Let’s get the obvious out of the way and say I am way too late to the party on reviewing The Last of Us. You’re right, but remember the name of the game here is reviewing old video games after all and technically, it’s an old video game. Alright, with that all said let’s move on to what’s more important, my view on the highly critical game of the year of 2013 (if you’re interested on reading another damn review on this game).
Naughty Dog has only given gamers magic since the original Playstation – like Pixar before they started rehashing every franchise they have. With hits like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and Uncharted, they were on a roll with unbelievable – if not near-perfect – franchises. The Last of Us announcement got everyone excited because Naughty Dog was going back into uncharted (Get it? No…? Damn.) waters with a new IP. It’s been years since they have come up with something new, but again high expectations and critical success can only mean another perfection for the gaming community. I have only played the single-player campaign and not the multiplayer mode, so the review is only about the single-player campaign.
The Last of Us is reminiscent of books like The Road and The Walking Dead. The “end of days” or the zombie/infected apocalypse is the basis of the story. Nothing original, but how it’s been presented is what makes this (well for me) an original title. I’m going to try and not spoil much of the story, even though millions already played the game. The story revolves around the lives of Joel and Ellie. Joel, survivor of the infecting plague, is living out the remainder of his life in cities controlled by a corrupt system through illegal trades and violence. A violent, yet simple and profitable life for Joel, until a little girl is suddenly dropped off into his lap when he meets an old acquaintance. Ellie is being transported for reasons unknown and he must deliver Ellie unharmed through the harsh environments full of Runners/Clickers (the infested) or Hunters (humans who live to kill and survive). Getting this girl to her destination can mean he can live comfortably and get back to living his old lifestyle. However, things don’t go so well for Joel and Ellie and they go on a journey about survival and trust.
The story is a book itself and in my eyes and what I have experienced…it…was…amazing. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, sneaking by the infested or humans during the game or when the incredible cutscenes flesh out the story. Naughty Dog tried to bring in a story book scenario into reality and bring all the destruction, sadness, craziness, loneliness, and every other adjective that would sink your heart. I may be an “average” gamer, but damn…this game really reeled me in with great dialogue and story.
The gameplay is similar to Uncharted, but with an addition (or significant upgrade) to the stealth gameplay. Sound is your ally – or enemy – in this game. The AI is incredibly smart (most of the time) and surprisingly Ellie mostly stays out of your way. The addition to having RPG-elements by collecting items to build/improve your equipment and abilities is nicely done. Going through your inventory keeps the game running in real-time, making you only build when the coast is clear and creates tension when you are in a dangerous scenario. There are simple puzzles as well, but the meat of the game is in stealth. Using Joel’s ultra-hearing abilities, you can see allies and enemies around you. You can go guns blazing, but…with the lack of resources you run into and getting gang-raped by a bunch AI is not a great idea. Actually, I’ll just say it should be the last option.
The graphics were one of the most-hyped parts of The Last of Us. Naughty Dog definitely did not fail to deliver on that part. I’ve seen some Day One glitches on the internet and videos, but once the patches came up and during the time I played, I didn’t notice a single thing wrong. Maybe I got so enveloped into the game, I did not notice anything. Then again, everything is messed up in the world of The Last of Us. The beautiful dystopia of remaining cities and hopeless lives that fill the street were unnerving and bleak. The beautiful urban cities decaying in mother nature’s and mankind’s own destruction was surreal, yet lively. There wasn’t an area where my eyes wouldn’t keep wandering about and enjoying every detail the game had to offer.
The characters had incredible detail. Joel and Ellie’s emotions were perfectly displayed. Each enemy you faced, looked alive and hungry for the death of Joel and Ellie. The animations felt real, especially the death animations. Everything was brutally detailed. Again, nothing was left out except for happiness in this game. This was the greatest part, there were no real sense of relief or happiness. The story was just a bleak and deadly atmostphere.
The sound department did a fantastic job in creating a tense atmosphere. Each sound effect creates the eerie and suspenseful moments during the game. Plus, sound is what makes the stealth gameplay. Hearing the infested move about or listening to people talk brings the atmosphere to a tense and realistic one. The music really gets going only when an all out battle occurs or during cut-scenes; otherwise the game mainly lets you concentrate on being a stealthy post-apocalyptic killer. The voice acting was incredible and pretty much perfect. The heated arguments, whispers, screaming, and other emotional dialogue were amazingly done and transformed the game into a suspense/horror movie.
The Last of Us didn’t feel like a game at all, it was just an interactive movie. For the 20ish hours of playtime I went through; it was just an emotional roller coaster. I thoroughly enjoyed this game. It was simply amazing. A near-perfect game for anyone to play and enjoy. I can go on and on praising this game, but then again you heard it enough from everybody else and me already.