Last of Us, The (Video Game)
Developed by Naughty Dog
Published by Sony
Rated M for Mature
Available exclusively for PS3 (reviewed)
Naughty Dog's The Last of Us was praised at this year's E3 as one of the most critically acclaimed games over the last couple of years, and it is easy to see why everyone really likes the game, with its amazing animations that give the characters a realistic nature and brings them to life before your very eyes. You then have an intricately complex story where characters do things just to do them without any rhyme or reason on top of a climax that tries to avoid placing a judgment on who is right or wrong. These are all elements that are not often found in video games today, and Naughty Dog did once again what it does best - making the most interactive drama possible within a video game world.
The Last of Us tries so very hard to be all the things that other games aren't that it forgets to do some of the things that have proven to work so great in them. It is hard to overlook how the game manages its female characters. The story is supposed to center around the amazing relationship between an older male and that of a younger 14-year-old girl. Players are able to control Ellie but only as more of a aide to Joel or as a secondary. The story mostly revolves around Joel, but those brief moments when you are able to play as Ellie are some of the most interesting aspects of the game. I could relate to Ellie, and I would have loved to see her in a more prominent role within this beautifully complex world.
The story of The Last of Us focuses on a world that was decimated by a fungal infection, and we enter a few years after this event with people hanging on to what humanity is left within quarantined military zones. Our main protagonist is Joel, a grizzly-faced older man who has become hardened from his years of struggling to survive on the open roads. He later meets up with the young Ellie, who was born after the outbreak occurred, and their relationship is the defining point of the game. The characters' expressive faces are only further enhanced by the amazing voice acting within the game and the beautifully composed score. You find yourself attached to these characters emotionally, and this is what makes the game so amazing.
Joel and Ellie have their flaws and qualities that make them a perfect pair. Ellie's goofy sense of humor manages to break down the harden exterior of Joel, and he begins to connect with her. The game's narrative is as equally impressive as its characters. It never strays from the concept that this is a world where you must fight or die. The infected are not your only threat in this new world, but also other humans. A bleak world has turned those who have survived into savage beasts looking to do anything to live. Combat is something you try to avoid in The Last of Us, as using stealth is a way to reserve resources and move on with your journey unscathed. All of the infected require different methods to defeat them, and you can often feel overwhelmed. Combat can get incredibly brutal and bloody--but, yet again, this is what this new decimated world requires.
The Last of Us is over 15 hours of gameplay that allows players to mix and match how they fight and survive. Ellie is very helpful during combat as she can shout out the positions of enemies for you to prepare your combat strategies. Overall, she is a very smart AI, more so than in most games today. As you progress through the game, players will have to solve intricate puzzles in order to mix things up or explore abandoned buildings for supplies. In the end, The Last of Us manages to tell a powerful story through immersive gameplay and multifaceted characters. All in all, The Last of Us is a masterfully designed game and is one of the best games to ever come out of Naughty Dog.
The game is available NOW. To learn more, visit the official The Last of Us website.
4 1/2 out of 5