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Feature: Three Reasons Why You Simply Must Play The Last of Us

Posted by Sammy Barker

Plant strife

We may need to replace the office carpet at some point. The Last of Us, the latest opus from Uncharted developer Naughty Dog, prompted this particular author to pace up and down more times than the average game. It wasn’t that we struggled with our opinion on the title – we loved it from the jaw dropping opening to the energy sapping conclusion – but putting those emotions into words proved a real test for the old brainbox. Hopefully, we effectively illustrated our feelings in our 374th review draft, but if you’re still not sure what makes the post-pandemic adventure such a treat, we’ve compiled a handful of key reasons for your reading pleasure.

Joel and Ellie’s relationship is very raw

The Last of Us certainly isn’t the first game to attempt to create a believable bond between a child-like character and a fatherly figure, as both The Walking Dead and BioShock Infinite immediately spring to mind. But without disparaging the aforementioned games – both releases are phenomenal – we’d argue that Naughty Dog’s title does it the best. The thing that’s so heartbreakingly real about the relationship that the two protagonists form is how unlikely it is. Joel is a weary, middle-aged man who’s spent a large portion of his life simply staying alive, and he’s reluctant to look after a potty mouthed teenager. But over the course of the adventure, that aversion fades away, and he begins to rely on the friendly face.

We can’t delve into specifics – it would spoil the game, after all – but there’s a reason why the bearded hero is initially unwilling to care for Ellie, and that has a huge impact on the development of the narrative. But what makes it truly touching is the manner in which the title gradually and quietly shows the characters falling in love. Their purely platonic bond is truly heartwarming, and it’s the one bright spot in a world that’s desolate and decaying. It’s an important moment for the industry, because it doesn’t assume anything. It shows you the characters fall in love, rather than force you to accept it. And that’s down to the writing, the quality of the performances from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, and the very subtle way that Naughty Dog builds the connection through gameplay.

Unbelievable attention to detail

We may be on the verge of a new generation, but someone forgot to tell Naughty Dog. The Last of Us is very much a PlayStation 3 release, but it doesn’t look like it in places. Yes, there’s the odd buggy animation or jagged tree branch, but it still looks better than virtually every other game on the market. And that’s not purely down to technical prowess, but also art direction. In an early draft of our review, we mentioned that many of the environments look like concept art come to life, and it’s true. There’s just so much detail stuffed into every single scene, that you’ll be coaxed into exploring every nook and cranny – even if you don’t necessarily realise it. The high-resolution textures mean that you’ll be able to read the individual details on all of the books, posters, and whiteboards. And you’ll want to, too, because it’s clear that the Californian studio’s put plenty of thought into each individual environment.

For example, you’ll happen upon homes that were clearly inhabited by families; there are photographs of summer vacations on the wall, bedrooms are littered with toys, and the furnishings are neatly arranged in a familiar way. Meanwhile, other dwellings were clearly occupied by students, with dart boards, rock band posters, and computers left lying around. The world may be deserted, but you can learn so much from it, and it helps to make the apocalyptic storyline all the more authentic. It’s worth mentioning the lighting, too, which is on a completely different level to most other current generation releases. Joel’s torch in particular is a massive highlight [ahem – Ed], which dynamically casts shadows based on the objects that it’s illuminating, and actually changes size and shape depending on the direction that you’re facing.

The gameplay backs up the presentation

A common criticism of cinematic games such as Heavy Rain and Journey is that while these titles may effectively convey strong emotions, they’re nowhere near as competent in the gameplay department. It’s an analysis that we don’t personally subscribe to, but fortunately The Last of Us doesn’t fall into the style over substance subset anyway. This is an assured game with mechanics strong enough to back up its impressive presentation. Combining stealth, resource management, and traditional third-person gunplay, combat scenarios form sandboxes as opposed to rote shooting galleries. You can approach situations in numerous different ways, and the artificial intelligence is extremely adept at adapting to your current strategy and countering it. Humans are particularly fun to fight against, because they’re not merely aggressive, but also smart. You’ll frequently get flanked, and so you’ll need to use distractions to confuse your adversaries.

Most fulfilling is fashioning traps. While you can only craft a handful of items in the game, the options that you do have at your disposal are fairly effective. Nail bombs can be built out of explosives and blades, and these can be tossed or laid on the ground. Molotov cocktails can also be used to ignite enemies. Deploying a bomb, luring your foes towards it, and then sneaking behind them while they panic over the subsequent explosion is satisfying in a spiteful way. And while the infected may never be quite as fun to fight against, they augment some interesting stealth segments, as you’re forced to slope past blind enemies who visualise using a heightened sense of hearing. There are also plenty of environmental puzzles, too, which may be simple, but make you feel smart once you get past them. That the title ties these into the overall plot so well is merely the icing on the decaying cake.


