PlayStation 3 exclusive The Last Of Us has been cleaning up the majority of the 2013 Game of the Year awards, and for good reason. While I would pick Tomb Raider as my favourite game of last year, I would definitely say that TLOU was the best title released last year and deserved every single one of those awards.
The Last Of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States, where much of the world’s human population has been wiped out by the Cordyceps fungus which gives humans zombie-like characteristics. As supplies dwindle, many of the humans in the world are desperately trying to survive and will not hesitate to kill to save themselves. TLOU presents this brutal world with such realism and strong characterisation it’s amazing.
Main character Joel gets involved in a smuggling deal where he must escort Ellie to a group known as the Fireflies, who believe that she may be able to help cure the infection. I don’t view Joel and Ellie as heroes or as entirely sympathetic characters. They are just survivors, and sometimes act very selfishly. That’s pretty much all I want to discuss about the story, because it’s such a strong part of the game I think players should read as little about it as possible. I will say that the game does a fantastic job of making you care about these virtual characters, so when tragedy strikes…oh the feels.
The gameplay? It has some flaws here and there, such where you spend too much time killing enemies, but I love how it incorporates survival-horror elements. Ammo and supplies are quite sparse, meaning that not only do you try to make every hit count, but you have to resort to using every weapon at your disposal. Sometimes the best thing to do is run, or sneak past. The puzzles and objectives in the game are usually very simplistic, such as grabbing a plank to get across a gap or turning on a generator to power a gate. That fits with the tone and theme of the game, which is essentially about escorting Ellie from one area to the next. The game controls feel very fluid once you become accustomed to them, as does the crafting system. You feel more powerful as you find more weapons and take the opportunity to upgrade them. You are rewarded for exploring the area with crucial supplies scattered throughout.
You’ll want to explore because the beautiful graphics bring the game’s setting to life. I’ve been to the United States recently and TLOU makes this setting feel so believable. When you enter a building in the game you can discover the story behind it, by observing the destruction, the graffiti, the household items (such as toys and photos) and documents that you can read.
I should mention the score, because like a film, at times you won’t notice it there but it is making an impact on the experience. Whether it’s adding tension to the combat, hitting those emotions in the cut scenes or making the vast and beautiful game world feel that much more vast and beautiful, the score is a player in TLOU.
The game length felt perfect, and once it was finished I was astonished with the journey the game had sent me through. The pacing was amazing and TLOU overall had not overstayed its welcome one bit. The ending was bold, and while some may have issues with it, I was completely satisfied with it.
This game has an online multiplayer mode called Factions, which probably won’t be the reason most people buy the game but whatever. It was fun though. Players pick from either the Fireflies or Hunter factions and keep their faction alive by scavenging during matches. Actually the scavenging part is basically doing well (killing opponents, reviving team mates, crafting items) which is converted to supplies post match. I can’t really be bothered with online games, but I can see someone investing great amounts of time and enjoyment into it.
The real focus of TLOU experience is the main single player campaign, and I’m giving my time with that experience a perfect score of 5/5.
Just play the game already, before you accidently see spoilers on the internet.
And you can read my review of the DLC side story Left Behind right here!