Review by the_great_tidus

"No Matter What....You need to play The Last of Us"

Naughty Dog has a reputation for pushing the boundaries of gaming. Quality dialogue, amazing visuals, new and innovative gameplay. These are a few of the things we have come to expect in Naughty Dog games. The Last of Us is without a doubt not only the best game of 2013 but also one of the best games of all time. It's a masterpiece that will captivate you from start to finish and have you emotionally invested in a lot of the characters, in particular the two leads Joel and Ellie.

Story - 10/10
The story opens with a quiet Father/Daughter scene. We are introduced to Joel the main protagonist of the game and his daughter Sarah enjoying some quality time together. Before long things go crazy people are induced with rage and attacking others for no apparent reason. Incidents of violence are becoming more frequent and Joel and his family attempt to escape the city. The city is enveloped in madness. Citizens are infected with the Cordyceps fungus which changes behavior patterns and leaves the victim basically a walking zombie. The opening scenes show how the apocalypse came about and events happen that shape Joel as a person. The bulk of the games story takes place 20 years later in a now destroyed world where much of the worlds population is dead or infected. Humans now live in scattered camps run by the military. The people try to hold onto as much civilization and humanity as they can. Joel and his partner a female named Tess now work in a smuggling operation. The game picks up as Joel and his partner track down a man who stole one of their shipments. After tracking the thief down the situation is complicated even further, Marlene a member of the Fireflies has their guns. In order to get their guns back Joel and his partner are asked to smuggle something, a little girl named Eliie. Ellie is special, she is infected with Cordyceps, but unlike everyone else who was infected she has not lost her mind and is in fact immune to the funguses effects. She is vital to finding a cure for Cordyceps and it is up to Joel to safely transport her to her destination. This is the initial setup to a wonderful story full of interesting characters. The relationship between Joel and Ellie is very well done. The interactions between the characters and the dialogue are top notch. The atmosphere lends itself brilliantly to creating a chilling feeling, yet having a glimmer of hope. Little extras like Notes or documents are available to find in the world and detail accounts of other survivors and some history of what happened following the Cordyceps outbreak. The Last of Us has a story that can rival any movie out there. The end of the world viral outbreak has been done before but it has never been done this good with such a strong cast of characters and emotional directing. When the credits roll you will know you witnessed something special.

Gameplay 10/10
The Last of Us is a mixed bag. It features third person shooting, action elements, stealth as well as survival horror. This mix is well done and keeps everything fresh. Most encounters will have Joel seeing a group of enemies patrolling a semi open area. From here you can use listen mode to see through walls and get a general idea of the enemies location. Stealth is generally a good first option. You can crouch and avoid enemies by using cover and sneaking through an area. You can also pick up items like bottles or bricks to throw and distract enemies. Human enemies and infected have subtle differences in how you approach them though. Infected such as clickers use echo location like a bat to locate you so you can use sound to lure them to areas. Also use of the flashlight does not effect them as they are blind in the visual sense. With human enemies they can see you but you can also sneak up on them and strangle them and their patrol patterns are more coordinated compared to the more erratic behavior of the infected. The semi open environments keep the stealth entertaining and the variety of the enemies keep you guessing. If you want to play more like an action title you are free to do so though ammo is more limited in the spirit of survival horror. Gunplay is typical 3rd person shooting. A cover system is in play. You have a nice variety of guns which include pistol, shotgun, hunting rifle, hunting bow, flamethrower etc... all of which have their uses. The bow is very useful if you like to stay stealthy but still have a bit of fun picking off infected or people with well placed headshots. Using a louder weapon like the shotgun will most likely draw attention and force you into a confrontation. If enemies get to close you can use a melee weapon such as a pipe or axe to stun or kill enemies. So the game has a nice system of risk vs. reward. This carries on to the collectibles and searching for ammo as well. Deciding to search to long could leave you vulnerable to getting spotted. The shooting portion of The Last of Us is competent but I feel a mix of stealth and the occasional well placed headshot with the bow is where the game really shines. For some added depth you have a crafting The last piece of the gameplay I want to talk about are the puzzles. None of them are very advanced. Sometimes you need to find a ladder to get to a higher level and place it against a wall or across a gap. Other times since Ellie doesn't know how to swim you need to find a wooden board and float her across to the next section. It does a good job at breaking up the action/stealth sequences. The gameplay of the last of us is well made, well paced, and very easy to learn for all users. There is no game out there that has the combo of elements that The Last of Us has that does them this well.

Graphics 10/10
Not much needs to be said here. The Last of Us is beautiful. Character models are very detailed, environments are gorgeous. It pushes the Ps3 to its limits. Presentation is a must when having such a character driven and story oriented game and these are as good as it gets in gaming right now. You won't find a better looking game on current gen consoles.

Sound 10/10
I'll start off here by talking about the voice acting. The voice acting is some of the best in the gaming industry. Troy Baker knocks it out of the park as Joel. There is no weak link to be found every character has a well done performance. A good voice acting performance is important in a game with such emphasis on emotional storytelling and it works so well in The Last of Us. Gaming may not have an Oscar show yet but if it did the cast of The Last of Us would take home all the awards. Moving on to music. The Last of Us soundtrack has a number of very subtle and soft tracks they really help create a mood of isolation. More intense pieces are done when with action segments, but I found the soundtrack at its best when you are just exploring or admiring the landscapes. The Last of Us is amazing in the sound dept.

Overall 10/10
In Closing I've been gaming since the early 90s back when games were much more simplistic. To see a game today like The Last of Us that can rival most movies is mind blowing. It's an experience for anyone that loves gaming and respects the evolution of gaming as an art form. The Ps3 has made a name as being home to the best games and the best cinematic experiences and The Last of Us is another huge feather in Sonys cap. It's an absolute must play. The End

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/03/13

Game Release: The Last of Us (US, 06/14/13)

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