There are not many games like The Last of Us. It’s one of the few gems that really shine in a sea of mediocrity. In a way, it is pretty much perfect when it comes to games. When I first played it, I actively looked for things to ding this game on, knowing all of the glowing reviews it got. However, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Nothing. The game is about as close to perfect as you are going to get. Here are my reasons:
The Last of Us is a third-person action/horror/survival game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony in 2013 for PS3 only. The game engine is an in-house blend and uses the Havoc engine for the physics side. It was one of the last games for the PS3 that demonstrated just about all the console could handle (BioShock Infinite was the other), and it was hailed for its graphics, game play, and story. It came out again in 2014 as a remastered version for PlayStation 4, but for the purposes of this review, I am only looking at the original.
The setting takes place twenty years after a fungal infection spreads across the United States, turning the infected into zombies. The protagonist, Joel, is tasked with transporting a young girl across America to a resistance group who believes that she may be the cure to the infection. To avoid any spoilers, there is not much else that will be discussed here. However, one point should be mentioned:
The story is a bit depressing, being a survival horror story and all. There are some lighter elements to it, but the overall tone is pretty dark and gritty. This made–for me at least–it a bit hard to push through at some points. This is probably why it took me so long to finish it. However, this is not something that I can knock the game on. That is just the genre, and for the genre, it is excellent. The story feels gritty and realistic. The characters feel real and believable. Overall, there is nothing that could actually be better, and there are not many video games–if any–that I can say have a better quality story.
If you’ve played any of the Uncharted games, then you will know pretty much how The Last of Us will play. If you have not played the Uncharted games, it is a third-person action game that focuses on the elements of sneak, duck and cover shooting, and climbing and exploring. Unlike many traditional sneak games, you can go about most areas without having to sneak perfectly. You can go in guns-blazing if you would like, though this is not recommended on the more difficult settings (you will never find enough supplies for that).
Overall, the game play is sharp and responsive. There is a good mix of sneaking, shooting, and climbing. This is a characteristic that Naughty Dog has been perfecting since Uncharted 2. Nothing felt too repetitive. They even threw in some surprises that I wasn’t expecting, though I probably should have since it borrowed from Uncharted 3. The game play length was perfect for the type of game as well and was overall pretty darned fun to play.
The graphics for The Last of Us were pretty much the best that one could get for the PS3’s limitations (only BioShock Infinite revivals it). The characters are amazingly realistic and the setting is richly detailed. This is one of the reasons why I am still scratching my head at the fact that Naughty Dog remastered it for PS4. What is there exactly to remaster? I can understand older games like Final Fantasy X/X-2 being done in HD, but I am still trying to figure out why I need to re-buy this game on PS4 when it looks so beautiful for PS3.
Probably one of the coolest elements of this game doesn’t even have to do with the game play. It’s the fact that Naughty Dog went with voice and motion capture to do the cut scenes and picked some exceptional acting talent. Now, if you have never read any of my articles before or do not follow me on Twitter, you may not know that Troy Baker IS my favorite voice actor. So, you can imagine that it was an absolute treat getting to listen to him for the entire game. It was even MORE amazing to get to see the cut-scenes where they did the motion capture. This was what probably made all of the cut-scenes so memorable, and it also helped with the realism of the story. Besides Troy, we also have the talents of Ashley Johnson (amazing as Ellie), Annie Wersching (from 24), and freaking Nolan North (Mr. Nathan Drake himself). Overall, it was an amazing cast. They could not have picked better people.
Again, I tried to knock this game on something, but I really couldn’t One thing that I wanted to complain about was the fact that I will probably never play this game again. For me, the story is a little bit too depressing for me to do a couple of repeat play-throughs. Also, now that I know the ending, there’s not the same drive to try and play it again. However, I don’t think the multiple-playability of a game should be considered in a rating. The game was long enough that I definitely got my money’s worth out of it.
The Last of Us covers all of the areas that I demand out of a great game: amazing story, fun game play, beautiful graphics, and the voice talent of Troy Baker. During this game, I cried both tears of joy and despair. I was yelling at the screen many times. I covered my eyes at certain parts. Some places even left my jaw on the floor. In the end, this game did what I do require out of any good story, which is this: When it was all over, all I could do is sit there for an hour and ponder the whole thing over. If that isn’t perfection, then I don’t know what is.