Game Review: Last of Us
June 28, 2013

Game Review: Last Of Us

This generation may almost be over, but the PS3 has just received its best game.

The industry of video games has no doubt came a long in the past few decades and now our experiences as gamers are becoming increasingly more and more cinematic. Recently, the release of Naughty Dog’s PlayStation 3 exclusive title Last Of Us has set a new bar for these unique experiences, and I hope that this is the new benchmark in game design that other developers are fighting to achieve.

Let me cut straight to the chase because this game is just that good.

And trust me, I will not spoil a thing.

The story almost curves to your average zombie game with a terrible infection that takes over the United States, and which I can dig, but it is nothing new. The changing factor that makes up for the clichéd story is that the player gets to play through the beginning of the infection. Then you continue to play through to see how the local government has turned on its people and how the people have turned on the others outside of loved ones to commit atrocities as opposed to just watching a cut scene to catch the gamer up on things. But this approach gives the player a firsthand look as to what is going on and gives the gamer the initial motivation to play.

Joel, the main character who fights to live another day along with a group of others, lives in a world twenty years after the tragic events that I previously mentioned. Now, the United States is littered with infected people who range from the newly infected who come off more as savage zombies all the way to those who have been infected for a very long time and look more like humanoid fungus than people.

Early in the game, Joel is tasked with escorting a young girl named Elle across the country to a group called the Fireflies. Why is this, and what importance does she serve? Who knows, but its Joel’s job and he is hell bent to get the job done.

As far as the presentation goes, please be prepared for a movie that could have been one of this year’s huge summer blockbusters. The voice acting is top notch, which breathes life and makes the characters feel real as opposed to polygons on the screen. The talented voice crew brings a certain human element to the game that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it all works for the better.

Speaking of the voice acting, the characters of whom the actors are portraying are arguably the most compelling in any game in the current generation. Riddled with tattered pasts, the people who inhabit the post-apocalyptic United States who aren’t infected all try to survive this hell hole. Each character that the main protagonist, Joel, comes across has their own unique emotional toll that they take on both the player and the story, whether it’s for cheers or for tears. As for Joel, I won’t spoil too much, but he’s been through a lot during the twenty years that prologues the game. It is interesting to see how he copes with various misfortunes from the past combined with the circumstances of the present.  Without a doubt, the young girl Elle (whom Joel has to smuggle cross country) steals the show from the moment she hits the screen all the way up to the end of the game.

The young girl is only 14 years of age, which means she was born into a tattered world full of death, infection and violence. Through the little conversations the player has with her during the course of the adventure, the gamer can tell that the girl has no concept of what it means to be in a “normal” world and it shows in her personality.  Foul mouthed and full of angst stuffed smart remarks, Elle does come off as your average teenaged smart ass, but there is an innocent quality to her that draws her and Joel together as co-stars of this cinema like experience.

Moving on to the gameplay, it is really smooth with Joel having to take weapons and supplies from fallen foes and random houses and buildings because resources are limited. This element brings a rush of realism to the game that is much appreciated. Also, the player must reach in Joel’s backpack to get or create items such as guns, melee weapons or health kits in real game time. So, that means that the game doesn’t stop and hit a menu when you want something (which can be very convenient or life threatening depending on external circumstances).

I could go on forever about this game, but I will leave you guys with that; and if you are a PlayStation 3 owner, then this is a game to own, not rent.

Image Credit: Naughty Dog / Sony Computer Entertainment

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