Post-apocalyptic The Last of Us is a bloody, brutal game, but is also a stunning achievement of storytelling and action. Offering memorable characters and superbly paced gameplay, The Last of Us is something very special. If you only play one videogame this year, play this.
The Last of Us
Type: Third-person shooter (TPS)
Players: 1 player; online multi-player for 2-8 players
Game Time: The solo campaign takes about 15 hours on Normal difficulty; the multi-player campaign is effectively endless
Some of the best performances, presentation, and pacing in video-gaming today.
Compelling, cinematic single-player campaign with an affecting story.
The enemy AI can be dodgy and the framerate occasionally stutters.
Combat is brutal, and perhaps too much for some.
It makes the other games in your collection look rubbish.
Ellie. The best gaming character ever. Probably.
It’s been two decades since a parasitic virus swept humanity aside. In the US, a few struggling remnants of civilisation cling to militarised quarantine zones, but beyond those walls it’s a hellish wilderness, with infected, fungus-headed zombies prowling every dark recess, and small pockets of murderous survivors scrabbling for scraps.
Welcome to The Last of Us. It’s dark, brutal, and unforgiving. If you’re offended by swearing, hacking people limb-from-limb, or by strong, female characters, it’s time for you to run. But please don’t. The Last of Us, for all its brutality, and perhaps because of it, is an exceptional game.
Infected runners about to tear Joel to shreds.
The single-player narrative focusses upon aging Joel — a no-nonsense and abrupt smuggler with a grim past — and his relationship with Ellie — a courageous 14-year old girl with a secret. It’s a bleak, harrowing tale, but also one of hope and humanity in a hopeless world.
Given the circumstances, the characters could easily become the boring, cliché-riddled puppets we often find in those mindless summer blockbusters we all pretend to hate. But that’s not what we have here. The Last of Us offers nuanced, deep, and impressively ‘real’ characters, all brought to life through a mixture of motion-captured cut-scenes, evocative animations, and incidental chat during play. Indeed, the two leads are nothing less than an on-screen triumph, and certainly a solid step forward for cinematic gaming.
It's just soooo pretty
But, for all The Last of Us is cinematic in presentation, it never forgets it’s a game. The gameplay focusses upon a mixture of cautious exploration, edgy shooting, visceral close-combat, and nerve-wracking stealth through a variety of luscious, post-apocalyptic settings that never fail to impress — indeed, few, if any, PS3 games look better. Collectables also proliferate, allowing you to upgrade weapons, craft new equipment, enhance skills, or just learn more about the world, so there is always an excuse to explore the many isolated corners of the environments.
The scarcity of equipment makes crafting more from scrap a necessary skill
The weapons, in particular, excel. Metal pipes feel heavy and pound flesh with satisfying, sickening clangs; guns are deadly, recoil wildly, and can be jury-rigged with extra capabilities as the game progresses; and knives — oh, dear God, the knives — the stabbing and the blood and the gurgled screams could very well haunt your dreams it is so effectively and cringe-inducingly portrayed. This is not a game for the faint-hearted.
Similarly, the online multi-player is handled with equal care and thought, and offers something a little deeper than the standard Let’s Shoot Each Other In The Face And Level Up most online games tout these days. Using two game modes and two factions, you play competitive matches and gather resources to support your camp of survivors over a period of twelve weeks. Still, for all the multiplayer is rather good, it’s the single-player experience that shines.
Throwing Molotov cocktails at your mates is always a soothing way to pass time at the weekend
So, do yourself a favour: buy this game. Immediately. The Last Of Us is a remarkable achievement that shows off the PS3, and this generation of games, at its very best.
There is a world to explore, so go explore it