The Last Of Us was such a smash hit on PS3 that I almost bought the system just to play it. I didn’t end up doing that, so when I heard TLOU was getting an HD remake on PS4, it was a no-brainer. I’m a little mad I waited so long to play this absolute gem. I think I played it up too much in my mind, expecting it to just blow the doors off of me like Bioshock Infinite did. The Last Of Us didn’t quite reach that level, but holy hell. What a game.
- TL;DR: Hollywood-level storytelling with more emotion than just about any other game out there
- Platform: PS4
- Score: 9.1
- Hours Played: 17
- What I Played: Main campaign on hard mode
- Recommended?: Without a doubt
It’s the year 2033. An infection has struck the world, mutating helpless people into fungus-ridden monsters. Survivors band together in small camps, searching for food and supplies while under martial law. You take on the role of Joel, a grizzled man who’s lost everything and takes on odd jobs just to stay afloat. He is tasked with delivering Ellie, a young girl born into this horrible world, across what’s left of the USA to a band of renegades.
The two main characters really couldn’t be more different. Joel is a hardened man who lived a tough life before the infection hit. He’s lived through it for 20 years, surviving as best he can. He’s not afraid to kill if he has to and can be a downright tough bastard. Ellie isn’t soft by any stretch, but all she knows is post-infection life. The idea of “normal” life doesn’t exist to her. Her entire life has consisted of bandit raids and food ration cards. It’s fun to watch Joel and Ellie’s relationship grow from skeptical to trusting to straight-up needing each other.
That growing bond is what makes The Last Of Us so great. Storytelling is really where the game makes it’s mark. The voice actors for Joel, Ellie, and even the side characters are absolutely top-notch. Nothing feels scripted or out of place — every piece of dialogue is rife with emotion and grit. People you meet along the way all have their own stories of hope and loss and their own way of surviving. There are also countless collectibles to find, like notes from survivors to loved ones and audio recordings, depicting the struggle of others. It’s a rich, vibrant world that you should take the time to explore.
Seriously, you need to actively take the time to stop and look around The Last Of Us once in a while. It’s one of the prettiest games I’ve ever seen, hands down. Every little thing, from the grass and buildings to the cars and forests, is incredibly detailed. It’s silky smooth from a framerate perspective, too. There is even a handy photo mode that allows you to stop frame the action just right so you can Instagram That Shit. No, you can’t do that, but you can take some stunning screenshots.
As far as gameplay is concerned, there’s hardly a break in the tension. If you’re working your way through a building filled with bandits, you better be careful or they will surround and blast you to bits. Sneaking through a dark sewer? Look out for the infected Runners and Clickers who can rip out your jugular in one shot. Joel has access to about a dozen guns, but using them should be your absolute last resort. Sneaking past enemies and/or silently taking them out is the way to go without a doubt.
But you will get into some firefights, and that’s when the realism bumps up to 11. Joel isn’t blessed with the typical Magical Regenerating Health that most FPS characters have, so you have to budget your health bar with how aggressive you want to be. Each shot that Joel takes can really be felt, as most either knock him down or at least illicit an audible reaction.
Crafting in games seems almost like a requirement nowadays, and The Last Of Us is no different. You’ll find scraps of cloth, bottles of rubbing alcohol, and dull blades that you can fashion into bombs, shivs, and health kits. There are a very limited number of things to craft and not too many materials, so you’ll need to be sure before making a decision. Your guns can also be upgraded with generic “weapon parts” found throughout the game. A nice touch of realism is that gun upgrades, or even finding the guns themselves, aren’t forced or guaranteed. If you miss a gun, tough luck. You definitely won’t find enough parts to max out your guns and you may not even find the tools necessary to perform higher-level upgrades. Not being forced to stop and upgrade is a nice touch.
Another great touch is the complete lack of world map. The only HUD is a small circle in the bottom right corner showing your current health and ammo. There is no main map, only smaller, hand-drawn maps that barely detail smaller areas of the game like sewer systems and camps. Most of the time, you need to actually navigate through the world, looking for posted signs and routes to make your way through things. There are no damage numbers, no combos, no points — just you, some guns, and
One of my only complaints with The Last Of Us are the few overtly immersion-breaking sections. Once safe after a combat section, Joel or Ellie will often say something like, “well, might as well look around and see what we can find.” Hearing that over and over lets you know that the mostly tension-filled game is taking a scripted break. There were also a few times where Ellie kept talking to Joel at normal conversation volume after Joel was three or four rooms away. These are only a few very small things that make you step back and go, “wait, seriously right now?”
The Last Of Us is a masterpiece, hands down. I’m glad I managed to stay spoiler-free for well over a year since the game’s initial release. I think I had too high of standards for it after hearing nothing but pure praise, but The Last Of Us is a game that you really, really should play. It’s gripping and dark with characters and a story you’ll remember well after the credits roll. All in all, hats off to Naughty Dog for delivering such a wonderful game.