News Article

Game of the Year: Gold Trophy - The Last of Us

Posted by Push Square Staff

It can't be for nothing

We’d love for this article to come as a pleasant surprise, but we suspect that it’s more obvious than a brick to the face. The Last of Us felt like a Game of the Year winner when it lurched onto the PlayStation 3 all the way back in early June, and nothing has really topped it in our eyes in the six or so months since. Outstanding visual presentation coupled with some of the best writing that the medium has ever seen sent it straight to the top of our internal poll, and while there was strong competition from BioShock Infinite, Resogun, and even unlucky outsider Grand Theft Auto V, virtually everyone on our team agreed that Joel and Ellie’s touching cross country excursion offered the most engaging experience of 2013.

We’re running out of superlatives to describe Naughty Dog’s survival horror opus, but we genuinely believe that it will stand the test of time as one of the finest games ever made. However, while much emphasis has been placed upon the adventure’s sharp storyline and strong character development, it’s important to remember that this was also an exceptional third-person adventure, with compelling stealth and combat mechanics, as well as a handful of truly memorable set pieces. With all of that in mind, we’ve rounded up as many Push Square team members as we could find to outline just why this post-apocalyptic escapade was the very best that PlayStation had to offer in an overall exceptional year.

Anthony Dickens, Managing Director

I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of The Last of Us with Sammy prior to its release, where we were given a brief talk about the game by directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann. Upon the presentation’s conclusion, we were dropped straight into a demo of the title’s Pittsburgh level, and if I’m honest, I was too busy figuring out the controls to really appreciate many of the aspects of the experience. In fact, I remember Sammy having completed the entire section in the same time that I’d cleared a couple of areas. Leaving the event I was impressed, not dazzled – but I was looking forward to playing the full game all the same. I had to wait weeks for the release to finally come around, but once it arrived, playing the prologue was one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever experienced in gaming. I found that this is a title that builds with time, layer-on-layer, as it sucks you down its rabbit hole. It has a fantastic story and exceptional delivery that easily makes it my game of the year.

Sammy Barker, Editor

I remember being sceptical when a long viral campaign concluded with the unveiling of The Last of Us. Survival horror is one of my favourite genres, and I wasn’t convinced that Naughty Dog – a studio that’s best known for mascot platformers and schlocky action movie-esque adventures – had the chops to do such a challenging format justice. I was wrong. This is the Resident Evil sequel that Capcom wished it had made, successfully capturing the tension of an abandoned nation and marrying it with exceptional combat. Scavenging for the resources required to stay alive is what makes this dark snapshot of a post-pandemic future so unsettling, and while there are evident systems at play – an abundance of bricks and wooden planks, for example – the overall presentation is strong enough to force you to invest in its fiction. You’ll want to engross yourself in the undead escapade, too, because protagonists Joel and Ellie are two of the finest video game characters ever written. Dense, believable, and deeply flawed, the heartrending relationship that the abovementioned Californian developer managed to concoct will be used as a case study for the narrative potential of this underappreciated medium for a very, very long time.

Jamie O’Neill, Retro Editor

There were moments during The Last of Us where I felt that the next generation had arrived, but on my humble PS3. Naughty Dog’s game was particularly effective at conveying a journey, not only across North America, but through the seasons. Winter was especially stark, lonely, and harrowing, plus with so many memorable moments, there was a sense that the developer implemented the beauty of the title's landscapes to provide much needed respite from the beasts in the game. From the opening it was apparent that the origins of this story were established from a broken heart, hardened by horror, but the game never forgot its tender side to contrast against the monsters and terror. The development of Joel and Ellie as characters felt more compelling and believable because of sharp, proficient voice acting. The Last of Us is not just my Game of the Year, but it is one of my favourite games of the seventh generation.

Kell Andersen, News Reporter

For me, The Last of Us doesn't do anything particularly new or revolutionary. What it does, though, is take all of the constituent parts of Naughty Dog's cinematic style and polish them to a fine point. It feels like the grand culmination of the techniques that the studio has developed over the course of this generation, and the result is a game that is thrilling, engaging, and utterly devastating. It’s a true masterpiece, and one that absolutely deserves its place on this list.

