When playing through critically acclaimed titles, gamers can usually identify a specific event or encounter when a game goes from being very good, to becoming an instant classic. That said, you’ll find no ‘ah-ha!’ moment in The Last of Us. You see, Naughty Dog’s latest is a masterstroke in interactive entertainment because it understands the cumulative power of little moments. It doesn’t rely on explosive set pieces or world-changing plot twists to connect with its audience. Instead, Naughty Dog has delivered an incredible experience which demonstrates the potential of the medium when developers respect their audience.
Taking place 20 years after a mysterious infection has ravaged the world, gamers play as Joel (Troy Baker), a hardened smuggler whose struggle for survival has cost him a large chunk of his humanity. Joel’s shady past is never fully explained, leaving the gamer to piece together their own understanding of him through interactions with the other characters which inhabit this world. Early in the game, Joel is entrusted with smuggling a young girl named Ellie (Ashley Johnson) out of the quarantined city of Boston. Admittedly, the reason for Ellie’s importance is fairly on the nose, but it never serves to derail the plot. Like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road,Â TLoUÂ chronicles Joel and Ellie’s relationship and their journey through the ruins of the human race. It’s a testament to the script that the two leads feel like fully realised personalities, complete with intriguing character arcs.
Controlling Joel should feel instantly familiar to veterans of the Uncharted series. For the most part, Joel controls like Nathan Drake; running, climbing, shooting and punching his way through encounters. The one major change, and it’s a gameplay altering one, is Joel’s decidedly more human limitations. Unlike Drake, Joel is a regular man rooted in a much more realistic world. Every movement he makes takes a lot of effort, thus strengthening our sense of connection with him.
Another difference is the nature of enemy encounters. TLoU features two groups of enemies: humans and the infected. Reflecting Joel’s more realistic limitations, rushing in guns ablazing will result in a quick and fiery death. Human enemies possess impressive AI which will see them taking cover and flanking you in teams. The game encourages players to evaluate the situation before deciding on the appropriate form of engagement. Sometimes, it’s wiser to take the stealth route and avoid combat altogether. Encounters with the infected are even more dependent on stealth. This is due in large part to the horrifying Clickers, infected humans at a highly advanced stage who locate their prey through echolocation. There’s nothing more unnerving than creeping into an unexplored location and hearing their unmistakable clicks through the inky darkness. However, during my playthrough, I encountered a perplexing moment where my AI companion ran straight into a Clicker. Not only did it not tear him to pieces, the Clicker shambled off as if nothing had happened. Strange, but rare enough that I don’t suspect it will be a problem for most of you.
TLoU also packs a multiplayer component with players joining either the Fireflies, a revolutionary band of soldiers, or the Hunters, civilians who rejected living in quarantined cities under the rule of the army. The goal is to kill and scavenge to ensure the survival of your selected clan. It’s fun and further fleshes out the lore of the game world, but never feels particularly essential.[pullquote_right]Visually, TLoU is a strikingly beautiful game which pushes the PS3 hardware to the limit.[/pullquote_right]Visually, TLoU is a strikingly beautiful game which pushes the PS3 hardware to the limit. Boasting wonderfully animated and detailed character models set against an intricately detailed world, the game’s visuals are as close to next-gen as we’ll get till the PS4 and Xbox One drop in a couple months. Grounded in reality, players will experience a hauntingly familiar world where much of mankind’s constructs are being slowly retaken by nature. This poignant sadness is etched into every aspect of the game and succeeds in creating one of the most memorable post-apocalyptic environments since Fallout 3 and Metro: Last Light.
Complementing the visual excellence is a highly emotional score composed by Oscar-winner Gustavo Sanaolalla. By applying the score in small and measured doses, director Bruce Straley has succeeded in injecting emotion into specific moments of the game. Tracks such as the sombre The Last of Us andÂ the startlingly beautiful Vanishing Grace offers brief moments of calm amidst the madness.
The cast features a veritable who’s-who of voice-acting royalty. From Troy Baker to the man of a thousand voices , Nolan North, the entire cast does an exceptional job of imbuing their characters with a weight and presence which supports the ambitious narrative. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ashley Johnson’s exceptional performance as Ellie. Lending her the right mix of sweetness, innocence and intelligence, Johnson has succeeded in bringing one of gaming’s most memorable personalities to life.
TLoUÂ is a remarkable game and a clear demonstration of its developer’s confidence in its craft. During the PS3’s lifespan, Naughty Dog has succeeded in creating some of the most endearing characters to ever grace our console screens. With their latest achievement, it leaves little doubt that their PS4 debut will be one to watch.
“…guns ablazing will result in a quick and fiery death.” Super love this statement. 🙂 Although set in a post apocalyptic world, everything about this game feels very real. I can feel the frustration and the despair of living in a desolate world. I actually had to take a few breaks when playing just so I can catch my breath. Naughty Dog has indeed created some of the most unforgettable characters. And I’m so glad that I got to know them! Endure and Survive!
What I read was that is more about emotions than the actual action.. http://www.pricepanda.com.sg/the-last-of-us-ps3-pid1519190/ here it sais so. I’m really willing to get this game soon!
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