What happens someone’s rushed at by 3 guys and he’s out of bullets? Does he neatly throw the empty revolver at them, grab the ingenuous 14 year-old who’s accompanying him and run for their lives? Ducking behind cover, nestled together while the little child quivers in terror and anxiety?
Not in this game.
Q: What’s the first thing you think about when you play a post-apocalyptic game on a viral outbreak that’s devastated the states and left it’s survivors to establish a new way of living? Where ruthless gangs of infected folks lurk the city searching for an easy prey?
A: I’m gonna need A LOT of guns.
Again, not in this game.
When Joel is being rushed at by 3 guys and runs out of ammo, he grapples with one of them while Ellie (the 14 year-old) bashes someone’s head in with a brick, stabs the other in the side, then notices Joel’s being strangled, grabs a baseball bat and also bashes the other guy’s head in. As soon as Joel stands up, he grabs the shotgun and blow the guy who’s been stabbed in the side’s head off. While Ellie mutters the f-word.
Yes, the 14 year-old.
I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic games, their simple concept of kill and loot makes it action packed, the vast world to explore, the beautiful landscapes, the memorable music all help add to the immersion. They feel like a real experience. So as the hype for The Last of Us began to buildup, I was extremely excited to get my hands on the game, and as the credits rolled all what I could think of was: This is best survival-adventure game I. Have. Ever. Played.
Naughty Dog is definitely getting better and better in character development, by the end of this game, you realize that the unusual connection between you and the cast were something you’ve never experienced in any other game before, if the game gets praised for one thing, it’s the character development.
Joel's relationship with Ellie starts off on sour and extremely unfriendly terms, but eventually, their bond grows stronger later in the game, and that's when you start to feel the connection between the characters.
Joel is by no means a hero, he's just a survivor, he's filled with hatred towards the infected, they ruined his life and killed his beloved ones, he knows how to handle a weapon, and he's really skilled in bashing infected heads in.
Although Joel is the protagonist, Ellie, voiced by the talented Ashley Johnson, certainly steals the show. The voice acting was top-notch, Ellie is fierce and sharp, yet kind and sympathetic, she accompanies Joel almost all the time. She's not your usual teenager, she's killed more infected than any average grown man, she's more like a super-teen, she hates violence, but she isn't afraid to blow someone's head off when it comes down to that.
The game plays in a third-person perspective, you play with Joel almost all the time, though in the later sections you can control Ellie. The game’s strong suit lies in the stealth mechanics, named “dynamic stealth” because there are many different types of strategies and techniques that you could use at any given time as you approach a new situation, to which enemies will react differently.
Speaking of enemies, there are three types of “zombies” in the game: The runners, normal zombies, but curiously, they can run. The clickers, much harder to kill, they detect every sound you make which makes stealth hard with these guys present, but they’re pretty slow. And The Bloaters, pretty much like the spitters in the Left for Dead series, they’re big, they’re pretty slow and they’re nasty.
What’s unusual about this game is that you don’t really know what you’re main objective is, there’s no real villain, there’s no place you guys are planning on reaching. All what’s in their mind is how to survive the next day, and that’s why The Last of Us, although has the same premise of almost any zombie game, still shines brighter than the competition.
The story itself relies heavily on how difficult the game is, after finishing the game, you can replay it on the "new game plus" mode, which allows you to keep all your weaponry and stats and start a new game. This mode doesn't allow you, however, to start on a higher difficulty than the previous playthrough, so I selected a lower difficulty, and I gotta tell you, I noticed through my second playthrough that the story didn't become as interesting when the difficulty was lowered. Pretty subjective, but I thought it's worth mentioning.
Dying in any game forces you to restart to a previous checkpoint, which in some games can be frustrating, which is a good thing, because frustration is a main ingredient in any survival game, but because of the autosave/checkpoint system I've talked about earlier, it seems there's no reason for you to fear death in-game, since you just restart say, 4-6 minutes prior to where you died. It also made the game seem a little easier when you finish it, you try and think of any sort of challenge you went through, and you quickly realize there was none.
The incredible sense of realism isn’t down to the beautiful graphics, it’s always backed up with the very well-written story, award-worthy voice acting performances and immersive music. It’s polished in every aspect, and while giving away any of the ending would ultimately spoil it, let’s just say it’s well worth the wait.
Every now and then you'll run into some sort of puzzle, you'd be stuck in an area and consequently be forced to search for a ladder/plank/floating palette to access the next area, this was by far the easiest puzzles I've run into in any game since these objects are really easy to find.
There is also two multiplayer modes, survival death match with no respawn and of course the mainstream team deathmatch. All entertaining, but nothing new. It has some cool ideas implemented, you choose one out of two factions in a rather medium-sized map and earn supplies to win, it kills some time, but it never really gives you the sense of enjoyment to keep you coming back, and Naughty Dog has promised us no additional content (unlike Uncharted) in the future. Fingers crossed though, a game like that can definitely have so really cool ideas for multiplayer, and I understand that the devs didn't want to waste time in multiplayer and had all their concentration on the campaign, now that the game's finished, should we expect some sort of multiplayer DLC?
You Will See it Coming
Another thing I noticed is how the game can be so predictable at times, I'm not talking about the ending, that was absolutely unpredictable. But in-game you often know when you're going to face infected and when you're going to face humans. If there are infected in the next corner, you'll probably find no cover and plenty of choke points, if not they're most likely humans. Not a big deal but worth mentioning.
All things considered, the game isn’t perfect, no game is. One of the main downsides is that the checkpoints were just way too often, it doesn’t matter if you die, because you’ll most likely restart just twenty feet away from where you'd died, also the melee mechanics seemed like not much thought was put into it, I would’ve appreciated some more mechanics instead of just hammering the square button.
The Last of Us deserves praise, but certainly not the one it's getting right now, it has some lame aspects but all in all, it's definitely worth playing.