Naughty Dog’s 2013 epic release is truly that. All the fanfare and industry praise it received was deserved but certain elements of the game may not be what some players are looking for. Be warned though, this game will take the player to mental and emotional places that few games have dared to draw near to.
The Last of Us begins with Joel and his daughter at home. On the news are reports of a spreading epidemic that is causing great concern and unease among people. The symptoms are of people in zombie like states with wild and uncontrollable behavior. Almost immediately, we find that this epidemic has come to the home of Joel. Quickly he grabs his daughter and they begin to flee with a friend only to find that the entire area is in complete chaos as everyone is also fleeing for safety. Their escape is not going to plan and they are forced from their vehicle and must make a mad dash for their lives. They come upon a military soldier they believe will help them but…this is the first turn that will grab and twist the player happens.
Even thinking about this game starts to warp my mind. I intentionally left out a lot of specifics in my opening description of the game. If you are truly interested in this game just be warned and be prepared that this game will venture into many dark places. Most games, and other forms of entertainment, somewhat protect whomever is built up as the hero of the story but that is not always the case in this game. I’ve played my fair share of games in my time, but there were several points in this game when I sat the controller down and found myself saying “That was f#@*ed up”. This game doesn’t even follow the normal zombie shooter model of facing packs and hordes of the undead. There are more battles against others that are not infected than the zombies and these are used to point out the brutality that humanity is capable of inflicting upon itself.
From a technical stand point, this game is both brilliant and frustrating at the same time. The graphics are absolutely top notch and show just how far the existing hardware of the Playstation 3 can be pushed. Of course, you will still find those glitches here and there but that can happen in any game. At one point the NPC with me started floating just above the ground like a ghost and it would not correct itself until I saved and reloaded the game. The weapons in the game work well and seem to be accurate to the real life counterparts with one exception. For whatever reason, the bow and arrow has more stopping power than some firearms. Don’t know how or why this may be like this. Some of the weapon mechanics were questionable though. Why do shivs break after one use? You’d think that someone forced to make the use of scarce resources would take care to make them endure as long as possible. The bombs you can craft will exploded if an enemy comes near but if they aren’t exploded you can retrieve them to be reused. How do they sense between friend and foe? I guess every game has its own mechanics and this is how they chose to implement them in this game. The player does get rewarded for collecting certain items as they are able to use these to upgrade their weapons and abilities. Given that the story is so compelling and the gameplay rewarding, I can look past any issues and thoroughly enjoy the campaign.
On the other hand, as much as I loved the campaign I despised the multi-player. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am not that big into online mutli-player experiences to begin with so I am somewhat biased to enjoy campaigns and story modes more. I will compliment Naughty Dog in that they did incorporate some unique dynamics that differentiate this multi-player experience from any other. The need to capture supplies for your clan makes these online matches a more calculated and teamwork oriented effort than the style of ‘kill the other team more than they kill yours’ of most online matches. Unfortunately, there seems to be some balance issues in the matches. Again, we find the bow and arrow to be curiously over powered. You can buy in-match upgrades like armored vest but it seems like you can still be taken down just as easily as if you didn’t have them. If you add a silencer to a weapon, it is just as if not more powerful than before. This does not coincide with how that device effects a real weapon. I could understand that if headshots were being used but this isn’t always the case. I’m not the best online player but I like to think that I’m capable of having won more than one of the forty plus matches I played in. My solution was to simply not play online any more.
I haven’t started my second play through of this game but I am both looking forward to it and dreading it. My recommendation is to play this game in short to moderate lengths of time. I would highly advise against the marathon play-through approach.
Get your own copy at the retailer of your choice, Amazon, GameStop, Walmart, whomever. Prices are probably still close to the original $59.99 at the time of this posting. If your looking to try it out first, GameFly or Red Box may help you out.