This review is dedicated to two of my bosses who picked this game up for me as a parting gift when I left for a different job. Also to the fact that they didn’t take it back from me when I returned about a week later after discovering that the new job sucked. This also goes out to those who suck as much as I do a FPS’s on consoles… so very, very far away from our mice and keyboards.
For those of you who passed on The Last of Us simply because it was yet another “zombie apocalypse” game, The Last of Us does its thing and stands out quite a bit. Two reasons for this: one is that this isn’t (obviously for me) another horror-genre game with monsters and jump scares or some drawn out story. The other is that the game does allow for some sort of “play it how you want” method. The Last of Us’ mechanics aren’t completely that way, but there is enough that I don’t feel slighted.
For those that think that having a story in games is a thing of the past yet still long for it, The Last of Us is calling you. The Last of Us isn’t one of those movies with a videogame attached to it. There are enough of those out there, trust me. I’m a man who loves a good story in a game. A great story can even save a game with some awful mechanics and make me want to play it all the way through. (The opposite is also sometimes true with a weak story.) The Last of Us is a great blend of game-play and story telling. I never felt overwhelmed by the cut-scenes. They perfectly added a sweet flavor to the experience. It also delivers some of the more gut-wrenching scenes in the game that playing the game itself simply could not.
The Last of Us has been described as an action-adventure/survival horror. One could easily see where that impression comes from. However, I would like to throw an alternative point of view in there while tossing out the survival horror bit. If someone were to watch they way I play The Last of Us, they would probably describe the game as a (non-grid based) tactical/strategy game (Think, The Bureau with zombies).
As mentioned above, you can play how you want most of the time. If you are any good at first person shooters with console controllers, by all means, use your guns all the way to freedom. Being terrible at controller-based FPS games, The Last of Us allows you to take a bit more of a stealthy approach. You’ve got a Spidey-Sence/super hearing ability that allows you to “see” where people are in the distance and watch to see the patterns that they walk in. Time it right and you can choke out jerk-human hunters and “zombie” runners or shank clickers with a shiv(although not as effective when they get to you first).
A friend of mine has fallen asleep watching me do my thing while I wait and pounce on people to get the perfect timing for a strangle or the perfect shank. I’ve waited over ten minutes in one spot trying to negotiate the path the clickers and runners were taking so I could safely get them all without having to use any ammo. The AI may not be perfect in this game, but the pathing for some of the enemies are pretty good due to the seemingly randomness of it. It can be frustrating if you’re just waiting around a corner and some enemy that usually walks that way decided to double back real quick. It didn’t happen often, but when it did… grrrrrr.
If you didn’t get the impression earlier, I loved the story. The emotions given through the voice acting is pretty fantastic. I loved the brokenness of Joel and how that affected his other relationships, and also how he reacts to Ellie. I don’t want to give much away here so that’s about how far I’m going with that. One thing that my brain drew parallels to was Jean Reno’s character in The Professional telling Natalie Portman to watch her mouth… you know, when he’s a hitman. Good stuff all around here!