Are you looking forward to playing The Last of Us? Which of the above has got you most hyped for the title? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (27)

Sanquine

#1

Sanquine said:

Reason why there relation is raw? Maybe because he lost family? He dont want to care about someone i think?

#4 It's naughty dog
#5 It's not on xbox or wii U ;) Multiplatform have the habbit to have rough edges

Gemuarto

#3

Gemuarto said:

I am tired of Last of Us this, Last of Us that. It's a pity that reviews poped up so early. It should be 1 or 2 days before realese date. I feel like when I'll finally get my hands on it, I will hate it for this hype. Why the hell I must wait for 14-th, if game is ready already? And everyone on the internet speaks how cool it is. Maybe I need to cancel my pre-order to stop this madness and buy some Lust of *** porn instead and relax for good.

TOMBOY25

#5

TOMBOY25 said:

careful of the last of us tv spot #2 one of the comments is a major spoiler........im currently smashing my head against a brick wall, what'll happen first death or amnesia? ....i hope its the latter.

rjejr

#6

rjejr said:

@Gemuarto - The reason for all the early reviews is probably b/c they were afraid the reviews would get buried by E3 coverage.

Why this game comes out during E3 is beyond me.

Sanquine

#8

Sanquine said:

@get2sammyb I just guessed... Because if i where in that situation i only care about my own survival ( after losing you beloved ones)

Sanquine

#9

Sanquine said:

@Gemuarto Oke, if you are tired dont play it ;) I guess you want to miss a great game. You can also not click on this articles or other articles related to the last of us. I mean if you dont want to be get tired about it... I think you will really miss something awesome... Even my girlfriend wants to play this

Cirno

#10

Cirno said:

It's Naughty Dog

We were all gonna buy it anyway.

(Well, if I wasn't so stingy, I would)

Gamer83

#12

Gamer83 said:

@rjejr

Better to release it the day after E3 is over rather than hold off and do so around the time GTA and CoD will be hittng the market. Sony could still use E3 to promote the game as well if it would like, I think this is actually pretty damn good timing..

Gamer83

#13

Gamer83 said:

@Sanquine

Yup, I know people who HATE PS3 who actually are looking forward to playing this game. Why anybody would want to miss this one is beyond me.

get2sammybAdmin

#15

get2sammyb said:

@rjejr I think it's great timing, actually. People are going to be hyped about the stuff that's announced at E3 and will want something new to play. What better than a game that's just scored a throng of 10/10s. And if the PS3's reduced in price too... :P

Gemuarto

#16

Gemuarto said:

@Sanquine Man, relax, that was only an opinion =).To tell you the truth I never read any review or article about Last of Us, including this article, too.

MadchesterManc

#17

MadchesterManc said:

The first section you talk of The Walking Dead and Bioshock Infinate as other games that have a bond between characters that develops. You missed out a game that betters both of those in this regard. Enslaved. The interaction n development of the 2 main characters relationship in Enslaved was probably what kept me playing more than anything else. Its a shame its a game thats slipped under so many radar's...

rjejr

#19

rjejr said:

@get2sammyb - Germuato's point, and one that I was following up on, is why didn't the game come out last week or this week, it's obviously been done for awhile now? Then E3 could be spent covering new games, not everybody talking about this one. And who releases a new game on a Friday anyway?

Maybe they want to give away free copies at the Sony E3 presentation? :-)

HeatBombastic

#20

HeatBombastic said:

@Gemuarto He was relaxing -_-

Having an opinion doesn't grant you immunity when challenged by another's opinion. Not to mention Sanquine didn't even challenge your opinion, politely or aggressively, so there's no reason to say "but it's just my opinion, please don't get mad" stuff.

Gemuarto

#22

Gemuarto said:

@HeatBombastic Um.... thank you, that was very educating. You teach me a good lesson, sir. =))

But my post wasn't very serious. I mean, do you really think that I will watch Lust of *** instead of playing Last of Us? Really? But I am really jelous of journalists and pirates who can play this game right now. And tell ,me every day untill realese how good it is =)

Also the realese date is June. 14th, not 7th.

Gamer83

#23

Gamer83 said:

@Gemuarto

It's fine if you're not anticipating the game, I just find it odd that you'd complain about the coverage it's getting. It obviously deserves it, it's one of the higher profile releases of the year and coming from a highly acclaimed developer who delivered what I believe still stands as the best PS3 exclusive in Uncharted 2. There was no way this game was going to just fly in under the radar and I'm glad for that. Too many times this gen good looking exclusives from Sony haven't been covered or advertised properly.

Gemuarto

#24

Gemuarto said:

@Gamer83 Man, I never told that I am not anticipating the game. I told that coverage started too early. And it is sad to look at all those great scores, articles and reviews. When you can't go and buy the game.

Gamer83

#25

Gamer83 said:

@Gemuarto

The way some of your earlier comments read it seemed like you weren't really looking forward to the game. I agree it sucks we have to wait a little longer but not the first time this has happened and probably won't be the last.

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