The Last of Us Review
Joe Anderson | 4 years ago
The world of The Last of Us is a dangerous place. Earth is caught in the midst of an epidemic, Humans are being turned into 'infected' zombie-like creatures due to airborne spores which have started appearing across the land and to make matters worse, anyone bitten by one of these 'infected' also succumbs to the virus. These aren't the only dangers, since some humans have taken it upon themselves to fight for survival and if you are not part of their group then you are the enemy. So you could say that going for a Sunday morning stroll is a bit out of the question.
You'd be forgiven for thinking, "I think I’ll just stay in tonight" when the world is in such a state, however this is not an option for our two main characters, both of whom you'll no doubt grow a bond with as you join them in an epic sprawling adventure which will provide your emotions with more ups and downs that a rollercoaster.
The story of Joel and Ellie is certainly a curious one, he's the mercenary out to complete his mission, while Ellie is being, somewhat reluctantly, dragged along for the ride. Both are quite different characters yet they find themselves in the same situation, having to put up with each other's company in order to get to their end goal. In this case they are both looking for a group called the Fireflies although they have a very long and dangerous journey ahead of them.
When we first join Joel and Ellie they are a bit unsure of each other. Joel is quite a stubborn man who has been through a lot. It almost feels as if he has given in and has no fear for his life, hence his willingness to take on a suicide mission to travel across the land to find the Fireflies. Ellie is quite the opposite in a way, she's only 14 but very head strong. She's carrying her fair share of secrets, but she's determined to survive and does a pretty good job of doing so, even though she can't swim and is too young to carry a firearm.
The Last of Us takes around 12-13 hours to complete and with good reason. Joel and Ellie have a long way to go, at first starting off in the Quarantine zone before they find themselves even further afield. Things start off relatively simply as Joel and Ellie escape the Quarantine Zone into the outside world in an adventure that sprawls all manner of areas, from subways, to suburban jungles and all other manner of surprising landscapes.
While areas of land and adventure all vary, generally they always have one thing in common - the Infected. These hair-raising creatures come in two main forms, first are the grunts which are known as 'Runners'. When these guys spot you they’ll run at you in numbers, often too fast for you to fire a few rounds of Joel's gun. In most cases a swift blow with one of the many blunt or sharp weapons you'll find lying around will often do the trick, although you can also revert back to a shotgun to the face if your reflexes are quick enough. The other enemies you will come up against are the 'Clickers'. These guys don’t have eyes due to the infection reaching an advanced stage. This has it's advantages for Joel in that he is able to sneak up behind them and perform a stealth kill although it also has a rather large disadvantage in that if he's spotted he’ll often be killed instantly.
To mix things up a little, on their travels Joel and Ellie will also come across many styles of bandit who are generally out for themselves, planning to kill anyone who is not familiar to them. In a way this can be even more difficult due to the constant gun battles, their sheer numbers and their more advanced weaponry. The bandits also have a few other tricks up their sleeves too, although I'll leave that for you top find out.
To add even more difficulty into the mix, supplies are scare, making bullets and weapons often hard to come by, which makes compromising a must. Luckily Joel is quite skilled at using various materials for makeshift weapons. This allows him to create small knives known as 'Shivs' which can be used when sneaking up behind enemies. He is also able to create nail bombs, smoke bombs and molotov cocktails in order to disrupt the enemy, which is pretty handy when you are low on bullets. In addition, Joel can also create healing kits, which provide a health boost - essential since health does not regenerate during the game.
One of the other fantastic things about supplies being scarce is that Joel has to find inventive ways of killing the enemy. This often involves sneaking around in order to take them down from behind. Although there are other ways, such as throwing bricks to put them off course or just running away, which, when low on health and short of bullets is usually the most sensible option.
Although enemy encounters are a large part of The Last of Us, exploration is also an essential ingredient. By exploring Joel can find all manner of equipment and supplies. This not only allows him to create the makeshift items mentioned above, but also allows him to find items such as 'Gears' which allow for weapon upgrades and 'Pills' which can be used to upgrade areas such as healing speed and his listening skill, the latter of which allows for a sonar-like sight of enemy positions.
Although most of the time will be spent protecting Ellie from danger, she will also protect Joel in her own special way. The pair make a great if not unusual partnership. Often Joel will boost Ellie up to higher areas so that she can throw down ladders of planks to enable him to get to higher areas. She can also crawl into small spaces, allowing her to open otherwise unreachable areas. In return Joel will swim in deep water and retrieve wood crates, which he can then use as a makeshift boat in order to get Ellie over to the other side. There are many co-operative moments like this throughout the game and these only increase as Ellie grows in confidence.
Although the story is the main star in The Last of Us, all of the elements seem to combine to make this star shine brighter. Graphically the game looks absolutely fantastic, well up there will Uncharted as one of the best looking games of this generation. This is especially evident during cutscenes where the brilliantly performed character acting and simply stunning presentation combine in order to provide plenty of 'blink and you’ll think it's a real movie' moments. Everything about The Last of Us, from music, to presentation to the story is just absolutely sublime.
If there is one slight flaw which may annoy some then it's probably the inclusion of the slightly out of place and aforementioned 'Listen Mode'. By pressing the R2 button the room darkens and Joel can listen for the enemy, giving an idea of their position by providing an outline of their bodies. Personally I found this a really helpful inclusion, although it did take away from the realism of the experience slightly. I only mention this feature as it may not appeal to all, although those playing on a higher difficulty setting will probably find it essential.
As far as multiplayer goes, not much has been mentioned up until now and unfortunately given that I have only been able to play a few matches online, I can’t really give any in-depth impressions. I can however give you an idea of how it works.
In multiplayer you join one of two factions, the Hunters or the Fireflies. Once you have chosen your team you'll then choose your load-out (assault, sniper, support and stealth). When the game begins you are given a handful of survivors and the aim is to grow this clan count each time you play. The clan members are generic 'stats', so although you’ll get text based information showing what they are up to, you don't actually see them during a game. Instead multiplayer takes its usual form with players taking part in two game types, each of which allow for two teams of four. Game modes include Supply Raid and Survivors. Supply Raid has you hunting for supplies with only twenty lives between you and the end of the match, with any supplies found being recorded against your profile. Survivors is simply what it says, with the added and brutal condition that if you die then you're out until the end of the round.
Multiplayer is ongoing, so each match you play represents one day and by playing more matches you'll gain more supplies, which in turn helps your survivor count. The main aim is to survive for 12 weeks, at which point you'll be able to switch factions if you want to.
I really wish I could have tested the multiplayer for myself because it seems like it could be very interesting, however with the game not being out for a few weeks it was very difficult to find a match online. Obviously the main area of focus in The Last of Us should be the single player campaign and rightly so, however the mulitplayer could very well prove to be popular.
In all honesty, I can’t recall any game ever pulling at my heartstrings as much as The Last of Us. The talented team at Naughty Dog has once again managed to combine brilliant gameplay with a very strong narrative, providing one of the greatest stories told in video games across this generation of consoles. Straight from the first minute the game's story grabs you in and doesn’t let go and yes there will be tears along the way, but you'll get through it and be all the more impressed for doing so. Naughty Dog's The Last of Us is a work of art, a classic waiting to be played. Make sure you don't miss out because this game will be talked about for a long time to come.
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ One of the best stories in video game history
+ Fantastic Graphics
+ Wonderful Acting
+ Brilliant Gameplay
+ Just buy it, if you don't have a PS3, buy one
- It's not out till next week
Edited On 05 Jun, 2013
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