Monsters and Men
Within the first ten minutes, The Last of Us introduces us to a tone that pushes the presence of violence and reality of death to the highest limit. We’re in for a gut-wrenching ride and the introduction showcased what the audience was in for.
With the undead being the main highlight among the industry – just like Russian enemies over the last few years. The presence of this game didn’t appeal to me at first because I grew this attitude of not caring about anything post-apocalyptic or zombies attached to it but Naughty Dog surely had something to show. I enjoyed most of the Uncharted series and it was a no brainer for me to check this title out.
The Last of Us follows the tale of Joel – 20 years after the events of a virus outbreak that turns everyone into…well crazy homicidal monsters. There is no government or stability, just two warring factions and a low chance of survival. Joel is thrown into the world of the underground to better his chance of living another day – smuggling supplies for groups and doing dangerous errands. He does not work for any faction, he slides in the middle of fights and chaos, only focusing on things that benefits himself.
Everyday is the same till Joel landed a difficult job to escort a girl named Ellie to a faction’s camp across the open America. It’s dangerous but the reward is high so there’s no room for backing down. He sooner realises the job he had accepted was more than just an escort mission – it’s a mission that could change the world.
It’s not hard to relate The Last of Us to Hollywood movies we may have seen in the past like I Am Legend or the novel by Cormac’s McCarthy – The Road. It borrows the similar tense desperation characters go through when tools and supplies are down to it’s very minimal. The world is no longer a safe place and the monsters aren’t the only things to be aware of as your own can become your very enemy.
Combat is very similar to Naughty’s Dog Uncharted. You can clearly see they’ve taken similar elements into the post-apocalyptic setting. You’ll find yourself sneaking around plenty as vision and sound play an important role in the situations you’re placed in. The infected are ineffective if they can’t see or hear you. If they do, you better had a gun packing on the side to take them down instantly but with ammo scarce throughout the levels – players will work hard to win the battles and this causes plenty of trial and error moves as you progress deeper into the game.
Exploring is beneficial not only for fighting enemies but also for gathering supplies and upgrades. I’ve never really bothered with crafting in games till I played the Last of Us as it’s very essential, you craft, you survive. Crafting consists of gathering different types of tools to create an object – mostly offensive and defensive like Shivs (Knife), Smoke bombs and a rather brutal looking homemade bomb (it has nails prodding the outside of it) You can also make First Aid Kits which are also very much needed. Gathering supplies is all done through looking in knooks and crannies on the map. The trade offs of making an offensive or defensive object is also there, you’ll be questioning whether you need this more than that. It’s hard as you don’t know what lies up ahead. In most cases. You’re never prepared for the challenges you face.
In most cases. You’re never prepared for the challenges you face.
The encounters get even more harder as you progress throwing different and often ‘hairy’ life or death situations. It’s a love-hate relationship when I’m thrown to back against the wall armed with nothing but my bare fists. This is survival done right and I miss games that do this often. It’s no easy road in The Last of Us and Naughty Dog makes sure of that.
Environments are well sculpted in The Last of Us throwing players into a world that’s been overtaken by nature as human population dwindle in numbers. After fighting through the servers of the city, you’ll come out gazing at the light as a sense of relieve and with the help of interesting well thought out characters – the whole setting feels naturally real.
Naughty Dog has again crafted some brilliance behind the characters they chose to lead the story. You’ll have Joel, a quiet man with a rough past that’s still haunting him whose partner is a young girl. While mopey and dark, Joel is often enlighten with the presence of Ellie as the traits she carry are often out-going and humorous. An opposing relationship at first but after the perils each will face – they soon became to understand and trust each other.
With an incredible fusion of character, story and setting – the soundtrack by Award Winning Gustavo Santaolalla adds more soul into the game’s wonderful yet dark world. I couldn’t have picked anyone better for this job and Gustavo has done an amazing job with The Last of Us’s soundtrack. It’s haunting yet beautiful.
The Last of Us includes a multiplayer mode called Factions. In this multiplayer, you choose a side out of the two warring factions in the main game. Factions consists of standard team deathmatch survival modes. The basic combat elements from the game is here – you have limited ammo, you have to scrounge around for tools to increase your chance in combat. The best thing about Factions is the slower pace when in comparison with many online shooters out there. Noise can attract the enemy team towards your position so careful movements and lots of teamwork is required. Thankfully for the games I’ve played, my team has been very ‘objective friendly’ so that made us take the other team down with ease.
Factions gives replay value to the main game once completed but I feel it’s still lacks any motivation to come back for more of this game. The Last of Us is incredible but I can’t see myself replaying it. Factions is just there for people wanting that little bit extra.
The Last of Us is an incredible journey of trust, morality and grief. It proves to the audience that monsters did not take over the world, they’re already here. Naughty Dog didn’t just make a game, they gave soul to it. A must play title of this generation.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 14th 2013 (PS3)