The Last of US Review


By Zoe Hawkins on Wednesday, June 26, 2013
"Transcends genre and even medium - it is simply a work of pure masterpiece."

I had actually avoided most information about The Last of Us.  Part of me was worried it was going to be “just another survival horror/zombie apocalypse game”, and another part was hoping that it would be worth avoiding so I’d get a fantastic surprise.  Well, The Last of Us so far exceeded any expectations – it is an incredible game.

For those who don’t know, The Last of Us takes place years after a bizarre fungal infection has wiped out a huge portion of society.  Those who are infected lose control over themselves, becoming similar to “runner” style zombies.  The longer the duration of infection, the worse it gets, with infected eventually becoming “clickers”, losing all sight but developing echo-location.  Finally, infected become a fungus growing in the dark, emitting infectious spores.

The story centres around Joel and Ellie.  Joel is a hardened survivor, brusque and quiet, and deeply wounded.  Ellie was born after the outbreak of infection and can’t imagine what the world was like before.  Their relationship grows throughout the game in a believable and truly organic way.  As they travel across the US of A, we grow to understand each of them, and are exposed to some incredible visuals.

The story-telling is gripping right from the start.  You feel for Joel so intensely from the opening chapter, and the connection is never broken.  Much like Joel, I had mixed feelings about Ellie at first, but over the course of the game she grew as a character and became truly lovable.  Their bond is the driving force behind the game, and leads to powerful emotional moments during gameplay – I became fully invested in them, leading me to take part in the survival and killing, not for pwnage’s sake, but because of that relationship.  However, due to the nature of the story-telling, The Last of Us is a very linear game – no open world elements, and no options to go back to previous sections.

The gameplay follows two main mechanisms: stealth, and covered shooting.  You gain access to new weapons as the game progresses, although I generally stuck with the stealth approach.  I prefer to sneak up on my enemies and kill them, or even distract them and avoid fighting all together.  However, that said, there are some areas where mass murder is the best option, and for those that excel at shooting (apparently, I don’t) the game handles the mechanic beautifully.  Speaking of impressive mechanics, as a game that released at the end of the PS3 life-cycle, it makes perfect use of the controls.  Without making it gimmicky, The Last of Us has you shake the controller when the batteries in your flashlight occasionally run low.  It’s subtle and adds an extra aspect of realism to the game.  Speaking of realism, while you might find maps in certain areas, you never get a mini-map or HOD.

For the most part, you play as Joel.  He gains crafting skills, so you can make your own shivs, first aid kits and IEDs.  Also, using pills (vitamins on steroids?) he can upgrade his health and abilities.  All these elements are done with extreme realism – it takes time to apply a first aid kit, or to craft one.  There is no health regeneration, and supplies for crafting can be scarce in certain areas – you will need to be careful with your resources.

There are two main types of enemies in the game: infected and humans.  Of the infected, there are the runners, clickers and bloaters.  All of which post unique challenges and need to be addressed differently.  Oh, and clickers are just terrifying.  Prepare for them to kill you, a lot.  However, once you get the hang of it (or have the supplies), they become a bit easier to kill.  Truly, the most insidious enemies are the humans.  They’re armed and dangerous, and as the story progresses you grow to despise what remains of humanity.

This becomes a play on the title of the game: The Last of Us.  What of humanity actually remains when survival has been the only goal for so many years?  What moral or societal standards can survive?  It’s not about the last of the humans, but the last of ‘Us’.

The design of the game is flawless.  The developers so far outdid themselves.  Not only is the world precise and impressive, the characters are as well.  From subtle “unconscious” movements to facial expressions, every detail is seamless and spot-on.  And I’m not just talking about Joel and Ellie – every character, good or bad, is lovingly created and designed with incredible attention to detail.  Even the numerous enemies are unique; they may fall into the “faceless bad guy” aspect of the game in the sense that you will kill a whole bunch of them, but they are well designed and even voiced so that it doesn’t feel like you’re killing the same five guys over and over.  The music also plays a particular role in adding to the atmosphere of the game, right from the moment you turn it on until the credits roll.

