The Last Of Us – The Review | Gamerillaz

The Last Of Us – The Review

The Last Of Us – The Review

To say that The Last Of Us is a game that I had been eagerly anticipating would have been putting it mildly. A new I.P. coming from the team that has continuously set the standard for what is possible on PlayStation 3 both in terms of storytelling and graphical power? Yes please. Set in a world ravaged by infection and devoid of civilization? Sounds good to me! And telling a story that is darker and more mature in tone and content? Bring it on!

After seeing the original trailer I went on something of a media blackout; avoiding news stories, previews and demos. I wanted to experience this game with a fresh pair of eyes, never knowing quite what to expect, both from the story or the gameplay. However, given the swell of anticipation surrounding the game I could not help but overhear little details here and there and early reviews suggested universal critical acclaim was only a release day away.

The Last Of Us will have you bricking it. In more ways than one…

I’ve been burned before though. Final Fantasy XIII springs to mind, and there are other offenders. I knew that until I put that disk into my PS3 and played the game for myself I wouldn’t know if my excitement had been misplaced all along. So here we are. Did The Last Of Us live up to expectation or was I unknowingly riding a hype train all the way to disappointment-ville?  I guess the best way to answer this question is just to say…

The Last Of Us is the best game that I have ever played.

It’s a bold statement. Just writing it down makes me want to stand up, run around in circles and take a bite out of the curtains. But I won’t. I’ll have a jelly baby instead and set the game’s soundtrack playing in the background to help take me back to that time of gaming bliss. I’m not one to sensationalise, I’ve had many, many stand out gaming experiences down through the years but this is the first time I’ve played a game which felt like a complete, fully-realised and expertly crafted masterpiece.

From city to countryside The Last Of Us is a visual feast!

I don’t want to delve too deeply into the story as I would be robbing you of something very special but this is a game that tells its own story on its own terms and is very unapologetic about doing so. It’s an emotional story that follows the journey of its two main protagonists, a man named Joel and a girl named Ellie, as they make their way through disease-ridden cities and countryside.  It’s perfect pacing and compelling theme and narrative will keep you playing, guessing, hoping and praying through the seventeen or so hours it will take you the see this journey through to its end. It’s unforgettable and it engages you in a way that so many games try to but so few ever succeed.

The game is played from a third person perspective and is firmly rooted in the survival horror genre, more so than I had been expecting. And this is a scary game. The tension never lets up because Naughty Dog has made the world feel real and genuine. The scares never feel cheap, just chilling. Enemies take the form of mutated human monsters and other human survivors. The game places an emphasis on scavenging for supplies and using them wisely. You’ll never have more than a handful of bullets at your disposal so it is often better to use your head and find alternative solutions to dispatching your foes.  The game has a really great crafting mechanic which allows you to take scattered items and combine them to upgrade weapons, make new weapons altogether or create health packs.

Take aim. Fire. And pray you don’t miss.

The Last Of Us also places a firm emphasis on stealth which perfectly complements the notion of ammo preservation. Again, I hadn’t been expecting this level of stealth gameplay and combined with compelling survival horror it makes for a phenomenal experience. I distinctly remember the moment, early into the game, where the notion of stealth and clever use of my supplies all came together for me. I was making my way through an abandoned shopping mall. This particular area was now home to monsters known as Clickers. These infected humans get their name from the noise they emit as a sort of sonar, as they are blind due to severe mutation. They can’t see you but if you make enough noise they’ll come charging towards you and you won’t last too long at all. And there were five of them. I tried a number of different approaches with varying degrees of failure. I couldn’t shoot them; I didn’t have enough bullets and once the first shot rang out the rest would be upon me before I had a chance to take them all down. I tried waiting in the shadows and silently driving a crafted shiv into their necks as they unknowingly approached. Better, but I was still outnumbered and shivs break with use.

That’s close enough, time to pull the trigger!

In the end, I combined alcohol and a rag (a combo that can also be used to make a med kit) and created a Molotov cocktail. Firstly, I threw a brick into the area ahead of me. Upon hearing this, the clickers charged to the source of the noise. When they had all gathered I lobbed my Molotov cocktail and watched as they all caught fire in unison and collapsed into a pile of flaming corpses. It was beautiful.

The combat system works perfectly. You’ll curse yourself when you waste a bullet with a missed shot but it’s this intensity that keeps you engaged throughout every moment of gameplay. The cover system is unique in so far as you naturally enter and exit cover if it’s available. You don’t need to press a button or “snap” on or off cover. It just happens and it feels wonderful. Combat scenarios are yours to play with whether you choose to use a shotgun or a crossbow or just avoid it altogether and it is always satisfying.

Humans form an even bigger threat than the mutated fiends that roam the world

The world in which it takes place is something to behold. It has been created with a level of precision and attention to detail that I have never found in any other game. It is beautiful and unquestionably the best looking console game that has been released to date. It’s this attention to detail that sells the whole experience and creates the atmosphere of dread that underpins the whole game.  I repeatedly found myself stopping and swivelling the camera so that I could just take in the beauty of the world around me. The combination of devastated civilization, evidence of violence and the reclamation of nature make for a simultaneously beautiful and horrific setting.

Thriving plant life serves as a beautiful reminder of humanity’s devastation.

The addition of multiplayer allows you to take the task of survival online and will have you competing as part of a clan against rival factions. The game modes feel like the familiar team death match approach but they play out much differently due to the continued emphasis on stealth, ammo preservation and crafting. It’s a unique experience and feels like a natural extension of the world created in the single player campaign. It’s one I plan on exploring a little deeper now that my time with Joel and Ellie has come to an end and is a testament to how strong the core gameplay mechanics of the game really are.

In short, The Last Of Us represents the best of what can be achieved in the gaming industry and, in my opinion, has set the benchmark for the next generation of gaming. If you’re a gamer you owe it to yourself to play this game as to miss out on it would be to miss out on something very important and very special. After you’ve played it, your expectations and standards for what a video game can be will have changed forever.

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