A Masterpiece of a Game – The Last of Us Review
By Garrett Green On 17 Jun, 2013 At 07:23 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, PlayStation, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarAs we usher in a new generation of consoles, everyone is looking forward at what those new games will bring. Yet we mustn’t forget that this current generation is still alive and kicking. Naughty Dog had created the perfect swan song to set the PS3 off into retirement with The Last of Us.

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It’s easy to look at the service of this game and just see another post-apocalyptic violent shooter, you would be grossly mistaken. The Last of Us perfectly combines narrative with a fully fleshed out world tearing itself apart from the infected on the outside and human nature on the inside. Joel, our protagonist, is tasked with smuggling a young girl, Ellie, out of Boston and into the care of the Fireflies, a separate faction of militarized people. What takes place is the struggle of a man, grizzled by his environment, to keep Ellie safe from not only infected humans but also hunters who will kill you the moment they see you. The story really shines in its slow burn that dives into the human condition. The duo meet plenty of people one their adventures from introverts who shut themselves off from the world to survive, to those who embraced the cruelty for complex reasons. The story is Oscar worthy and the acting is the best I’ve ever seen in a video game. Troy Baker is superb as Joel and every character you meet delivers perfectly the despair and hope they share in this cruel world.

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The star of this story is the relationship between Joel and Ellie. One, a man who’s lost a lot and became ruthless in order to survive, the other a young naïve girl born in a violent world and never knowing anything else. She’s inquisitive and foulmouthed while Joel is violent and cold. What starts off as a dysfunctional relationship slowly blossoms into a father-daughter relationship, but not through easy means.  Other characters you meet along the way are very fleshed out for the amount of time they are in the story. I felt something for just about everyone from compassion and caring to out right hatred.  Being able to evoke these emotions really puts Naughty Dog in a class of its own.

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I never knew a post-pandemic America could look so gorgeous. From rainy destroyed cities to sunset neighborhoods to luscious forest, Naughty Dog pushed the PS3 to its limits created this fully fleshed out world. And it’s the environment is what you need to use to your advantage to survive. Stealth is important; you are not some superhuman here. You have to hide, distract, and sneak up on your enemies if you want any chance of surviving. Most of the time, if you rush in on an enemy, you will die. Humans are smart and will shoot to kill, and the infected will usually gang up on you and overwhelm you. You could find cover and try to shoot your way through, but chances are you will waste precious inventory in doing so. It makes almost every encounter thrilling and nerve racking. There are multiple ways to tackle an obstacle but taking your time to access the situation is always best.

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What can make encounters even more hectic is the crafting system. Finding certain items in the world can be used to make helpful tools for battle such as a nail bomb or first aid kit. Crafting these items happens in real time, as does healing, so the player must strategically pick when to craft and heal so as to not leave yourself exposed. There is also an upgrade bench that you can upgrade your guns to make them more efficient. Even with these upgrades, you never feel like more than a man. You aren’t Nathan Drake surviving impossible odds, you are Joel and everything you go through seems plausible and realistic, aside from fungal zombies.

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The Last of Us never feels like an escort mission, Ellie and other people you meet will never cause you to be discovered by the enemy. This one of the few complaints about the game, and it’s a minor one. It’s not that other people can’t cause you to be discovered, but that Ellie won’t always hide convincingly. Sometimes she’ll come into full view of the enemy and he will completely ignore her. It breaks up the realism of the game and is a little glaring. Another complaint is that Listen Mode doesn’t always work, very rarely there were times I could see an enemy hiding but in Listen Mode it wouldn’t work. These were the only issues I could find with the game and it was very minute.

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Lastly we have the multiplayer; while not important to the main story, I found it to be charming and quite fun. Called Factions, the multiplayer has two modes; Survivors and Supply Raid. Survivors is a four-on-four deathmatch. The caveat is that once you die, your stay dead for the rest of the round, best of seven wins. In Supply Raid, the team has a shared number of lives, for each death the team loses a count towards the team life. When it hits zero, that team loses. In multiplayer, you are a leader of a camp, by winning or losing matches; your camp is affected positively or negatively. It’s a slight addition but pretty fun.

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The Last of Us is as perfect as a video game could get.  Naughty Dog has created a near flawless video game experience that throws you on an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish. This is by far the best Playstation 3 game and perhaps one of, if not, the best video game of this generation. 5 out of 5 stars, 10 out of 10, 100 out of 100, whatever rating score you like to use, The Last of US is a masterpiece.

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