shacks's The Last of Us (PlayStation 3) review

My The Last of Us Review

You can honestly say a game pulls you into its world when you walk away emotionally drained. That is what The Last of Us does, it pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. You will not want to put the controller down. It shows that sometimes the right thing to do won’t be what keeps you a live. It is about survival, hope, endurance and commitment. However, Last of Us is not without a few issues that can sometimes take your right out of the experience.

The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s spin on the apocalypse with zombie-esque infected people and even worse, humans willing to do anything and everything to get what they want and need in order to survive. The infection is fungal that grows on the brain. If you breathe in the spores, get bitten or scratched by a person infected, you become infected as well. The outbreak and cause are never really clear, but in The Last of Us it is not at all the concern. The game is not about exploring the reason that it happened, it is about the days after everything goes bad. Humanity did what is basically expected to happen in an outbreak this day in age, which is come together in military cities were survivors deal in ration tickets. We are introduced to Joel, who at one time lead a pretty normal life with his daughter and brother until the outbreak happened. Then twenty years later Joel is a different man, he is a survivor. The whole apocalypse over the years has taken a toll on him. We also meet Tess, who is Joel’s feisty partner. It is unclear what they do for a living, but after seeking out someone who screwed them over leads to them being in charge of a young girl named Ellie. They take on the task of transporting Ellie to the Fireflies, a militia group that wants to establish order in the ways that the world use to be.

Naughty Dog has a legacy of pushing the PlayStation 3’s hardware further than anyone else can. It has shown over the years with the Uncharted series. They have proven they can do more with a game than just about anyone else. They are able to do it once again here; being one of the main reasons it is hard to stop playing The Last of Us is the look and feel of the game. No matter how isolated, dark and dank the environment is, it always feeling alive and real. This also helps with trying to make every kill worth it and carry weight when it happens.

The main obstacle in The Last of Us is survival. It is what matters most when going through the world that is laid out in front of you. Sure after a while the body count on the game starts to get pretty high and starts to feel like a standard shooter, but the game is long and not easy. The Last of Us is not about killing everyone in the area; it is about getting out alive and preferably unnoticed. When you take a life, it is because there really is no other choice. That is how the game was developed. So that way Joel is not looked at as just a mass murderer and so that there is a line between Joel and the hunters out in the world that will kill you just because. It is a thin line to say the least, but it is there and like stated before, the body count does add up a lot by the end.

When combat is inevitable, this game is brutal and when you first start it can be hard. The more powerful infected have one hit kills that you can not counter until later in the game. There is also the whole pesky thing of being shot. Not only can one bullet take half your life, but sometime it will knock Joel back, even knock him to the ground at times which leaves him wide open for other shots to be taken or hits to come in from closer melee enemies. This can get annoying, but feels real enough that it is hard to argue it being a function in the game. Also your health does not regenerate at all. You have to heal yourself with med kits either found in the world or that you create using scraps of things you find in the world while searching around. Also every time you create a med kit or use one. It is done in real-time, the same goes for anything done with Joel rooting around in his backpack. This adds tension to the already intense game, more so when it is in the middle of a fight. Everything that you use in the game can be made by crafting, but just like med kits it takes time and items found to do so. Although also like med kits you can sometimes find things as a whole lying around. You will be able to unlock things to make throughout the game, such as Molotov cocktails, smoke bombs and more. You also pick up pieces here and there that can be used to upgrade weapons that you use in the game. However you can not upgrade weapons right out of the backpack, you need a work bench and those come few and far between.

The Last of Us does give gamers a break though, somewhat when Joel needs to know what he is dealing with in an area. You can have him crouch down and he listens using the L2 button and everything turns to a grey and people or infected in the area will have a white outline to them. There is nothing special here or any kind of supernatural power that he has, it is just him using his twenty years of survival experience. It makes knowing where everyone is and the routes so much easier so you can plan your strategy and escape. If an enemy hasn’t made a sound that Joel has heard, then they will not show up in this listening feature. One of the things you can have in your inventory is a brick or a bottle, this is good in a situation when you know someone is near by, but can’t see them. Throw the brick/bottle to not only draw their attention, but to be able to see them and track what they do. The bricks and bottles you pick up can be used for offence as well. I had a situation of walking into a shed with a clicker and it started to get all riled up, so I threw my brick at his face, ran up and melee killed him. The gun-play can lead so similar scenarios too. I used a bow on a guy to take him out quietly, unfortunately someone was near him saw him go down. I quickly went into listen mode and noticed a bad guy right next to me on the other side of the wall. As soon as I listened he came walking around so I instantly grabbed him and stabbed him with my shiv. The combat does a god job keeping you on your toes in situations that you have to fight.

