For a long time now survival apocalypse themed games have dominated the scene. With gems such as Zombie U, Day Z, and Tell Tales Walking Dead. But also with its share of flops such as The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. So when a approaching Â The Last of Us, Â I was bit skeptic at first. Especially with Naughty Dog handling the development…I thought it would be Uncharted zombies. Did The Last of Us break away from its parkour predecessor? or did it fall with Shambala?
The story of The Last of Us starts off with one of the most human prologue’sÂ I’ve experienced in a video game since Heavy Rain. Joy, excitement, sorrow, fear, and even hope possessed me as I clawed my way through the tear invoking introduction to the world The Last of Us would soon become.
After theÂ prologueÂ the story shifts into a different tone and perspective. That’s experiencedÂ through the interactions and journey of two drastically different characters…Joel, and Ellie. Joel being man who is wrought with an agonizing past, and just trying to survive in a world that’sÂ been torn asunder by a viral fungal outbreak. Ellie on the other hand is a young teen who was birthed into this chaos, and madness, and is the possible solution to humanities suffering. Both being a victim of circumstance they end up being thrownÂ into a journey that has them endure the ugliness of survival, heartbreak, compassion, and the remnants of humanity.
Through out the 14 hour-long story The Last of Us will captivate you with scenes that you won’t find in your typical video game. Scenes that have torture, abuse, excessive vulgarity and a few other things I cannot mention. No doubt The Last of Us’s story will be subject to a ton of slander by the media. But, that’s what’s beautiful about it. Naughty Dog crafted a tale that showcases what you’d have to look forward to if an outbreak like this were to happen. That it wouldn’t be the fairy tale adventure so many people pray to happen on Facebook after playing a few survival games, and watching The Walking Dead.
But, the only way to come to terms with what I’m preaching is to play through it. This is where you see first hand what survival, and tactics are all about. By utilizing the environment around you, scavenging bits and pieces of materials here and there; and crafting your own equipment in real-time battle. You learn what it means to be an effective survivor in an outbreak situation. Rationing your ammo, calculating when to fight or hide, or being a ghost the entire ride has to come into consideration. This is not the run and gun game Uncharted was…So destroy those notions now or be killed the many infected and incredibly smart human AI’s.
Yes I said “incredibly smart human AI’s”, the infected aren’t really a threat. Their behavior is very predictable because they are for the most part dumb. But don’t be mistaken they will kill you if you think you can just approach each variation of them the same as the last. Be that as it may, the human AI’s are the real threat. You will quickly waste ammo carelessly, make wrong decisions, and be flanked by the way these AI’s behave. They pay attention to your every move if you’re in their line of sight, and will follow your tracks to find you the minute you’re not.
Like a pack of wolves waiting for a single moment of weakness to exploit. I recall using one of their own as a meat shield to allow me some time to pick them off one by one. The moment they heard that empty sound come from my pistol they pounced Â immediately…Offering me no time to switch to a different weapon. I’ll say it again…these guys are smart.
Though you might tend to get a little agitated while navigating your way safely through encounters. You come to appreciate The Last of Us on a deep aesthetic level. The varying Â urban terrainsÂ you make your way through have been reclaimed aggressively by nature over the 20 year time skip after theÂ prologue. Concrete surroundings torn apart by the growth of nature, and buildings broken down and covered in greenery. Further emphasizeÂ the fact that humanity and society are barely holding on by a thread.
But even with the environment surrounding JoelÂ and Ellie’sÂ adventure torn apart. There are still precious moments where you “can’t deny that view”. Distant gazing at the sun,sky,water, and horizon aid in taking your breath away and have you asking “is this really a game?”. No video game release, or developer has been able to capture reality on current gen consoles like Naughty Dog has
With an expertly crafted narrative, facial capture, art design, voice acting, real-time combat, and story pacing. Naughty Dog was able to merge the world of filmography and video games on par with Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4. It’s hard to find anything wrong with The Last of Us. Even with its mind-boggling ending that has many critics shaking their heads. The Last of Us from beginning to end is an adventure that will have you explore what it truly means to be alive in the zombie apocalypse; and the toil it can take on a person.
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