The Last of Us (Naughty Dog)
Systems: Playstation 3, Playstation 4 Release Date: June 14th, 2013
ESRB: M for Mature
(Review based on the PS3 version)
what happens when the creators of the sensational Uncharted Series decide to take their turn at the over saturated zombie genre? well you get The Last of Us, a heart pounding drama set in a world ravaged by a viral outbreak. now you might be asking yourself if this is just another Walking Dead pretender, maybe just another excuse for yet another zombie filled romp, it isn’t. The Last of Us takes the route of World War Z (the book not film) and instead focus on telling a very human story about a man who has lost so much and his bloody descent as he fights to preserve the one thing he might have left. without spoiling to much the first ten minutes of this game made me feel more than most triple A blockbusters and it was only getting started.
lets put the story to the side for a moment and instead focus on the gameplay. taking a note from their established Uncharted franchise, The last of us has tight realistic gun mechanics mixed with a grounding melee that makes you feel every jarring moment of the action. ammo is sparse and this lends well to the game’s survival horror vibe. you’ll be counting bullets and scrounging for materials with the games simple albeit necessary crafting system. every advantage is put to use as the over the top action movie antics from uncharted are toned down for more realistic and dangerous scenarios. Joel and Ellie (the game’s second and most important character) are not super heroes, nor do they have the survivablity of Nathan drake. gun shots are devastating, melee brawls leave you breathless as each encounter feels like its life or death. gone are the arena’s full of enemies and useful cover, while the game still supports these places your strategies and plans are forced to be more conservative, each missed shot, every wasted bandage might mean certain death if you encounter a group of bandits or clicker (one of the games few zombie variants, of which this one makes a distinct clicking noise and can instantly kill you if grappled).
For fans of the walking dead it will come to no surprise that human’s are some of the most deadly enemies in the last of us. where the zombies have very unique behaviors and rules they follow, human enemies can change on the fly adapting to your strategies and passing on their knowledge as the game progresses . learning to use your environment and what little you have on you to stealthily take out your enemies is vital. not to be restricting if your really resourceful you might take the Rambo approach and just find yourself a little low on supplies later. the zombies as I explained above all have their own rules, clickers tend to stay in place or patrol a short distance while clicking away in the dark. runners are your typical 28 days later variety choosing to chase you down and swarm you. then you have others that simply hide, waiting quitly for you to get close before attacking and decimating your few moments of calm between the games many set pieces.
the basic premise for the story begins twenty years after the outbreak. america and possibly the whole world has fallen to a fungal parasite known as cordyceps ( a real parasite that typicaly infects ants! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyceps) the main character Joel is a smuggler through the now heavily controlled/screened cities of america. when a job goes south he is stuck with the enigmatic girl Ellie and together they have to get her across country to the terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the outbreak. what ensues is a rough ride through a world that has been reclaimed by nature both human and plant. buildings are rusting, plants have infiltrated everything and the desperation is palpable throughout. one of the high qualities of the last of us is the characterization. Joel is not a nice guy, and twenty years of violent survival have made him no end of enemies and even fewer friends. this is not a hero who makes clever one liners while swinging and climbing his way to the treasure. instead Joel is a brooding forty something who has seen the worst of the world and is ready to do the worst to see the next day. this is balanced by the pseudo innocence of Ellie who has seen plenty to make her ready to face the world, but yet still retains a youthful optimism. this world is all she has known and without spoiling anything she is prepared to do what she has to when the time comes.
I can continue to tell you that this is a not to miss experience and the story alone has a wide appeal to anyone who enjoys human drama and zombies. you’ll want more and have plenty of questions to ask by the end but let me say I have never been so emotionally exhausted by a game in my life, even now I think about how much it’ll take to go on that adventure one more time…its not easy.
the last bit I’d like to bring up is the game’s fantastic multiplayer. taking a que from social gaming, the last of us has you connect your facebook (if you have one) and uses your friendslist to fill out your ‘base’ with friends and family. you are then tasked with choosing a side in a conflict and then each and every decision, loss, and success you make affects your base, your families, and friends. you go into every match doing your best to survive while obtaining salvage which is crucial to the survival of your base. the goal of course is to make it to twelve weeks. each match comprising a single day. as your success grows and your base gets bigger you’ll feel the struggle of each person weighing on your in battle. if you don’t do good or better this next match those survivors who are sick wont get their medicine and die, if you lose everyone in your base then its game over and you are forced to start over on week 1. this is a subtle mechanic but it makes the multiplayer more than run and gun. I’ve never seen players play so cautiously. matches are tense and every encounter will leave you feeling the weight of your decisions so that you might learn the next time. the gameplay itself takes the realistic gunplay from the main game and thee unique ‘listen system’ (where you can stop and ‘hear’ to see players who are shooting or moving on the map) to put you in the shoes of a supply runner in the wilds of america. the maps are both vertical and big, offering lots of variety in how to properly assault the many supply points on a map or how to swiftly eliminate the opposition. just like the main game your character is not invincible and many times you’ll see a new recruit run out to ‘run and gun’ only to see them shot by an arrow or quickly dispatched by a rifle far away.
this is not a game for heroes only those willing to do what they need to, to survive. Finaly, the last of us is a must own experience, if you have either a PS3 or PS4 its a game you owe yourself to play. it does have a few problems (mostly the insistence on combat near the end of the main story) but what it does it does well. for thoes who liked “the road” “book of eli” or even “I am Legend” its a MUST BUY.
[ + ] Story: your going to feel alot in this wild ride into a possible future, this is the walking dead meets the road with a dash of I am legend, buckle up and prepare your heart.
[+] Graphics: it looks so good you’ll wish you could just run around looking at stuff instead of fighting. the detail is wonderful and you’ll want to speculate on how events led to certain set pieces
[ + ] Gameplay: your going to feel every bullet wound, every punch, every fall. this game has tight controls and even tighter mechanics, stealth, action, and traversal married perfectly.
[+] Replayablity: quite a few collectibles and a really engaging multiplayer means you’ll be keeping the last of us in your system for quite awhile before you’ll move to something else.
[ + ] Opinion: my game of the year for 2013, it is everything a game should aspire to be and has the appeal to get anyone into video games. absolutely amazing
I rate The Last of Us a resounding 5/5 Kupo!