No one likes thinking about the apocalypse. Would we let that kind of world change the person that we are? If you were a nice person, would you be willing to suddenly change you attitude to survive? What if that meant killing as well as stealing from people who are already struggling? It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but yet, this is the world that we’re thrown into with The Last of Us. The world is quiet, lonely, but also painful and extremely violent. When you’re not scavenging for supplies, you’re constantly trying to survive against the infected.
The infected are people who have been taken over by a fungus that takes over a person’s mind. This basically takes over all of their instincts and this turns them into a mindless animal. Infected aren’t dangerous singularly, but as a group, the infected are devastating. They have basically taken over the world due to this epidemic and now the world is a wasteland. What if within a day, your whole life changed forever? The Last of Us starts on the night of this epidemic.
One moment, everything is fine and the next, we witness Hell on Earth. Chaos is visible in all directions and we can hear the screams and cries from all of the families trying to escape. It’s very gripping and since we see how this affects our main character Joel, it can be very emotional. In fact, The Last of Us has the best opening sequence that I’ve seen in a video game in years!
When we meet Joel for the first time, he’s really unlikable. Actually, he’s everything that you wouldn’t want in a main character. This is very uncharacteristic for Naughty Dog because their main characters are usually very likable, but with Joel, that’s just not the case. I can say that he is relatable though because if we were put in his situation, I guarantee that we would do what we have to do to survive. In that sense, Joel has a connection with the players.
He spends his day doing odd jobs with his partner Tess who is just an extremely tough girl. She’s the kind of person that you would never want to upset because she’s so unpredictable. If you got Tess mad, she would probably end your life faster than a horde of infected!
The main plot of The Last of Us involves a job given to Joel and Tess that would give them double the amount of weapons that were recently stolen from them. This job is given to them by a member of the fireflies. They are a group of people whose sole purpose is to defy the government and rebel. There is a group of them further into the city and in order for Joel and Tess to complete their job, they must smuggle a young girl named Ellie out of the quarantine zone and bring her to this group of Fireflies.
Ellie is the biggest highlight of the game. From the moment you meet her, she’s instantly likable and relatable. She was born after the world went to Hell so Ellie doesn’t know that much of life in the past. It’s truly fascinating to watch her light up when you’re exploring and she sees memories from our past. Whether these moments come from deserted stores, to animals, and the outdoors, Ellie is always mesmerized by the world.
Ellie is a girl who tries not to think about the present horrors and instead, she thinks about the future. She thinks about what she’ll do once all of this is over. There’s something very inspiring about Ellie. She longs for the day when everything can be normal and for someone who hasn’t seen what the normal world is, it’s something great to strive for.
What Ellie lacks in strength, she makes up for it in determination. There are moments where Joel can’t make it through a hole in the fence or when he needs to boost her up higher to retrieve a ladder. In these instances, Ellie takes center stage and she always tries her best. Ellie is the type of character that you always want to protect. When she’s in danger, you feel very responsible and rush to protect her. She can’t swim so when you must traverse the water, Joel must always find a wooden platform to transport her to the other side with. There’s a connection between Joel and Ellie that is easy to see through gameplay.
The story has its own ups and downs, but for the most part, The Last of Us holds on to us from the start and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. It almost feels that after every intense moment, there’s another equally tense moment that follows. The most fascinating thing about the story definitely comes in the form of Joel and Ellie’s relationship. There’s a visible growth throughout the campaign and it’s great to see.
There are many side conversations that will further their relationship and how their attitudes change makes The Last of Us really engaging. The other awesome part about the story in The Last of Us is definitely the mystery surrounding all of the events. Why did all of this happen? Why do we need to transport Ellie to the Fireflies? There are so many questions that make our journey that much more interesting.
The gameplay consists of many familiar elements from other third-person action games, but The Last of Us does something different. Unlike other games that just have you killing enemies for no reason, The Last of Us clearly gives players a reason. Sometimes it’s very hard to watch Joel kill someone because Naughty Dog put so much life into our enemies that there’s a sense of emotion in killing them.
Killing enemies was not always something I wanted to do, but it was needed. I had to kill to survive and the gameplay reflects on that mindset. Combat is very tense. While you can sneak around and stealth kill enemies, face to face combat is particularly engaging. You can use your bare fists or you can use items like 2X4′s, axes, bats, crowbars, and pipes. You can also upgrade them with nails and other deadly combinations.
Enemies come in the form of the infected. The infected are made up of four class types. You have the runners which will just run at you with full force. There are stalkers that will try to flank you so you must always be on your guard. Clickers are the scariest enemies in the game. You know they’re around because of the terrifying clicking noise that they make. It’s very chilling. They can’t see, but they hear tremendously.
One false move and they’ll chase after you. The only way to stop them is if you increase some of Joel’s abilities with supplements. If you don’t, Clickers can kill you with one touch. The last and strongest type of infected is called the Bloater. They are huge and shoot spores at you that explode like grenades. What’s worse is that unless you find a weakness, they’ll continue to plow through your attacks. If they touch you once, you will die automatically.
