Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: June 14, 2013
One of the last exclusives to be released on the PlayStation 3, “The Last of Us” is one of the best games I have played on the system and is a great last swan song to the system. If you own a PlayStation 3 you owe it to yourself to play this game.
Survival is key theme of the story of “The Last of Us”. Humanity has faced the apocalypse through the means of a parasite that has infected much of the human population destroying civilization as you know it. It is not just society that has been destroyed by the outbreak but also the humanity and morality of humans. Here you will see what humans when reduced to nothing will do to survive and it is not pretty.
You play as Joel a survivor of twenty years in the post apocalyptic America. Having experienced the world as he knew it die before his eyes Joel is a brutal harden man who will do anything to survive. During your journey you encounter Ellie a young girl who you have to smuggle to safety due to certain circumstances.
Ellie is quite the upbeat and mature girl having been born in the post apocalyptic new world. Ellie hasn’t experienced much outside the bleak quarantine zone and Joel will at times explain to Ellie what the world was like before the devastation. One moment during the game Ellie looks a picture of model and is confused why anyone would ever go on a diet just to look skinny.
This is what makes the story so amazing because as you go on this journey you get to see the relationship grow between these characters. As you journey across America you get to learn more about Ellie and her curiosity of the world as it used to be. The reclusive Joel also starts to open up to Ellie and she gets to learn more about things about his past too.
Since the story is not only really amazing but important to the game I won’t reveal too much but what I can say is that the story is the highlight of the game. Finding out what happens as you go along is part of the fun as there are many twists and intense moments as you can expect when trying to survive in a world gone mad.
As survival was a theme to story it is also integrated seamlessly to game play. Supplies are limited, enemies are brutal, and the infected are just plain scary. I can’t tell how many times I was scared when I accidentally made a loud noise and alerted all the infected in the area to my location just to have them rip me to shreds
This is a chaotic world with limited supplies so you only find limited ammo and items during your journey so you have to make every bullet count. You can also craft useful tools such as smoke bombs, Molotov cocktails and such from supplies you find. All of this is done in real time interface so a sense of danger is always lurking.
Control in the game is very fluid and feels natural. Changing different weapons, healing and creating tools are done with a very responsive and easy to learn interface. When you go into your backpack though you do not pause which does a great job of adding tension since being stationary leaves you open to ambushes and attacks.
Your travel companion Ellie a great ally to have throughout your journey. Not only does she add much needed humor and perspective to the journey but she handles herself pretty well. She will distract the enemies for you when needed and does not feel like a burden. Her tiny size will also be helpful to getting to in a room or roof that you yourself wouldn’t be able to.
The AI in the game is brilliant in separating how the different enemies operate. The human opponents will work together to try to give each other cover and flank you when appropriate. The mindless infected while less intelligent are deadly for the very fact that they are crazy enough to run at you without any regards to their own lives and if mutated clickers grab you it is all over.
When the chaotic danger is over you are left to explore the environment which were some of my favorite moments of the game. Not only is it important to find useful supplies but finding notes of past survivors and their history adds so much to the understanding of all the lives affected the outbreak of the parasite.
The theme of survival also transfers to the online multiplayer mode called Factions. All the skills you learn in the single player campaign help in preparing you for the multiplayer. Online matches have you scurrying the map for the limited supplies to try to defeat your opponents. There’s also a metagame that is affected by how well you do in matches that can improve stats and equipment for your online character.
The gameplay of “The Last of Us” works well with the style of story to create an amazing experience. While playing this game I felt scared for my safety and Ellie. I always tried to kill as many enemies with stealth because the chaos that ensues when you are fighting a big group of enemies normally ended with my neck being bitten open.
The audio in “The Last of Us” is done with so much detail. The voice acting for all the characters are so well done that combined with its writing it has acting better than many movies from Hollywood. One scene was done so well I actually started crying from the pain I heard from the voices in the characters
The writing fits very well with the story and gameplay. Ellie will say sarcastic things that not only add to humor but move along the story. One scene you run across an old ice cream truck and her reaction to it is classic that you laugh not at her but also the situation and how much society has changed.
The soundtrack is great matching the use of basic instruments like guitar in a world where not a lot of instruments. It has a very Wild West feel which is perfect since the world is the same as the lawless wild west where anything goes.
This is one of the best looking games I have ever since on the PS3. The graphics look amazing from the character models to the environments. The world and the characters look amazing but also react to and feel as they should. Everything looks and has a lot of detail to it which adds greatly to the feel of the game.
The facial and motion capture also translates to really great story telling since you can see the detail of emotions in the characters face. The eyes give away sometimes when you know something is really bothering Ellie but she won’t admit it.
Not just graphically but also artistically the world looks amazing. Civilization has ended for twenty years but all the cities and buildings haven’t disappeared. Since most buildings have been abandoned for so long time nature has slowly started to take back many buildings with vegetation growing all around them.
One building hit home really hard because you could see the items left by lives affected by the chaos and I realized this could have been me. The setup of this one room from the posters to living situation reminded me of myself. The dozen of items left by regular people litter throughout the game add so much to the game.
This game looks amazing not just because it is graphically amazing but it uses those details to express even more about this unique world devastated. It is strange that cities destroyed decades ago look so serene and peaceful when filled with vegetation but it does when it combines the technical marvel of human architecture and beauty of Mother Nature all in one.
The downsides to this game are its great strengths in that it is intense. The game tells such an amazing story about survival through intense gameplay mechanics and moments. This is a game that brutal and violent so you have to have the stomach for it but also it is serious.
This is not a mindless action adventure game. Even though the game is very serious there is a lot of happy moments and humor throughout the game. Your companion Ellie does a great job of lightening the mood but it is still not a game I would recommend very young children.
If you are looking for a game where you just kill things and shoot than this is not the game for you. There are many great games where you just play for 30 minutes and don’t give it a second thought but this is not one of them. The gameplay forces you to think to survive and the story makes you think through our the journey about your actions.
This of a story of survival, hardship and journey to find hope and does it extremely well. If you love games with amazing story and have 20 hours free you owe it to yourself to play this game.
+Pacing makes you always wanting more
+Great story being told
+Controls and interface work well
+Amazing writing and voice acting
+Multiplayer that fits well into game
–Not for everyone
9.5 out of 10