Be it sneaking around or in full on combat you always have plenty of cover to use. This tends to make it easy to predict the next gun fight in the game though, like so many other games have done. When you walk into a room and see things in place that you know you can hide behind, you can bet that you will be hiding or fighting in that area sooner or later. This is one of those situations that helps you remember you are playing a game. This is a flaw in many game, mostly shooters seeing they have all the cover. I don’t know how this can be fixed, but it is something that needs to be fixed. Until then, try not thinking about it when you see two cars lined up together.

It is also in the combat situations that the AI of Ellie, Tess or whoever is with you is horribly annoying and can really rip you out of the game. It is in these situations that the game is really glaring with problems that games for some reason still have not been able to over come. It is bad enough that when Ellie is following you, she is always right behind you. This makes it difficult to get around in small places, because you constantly run into her and can’t move. Then there is situation when in a fight you will be running to cover and she will go to that exact spot leaving Joel to stand (or if crouch if already crouched) in the open vulnerable to being shot. This is something that happens in games too often.

The thing about The Last of Us doing this that is really irritating and annoying is that your companions are ignored by the enemies constantly. Maybe Naught Dog did this so you didn’t have to worry about failing because of the stupid AI getting killed, I can respect that, but when Ellie literally runs into a bad guy and then around him to get behind cover on the other side of the room, it takes me right out of the game completely. On top of that it makes her needing cover useless which then makes her taking cover where I am about to take cover that much more infuriating. This is the one thing about the game I really hate and it wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t find yourself in these situations so often. Again, you might not kill loads of people in an area, but the game is long and these situations add up after a while.

Ellie isn’t just another character in the game, she is a central point to the plot and when she isn’t stealing the cover or running right into baddies, she is joining the fight and can be very helpful in dire situations. Outside of constantly being right behind you, she is never annoying and a pretty fun character for her being a child. She is fourteen years old, loves comicbooks and knows nothing about the world before the infection. Her ignorance shows through to her innocence. It makes many of her reactions to things a bright spot in a dead world. Although the environment is full of brightness, so often the games graphics shows the world as still being bright and beautiful as planet life has consumed the majority of everything.

The Last of Us comes across as more of a survival horror game than anything else. Yes it is mainly about survival, but when you enter a building, go into the listen mode and see four or five clickers and/or runner on the floor above you, you will get scared and wish you could go back out the way you came in. It is easy to find yourself hording everything that you find and make, although later in the game things get easier to make so you can say, use your shivs more often. Also by the time you get close to the end you have a good amount of weapons at your disposal, even if you might have a few bullets for each you will hardly have to worry about running out.

The reason The Last of Us is so emotionally draining is because the characters are so emotional. Everything they go through, you feel it yourself. The acting in this game is beyond words, and it isn’t just the acting that makes scenes so great. It is also the motion capturing of the characters. Whatever it is they are thinking or saying you see it in the expressions on their face and in their eyes, making every reaction and conversation more realistic. This is once more something that pulls you into the game and makes you not want to put the controller down.

Naughty Dog has been successful with making the Uncharted series a great series a long with having a decent multiplayer to go along with it. They pretty much do the same thing here as there is a multiplayer in The Last of Us. There isn’t much two it, you join either the hunters side or the Firefly side and you can play one of two different match options at a time. Now I have no played much of the multiplayer, so there is little I can say about it. The two types of game play is Supply Raid, which is more of a respawn game and not that much fun as everyone seems to just run around and not care. There is also Survivors, which is more of a tactical based game play were once you dies you wait and to win you have to takeout everyone on the other team or have more people alive on your team when the time runs out. This mode is the more fun for those that like teamwork and communication with their multiplayer shooters, like I do. I was having no problem with my team winning every time when I was playing with the one group because, we all stuck together and played as a team. There is a lot more depth to the multiplayer; unfortunately I have not had the time to really sink my teeth into it. For what I have tried it is not too bad for a multiplayer; however I will say it was unnecessary to have in the game.

The Last of Us takes experiencing video games to a new level. Naughty Dog has out done themselves once again and also they raised the bar for gaming development like they have done in the past. The story, the characters, the environment and the action works together perfectly and mostly is all timed out just right. There are a few issues with the game, but it is not at all enough to over look everything this game does right and very well. It is as if the Uncharted series was all just practice for this one title. The Last of Us is surely the best game this generation has to offer.

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