June 24, 2013

The Last of Us Review

The Journey

The Last of Us, by Naughty Dog, is proof that, while this generation of consoles may be coming to an end, it won’t do so quietly.  This game starts off by ripping your heart out and running with it as you try to keep up.  This is more than just a game, it is a fully immersive, interactive feature film that will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours.  Set 20 years after the onset of a spore outbreak that causes humans to become crazed and eventually grow fungus-like protrusions, we find our anti-hero, Joel, tasked with safely delivering a 14 year old girl, Ellie, to a group of people who may be able to stop the spread of the disease.

Before I began playing this game, many of the major review outlets were already giving it amazing 10 out of 10 ratings.  I was being lead to believe that this was the best game ever created. Ever. I originally had the opportunity to play a complete section of this game while attending PAX East this year and I already knew we were in for a treat, but was it really that perfect? I had to play it to believe it.  Having blown past our standard hour playthrough and now sailing through the 5th hour of this game, I can honestly say that The Last of Us deserves the accolades it has been receiving.

joel ellie close up

Graphically, this game is absolutely stunning.  The beauty and realism infused in the visuals are simply unbelievable. I would have expected to see something like this on the PlayStation 4, not the current PS3.  The character models are detailed like no other game before it and, while the player controls only Joel, the AI controlled Ellie moves and acts in ways one would expect someone to act given the situations they find themselves in.  Throughout their journey, the two of them continuously banter back and forth, and not in the let’s-repeat-the-same-thing-over-and-over-again kind of way. These interactions are unique and targeted specifically to the situations they find themselves in.  I have yet to hear the same words spoken from either of these main characters during their random conversations.

Even the combat elements feel realistic and believable since combat is actually something you try to avoid here.  This is not a game that was designed to throw as many creatures at you as you can handle. It is a game of realistic choices and survival. While there are enemies around, they are not always there to be killed; there is probably a way around them.  Make one false move and that will be the end of you.  Silence and darkness are your friends in The Last of Us.  Ammo is limited and so must your use of it be. Anything you need to use, such as medkits, shivs, molotovs, and modified melee weapons must be crafted using items found littered throughout the decimated city landscape. There are also times where the game is simply getting from one place to another with no enemies anywhere giving The Last of Us flawless balance between action and story.  The calm moments are offset perfectly with the intensity of the action and stealth sequences.

bus stop flooded street

Naughty Dog has crafted a blockbuster movie and simply put the player in control of the main character. That is what The Last of Us feels like.  It is an epic adventure and I am the star of it.  I can honestly say there is nothing in the game I would change. From the gut-wrenching prologue, to the calm, quiet moments, to the heart-stopping action, I have found nothing wrong.  No glitches, perfect controller mappings, responsive controls absolutely gorgeous imagery, and an incredibly intriguing story, The Last of Us is an incredible blend of everything I love about modern video games.

The Last of Us is a journey.  It is a journey of friendship, love, and endurance. Not only for Joel and Ellie, the main characters in this epic masterpiece, but for the player too.  It is a journey into a new kind of story telling in gaming; one that will resound with the gaming industry for years to come.  It is a journey for developer Naughty Dog, from their humble beginnings with Crash Bandicoot, through the Uncharted Series, and now, to their crowning achievement, not only for themselves, but for this generation of games.  As we begin to look to the next generation of consoles, The Last of Us proves that there is much life left in the current generation, yet sets a new standard for the next to live by.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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