The Last of Us Is Among the Best of Them

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Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is one of the few games that made my list of most anticipated titles this year. Having tracked the development of this title over the past year and having played the demo at this year’s PAX East show, my hype machine was on full blast. With the game finally in hand, I can say without a doubt that it was worth the wait. I can see why Naughty Dog has become one of Sony’s top studios after experiencing the sheer expertise used to craft The Last of Us. I would buy friendship bracelets for everyone on the development team if I had their addresses and it was not incredibly creepy.

 

From the beginning, it is clear that the story pulls no punches and that things will only get darker as it goes on. The world has begun to fall into darkness following the outbreak of a biological infection, wreaking havoc on the minds of all those afflicted. You play as Joel, a hardened veteran of the end of the world, charged with simply surviving in this post-apocalyptic playground. I swear that you have not played this story before…it just sounds like every other zombie movie in existence. Things start to get interesting after the introduction of Ellie, a little girl with whom you are charged to protect. Ellie, unlike The Walking Dead’s Clementine, quickly becomes acclimated to the harsh realities of her environment, and she becomes more of a partner to Joel than a liability. She is the key to what makes the game truly great, and her and Joel’s story makes the game feel so real. You believe in the relationship between the two and have your own hopes and expectations for how things will play out for them. I love little Clem, but I would push her down in the mud to hang out with Ellie. By the end of the game, you will come to understand what I mean.

 

Hold still. There's something on your face...

Hold still. There’s something on your face…

 

The Last of Us is a clear departure from the play style of the Uncharted series, though they do share certain gameplay elements, like cover-based combat. In lieu of the run and gun tactics of Nathan Drake, The Last of Us greatly encourages the use of stealth when dealing with enemy encounters. Joel is by no means a pacifist, as made evident by some of his kill animations. Pacifists don’t usually smash people’s faces into a bloody mist on countertops. Just as I predicted in my PAX preview, sound plays a huge role in the way that Joel approaches enemies. Armed with apparently super human hearing, the player is able to track where enemies are within the room and sneak around them undetected. The sense of tension when sneaking around infected Clickers is unparalleled. Knowing that they could bite your soft, pink neck out immediately if you are to slip up and make a noise makes the simple act of walking from one room to another heart pounding. When it does come down to it, Joel can sling a gun as well as any grizzled veteran and his hand-to-hand skills are more than sufficient for most enemies. At times, there are some control elements that may cause an unintentional wrong move, resulting in being detected or killed during a pivotal moment. If anything, this would be the reason why it just barely misses a perfect score.

 

The graphics in the Last of Us are some of the best that we have seen on the PlayStation 3 so far. The setting is beautifully imagined, and sets the scene incredibly well. The world that Joel and Ellie live in is but a shadow of the one we know. Naughty Dog has done an amazing job of crafting a living, breathing planet that lends to the horrifying motif of the story. Walking through the ruins of an abandoned town square or a school campus, inspecting the infected spores floating about the air, infected fused to the wall like fungus — all of it creates a surreal sense of dread. The sheer creepiness that the game is able to put forth is fantastic. Never before in a game have I felt great unease in such simple situations as walking into a house or a corner store. The vivid visuals, matched with the eerie soundtrack, culminate into one of the most unnerving game experiences I have ever had.

 

The gorgeous townscapes and natural vistas almost make you forget that the entire world wants to eat you.

The gorgeous townscapes and natural vistas almost make you forget that the entire world wants to eat you.

 

In my impressions of the demo, I mentioned the delays that the game had faced and my hope that the extra time would translate into a better end product. I am pleased to say that the game does not disappoint in the least. Predictions of a Game of the Year award have been flying in about this game from outlets across the internet. The story borders on perfection when it comes down to it. No game has been able to bring me so close to shedding a tear. If I was not a cold hearted monster of a man who cried nothing softer than cinder blocks, I would have succumbed to the emotional roller coaster that is The Last of Us. Very few games have come as close to stirring such a level of intense thrill that this one has. Some reviews have described the title as everything other than “fun,” and this is for a good reason. The game is stressful. It will make you think, make you laugh, and make you cry cinder blocks.  This title is an experience that should not be missed by any gamers who want to take an adventure. I would highly recommend The Last of Us to anyone – whether you are playing the game or just watching someone else play it, make sure to catch this one.

 

9.5/10 – Amazing

Jon Malloy

Jon Malloy

Senior Writer & Editor at What's Jump?
Jon is a writer and co-founder of “What’s Jump?” With a passion for gaming, comedy, and discussion, Jon works to bring his unique views, along with a bit of humor, to his writing. With a background in information technology and development, his interests lean toward the newest trends and technological advancements. Reporting for “What’s Jump?” he is at home both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Jon Malloy
Jon Malloy

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