Why The Last Of Us is the best game ever…
I was a few weeks late on the uptake but I have finally finished the Last Of Us. Like anyone else who has found themselves on the other side of Naughty Dog’s crowning achievement, I am locked in a state of catatonia. I cant believe that what is probably the most enjoyable gaming experience of all time has come to an end.
On the face of it, the Last Of Us is a third-person zombie game with a linear structure and a concoction of action, puzzle and stealth gameplay. All pretty standard items in the world of single-player epics, but it’s the plot that sets The Last Of Us apart.
The story is like nothing that has ever been told before via the medium of video game. From it’s shocking beginning to its morally murky end, you are gripped. In most games, cut scenes punctuate the action and give you some handle on what your goal is. In the Last Of Us, the gameplay is simply a vehicle that allows you to interact with the harrowing, beautiful story of Joel and Ellie.
The gameplay itself is robust and challenging and every set play in which you find yourself is expertly executed. The game essentially follows the rules set by previous zombie games and indeed previous third-person adventure platforms. Strong elements of the Drake’s franchise are apparent throughout, which is definitely not a bad thing as Naughty Dog’s original adventure is a slick, impressive runaround in its own right.
Although there isn’t much new about the way the game plays, Naughty Dog has definitely made its simple dynamics watertight and graphically got the very most out of the PS3. The linear, ‘closed world’ not only allows the graphics to be as detailed and realistic (mostly gory) as possible, but it also restricts the player from veering from the main story line. This may well be deliberate, as to ensure the story doesn’t lose any of its heavyweight punch.
There is always a danger of linear games becoming repetitive. One clever element that keeps the Last Of Us from being infected by repetition is the mix of human and infected AI. No two situations seem the same as you come across whords of runners and clickers, teams of ruthless highjackers or even three bloaters stumbling around a subway station. You have to deal with each situation with a combination of stealth, brute force and, on occassion, legging it!
Compared with its competitors within the third-person genre (Tomb Raider, MGS, Hitman, Drake’s Fortune etc), the constant variance of adversaries still keeps The Last Of Us at the top of the class for gameplay. So, not only do you interact with a plot that puts most blockbuster films to shame, you are constantly entertained while you do it.
“Just because you are character, doesn’t mean you have character.”
– Harvey Keitel, Pulp Fiction
The character development in this Naughty Dog masterpiece is unlike anything we have ever seen in gaming before…yet it’s difficult to explain without dropping some hell-spoilers.
All we’re saying, is look out for how Joel subtly glances at his wristwatch (a gift from his pre-apocalyptic life) during certain clips and how Ellie’s body language shifts following some pivotal moments.
To get your money’s worth from The Last of Us – don’t rush. Only play when you have the time for a decent ‘sesh’ because there is so much added value deep in the spores of what is a fitting swansong for Sony’s PS3.
Scares are a big part of games that have a zombified complexion and The Last Of Us has plenty. Played on hard difficulty, the limited amount of ammo available means that each combative situation is as tense as it can be. Stealth is always the best option; for conservation of supplies as much as anything else. But when your presence is realised by either humans or infected, the pace at which either faction can mame you leaves you feeling frightened to try again.
Some of the brutal cut scenes also add colour to the picture of a harsh and terrifying future, where death waits for you in every abandoned building. This harsh realism provides the perfect backdrop to a perfect storyline.
The fact that the game is so story driven gives the characters in it a new level of depth that leads you, the player, to become heavily invested in them. This gives everything you do with your Dual Shock controller so much more meaning than other games.
Gameplay and storyline marry together perfectly to create an unerring depiction of an infected dystopian nightmare and the effect this new environment has upon the human condition. This is what makes the Last Of Us great.
We are at a point in time where a next generation of consoles await us. One large movement appears to be towards what are essentially interactive TV shows and films. Something that gives gamers a fantastic story that they can engage with…and even change.
However it will be many years before anything surpasses The Last of Us.
Granted, you are on a constant bearing and what you do doesn’t impact the outcome of the story. But you have to fight for your life to get from beginning to end. And what an end!