I was transfixed by the game, truly loved playing it.  It is definitely my game of the year, if not my game of the PS3.  That said, there were some very, VERY minor things that irritated me.  Caution, minor spoilers present, so only click to read if you are okay with that.

Beware! Mild spoilers!

1) Ellie is immune to the infection, and the whole purpose of the game is to get her to a research facility/hospital to see if she is the cure.  This premise seems a bit trite in a game that is anything but clichéd.

 

2) For the most part, the AI is spot on.  However, Bill (a character you meet after leaving Boston) can be very frustrating to have as “help”.  He seems to only really adopt the “shoot everything” approach and is not proficient at sneaking past clickers.  He lead me to my death on a few occasions.

 

3) While most of the controls and QTEs were seamless and beautifully done, there were occasional moments where ladders wouldn’t place unless you stood in the exact right location, or certain interactions were also less than forgiving if you weren’t placed correctly – no matter what I did I could not interact with the giraffe at the end, for example.

That said, these were such minor problems that they really could barely even be called such.  The game is so impressive, it almost seems like nit-picking to even mention them – like I’m looking for something bad to say about a game that is, truly, fantastic.

The Last of Us was reviewed by on the 26th of June , 2013 at 3:30 PM on PlayStation 3

GAMEPLAY
10
Combining a variety of styles and elements, The Last of Us makes the player use their wits to survive. Never contrived, the game play is fully immersive and intuitive.
DESIGN
10
Can I rave more about how beautiful this game is? Even the ugliness is thorough and horrific. Down to the smallest detail, The Last of Us features perfect design.
VALUE
9.5
The story takes about 15-20 hours to complete (depending on how often you die or struggle through certain areas). There are tons of collectibles and even multiplayer to keep you occupied. I'm interested in replaying it, but I'm not sure how great the impact will be the second time around.
TOTAL
9.8
There is no denying that this is an incredible game. It hits all the right notes and takes realism in games to a whole new level. The Last of Us raises the bar, not just on survival-horror games, but on games in general.

Tags: ,

Author:Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • Happy Hamster

    Awesome

  • Trebzz

    An excellent review girl with an American accent :P

  • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

    9.9 because the Boston Map sucks :P

    • Captain Minion TallTwit

      HAHA!

  • fred

    Starting to play tonight .. hopefully . Had the game for a week now , had to finish the fantastic Tomb Raider first.

  • Richard Mackenzie

    WOW, 9.8…

  • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

    9.8 because Elen Page has a funny face :p

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    Hell Yeah ….. Almost done with this game …. one of the best gaming experiences of my life … have never played anything like this before …..

    • Tbone187

      I reckon I’d buy a PS3 for this game alone…

      • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

        That is what I plan on doing when the price comes down mate.

        • Argentil

          PS4 + Gaikai.

        • HvR

          Got one last week R3000, 500GB new slim unit, 2 x DS3 controller, GOW: Ascension (tried it do not like, not big fan of hack and slash game).

          Also ordered an armfull of kiddie type games for my 4 year old @ R100 a pop.

          Also serves as a replacement for my aging mede8tor.

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            Not bad at all. If you don’t see me on here ever again it’s because I took your advice, went out and spent all my food money on your deal, and realized after 4 days you can’t live off eating a GOW? Ascension disk alone…

          • Spathi

            CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!

          • HvR

            The money I saved for my PC upgrade, but the MB blown so it takes my upgrade bill up to R7k.

            So decided to go for the PS3 there is quite a few games I haven’t played on PC or PS3 exclusives that is free or dirt cheap on PS3.

            Plus it gives my kid something to do during the winter holidays and get him gaming. Bonus is getting my wife to join in the fun with a few coop games.

        • ALKi1234

          Takealot had a sale yesterday.320g slim+extra controller+uncharted 3+God Of War III+some wwe game for R2499,score if you ask me.

