THE LAST OF US REVIEW
The Last of Us kicked my ass to the curb, there’s no getting around it. This game is not for the faint of heart, but boy is it an experience, no wonder it was nominated for game of the year in 2013 for the VGX video game awards. This game is by Naughty Dog Productions, the same company that brought us the loveable Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series, as well as the famous characters Jak and Daxter. I’m not really a Horror genre video game kind of girl, I certainly never played any of the Resident Evil series, but I make a serious exception for this game. Indeed at times I felt downright terrified while playing, but I was too absorbed in the experience of the game to care. I would recommend playing the Remastered version on PS4 versus the original PS3 release, as the graphics are truly spectacular and should be played on the best console possible.
The story is what makes this game. The first five minutes will tug at your heartstrings, so just be aware of that (It hurts so much more when you don’t see it coming). Initially we meet Joel and his yo
ung daughter Sarah unwinding after a long day, but like so many video games things quickly go wrong as a zombie apocolapyse begins during the night. The pair, along with Joel’s brother attempt to escape the city of Austin, Texas, and after a certain traumatic event, BAM!, the screen flashes “TWENTY YEARS LATER” in massive text. Now this is the moment when I had to lift my jaw off the floor and think “uhm, pardon me? This is a joke right? It’s only been five minutes”.
So that’s how the game begins. They certainly don’t waste any time at Naughty Dog.
Now on to the combat system, which reminds me a lot of the Uncharted games, but with a much needed upgrade. Joel will find different weapons along his journey, mainly guns, but also silent artillery like bow and arrow, as well as explosive grenades and flame throwers. You can have two guns equipped at a time – one hand gun and one rifle, and you can scroll through your weapon artillery to switch which is available for a quick equip (click a directional button as a shortcut). This shortcut menu also shows your crafted items, which is so necessary when your character becomes cornered (and believe me he will). Joel will fight humans, but most importantly he will take down super scary zombies, some of whom can only be killed from behind or with serious force or a very well placed headshot. He can aupgrade his weapons by collecting tools and supplies, and can find workbenches to apply these upgrades, which allow for more ammo, quicker reload speed, etc. He also has a flashlight that you can toggle on and off by pressing R3, which can be useful around the bigger zombies who do not sense light, but the smaller zombies do some be careful with this.
Things You’ll Like
The music in this game is phenomenal. As soon as I finished the game I bought the album off of Itunes and listened to it somewhat obsessively. The game is scored by Gustovano Santaeolla, who also composed for movies like Brokeback Mountain, Babel, and Things We Lost in the Fire. I think music is important for video games, but this guitar-based soundtrack is so unlike any audio I’ve ever seen paired with a video game, and takes it to a cinematic level.
Now I touched on the combat earlier, but I’ll also mention the crafting ability in this game. Joel can collect supplies in his travels and create different items, which come in handy against his enemies. He can make shivs, which are hand-made knives that can be used to take down strong zombies from behind, or open doors that are jammed shut (and contain lots of loot, always open these doors they are absolutely worth it). He can also make “Molotov cocktails” which are bottles filled with alcohol that will explode when he throws them and burn anything in its path. Most importantly he can craft first aid kits, which are important as this game is super difficult.
Joel is quite the character. You feel sympathetic towards him even though he is generally pretty dark and moody most of the game, but you see this shell begin to crack when he meets a young girl named Ellie. Their relationship grows throughout the game, and the player gets to experience Joel coming back to life in a way. The game’s plot gets major brownie points in my books.
Finally, Joel’s “Listen” ability is very useful, and I used it constantly. He can kneel down and, as it sounds, listen to pin point locations of people or zombies around him, very much like Eagle Vision in any Assassin’s Creed game. This skill is very useful, and as you upgrade his abilities during the game you can increase the radius his listening ability covers.
Things You Won’t Like
I’m going to throw the crafting ability into this category as well. It has its perks, but to create each item you need usually three different types of materials, and can only have three of each crafted item at a time. I found many times in the game being surrounded by enemies or unable to find any more materials and couldn’t craft any items to help me, especially when it came to healing. Sometimes a character Joel is travelling with will throw a first aid kit your way, which is great, but it seems like luck is a major component if you are in these circumstances. It didn’t happen all the time, but more than once I found myself desperate for supplies, which can be a problem.
Constant death. Seriously. The zombies in this game can surround you so easily, and you have to kill different types of enemies with different weapons or from certain angles. Some can pretty much be only killed by fire or headshots, some with guns (but then that makes noise and attracts the bigger badder ones), etc. Strategy is also important. Do you risk shooting an arrow to avoid making noise, but if it doesn’t kill your target he will spot your location? This point isn’t so much a negative, I think it makes the game complex, but it was certainly challenging for me.
This game should have won game of the year for 2013. Great plot, great gameplay, great graphics, great music, great personality. You can’t go wrong purchasing this game, and I am slightly envious of anyone who gets to experience this for the first time, as it is such a great experience. Mentally prepare yourself for the first five minutes, ’cause it’s gunna kick your heart to the curb.