The Last of Us is the first game I have ever actively sought out to play despite not owning the system it was released on. As someone who typically sticks to the Xbox 360, seeing this as a PS3 exclusive meant there was a very real possibility I wouldn’t play it till it was way spoiled for me. I couldn’t let that happen, so I borrowed my friend’s PS3 with their copy of the game and did nothing else during my free time for a week. And honestly? It was incredibly worth it. Naughty Dog, the game’s developer, is doing something right with this game from the storyline, the game mechanics, and the depth of detail that makes it a fucking masterpiece of gaming.
The Last of Us does a lot of things right with this game but the storyline was probably one of the most enticing elements when trailers were first released. It embodies something most of us love: a post-apocalyptic world after a zombie-like outbreak where we have to save the world. The story is set 20 years after the initial outbreak. We play as Joel as he escorts the young, delightfully potty-mouthed Ellie across the United States to find an underground resist group known as the Fireflies.
Firstly, the zombie outbreak is not the typical virus spread phenomenon like most of the genre portrays. Instead it focuses on a very real fungus known as the Cordyceps fungus. This plague becomes airborne via spores which, along with bites, can cause a person to turn. It is very hard to create a new take on the traditional zombie tale yet The Last of Us was able create something new. The zombies also function a bit differently. The main type, “Clickers” find you via sound by clicking. However, staying true to the genre, there are a type of zombie that are more familiar. “Runners” are closer to the 28 Days variety but within the game are not as common as Clickers.
They might still look like people, but that person is not in there anymore.
Secondly, the entire game is an escort mission. But not the frustrating, throw your controller down because your fucking partner died – again, type of escort mission. Thankfully, it seems like game creators are realizing that is not what we want. Like the other top game of the year, BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us features a competent AI companion. Ellie can take care of herself for the most part (unless it plays into the main storyline.) Eventually, when she gets her own gun, she can even help out during battles without having to be told. Because you are with this character all through the game, it makes you, the player, bond with her just as your character bonds with her in the game. You spend so much time protecting her, you can’t help but care about her by the end of the game.
After all we’ve been through. Everything that I’ve done. It can’t be for nothing.
Lastly, the game makes you FEEL. 15 minutes into my first play through, I was sobbing. Just waterfalls down my face. And that wasn’t even into the main part of the game. The Last of Us grabs you right from the beginning and forces all those feelings down your throat. Throughout the game you think to yourself exactly how you want it to end. Then you get to the ending, which is nowhere near what you always thought it would be, but you realize it couldn’t have ended any other way. It’s sad, happy, realistic, and fictional all at the same time and I love it for that.
I’ve struggled a long time with survivin’, but no matter what you have to find something to fight for.
The Last of Us has a very unique gameplay style that I found both refreshing and interesting. Like most games, each section of the game involves clearing the area of the enemy, however, what makes this game different is the ability to clear it in many different ways. I, personally, am not very proficient with aiming a gun multiple times in a row. So I played the game mostly using stealth techniques. Slowly sneaking up behind an enemy then SHIVING THEM IN THE NECK! It is both satisfying and resourceful. The game does a great job at making it known that ammo is limited. This is the apocalypse after all.
Also, the enemies will react to your movements and your character. Out of ammo? Knocked down for a moment? The enemies know this and will take advantage of it. Clickers and Runners are not the only threat. A majority of the game sees Joel and Ellie fighting against hostile survivors. Cannibals, military personnel, and raiders will try to take you down and can even call in reinforcements when needed.
As a team we pride ourselves on setting a very high quality bar for every aspect of our games–gameplay, story, art, design, technology and more. We want to make sure The Last of Us raises that bar even further – for ourselves, and most importantly, our fans…”As we entered the final phase of development for The Last of Us, we came to realize just how massive Joel and Ellie’s journey is. But instead of cutting corners or compromising our vision, we came to the tough decision that the game deserved a few extra weeks to ensure every detail of The Last of Us was up to Naughty Dog’s internal high standards.
It’s Freaking Gorgeous
Naughty Dog has a great attention to detail when it comes to the background of the game. Despite being set in an apocalyptic world, most of the game is just freaking gorgeous. As the landscape starts overtaking civilization, we see nature overcoming what humanity once did to it. For most of the game, the sun is shining and creating a beautiful backdrop for the apocalypse.
Every “level” of the game from the University to the hotel to the quarantine zones are rendered to be as realistic as possible with some places revealing a side story of heartbreak and death.
Also it should be noted that the characters within the game were created by motion-capturing the voice-actors. This allows the characters to move and act in the most realistic way seen in a very long time for the video game world. From their expressions to the in combat movements, everything feels completely natural allowing you to be drawn in even deeper when caring about the storyline and the characters.
The Last of Us definitely is up there for Game of the Year. Between it and BioShock Infinite, this has been a great year for gaming. It is a toss-up on which will win but in the end, it doesn’t matter as long as developers take the time to see that these are the kinds of games we want.
If you haven’t played the game, borrow/rent/buy a console because your life will be better having played it.