Alex Stinton, Reviewer

Right from its gut punch opening, The Last of Us grabbed me and wouldn't let go. By the time that I’d reached the poignant but downbeat ending, I knew that I’d played something special. It may not tread much new ground in purely gameplay terms, but Joel and Ellie’s road trip through a world on its knees doesn’t put a foot wrong. The world building, atmosphere, and most importantly the characters, are all top shelf.

Ben Tarrant, Reviewer

You saw this one coming, right? This epic post-apocalyptic adventure from Naughty Dog made sure that the PS3 had the best send off possible. Bleeding every last drop of power out of Sony’s machine, The Last of Us presented breathtaking graphical achievements alongside an emotive and hard hitting plot that honestly caused me to shed a very manly tear or two. This is one of those titles that’ll hold a place in the hall of fame, not least for being one of the PS3’s best selling exclusives, but for also putting the words “video game” and “art from” in the same sentence. Clickers, take a bow.

Graham Banas, Reviewer

I don't think that any form of entertainment has ever nearly reduced me to tears within 20 minutes, but that's exactly what the prologue to The Last of Us did. I half expected the game to take a dip in quality after that. After all, there was no way that it could maintain such a high quality. No way. But it did. And by the end of the game, some 15 hours later, I realised that I had just finished what will probably be remembered as one of the single greatest video games in the history of the medium.

Joey Thurmond, Reviewer

Personally, I found very little wrong with The Last of Us. It had solid gameplay, a compelling cast, and a surprisingly strong multiplayer component. However, what grabbed me the most is the story. It gives weight to violence in the most mature and lucid manner than any other game that I've ever played. The story also has a shocking conclusion that sticks with you long after it’s finished, and most importantly, it raises poignantly presented questions about the nature of morality. No game is perfect, but in my humble opinion, this is a true swan song for the PS3.

Marcello Apostolico, Reviewer

Naughty Dog continues to prove itself as one of the greatest developers on the planet. The Last of Us really delivered a whole new tier of storytelling quality and visual benchmarks, resulting in a truly magical experience. Within the survival horror genre, many games tend to miss the mark on providing tense, nail-biting atmosphere. However, where others have failed, Sony’s top first-party studio has set the standard. Joel and Ellie’s journey across the United States in an infected setting is one that captures your heart from the offset. It’s one of the most memorable experiences from this gaming generation.

Nathan Michalik, Reviewer

The Last of Us was one of the most immersive games that I've ever played. Each time I was faced with avoidance or combat, it was stressful and made me feel uneasy for the characters as if they were real. Every little action I took mattered. The culmination of a tiny thousand little details in the animations and the narration pulled me into the story like no other game has in a very long time. Some of the plot was so heavy, I needed a break from the game simply because it was emotionally straining. Even with the near perfect story, the gameplay was also absolutely fantastic. Combat felt intense and the controls were always smooth and responsive. It’s a game that, in my opinion, is well ahead of its time.

Simon Fitzgerald, Reviewer

The Last of Us deserves its place in the gaming hall of fame because it’s exciting, entertaining, thrilling, breath-taking, gripping, and so much more. Its stunning visuals and superb story culminate in an experience which cannot be found elsewhere. It truly pushed the PS3 to its limits, graphically and technologically, to create an experience that will last with gamers for years to come.


Alright, everyone take a deep breath, it’s the readers’ turn to share their thoughts about The Last of Us. Do you think that Naughty Dog’s opus deserves our golden gong, or were you utterly unimpressed by the first-party favourite? Would you kill a Clicker for a PS4 re-release, or are you holding out hope for a full-blown sequel? Dry your eyes in the comments section below.

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User Comments (31)

Gmork___

#1

Gmork___ said:

i LLLOOOOOOOOOOVVVE the last of us. OH MY GOD I LOVE IT! its so good. cant wait for part 2 on ps4.

TasukiStaff

#2

Tasuki said:

I hope that they bring this one to PS4 at some point. Even if its just through the Gaikai service. This is one of the games that almost got me to buy a PS3.

get2sammybAdmin

#5

get2sammyb said:

@goonow Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense. Anyway, I often feel that some games are a privilege to review, and while it's a bit cheesy, I definitely felt honoured to have covered The Last of Us. I flip-flopped a lot while I was writing it, but this was definitely the best game of the year for me. Nothing else came close.

