Dragon’s Den Halloween Month: The Last of Us
The Last of Us
Infecting Itself into your Collection
We’re starting off this special Halloween-themed month strong with Naughty Dog’s recent title, The Last of Us. Now that it’s a year after the game’s release and all of the hype behind it has died down, we can play through the game and see with for lack of better words, “clearer eyes”. This review will be based around the Playstation 3 version after two consecutive playthroughs (New Game along with a New Game+). With that said let’s get this started.
The game itself looks beautiful with crisp and bright colors, but can also show the darker points when it needs to be. One moment you can be outside in the daylight admiring how nature overtakes broken down buildings, cars, etc, the next you’re in a dark sewer with great particle effects as you find cordyceps across walls and dead bodies. One thing you will notice though as you walk across the more nature sections of the game, you’ll see the various plant life spawn in. What I mean is, you’ll start out looking into the fields seeing only some trees and small grass, then you’ll walk into it and see flowers bloom before your very eyes which could make it distracting before long. Although it might be my Playstation 3 showing its age, but during the later half of the game, I noticed a fairly frequent drop in the framerate but luckily it’s never happened during the combat sections. These issues however do not take away the great experience that was the journey through the campaign.
The gameplay is great as well as you play in the third person and you feel the weight of every action Joel makes. Due to the setting, supplies are limited so bullets, items, etc. are very hard to find so you have to try and make due with only your ability to sneak around. Although if you’re playing through the Normal difficulty, there is enough ammo and supplies to keep you going throughout the entire game. Even though the game gives you plenty of firearms to help you throughout your journey, you’ll find yourself using only a select few and only use the other guns if you ever run out of ammo for the ones you favor over. I found myself using a lot of the items you can create as they can allow you to open sealed doors, get yourself out of a Clicker’s grasp, take care of large enemies, and groups of enemies. Along with the firearms and crafting system, there is also an upgrade system that allows you to improve your weapons and your abilities. This can range from increasing your reload time, clip capacity, increasing your health, to even allowing your shivs to have a somewhat higher durability so everything can be useful to you, but it’s completely up to you on what you prioritize first before others. But if there is one thing I can say about the gameplay that annoyed me personally, was that at a certain point all of your upgrades are taken away along with all of your supplies. Making you basically start all over as it forces you to fight entire waves of enemies, making just about any stockpiling that you may have done up to this point entirely worthless.
The enemies, both infected and humans, can both be incredibly terrifying depending on your abilities. You could either be completely prepared in how you obtained salvageable parts with weapons with full clips, or you could go into a conflict with a near empty inventory from wasteful usage and all you can rely on is your ability to sneak around the enemy and take them out quietly. Even with a full arsenal, every conflict can be tense as you have to fight against many infected or hunters at once. The hunters (other human groups trying to survive) are dynamic in how they can approach you as you either pick them off one by one with stealth, or go in guns blazing. They can spread out as to cover more ground, react to a dead body that you’ve taken out and act accordingly, and they can all run up to you and shoot you down if they wished. A trend I noticed is that whenever a hunter would jump over any obstacle, they seem to have invincibility frames as they are not affected after being shot with a 12 gauge, so you’d have to wait until they are fully over the obstacle before you can gun down or melee them to death.
When it comes to the infected, you notice patterns very quickly as you encounter the “runners” and the “clickers”. The runners will do as their namesake, as that they will run straight to you in large numbers as they all attempt to maul you to death, which can easily be dealt with if you have the shotgun or good aim with a pistol. The clickers however will mostly ignore you if you’re able to stealth your way around them, as the cordyceps has grown to the point of making them blind. If they find you, they will come after you and if you hadn’t upgraded Joel to defend himself, a single grasp from a clicker can kill you and make you start over from the last checkpoint. There’s one more variation of the infected called a “bloater”, which basically will bomb you with a spore grenade-like attack that will damage you more the longer you stand in the smoke. Unlike the clicker in which you can obtain an ability to potentially survive their grasp, you will die if the bloater comes remotely close to you. I only wish there were maybe a little bit more variety with the infected as you’ll only encounter the three (albeit one being more rare than the other two).
But what’s the point of playing the game if the story’s not up to par? But with this being a title developed by Naughty Dog, that is never a problem as the story is engaging from beginning all the way to the end. You start off as a younger Joel spending a typical night with his daughter Sarah on his birthday. After everyone goes to bed, Sarah wakes up to find her father in a panic as the cordyceps outbreak finally spread to Austin, Texas. Joel and Sarah attempt to escape the city with the increasing chaos of other panicked people make themselves more of an obstacle. Fast forward twenty years and we find a gray-haired, grizzly bearded Joel with his partner Tess who are asked to smuggle out a young, fourteen year old Ellie to Boston in exchange for their guns and “more”. To avoid spoilers I will not go any further into the story, but there is great character development between the cast of characters throughout the entire game. I would have liked however is that whenever events happened, they would explore the emotions that would be processed instead of abruptly skipping to the next scene with only a couple of words of what happened. With that said, it does not take away the full experience and the powerful moments that will occur.
The trophies are straightforward enough albeit will take a long time to obtain if you’re going to attempt to get the platinum. It ranges from just beating the campaign on the various difficulties and again on New Game+ difficulties. The challenge itself holds in obtaining every collectible from the comic books, the Firefly pendants, opening all of the “shiv doors”, and everything else you can virtually pick up. Thankfully with chapter select, this makes the task of achieving this easier as you’ll be able to go back and grab whatever you may have missed. Beating the game on Survivor and Survivor+ will more than likely be the hardest trophies you’ll get as it involves playing through the game with incredibly limited supplies and harder hitting enemies. With that said, it won’t waste your time as the game is enjoyable enough to play multiple times.
I would highly recommend this game to anyone due to its engaging story and characters, its great gameplay and upgrade systems, to even just the concept of the game of how they use the cordyceps fungus as a means of a zombie apocalypse. There may be some things that can annoy you, but the overall experience outshines the minor negatives I found during my playthroughs. The Last of Us is definitely a title worth your money if you enjoy the horror genre or a well told story. I may write another review or possibly an update to this one if I ever obtain the Playstation 4 Remastered version of the title.
+Great Story -Could use more Enemy Variation
+Great use of Lighting -Difficult Moments with Enemies Jumping Obstacles
+Gorgeous Graphics -Possible Framerate drops in the Later Half
+Engaging Gameplay -Abrupt Cutaways to the Next Scene