Release Year: 2014 (2013 standard edition on PS3)
Contains Mild Spoilers
Naughty Dog is well known for same great classic games, like ‘Jak and Daxter’, some of the earlier ‘Crash Bandicoot’ instalments and more recently, the highly popular ‘Uncharted’ series. In recent years, it has been evident that the developer has been producing games with more mature themes, like Uncharted, and that has now lead us to The Last of Us.
The Last of Us was originally released in 2013 exclusively to the PS3 and won critical acclaim as well as numerous awards. But for those of you who missed it, read on…
The Last of Us is set 20 years after an epidemic wipes out most of the world, or has turned them into a version of a “zombie”, and is set across the USA. You play a character named Joel, a grizzled hard as nails smuggler, surviving in this apocalypse. Survival and stealth are the main focus of the gameplay, which Naughty Dog has balanced rather well. Of course you can throw caution to the wind and try to run and gun, but for the most part you will end up very much dead. It’s better to try and slip away unnoticed to save your bullets and resources for when you really need them, or pick of your opponents one by one as quietly as possible.
One great element of this game is the crafting system, which allows you to be devilishly crafty (see what I did there?). You can scour the world around you for anything useful, to make things like molotovs and trip mines, to smoke bombs and bandages. At times these items are more valuable than the half dozen bullets in your revolver. When gunplay is required, you absolutely have to make every shot count. The shooting mechanics in this game may be considered clunky and sluggish by some players, (especially FPS players) but this really just adds to the tension of the game.
When you are trying to shoot a clicker, an enemy that will instantly kill you as soon as it puts its hand on you, and you have just one precious bullet left; lining up a perfect first shot becomes an invaluable skill. So does deciding which weapons to upgrade with the limited weapon parts scattered around the world, which can be used at the half dozen tool benches scattered in the game. There is also an upgrade system for Joel’s passive abilities through the use of ‘supplements’, and training manuals to increase the effectiveness of crafted items.
While the gameplay is solid, the game really comes into its own though its story. From the opening scene to the final credits, it never fails to deliver a gripping tale. For the most part, the story revolves around Joel and a young 14-year-old girl named Ellie, who Joel encounters as part of a smuggling job. I don’t want to go into much detail here; I want to give away as little as possible, but to give you an idea of how good the story is, in ten years I believe it will still be a contender for best game story ever written.
The detail that has gone into it is astounding; everything in the game has a story attached to it. The subtle hints about our main characters pasts in the dialogue, to the artefacts the player will stumble across and collect which tells other survivor’s accounts. The whole story has been wonderfully written and masterfully acted out and even if for some reason you don’t love the gameplay, switch it to easy and just experience the story and the art of the game.
As far as multiplayer goes, it’s very enjoyable but not going to set any benchmarks. Gameplay is very similar to single player and consists of 3 different game modes of 4vs4. You choose one of two factions to join when you first start multiplayer and then you have to build a clan by gathering supplies and surviving for ‘12 weeks’, (one day = one game).
You gain supplies by achieving high scores and collecting parts in the game and also scavenging supplies off the bodies of those you have killed. The more supplies, the bigger your clan grows and the better chance you have of survival. Fail to bring enough supplies back to your clan and they will go hungry and eventually sicken and die. If you lose them all, that’s it, game over, start again.
There are a couple of issues with the multiplayer; for example your team may crush the opposition for a great win, but if you haven’t had a great individual effort, you may still lose a good slice of your clan while someone in the losing team just doubled their numbers. All up though, there aren’t any big issues with it and it is still a solid go at a multiplayer mode.
For those of you who have played this before on PS3 and loved it, but are wondering if it is worth getting again for the PS4, I would highly recommend it. The graphics are eye wateringly delicious in full HD; this is how the game was meant to be played. Gameplay wise, nothing has changed, it’s still great. The sound is brilliant and Gustavo Santaolalla’s soundtrack sounds as good as ever with his haunting melodies that really set the tone of the game. This version also throws in the ‘Left Behind’ DLC, a prequel single player DLC played from the perspective of Ellie, as well as both multiplayer map packs.
All in all this game is really a highpoint in game development and the medium as a whole, as well as storytelling in general. It is something that should not be missed.