Naughty Dog is known for crafting excellent games. Examples of this can be seen in the Uncharted series for the PS3. Naughty Dog hasn’t reinvented the wheel for gaming, but they have tweaked the formula to create a fantastic game. I’ve been following the news around Last of Us since PAX Prime 2012. To me, the game seemed to be a different take on an action game. Although the post apocalyptic theme was overused this generation, the Last of Us offers gamers so much more. Primarily, the Last of Us is about three things, the story, combat, and the characters.
The Last of Us follows the story of Joel and Ellie in the not-so-distant future. They are trying to escape the post apocalyptic city to greener pastures. In a nutshell, most of the survivors live in quarantine zones and Joel is tasked with smuggling Ellie out to a rebel group known as the Fireflies. The game does an excellent job of keeping the story moving forward through the dialogue between the characters, the cutscenes, and documents Joel can find throughout the world. There are twists and turns throughout the story. Gamers will get comfortable in one scenario only to receive a hard gut punch and watch everything crumble in the next chapter. But its the unique bond that Joel and Ellie have that pushes the Last of Us and will keep gamers hooked.
The combat is the meat of the game. Combine that with stealth and there are a lot of options. Joel can craft and upgrade new weapons. There are also abilities that can be upgraded, including Joel’s listening ability, which lets him hone in on enemy locations. Gamers can pick and choose how they handle enemies. Stealth may seem like the best option using melee attacks, and the bow. But a shotgun and some explosives can make short work of the enemies as well. Guns make noise, and Clickers are infected who are attracted to noise and Runners will come running and bring help. Human enemies will also call for backup and move aggressively toward your location while staying in cover. A few well placed bombs, and misdirecting sounds from thrown bricks to lure enemies can turn the tide of combat. If that doesn’t work, gamers can soften up enemies with firearms before moving in with their fists or melee weapons. Ammo can be scarce so try to get headshots.
Joel and Ellie will spend most of the game traversing different parts of the country to reach their destination. There are collectables scattered in the world in the form of artifacts, dogtags, and comics. There are also a few interesting easter eggs, which reference other PS3 games and Naughty Dog titles. Just make sure you check around every corner. I would also recommend saving often even though the game auto saves.
The Last of Us isn’t perfect. The biggest complaints are the stealth options and how there is not enough exploration in the game. I wish Joel could vertically climb up buildings like Lara can do in Tomb Raider. As for the stealth, I think it works well, I only got in a jam once. There are a lot of weapon options in the Last of Us, but I made due with the revolver, rifle, and shotgun. But that was my play style. Others may find the bow and flamethrower more useful.
If I could add anything to the game, I wish it had co-op, or a secondary campaign with co-op. I think with one player playing as Joel and another as Ellie, that could lead to some fun co-op and puzzle solving situations. Overall, I have had a blast with The Last of Us and I cannot wait to try the multi player.