Monday, June 17, 2013

Game Review: The Last of Us

The Last of Us is absolutely amazing! Graphically superior to anything I've played this generation, the game's story takes place 20 years after an apocalyptic viral pandemic ravages the world.
Perhaps you've read the horror stories on National Geographic about Cordyceps and how they infect insects and take control of their brains and greater motor functions, in The Last of Us, a strain of Cordyceps begins to infect humans. This is a refreshing and intelligent angle of approaching the "Zombie Apocalypse" genre!
The game follows they journey of Joel and Ellie as they travel across the decimated ruins of America in an effort to endure and survive to bring a potential cure to humanity, along the way they must fight not only the horrifying infected but the monstrous remnants of humanity.
 If you've ever seen the 2009 film adaptation of The Road you can see where Naughty Dog got the inspiration for this game,  that film and AMC's The Walking Dead are obvious inspirations and great one's at that!
The Last of Us is absolutely gorgeous, unlike the environments in The Road, The Last of Us boasts the most spectacular visuals ranging from crumbling city-scapes overrun by nature, dark, dank and claustrophobic subterranean sections, eerily quiet, desolate rural and suburban towns, as well as lake side resorts and fortified towns in a white out blizzard!
Never through my first play through did I feel like I was in an altered version of a previous area, each chapter was completely unique and masterfully designed down to the slightest details like the dilapidated furniture in a abandoned house or the trickling creek that runs thru a small thicket. The audio is another aspect of the game that is so masterfully done! If you don't have a dolby 5.1 surround sound system your missing out on some serious ear candy! There's is no way to properly describe the tension when you're trying to navigate thru a subterranean section where visibility is maybe 6 feet but then with the haze caused by the spores in the air it's more like 3 feet and then you hear to the left...distant at first then distinctly closer but was it to the left or was it behind...clickers! I played the game at night in the dark and dear God that Scared the shit outta me and my wife!
Do you remember RE1's famous line from Barry Burton "Blood! I hope this is not Chris' blood"? Rest assured those days of horrible scripts and cringe inducing dialog are mostly behind us and The Last of Us takes the best games voice acting and puts it to shame! If you watch all the cinematics back to back you'd have yourself a movie that would be of equal or better presentation from start to finish than some recent movies! The game is absolutely NOT for younger audiences as it tackles some seriously mature subject matter.  
Gameplay in The Last of Us is a perfect amalgamation of Metal Gear Solid's stealth and the original Resident Evil's survival horror that brings such intense levels of tension that reminds me of when I first played RE1! A beautiful yet terrifying game!
Oh and the multiplayer doesn't feel like an after thought. It's a third person shooter that offers two game types, Survivor & Supply Run. One is a Socom style no respawn TDM and the second is a TDM where both teams start with 20 respawn's. Both are 4 v 4 matches.
The MP offers some refreshing new gameplay mechanics that are relevant in relation to the single player game like collecting supplies to craft upgraded melee weapons, armor or dirty bombs or larger capacity clips. The maps are all also smaller versions of locales in the single player game, and unlike other massively popular shooters, in these MP games communication is key and team tactics are a must! There is also a meta game tied into the MP where the game tracks your time online and every game counts as a day and every week your "clan" is faced with some challenge, illness, firefly/hunter attack and you must choose a challenge like tagging/killing/fragging a certain amount enemies or reviving/healing/gifting team members....depending on the amount you reach that will determine how many NPC's in your clan live and die...survive 12 weeks and you get a shiny trophy to your collection!
The Last of Us is a game that will make non gamers, like my wife and my friend Uncle Paulie reconsider gaming as a legitimate form of entertainment on par with books, movies and television!
Absolutely a must experience game! Unparalleled beauty and horror that sets a new standard in storytelling with an unforgettable cast that players will have a profound connection to and will fight to their last breath to protect!