The Last of Us represents a new direction for Naughty Dog, creators of the critically acclaimed Uncharted franchise. It trades relic hunting for instinctual survival in a post apocalyptic world, a charming tomb raider for a flawed but driven blue-collar worker, and action packed gameplay for something more tense and methodical. The team at Naughty Dog have created another masterpiece and quite frankly The Last of Us is one of the most human experiences in gaming.
The Last of Us is set 20 years after a viral outbreak (Cordyceps) turned the populace into zombie like creatures. Humans live in quarantine zones and the countryside is scoured by ruthless bandits and hunters. Living in a quarantine zone in Boston, Joel is asked by a friend to escort a 14-year-old girl named Ellie across America to a resistance movement called the Fireflies.
The gameplay revolves around surviving in a world without creature comforts, meaning you have to use items in the environment to craft or upgrade melee weapons and to create health packs to tend to your wounds. A pair of scissors and tape can make a shiv, while alcohol and rags create a Molotov cocktail. Even upgrading Joel’s abilities requires collecting something as simple as dietary supplements. It is these realistic touches that give The Last of Us personality.
It is best to be able to recognize the different types of Infected you can encounter. Clickers roam their areas with erratic movements and emit an eerie clicking sound they use as a form of echolocation. When they grab you its an instant one-hit kill. Runners are fast, have murder in their eyes, and attack in groups. Both Infected types are very tough and will force you to retreat if you don’t have the right weapons in hand to take them down fast.
Bandits are very clever and communicate with each other during combat. They move with purpose and flank you if you take cover for too long. To avoid them or to get the upper hand, stealth is key to surviving encounters. Joel’s movements are very fluid and taking cover is automatic. The stealth in The Last of Us gives games revolved around the mechanic healthy competition.
Then you have Ellie, the reason for the dangerous expedition across America. She laughs and tells jokes despite the horror going on around her, tough as nails and will aid you by calling out an enemy location or throwing an object at them. She will even invade your personal space when you are taking cover. You can’t ask for a better companion than Ellie.
Every place we visited on our journey, from abandoned houses to office buildings, felt as if they were inhabited by real people. These places are almost like another character in the story. Bedrooms and other dwellings contain the scattered personal effects of the people who left them behind, and you can’t help but wonder about their fate. I spent a lot of time just taking in my surroundings and Naughty Dog did an exceptional job of making it worth your while to explore its set pieces.
The multiplayer in The Last of Us brings the brutality and gameplay from the single player into a unique online experience called Factions. You are in charge of the survival of your clan by playing two modes; Supply Raid and Survivors. Supply Raid has infinite respawns and Survivors only have one life each round which makes this mode resemble Socom in its glory days. Factions is addicting and is a nice change of pace from the run-and-gun style we are all use to from shooters these days.
Should you play The Last of Us?
The Last of Us moved me as a gamer and as a fan of a good story. Watching Joel and Ellie’s relationship unfold and the perils they face was entertaining and thought-provoking. The graphics are phenomenal. From the lighting of your flashlight to the foliage creeping up the walls, the visuals draw you in and keep you there. Simply put, The Last of Us proves that video games are more than capable of telling a compelling story and having you care about the characters you are controlling until the very end.
If you own a PS3 you must have The Last of Us as part of your collection.
The Last of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: June 14, 2013