues when prompted). They clamber onto the lift's roof, and its coils heave ominously, before Joel boosts Ellie (with triangle) to the floor above. Suddenly, the lift collapses, and Ellie looks on helplessly as Joel crashes many floors below into water, nursing an injured arm. "Joel! Joel!" she cries. "I'm all right" he barks, panting for breath "Stay up there! I'll make my way up to you". Joel then wades through deep water in a dark corridor wielding a spotlit pistol - it looks incredible - and music fades into life as the demo ends. Amazing. We're told a bit more context, about how the world has become a harsh battle for survival after the rise of the 'infected' fungus. Joel remembers the world as it was, but Ellie has only ever known the marshall law of the quarantine zones, where people are killed for breaking rules, or exhibiting the slightest sign of infection. Their journey explores the worst - and best - of humanity, so you won't just battle pockets of survivors, but meet farming communities, striving to create a better life.In short, our demo is so powerful, we also demand Naughty Dog stop teasing us and just release it now - although they won't commit to a date yet, and Minkoff admits 'we still have quite a lot of work to do'. "A lot of people can't quite believe the game is real, and we're finding it hard to believe it's all coming together, but it is, and we're really excited to be able to put it in people's hands".Only yesterday, Hideo Kojima expressed his respect for The Last of Us, during our exclusive interview with the MGS creator."The most surprising thing at the Sony conference was The Last of Us", says Kojima, "I'm very interested in how the game was put together, like at what point do you get controlled by the AI, and when do you get control. The Last of Us is in a different direction to what I want to accomplish, but it was very impressive". Minkoff returns the compliment. "It's cool since we all spent about a zillion hours on Metal Gear Solid, so it's good to see he's interested. It (The Last of Us) is fantastically complex, but it's finally coming together, and I think that's what Kojima is recognising. We have this intense game, with all this brutal combat and fascinating stealth that's being achieved at a level that has not yet been done, since we finally have the technology to do it." The irony, of sorts, is that The Last of Us derives its impact from a world without technology. It's an apocalyptic, post-civilisation, landscape of shattered architecture with desperate souls scrapping for survival at any cost - where nature is striving to reclaim beauty, while man is the violator. It's also the most exciting exclusive game on PS3 and, like Hideo Kojima, we can't wait to learn its deepest secrets.