The Last of Us Review

27Jun

By Paul Barbara

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The Last of Us is the latest in the survival horror genre and with Naughty Dog at the helm you can be sure this is going to be a ride you’ll never forget.  The Last of Us sets the tone with a happy and united world that suddenly changes and people you know and love become sick and start eating each other.  Then suddenly, your neighbours turn on you.  Dazed and confused you run as fast as you can with nothing packed and with nothing to defend yourself as you watch the world unravel in chaos.  This is The Last of Us.

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Gameplay

Developed by Naughty Dog studios, previously known for their awesome work of titles such as the Uncharted series, then it should be no surprise that their work is always top notch. The downside though is Naughty Dog have set an expectation for perfection, so many may have feared that the Last of Us certainly would have a lot to live up to.  I can proudly say, it has in every way shape and form.

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The Last of Us main story begins 20 years after the initial events that saw the demise of society with you being thrust into the role of Joel.  Joel is a well-rounded survivor who acquires odd jobs, acquires food and clothing and travels from military base camp to camp doing what he needs to do to stay alive.  Joel also has a sidekick or partner called Tess.  Tess is a strong willed character who has a very strong desire to survive and is definitely your main lead earlier on during the game.  As you continue to play, through the various dialogues and cut scenes you continue to learn more about each characters past and more which I won’t spoil for you here.

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Shortly after an hour or two of gameplay, you’re introduced to a new character called Ellie.  Ellie is a young girl who needs to essentially be transported across the country so to speak.  Easy to do these days, but in this world which is filled with Military check points, zombies and infected humans, that’s not going to be so easy.  As you continue on your journey, you note that Joel is really quite cold and reserved in his interactions with Ellie.  Not even a simple thankyou from Joel when Ellie spontaneously saves Joel’s life is even acknowledged.  I do think that in this world where everyone you love is dead, its hard to let people into your heart given you may not see them tomorrow, so I can certainly understand Joel’s attitude, however deep down you still feel for Ellie.  It’s these great character designs that truly draw you in to the world here and something Naughty Dog has done a fantastic job of creating.

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As you continue along your journey, you meet many new travellers, people and other folk along the way.  However, Zombies and the infected aren’t really what scare me the most, its people.  You just don’t know who to trust in this game, and humans are more likely to shoot first, empty your pockets and ask questions later kind of people.  It’s sad to see the decay of society like this, and I honestly think I personally shot more humans during my game experience than zombies, it’s quite unearthing.

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Lucky for you, there are a host of weapons that you can collect during the game.  From the basic lead pipes, knives, baseball bats and planks of wood can all be used as melee weapons.  However each are good for a few swings before they break, so you’ll constantly be finding and using new items on a regular basis.  Next, there are guns, pistols, shotguns, bow and arrow, machine guns and more that you can come into contact with throughout your travels.  The Last of Us also features a upgrade function where you can repair or upgrade your items or even modify things such as your melee weapons with some nails and tape to form a stronger melee weapon.  It’s a great idea and in order to do your upgrades you need to collect various pieces of scrap metal located just about everywhere and anywhere, so don’t be scared to open a draw, check behind a couch and anywhere else you can think of.  You’re going to need as much as you can carry.

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Other great weapon creations include the smoke bomb, nail bomb and Molotov cocktail which is everyone’s favourite.  More importantly though is the health kits that you can make which become critical later during the game.  So conserve what you can.

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The Last of Us presents you with many types of enemies and apart from other humans and basic zombies; there are other stronger enemies such as clickers who require a very stealthy approach in order to take them down.  Shoot your pistol and get ready for a swarm of clickers to emerge and its game over.  There are certainly some points during the game which require you to adopt a stealthier approach in order to survive.  You can also as a great tip is to create some ‘shivs’ with are basically knifes which can be used to stab an enemy from behind for that superb silent takedown.  Joel also has the ability to hold down the R2 button which allows you to listen for your enemies locations behind walls etc, kind of similar to Batman’s vision, except not as far reaching as that.  It adds another element for those wanted to be stealthy killers rather than gun crazy massacrers’.

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In addition to weapon upgrading, Joel also can upgrade himself with pills essentially that act like supplements.  You can increase for example your overall health capacity perhaps, or increase your speed of upgrading weapons, apply a first aid patch or even how to defend yourself against a clicker.  Choose wisely though, as pill upgrades are scarce to say the least.

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The Last of Us will certainly keep you engaged for many hours, and expect your first play through to provide in excess of 15 hours of gameplay, which is absolutely solid.

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Graphics & Sound

There is certainly no denying it but first party games on the PS3 look sensational.  The Last of Us is no exception to that rule.  From the beautiful detail of the forests and rivers, to the weeds growing through the pavement every attention to detail has been made.  You certainly feel that you’re living in a world where time has stopped for 20 years.  Cars are rusted out; dew grows upon the tyres and more.  The graphics are nothing short of spectacular and The Last of Us runs at a solid 60fps and never misses a beat.

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In terms of sound, the voice acting in the game is brilliant.  Even the way characters mumble under their breath is very well recreated.  The sounds of clickers approaching you when there are no lights around make for a breathtaking atmosphere.  The dialogue in the Last of Us is certainly filled with emotion, feeling and desperation.  You really believe your characters and feel their emotion.  The games sound helps convey that and it does it extremely well.

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Multiplayer

For some bizarre reason Naughty Dog felt that they needed to add a multiplayer mode to what was already a brilliant campaign.  Well, essentially for those who value multiplayer the Last of Us has you covered.  There are two game modes, one is called Factions and the other is called Supply Raid.  In Factions you choose one of two sides and then jump into one of two sub-modes: Supply Raid and Survivors. Both are atypical in their approach, especially Survivors, which presents players with a best-of-seven series in a four-on-four match where death is brutally permanent.   Supply Raid on the other hand, is about whittling down your team by eroding their overall life count.    For me personally the online is fun, but this is definitely not the games core strength.

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Overall

The Last of Us truly is a work of art.  Video games that can draw you into a world, captivate you and force you to make an emotional bond with your characters is no easy task.  Naughty Dog has delivered in many ways here a true masterpiece. You become invested in Joel, Ellie and other characters along your journey.  It’s your survival just as much as it is theirs and you never forget that. Even after I have completed the game, I still think about Joel and Ellie which is something a video game doesn’t have me do that often at all.

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If you own a Playstation 3, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game and if you don’t own a PS3, get your hands on one any way you can, borrow one if you must or crash a mates place for the day and churn through the Last of Us as its truly an epic experience that shows that this generation is still far from over.

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10 / 10