The Last of Us Review

 

The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s feverishly anticipated survival horror game, released exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation 3 on June 14th, 2013. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this action and adventure game has you set out on a cross-country trek across America, in the year 2033.

You play as Joel, a hardened man from before the world as we know it came to an end; a survivor. As a favour to an old acquaintance, he is set with the task of escorting a young girl by the name of Ellie to the base camp of a friendly resistance group, known as the Fireflies. Along the way, you have to protect both yourself and her, as danger lurks around every corner in the form of zombie-like humans; people who have been infected with the toxic fungus that has eradicated the majority of the world’s population. With the military, human scavengers and the Infected hunting you every step of the way, it’s your duty to protect this one young girl who may hold all the answers to saving mankind…

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The Last of Us is dystopian through to its core, and fully employs aspects of survival horror in its gameplay. In order to navigate and survive this treacherous environment, when playing as Joel stealth is of the utmost importance. Avoid detection by Infected and Survivors (non-infected but hostile and deadly humans), and keep yours and Ellie’s lives. In true survival horror fashion, weapons, ammunition, health packs, etc., are all of limited supply. You’re lucky to find one, if any when exploring this game. Stealth is your best friend when it comes to large groups of enemies; bullets attract attention and aren’t found often, meaning hiding and delivering swift and silent kills are your best options.

As Joel, you have skills you can employ to your advantage, resulting from years of learning how to survive in this lethal wasteland. One of these is his keen sense of hearing; with the use of the R2 button, Joel can listen in and sense where enemies are through the noise they make, making it an endlessly useful skill if you need to reload or heal yourself. Both of these menial tasks  are real-time, and require that you be in a place where you won’t get interrupted, else neither will get finished. It’s little touches like these that remind you of how good true survival horror games can be.

You can also craft weapons for yourself, along with shivs, healing packs, molotov cocktails, and more. These craftings also take place in real-time, meaning you need to find a lull in the action in order to do so. These crafting options are only available when you scavenge for items in all the discarded environments you find yourself in, giving you great motivation to explore all of these eerily beautiful places.

The style of immersive gameplay is reflected in the cut scenes and narrative, all working together to get you completely involved in the lives of the character you play, as well as those you interact with. Joel and Ellie’s relationship is reminiscent of a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship as they set out on this journey together, with their interactions and conversations reinforcing this belief. Being born after the world’s downfall, Ellie is a child throughout their travels, filled with wonder and constantly asking questions about the past and items that are every day for us, but completely new for her.

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There’s no denying that the world of The Last of Us is beautiful; the graphics are very impressive, and some places practically beg you to explore them if not to see more of their beauty. The contrast as well between the healthy areas of green as emerald grass, and the smog of spores in an Infected area is stark and somewhat dismal as you realise how sick and destroyed the world we know today is for Joel and Ellie. However, given the constant danger and peril that the pair find themselves in, the beauty is somewhat overlooked, though when you do notice it there is definitely no denying it.

This constant danger is supplied mainly by the Infected. Split into two categories: Runners and Clickers, you’ll need all your wits about you if you’re to escape them with your lives. Runners are the easier of the two types, as they can be taken out with melee attacks and Joel’s signature stealth kill of sneaking up and strangling from behind. Clickers, however, are Infected to the point that they’ve lost their sight, and rely on literally clicking to see, almost like bats with sonar. Clickers can only be killed with a silent shiv attack or by relying on your precious bullets, and if they manage to get your hands on you then you’re a goner, no question about it. These creatures are the sure fire way to strike fear into your heart when wandering through the wasteland that is the United States, so watch out…

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It’s safe to say that the quality of this PlayStation Exclusive shines through with practically every minute you play The Last of Us. A definite Zavvi Recommended game! Make sure you pick it up.

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