Review – The Last of Us

By: Louis Edwards

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The apocalypse is calling, are you ready?

When I first heard about The Last of Us all I could think was wow, another zombie game. When I heard that Uncharted developer Naughty Dog was behind it, I started to get interested. Naughty Dog has long been a leader in innovation, graphics and game play when it comes to the PS3 so I knew that The Last of Us would truly be a AAA title. First party developers seem to always create some of the best games to date, regardless of the platform, and Naughty Dog set the bar pretty high with the Uncharted series.

The Last of Us starts out with a father and daughter enjoying a quiet evening at home. It’s his birthday and his daughter gives him a watch as a gift. Their relationship can be seen through that opening scene as loving and caring. She falls asleep, and being the doting father he is, he carries her up to her bed and tucks her in.

Jump forward a couple hours and the phone jolts her from her sleep. As we walk through the house, controlling this young girl, we slowly see what is unfolding outside and around the World through newspapers and television. She finds a note from her dad that says he had to go out but will be back soon. Anxious and scared, she sees his phone with missed calls and confusing texts. As she walks into his study, her father comes running through the sliding door, he is obviously scared and distressed. He grabs a revolver out of his desk and loads it while telling the girl to stay away from the windows and doors. Out of nowhere their neighbor crashes through the sliding glass door. She had just talked to him this morning and all was well. Her father begs and pleads with the neighbor, all to no avail. He looked and acted insane, and when he lunges at them her father has no choice but to put a bullet in his head.

joel street

The intense drama of the opening act of any video game has never been so well written. Grown men have cried at how it all unfolds, and that’s just the Prologue. While a lot of game developers start with game play, then build the story around that, Naughty Dog took an original work of art that is the story of The Last of Us, and created more than just another video game. This is art in every sense of the word.

Jack London’s Sea Wolf is a classic novel that showed the depth and despair caused by one man’s inhumanity to man. The Last of Us takes that same ideal and shows you what could happen on a grander scale. The depths of depravity that a human can go to in order to survive would probably surprise most people, but yet there are already stories coming out of our history books of men consuming men to get the nutrition and protein their bodies are in need of. In an apocalyptic world, would that be any different? Some may scoff and say that the majority can’t sit idly by while others suffer, but one only needs to go back a hundred years or so to public executions and lynchings.

Imagine this: Hey honey, it looks like a great day for a hanging. Pack up the picnic basket and tell the kids we are going to town. We need to get a good spot on the hill before all the best viewing spots are gone.

Now imagine this: Hey honey, the cafeteria has some new meat loaf ready to eat. Grab the kids and let’s hurry and up and get over there before all the meat is gone.

As a parent, would you question where the meat came from, or would you just make sure your kids have enough to eat to survive? Even if you knew, would that stop you from making sure your kids didn’t starve? If it went on long enough, and you were asked to go out and hunt for food, would you hesitate to feed your starving kids? The Last of Us is way more than just another zombie apocalypse video game. It’s a narrative of how the future might unfold if people are left to their own devices to survive and their leaders will stop at nothing to make sure their core group survives.

joel hit face

The game is played in the third person, with three playable characters. To say this is a third person shooter really doesn’t do well to describe it. Yes, it is a third person shooter, but at the same time there’s so much more to it than that. It is a story driven action/adventure game with third person shooter elements as well as some platforming and puzzles. That still doesn’t do it justice, but technically that’s what it is.

You can play the game several different ways, and the difficulty you play on should dictate what that style is. If you just want to enjoy the story, with little resistance, playing on Easy does well for that and will have you running and gunning through the game rather quickly. We played through on Hard and found that stealth was the key. By pressing R2 you’ll enter into a listening mode that shows you the location of bad guys and infected folks. When stealth matters, R2 is key to surviving, as ammunition is very hard to come by in Hard mode. Once the game is beaten, Survivor mode becomes available and listening mode is disabled.

joel pinned

Joel can carry quite a bit of stuff with him in his back pack and items for crafting can be found lying around. As you play through the game items are found that you can craft. Molotov cocktails, med kits, nail bombs and shivs are all helpful. Your health isn’t regenerative, so having a couple of med kits on hand is always a good thing. Crafting isn’t a quick process, but you can upgrade your skills by finding supplements lying around. You’ll also find your weapons lying around and they can be upgraded when you come across the hard to find work benches. There’s a couple of pistols, a sawed off shotgun, a pump action shotgun, a rifle, a bow and, eventually, a flame thrower. These are upgraded by using scraps you’ll find along your journey, so keep a keen eye out for anything and everything.

The Last of Us Multiplayer is an interesting addition to the story. It’s called Factions and is separated into two groups. You can choose to either be a Hunter or a Firefly (the story explains both roles in the game). You’ll be locked into that faction until your clan has been completely annihilated or progressed all the way through the online story. Which faction you choose doesn’t really matter, only surviving does. You can help build your clan by using the Facebook feature that will pull names from there and populate your clan.

There are two multiplayer modes which are called Supply Raid and Survivors. In Supply Raid, teams have a finite pool of respawns, while in Survivors, every player has only one life in each round–there are no respawns. Really both modes are just team death matches with the respawning being the only difference.

joel lobby

Video games are a dime a dozen, with most sticking to some cookie cutter recipe that seems to always work to sell games. Shooters come and go with little to no new innovations, but yet they generally sell many copies and pander to a huge install base. It’s not everyday that a brand new series is introduced to the World, and it’s not everyday that a game can be called the best of a generation. The PlayStation 3 will soon be replaced by the upcoming PlayStation 4, so what better way to ring in the new generation than by creating a game that redefines the last generation and pushes it well beyond the limits of not only the genre in which it falls, but gaming as a whole.

The graphics are outstanding, the music is remarkable, and the acting is Oscar worthy.

Congratulations to Naughty Dog for creating not only the Game of the Year, but quite possibly the Game of the Generation.

10

The Final Verdict

ProsCons

  • Incredible and powerful story
  • Outstanding graphics
  • Great music

  • Patch 1.01 was a bit glitchy

VerdictA fun little game at a great price
Rating
100%
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