The Last Of Us has been on every PlayStation 3 owner’s radar for a long time now, including my own. When I first saw a trailer, I was intrigued. When I first saw gameplay, I was excited. Now that I am finally playing the game, I can happily tell you that it’s everything I had hoped it would be.
In case you’ve somehow not heard of this game, The Last Of Us is set in a world in which an infection has run rampant, turning people into blood crazed killers. It is a world divided between infected and survivors. The infected are savage beasts in human skin, ready to tear you apart at a moment’s notice. The survivors are not much better. While there are some good people left in the world, most have come to the conclusion that in order to continue their survival, they must do whatever it takes, including killing their fellow man.
It’s in this time that we meet Joel, a tired and disgruntled old man who has learned to survive. Joel is a quiet man, not afraid to get his hands dirty working as a smuggler. When he and his partner run into the leader of the resistance group, The Fireflies, she tells them she has a job for them: Transporting a precocious fourteen-year old girl across the nation. Her name is Ellie, and she could be humanity’s salvation. The story is intriguing, and it grips you immediately with its horrific and terrifying prologue. You form a bond with Joel and Ellie almost immediately, and you feel like you’re with them in this ugly world for the long haul.
As far as graphics go, this game is gorgeous. Between the summer sunset, autumn leaves, glittering blankets of snow, and the vibrant greens of spring, there’s no shortage of beautiful environments to look at. When I first put the game in, I couldn’t stop playing. I played for several hours that day, and I didn’t even get that far for playing that long because I loved exploring, and the game is meant to be played that way. You too will want to look in every corner, not just because you need every bit of supplies you can find, but also because you want to see it all.
Now let’s get to the enemies. While the trailers always had reminded me that there were monsters in it, the game never let me forget it. The infected consist of four different stages of mutation, though three are most common: Runners, who charge at you out of instinct, Stalkers, who hunt you; Clickers, who won’t see you, but can definitely hear you; and one more, but I won’t spoil the surprise. Out of those three, Clickers are the worst. If they grab you, it’s an immediate death as they bite into Joel’s neck. This can be frustrating, but if you use your upgrades and supplies wisely, you can figure out a way to survive.
This is where gameplay comes in. You will find yourself in a lot of combat situations, and you’ll need to know how to handle yourself. You can utilize Joel’s listening ability by pressing down R2. This will show you how many enemies are in a limited distance and where they are, helping you plan out your attack. Though it can be hard to do, stealth is usually the best way to go. Trust me, you WILL die, and while it can be frustrating, it also helps you think of new tactics. Each area will become a sort of trial and error exercise, where you think yourself, “Well, that didn’t work, what should I try next?”
You will also have the ability to craft items to help you, but this process, as well as healing, takes place in real time, so don’t expect to be able to go into a start menu and do these things when your back is against the wall. It’ll have to be done away from the action. Because supplies, including bullets, are limited, you’ll want to scour every map and hold onto everything. Later in the game, you will be able to upgrade Joel to heal and craft faster, as well as sway less when aiming weapons, and even have a fighting chance against being grabbed by a Clicker. You won’t get all the upgrades on your first run, but the game has a New Game + feature you can take advantage of.
The multiplayer is also a nice addition. There are two different modes: Supply Raid and Survivors, where you will play as either a member of the Hunters, the ruthless survivalists, or the Fireflies, the resistance group. Supply Raid is very much like deathmatch, except that your team has a set amount of lives, so if you die, your whole team loses a life. Death in Survivors, however, is very permanent. Each round has about four players on each side, and when you die, you are out of that round. These modes exist inside a system called Factions. If you do well in online matches, more people will join your faction. If you do poorly, well, then people won’t want to team with you. The online games are fun, and the factions system is very addicting.
The Last Of Us is a fantastic game, but there are two things every person should know before playing it. First is that it is an emotional roller coaster. The prologue alone had me in tears, and that’s just the first of a few emotionally intense scenes. The second is that this game is incredibly violent. You will see Joel bash people’s faces in, shove blades deep into necks, strangle countless people and infected, and that’s just when YOU get to kill people. Just wait until the game kills you, it’s brutal. All that being said, this game is absolutely fantastic. Naughty Dog has done an amazing job, and The Last Of Us is a welcome addition to the PlayStation 3 library.