When you’re not fighting the infected, you are fighting hunters. These are other humans that joined together and take out other survivors. They do not ask any questions, they just go and attack. They are vicious people, but in a world like this where you need to survive, can you blame them? I mean, you’re doing exactly what they do. You kill to survive.
While they aren’t as aggressive as the infected, the advantage that hunters have comes in the form of their minds. Unlike the infected, hunters have the ability to think. While it’s tough to fight hunters sometimes because of the weapons that they have, I don’t think that the hunters are particularly smart. This is one of the few places that Naughty Dog messed up on.
Besides fighting, Joel and Ellie are scavenging for supplies. The supplies that you find can be crafted into shivs which can be used to fatally stab enemies and they can be used to unlock certain doors. You can also craft medkits, Molotov cocktails, nail bombs (they’re amazing) and smoke bombs. All the crafting is done in real-time. It’s not stressful in the early parts of the game, but later, crafting can get difficult when you’re overwhelmed by your enemies.
Figuring out when and where to craft is very strategic. It can lead to certain death if executed incorrectly. Scavenging can also lead Joel to find supplements that can increase his health meter, make crafting and healing faster, etc., but this is another strategically placed gameplay element. There is no possible way to fully level up Joel in your first playthrough. After beating the game, you will be allowed to play New Game + with all of these supplements already attached to Joel.
Joel also has a listening mode. This enables you to see outlines of your enemies. You can determine their path of movement and it can help you navigate through tricky situations. It actually feels like a gimmick to me and it takes away from the game. While you can always use Joel’s listening abilities, it feels like a cheat mode. To have a more intense and very scary experience, you should play The Last of Us without using listening mode. Every turn you take will always be unexpected because you’ll never know if a hunter is around the corner, or worse, a clicker!
The Last of Us also sports very impressive visuals as well as stunning audio. From the beautiful outdoor environments to the decay caused by the apocalypse, Naughty Dog put a lot of detail in the visuals. The abandoned homes, warehouses and even the sewers show the horror and dreariness that The Last of Us delivers.
The details in the visuals are perfect. With the audio, the music during the fight scenes bring a lot of immersion. The audio is also spectacular when it comes to the Clickers. Hearing their noises can send shivers down the player’s spine. When you’re in a claustrophobic space, the sound ramps the tension up to 10.
Normally single player games that have multiplayer modes attached to it are hated, but in a complete surprise, The Last of Us has a very interesting and really fun multiplayer. It’s called factions and at the start, you choose either the Fireflies or the Hunters. From here, you’re driven into a story that requires you to survive and expand your community. You do this by collecting supplies and cans of food. The more people you have in your community, the more you’ll need to collect in multiplayer games.
To collect cans of food, you can down your enemy, kill them and pick up cans that they drop. Each time any of this happens, you’ll get cans. If you fall under the limit of food you need in each match, your community can become sick, hungry and ultimately die. There are also missions in-between games that require you to choose criteria to complete in the next three games. It adds depth to the game. You can also customize your character and create four custom loadouts just like in other shooters.
You can play two game modes. Supply Raid involves you and your team taking down the enemy team. You share a pool of 20 lives so it’s important to communicate with your teammates, but it will be tough because no one I played with spoke! It’s an fun game mode that brings the intensity from the single player campaign to the multiplayer. The real-time crafting is here as well as the scavenging. Multiplayer actually feels like the single player experience, but instead of fighting the AI, you’re playing against people who can strategize just like you.
Survivors is basically a death match mode with 7 rounds. In each round, all players only have 1 life so you must be extra cautious. This is easily the multiplayer mode that requires the most skill because one easy mistake will lead to the downfall of your team. Naughty Dog successfully made a great multiplayer mode that’s best experienced with people you trust playing with.
The Last of Us isn’t without faults though. There are very few negatives, but for me, it brings down my overall view of the game. The AI really gets to me. I’ll be hiding from enemies when sometimes Ellie will bump into me and my character will move a little bit. This would cause me to be found out by my enemies and die. Other times, characters would run right past clickers and hunters, but they won’t even acknowledge my AI partner. It takes away from the realism of the game.
While I was glad that I wasn’t found out, it’s annoying that AI characters can just walk around in the open without consequence. There were other times where Ellie needed to jump up on a ledge or go on a wooden board to go across water and she just wouldn’t. The game glitched multiple times during my playthrough causing me to restart. Overall there weren’t that many negatives, but the negatives that do exist in The Last of Us can be very frustrating.
The Last of Us is one of those games that comes at the end of a console’s life-cycle that pushes the limits of that console. This is probably the final BIG game for the Playstation 3 and it’s amazing. The cutscenes are breathtaking, the sound is haunting, the action is intense, the characters are memorable and the story is unforgettable. The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s best game and it may be the Playstation 3′s best game. If you don’t own a Playstation 3, The Last of Us is the reason to go out and buy one. You won’t regret it!