Kaushik here, reviewing the recently released The Last of Us, a PS3 title. It’s done by the team at Naughty Dog, a studio that’s been making great games for years. Ranging from Crash Bandicoot to the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog has been around the block and then some. The Last of Us is their latest title, and has proven to be among their best. Released on June 14th of 2013, I bought it day one and more or less played it non-stop until I beat it. A little preview of how good I thought the game was. But let’s dig in to the nuts and bolts of this game first.
The genre of this game is survival action. If you’re familiar with the Uncharted series, and expecting a similar experience, I think you’ll be somewhat disappointed. The action in this game is nothing like the superhuman feats characters in other third person games perform regularly. The main character, Joel, is just an old, tired man who’s looking to survive just a little bit longer. So combat at the best of times is shaky, and as this is a survival game, you’ll never get the feeling that you have a comfortable amount of resources.
But that’s just the way I like it. It’s survival game, and the incredibly scarce resources really contribute to that feeling. Every time you’re thrust into a combat scenario, you walk in never feeling like you have enough resources to comfortably tackle it, but you just have to make do with what you have. Oftentimes that results in some inventive solutions to every encounter, making the best use possible of whatever resources you have.
That’s one of my favorite parts about this game. Every single encounter with enemies in this game feels like a unique challenge, and with the scarcity in resources I was forced every time to come up with a unique solution tailored to that specific encounter. Whether it be a complete stealth approach, or tactical proximity bombs set up, or even drawing enemies out one by one to take out, every encounter felt unique and varied, and that really kept the spice of the game’s combat alive to me.
Additionally, the combat is difficult. There’s significant weapon sway to every weapon (unless you get the reduce weapon sway ability) and with the extremely limited amount of bullets you really have to make each shot count. You can only take a few hits before dying, and with no regenerating health you have to be careful with how much damage you take in a combat scenario. Fortunately, if you succeed a combat scenario but maybe don’t like how you’re walking out of it, there’s a convenient option to restart the encounter. I used that option a lot.
So as far as game play goes, this game is a ton of fun. Lots of varied combat situations, and a lot of ways to play through the games. One of the better examples of “survival” I’ve ever found in a video game, for sure.
The great gameplay isn’t everything this game has going for it, though. It’s also got an interesting and emotional plot, with great characters. While the concept of a post-apocalyptic zombie scenario isn’t exactly new to video games, The Last of Us refines and really perfects the formula. Just like the Uncharted games are generic action shooters, yet done incredibly well, The Last of Us is similarly clichéd. Despite that, the story is presented masterfully, and the incredible characters really help drive that presentation to greater heights.
So the zombie situation here is somewhat more frightening in that it’s based off of real life. The main culprit behind the outbreak here is cordyceps, a real-life fungus that actually takes over and kind of “zombifies” insects and other creatures in real life. Look it up if you want to see some really creepy stuff. The hypothetical situation in this game is: What if the cordyceps also attacked human populations? Thus you get the infected, and you get the world of The Last of Us.
The events of the game take place 20 years after the first outbreak, and the main character is an old man named Joel, who’s just been surviving in this harsh world. He’s been tasked with bringing a young 14-year old girl named Ellie to the base of this faction called The Fireflies. Of course, neither Joel nor Ellie are that fond of each other or this trip they’re going to undertake, but due to certain circumstances Joel is really the only one capable. They embark on an expansive and exciting journey from start to finish, and without saying too much, it’s a great ride. I fell in love with the characters, and I was sad to see the game end.
As far as the graphics are concerned, it’s not too hard to tell that The Last of Us is really pushing the PS3 to its limits. The game looks and feels incredible, but it’s evident that this is about as far as the PS3 can be pushed (good thing the PS4 is coming out soon!). The environments, textures, and character designs all look fantastic in this game, and there’s a wealth of color in this game that’s often missing from many AAA titles nowadays. There’s not much else to say about the graphics of this game except that they look good, damn good.
Likewise for the sound design. The voice acting is spot-on, and well-done. Joel and Ellie are believable characters brought to life by their voices, and the banter between the two is excellent. Besides that, the atmosphere the game drives by some of its sound design is fantastic. Particularly these infected enemies known as “clickers”, who get around via echolocation. These enemies are incredibly dangerous since they can kill you in one hit, so hearing the click of these enemies en mass can be distressing to say the least. The music is of course great as well, with some very nice themes throughout the game.
Putting it simply, The Last of Us is one of the best games I’ve ever played. From gameplay to story to characters to graphics, this game has everything going for it. My favorite game of all time happens to be Metal Gear Solid 3, but after going through The Last of Us, there might be some competition for that top spot. It’s just that good. I’d recommend everyone give this game a try.
— Difficult and fun gameplay that rewards inventive solutions to encounters
— Great characters and well-executed plot
— Very pretty graphics, clearly pushing the PS3 to its limits
— While the plot is presented well, it boils down to a fairly clichéd and predictable story.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PS3
Genre: Action-adventure, Survival horror
Release date: June 14, 2013
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