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            dammit, that is a decent deal.

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        This game is reason enough to buy a ps3 and it’s lengthy too, well worth every penny

        • Tbone187

          Yeah, even the soundtrack has me sold…hehe…

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Gustavo santoalalla did a magnificent job

    • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

      Better than FF?! :O

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        Haha … One of the best, it’s almost the best…I don’t know. this game is pretty special hey

        • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

          I am waiting for the PS3 to come down in price, and I am looking myself away for a weekend with the lights and a blanket to cover my head when scared.

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Hahaha, in all honesty it isn’t scary as much as it is tense, it keeps you constantly on the edge and the story takes some drastic turns …. it really is story telling in videogame form fully realized

          • Hammersteyn

            The humans are sometimes even a bigger threat than the infected.

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Indeed, to see the true cruelty of desperate humans is something to behold

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            I see it when I turn the news on everyday :(

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Sad…..but true :(

          • Hammersteyn

            The emotion the characters convey is amazing.

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            true, the voice acting is just …. gosh, I have no words. what a game …. I think this one will stick with me for a very long time

          • Hammersteyn

            Every new character you meet feels like they have their own personality.

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            And you really feel for them…..like REALLY feel for them

          • Hammersteyn

            There are moments but I don’t want to spoil

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Haha i know…..man dem moments tug at your soul

          • Argentil

            They’re certainly the more irritating threat.

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            What do you mean? Is it 5 hours long, has the same story we are all used to, linear, but this one has a dog? Sounds fing AWESOME!

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Lol it has something better than a dog ….a horse!

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            A horse. Game: SOLD.

  • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

    9.7 because there was a girl on the front cover… sis man.

  • Hammersteyn

    I FREAKING LOVE THIS GAME. It even has a New Game+ mode so I will play it again with these intact! And again after that.
    -Your Health
    -Stats such as increased health, increased time for crafting items etc.
    -Your collectibles
    -Weapon Upgrades
    -Crafting Levels

  • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

    9.6 because the ending made me think… I don’t like thinking :p

  • Argentil

    Good review. I did feel that in the harder difficulties, gunplay was more of a detraction than a viable means of progression though. If anything, the game encourages stealth play a lot, without throwing it in your face. If you’re seen, the maps are designed in such a way that running away is better than trying to take on 3 foes at once. It’s difficult to alter the way we play games, but ND are giving it a good shot.

  • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

    9.5 because it is longer than 5 hours… My attention span is like normal people who go to the cinema… 45 minutes… then I need to piss out my 2l coke.

    • Hammersteyn

      bwahahaha

  • Hammersteyn

    What was that description? Survival horror? Read it and weep Capcom.

    • Argentil

      Such a refreshing reimagining of a stale genre that has lost touch with its roots.

      • Hammersteyn

        Hopefully The Evil Within will be a second reminder to Capcom

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        This game goes well beyond SH genre even action genre …

    • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

      Next is Mikami to dethrone Capcom lol

  • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

    9.4 because no content was cut… I like my experience to last as long as possible by being promised more DLC every month that should have been in the game.

    • Hammersteyn

      I wouldn’t feel cheated seeing as the game already runs more than 15 hours, like Border lands. Don’t make a game like MGS Rising with a six hour campaign and then DLC a extra SP section later.

      • http://lazygamer.net/ OVG

        But I do not want to be rewarded, I want to pay for day 1 DLC, skins, extra levels and difficulty levels, I though it was the hip thing :p

  • Hammersteyn

    Imagine this was a PS3 launch title and what it could have meant for the console then.
    http://media.tumblr.com/b5e946fd3c44fb224930594d79dc4e32/tumblr_inline_mo94a32ccO1qz4rgp.gif

  • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

    Actually rather impressed with the length of the game. Thought 10 hours at the max. This pleases me very very much. I find it difficult to fully realise a character in anything under 10 hours. Very awesome.