Gemuarto

#6

Gemuarto said:

Yay, The Last of Us =). Yeah, this game is like Shadow of the Colossus for PS2 =). It made all other games look medicore, for a while =).

eLarkos

#8

eLarkos said:

Haven't played it, want to play it, hopefully a ps4 port happens as I doubt I will be buying another ps3 when im settled. Sounds absolutely fantastic.

ObviouslySheik

#9

ObviouslySheik said:

I haven't got to this game yet. I've been juggling AC4 and GTA V- and GTA Online is WAYYYY overrated. The other players are jerks and no matter how hard you try, your character will always look like a pedophile. The story mode is where it's at. On a side note, have you guys looked at this game on Metacritic? Some dude gave this game a ZERO.

Splat

#10

Splat said:

@ObviouslyAdachi - The character creator in GTA Online sounded like a good idea on paper but it's pretty bad. Especially if you wanted to make a female.

TasukiStaff

#11

Tasuki said:

@ObviouslyAdachi: I haven't touched GTA Online in about a month. I agree with @Splat where is was a good idea on paper. Honestly they should have just made a GTA MMO instead of tacking it on to GTA V.

Gamer83

#12

Gamer83 said:

My pick would've been GTA V but can't argue with The Last of Us, this game was absolutely phenomenal. Nothing more needs to be said, if you haven't already played it but ever get the chance, do so.

get2sammybAdmin

#16

get2sammyb said:

@calin1010 Yeah, there's no Platinum Trophy as I wanted to do things Bronze, Silver, and Gold. May rethink the format next year, but for 2013, The Last of Us is our final Game of the Year. :)

MadchesterManc

#17

MadchesterManc said:

I've put a few hours into The Last Of Us so far, looking to finish it up over the weekend, but Ive yet to play anything I'd consider to be an amazing game. Maybe these AAA type titles just don't do it for me anymore but it seems a little average so far. Hopefully the game starts hitting its stride soon and picks up otherwise I'm going to be baffled as to where all this praise keeps coming from

get2sammybAdmin

#19

get2sammyb said:

@MadchesterManc Keep going, man. I personally thought it was great from the off, but I know it took a few people a little time to get into it. I'm sure it'll click (lol) with you soon.

Gamer83

#21

Gamer83 said:

This game had me hooked from the start. I thought the opening was one of the best in gaming.

DeHorror1975

#22

DeHorror1975 said:

Unbelievable game. I've played it again and again. I will have completed it on survivor soon. Blown away by this game from the very first preview I saw on youtube.

MadchesterManc

#24

MadchesterManc said:

@ShogunRok Tell me about it. My taste in Games has changed so much in the past year lol Its titles like EDF, Dynasty Warriors & Hyperdimension Neptunia that has me looking forward to the future instead of the AAA offerings these days. When I've finished up with The Last Of Us I'm going to pick up GTA5 n see how I get on with that.

@get2sammyb I'll keep at it. It's bound to come good sooner or later :) Its funny in the time I've had the game my brother has already cleared it 3 times

TasukiStaff

#25

Tasuki said:

@calin1010: Oh right you are. Wow I totally missed that joke lol, I guess I was still recovering from my New Year's festivities when I read that.

Gamer83

#27

Gamer83 said:

@ztpayne7

I'd have to go back and think about some of my other favorite games like MGS 3 (my all-time #1), Resident Evil 2, the Zeldas and Uncharteds, but yeah, I think I might go with TLoU for best-ever opening it was riveting stuff.

EGMagnus

#28

EGMagnus said:

@Gamer83
I have to agree with you. TLOU opening was some powerful stuff, I may or may not have shed a manly tear lol.

Gamer83

#29

Gamer83 said:

@EGMagnus

I didn't shed any tears but it did get me to react. I was angry. Usually the only time I get angry when playing games is when I can't get past a part either because of stupid game design or because of my own stupidity but The Last of Us' story had a lot of scenes that were sad or anger inducing. Some like the opening were both.

Bad-MuthaAdebis

#30

Bad-MuthaAdebis said:

Yeah it was pretty good. I wasn't blown away. I'm hoping for a sequel yes. Not fussed about ps4 port. I would have liked a little more freedom and more junk to collect in draws etc.

way2easy

#31

way2easy said:

Just finished downloading this after getting it in the xmas sale. Planning on playing it with the GF as she loves horror (although that means it will take longer).
Really pumped now!

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