The lights are on
The Last Of Us is perhaps the most anticipated game of 2013, and maybe the most well received game of 2013 so far. Does it deserve all this praise? In short, yes. The Last Of Us is one of the greatest games I have ever played, with an extremely dramatic and emotional story to boot.
You play as Joel, a forty something year old man, living in a heavily restricted quarantine zone in a post-apocalyptic Boston. Joel has a dangerous past, and it's clearly shown several times in the game. Early on, Joel and his street-smart partner Tess are cheated out of a munitions deal, one thing leads to another, and they're both given the job of escorting a little girl named Ellie across the country, which is a lot harder than it sounds due to the menacing infected roaming the country.
I knew immediately The Last Of Us was special within the first 15 minutes. The game starts off with a bang, the beginning of this game being the only one that's ever left me shaken and terrified so fast. Then it just keeps on getting better. Joel and Ellie's journey through the ruins of the USA is fantastic, and horrifying.
Before The Last Of Us, Naughty Dog's previous series, Uncharted, was generally considered to have the best graphics on the PS3. Now with The Last Of Us, ND have truly outdone themselves. The game's beautiful environments and character models left me awe-struck at times. Plant life has reclaimed many urban areas, leading to amazing scenery.
However, where The Last Of Us truly excels in the graphics department is the character models and animations. Motion capture is used to it's full extent here, the characters looking so realistic at times I felt like I was watching real people. Their eyes especially are beautifully animated, and add even more to the realism. Of course, this all wouldn't be possible without the fantastic voice acting of Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, they breathe life into these characters, along with the great supporting cast.
The core of any great game is great gameplay, and The Last Of Us delivers in spades. Combat is a mix of shaky third person shooting, and brutal melee attacks, though you won't get very far if you go into every encounter guns blazing. The Last Of Us emphasizes stealth over direct confrontation, in order to manage your supplies. This is also where its horror elements come into play. Often you'll walk into an area to find TONS of infected enemies. The sounds they make are bone chilling enough, but once the grotesque Infected sense your presence, it becomes a terrifying game of cat and mouse. So do you quietly sneak past all of them and risk losing out on valuable supplies near them, or do you fight them, potentially losing more supplies than you gain?
The enemy design is particularly gruesome. You get three different types of Infected; Runners, recently infected humans who, like their name implies, run directly at you and still maintain use of their eyes. Clickers, a higher stage of infection where the fungus grows to completely cover their face. The fungus causes them to lose their eyesight, so they rely on their hearing to find you. You have to be absolutely quiet against them, because they're a one-hit kill if they get too close to you. And finally, Bloaters, the last stage of infection. These humans have been infected for so long that the fungus has grown armoured plates all over their body, needless to say, they're not easy to kill. These, along with other human survivors are the enemies you face, and they're all powered by Naughty Dog's new "Balance of Power" A.I. system.
For the most part, it works fantastically, enemies react generally like they're supposed to, however there are problems. This is my one and only problem with the game, the A.I. It often becomes so video-gamey that the sense of realism is lost. When sneaking, you can walk right next to a human enemy, and they won't notice you unless you walk directly in front of them, or in combat, where the enemy often loses track of you and thinks you're hiding somewhere else even when you stay in the same spot. I'm sure this isn't a problem on higher difficulties, so I'd recommend to try the game on Hard for your first playthrough to get the proper experience.
All this gushing, and I haven't even discussed the story, the best part of The Last Of Us. The Last Of Us's story can range from hilarious, to heartbreaking. Through the 13 or so hours I spent on the single-player I grew attached to Joel and especially Ellie. She is the best companion character I've seen in a video game. Yes, even better than Elizabeth from Bioshock: Infinite. She's very vulnerable and naive at first, but as the game progresses, you see her grow as a character, and her relationship with Joel evolve. I immediately felt like protecting her, and because she has her own outspoken personality, she becomes even more likable. However, the game never gives you more than a few moments of peace and happiness. The rest is extremely bleak and melancholic. Joel and Ellie meet up with many other characters along their journey, but they're never together for long. This leads to some of the most memorable, tragic scenes in the game. The Last Of Us pulls no punches. There are dramatic events in the plot, but it never throws out some kind random plot point out of left field just for the sake of it, and it still manages to be shocking and sad.
The multiplayer is also extremely fun, if not very similar to Uncharted. You play as a member of a group of survivors, over the span of 12 weeks gathering supplies. Each match is a day, and depending upon how many supplies you get per match, your group either grows, or shrinks. It's extremely fun, and combines the shooting of Uncharted, with the crafting and general gameplay of the single player. Teamwork is emphasized strongly, you will be brutally slaughtered if you play like a lone wolf, sadly, a lot of people I played with were like that, but working together with friends should be a blast.
The Last Of Us is, so far, my favourite game of 2013, and perhaps my favourite game of all time. It's a game every gamer should try, and I give it my highest commendation.
Great review! I'm really excited to play this!
I agree 100%. Truly something special.
This is a good first review, nice job. I would agree with the 10/10 because simply this game is just incredible and it should be played by all gamers.
Good review, Nik. Now I have to wait 6 months before I can get a PS3 and this game...
*gangsta voice* good job brah brah
I love this game. Great review!