The Last of Us Review
+Great graphics and animation
The Last of Us takes us on an epic journey through the life of Joel, across most of the country in which you are faced with the task of escorting Ellie. Joel is told to bring Ellie to the Fireflies, a friendly resistance group. You end up having to fight your way through zombies of all kinds as well as Hunters who are merely humans. Throughout the trip the relationship between the two grows so much that by the end you can’t but help feel for them. With the ability to craft weapons or medical items as well as improving skills it makes for a very dynamic ambitious journey. Is the journey worth all the risk or do you feel that by the end it wasn’t worth anything? Read on to find out in the full review.
What We Liked
The Last of Us takes on an epic journey through the country in which we see a relationship evolve between Joel and Ellie. This relationship plays a huge part in the role of the game and makes it that much more emotional. Without spoiling too much the basic premise is that Joel is tasked with getting smuggling Ellie and at first he is not happy about it. You find out why early one and right after you find out the game just is non-stop on the action and sneaking and tension. This is what makes it so much fun. The gameplay is very well balanced from sequence to sequence and while shooting is not a large mechanic, (you don’t have much ammo unless you search all over for it) it feels very real with a natural sway. Some can’t stand the sway but in my opinion it helps sell the realism and tension that this game delivers. In most cases you have the option to shoot or sneak by everyone. One way will help you save ammo for the zombies while the other will make you probably have to use a health kit or two. One aspect of the game that helps you sneak by everyone is this thing called “listen mode”. It allows Joel to see through walls. While this sounds like it could be overpowered it actually is not as the distance is quite limited unless upgraded via your skills. The game is definitely geared towards being stealthy like that of Metal Gear Solid. The AI will even notice if their buddy was knocked out or killed and then alert the others. Not to mention the AI will flank you, and even worse if you do die and restart the checkpoint the NPC might be in different spots and walk a different path. This helps makes the game that much more dynamic. I also want to mention that at first the inventory system seemed very overwhelming but once you learn how it works you fall in love with its complex options yes simplistic design. All in all this game does stealth gameplay right.
Not only does the game feel so good when playing but for being a PS3 game it looks amazing. The vast scenery from forests, to rainy cities overrun by nature, and the detail on the characters. Everything is very highly detailed throughout most all the game minus a few parts where you will see the occasional texture pop-in or worse some clipping of your character going right through the object you are hiding behind. I am hoping for PS4 that these issues will be fixed but considering this is PS3 this is probably the best looking game graphically to date for current gen. The one thing this game does great graphically, better then any game on a console, is fire. Take a molotov and throw it at the enemy and you will be smiling with envy when you see the zombie or person go up in flames and scream in brutal pain as they die. This is the other factor with graphics in that when you get melee kills or headshots the game doesn’t let up and makes blood curdling sounds with bodies getting blown apart. In no way does this game let up or make it easy on the eyes or ears. But that’s what helps set the game apart from other in that Naughty Dog took a chance to make this game very violent looking and sounding but it helps immerse you into this harsh environment that you are in. Overall the graphics are definitely a marvel to look at.
The one main aspect of this game that really blew me away was the emotions captured in each character’s face and the voice acting is phenomenal. Troy Baker plays as Joel while Ashley Johnson is Ellie. The relationship between these two characters builds up throughout the whole game in such a manner that you can’t help but feel sorry for the both of them. However, they definitely go through some hardships but this only helps strengthen their relationship. It’s been a long time since I truly felt so immersed into a world and felt so close to a character in a video game. I think the last time I nearly cried in a game was towards the end of MGS4 (SPOILER!) where you are crawling through the microwave room. The thing that sets this game apart from any other story driven game is how dynamic the gameplay truly is. You have to have some linearity in order to tell a story in games but Naughty Dog finds a great balance where you have to go from point A to point B but how you get there is largely up to you. You can honestly play the same sequence multiple times and never have the exact same outcome. This helps make the game that much more fun to play considering it’s long campaign of roughly 18-20 hours.
Did we forget to mention that Naughty Dog has included multiplayer as well. No, the multiplayer isn’t something that was tacked on just to help the longevity of the game but rather a well thought out and balanced gameplay that makes for some hectic moments. It works with a few modes right now Survivor and Supply Raid, both of which are a form of team deathmatch. The listen mode is available in multiplayer but very limited and has to be leveled up in order to regenerate faster and last longer. The one thing multiplayer requires is teamwork. This is not a game where you can take on a whole team by yourself whether you be a sniper or assault, two of the four main classes available. However you can also create your own custom class and add additional items once they are unlocked. The multiplayer has a lot of potentional for possibly new game modes and maps but right now it definitely will keep you occupied for several hours. To find out more in depth information about multiplayer check out the wiki from IGN.
What We Disliked
Truly there isn’t much to dislike about this game. Minus a few texture pop-ins, a few enemy glitches, and some clipping there is only one thing that really stands out that kind of hurts the immersion of the game. When you play as Joel and Ellie is the AI partner you realize more often then once she will be out in the open right next to an enemy but doesn’t alert them. Considering how dynamic this game is it is still very impressive AI but it’s by no means perfect. Say Joel is hiding behind a car and as the enemy walks by you end up slowly moving around the car. Ellie might be where Joel was and stays there and the enemy walks literally right next to her but doesn’t “see” her. This is good because you would alert the enemy all the time if this was the case but it’s also bad because it takes away from the immersion the game offers. It’s safe to say that this is not at all a deal breaker and instead a minor gripe in gameplay that doesn’t affect the gameplay itself.
If there is one thing to take away from this review it is this, PLAY THIS GAME! You owe it to yourself to enjoy such a masterpiece of a game. If you don’t have a PS3 then this alone is a reason to get one, even if you want to return it afterwards I don’t care. This game deserves to be played by any true gamer so as to understand what a great game plays like and feels like. The character development between Joel and Ellie is something that will be talked about for a long time not to mention there is single-player DLC coming and there is tons of speculation on what it will be. Naughty Dog helped end the PS3 era with a bang.