    • Hammersteyn

      And it’s got a new game+ mode :)

      • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

        And apparently an MP that is not just tacked on. Have heard good things about it.

    • Spathi

      I finished on hard difficulty, disabling the “listening” ability and the game took me almost 21 hours. Not because I died a lot (which I did), but rather because I could help but stop and look at the world the whole time. Every building, house, room etc was created with so much love and care. It feels as if every “scene” was created to be special in it’s own right.

      Portal 2, Red Dead Redemption and The Last of Us – My three favourite games this generation for various reasons, but most of all, all three actually succeeded in making me care much more than I should about a game.

      • Hammersteyn

        I really do wish Red Dead Redemption would get a sequel.

        • Spathi

          Kinda, by like TLOU, the game has a special place in my heart and I’m scared a sequel will ruin it for me.

          I’d like a spin off, like Red Dead Revolver “became” Red Dead Redemption. Red Dead Rodeo Sim maybe?

      • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

        What is the listening ability? Excuse my ignorance.

        • Spathi

          You can effectively “see” through walls for a small while. It’s not really “cheating”, as you can only “see” things that are moving, and thus creating a sound, but I felt it detracted from the game so I disabled it.

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            Game sounds better and better man.Dammit, I don’t suppose you hated Sony’s E3 release so much, and loved the Xbox One’s you want to get rid of anything related to SONY, like your PS3 and TLOU?

          • Spathi

            Unfortunately not :D

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            Le sigh!

  • Mathias

    It’s not survival horror… The only problem is that it doesn’t know what kind of game it wants to be. It’s still amazing, but the final mission is so Uncharted. You can replay it, but it’s not as fun (you have to at least play it on hard, otherwise you’re a pussy).

    Solid 9/10 for me.

    • Hammersteyn

      I thought it ticks all the boxes to be classified as survival horror. Limited ammo, stealth gameplay, monsters that chew your face of, hunters that kills you as soon as they see you. It’s not as if you can run from A to B out in the open and shoot anyone that you see before they shoot you.

      • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

        But was there a dog? trololo

        • Hammersteyn

          LOL

  • Mathias

    Multiplayer is ok, but anyone that tells you that you’ll be playing it for months is lying
    Not that good and almost impossible to enjoy if you play solo or with one friend.

  • Slade Boender

    Good Review! Dying to get this game :)

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    One thing i must add is that there are alot of optional dialogue pieces that can be missed. It really adds a nice touch to the story and interaction

  • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

    HOD or HUD?

  • Jonah Cash

    Noooooooo!!!! I haven’t bought this game yet, but reading your review so makes me want to buy it, like now!!! But I can’t play scary games anymore! I think the fact that I bought my PS1 when I was 12 and my first game was Resident Evil 2 I am broken for Survival Horror games!!!

    • Zoe

      i’m similar with that, and believe me there were some scary moments. but it’s so worth it! such an amazing game!

      • Jonah Cash

        Your not helping my bank account here lady!!! Hahaha….. OK fine, as soon as I return from PE tomorrow I will drop in at BT Games and give in to the Last of Us!!

        • Zoe

          you’ll thank me for it, i swear!

          • Jonah Cash

            I hear you and the rest of the gaming world except for a site called Quarter to Three who gave this game a 60….. My word, Metacritic should fire their asses just for that!!

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Game of the decade!

    • Ninja_c00kie

      No, close, but no.
      I played it twice and while it was Excellent everywhere i noticed that the ending feels rather rushed and some characters were really sympathetic., But this is just a personal opinion.

  • ALKi1234

    This is by far my most memorable gaming experience,and something i will always remember vividly.I’t would be such a shame if ND choose not to make a sequel for such a unique new IP,For history”s sake…….Naughty Dog please!

  • Bill Bailey

    great review. the last of us is probably my favourite game this year and definitely my favourite game on ps3. Joel does look a lot like nathan drake though
    I did a review of the last of us on my website http://www.genuinegamereviews.com

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