Since its announcement in 2011, anticipation has been very high for Naughty Dog's new masterpiece, “The Last of Us” and it is finally here. In recent years, Naughty Dog Studios has made quite the name for itself by creating the “Uncharted” series. “The Last of Us” is huge departure in style and tone, but it has all of the polish, gorgeous graphics, and amazing story that we have come to expect from this studio.
The “Uncharted” games were some of the most graphically impressive games that have ever been released, and “The Last of Us” uses that same graphic prowess to really bring to life this desolate and gritty post-apocalyptic world. In recent years, there have been so many post-apocalyptic games, but none have the emotional punch that “The Last of Us” has because it doesn't try to tell the story of a whole civilization – it focuses on the story of just two main survivors.
Joel a grizzled old smuggler and Ellie a young girl with some attitude, and they have to stick together in order to survive this harsh world after a plague has wiped out most of humanity. There are several things that make this world dangerous: first and foremost are the infected. In the early stages, the infected are similar to zombies, in that they don't really think; they just use their base instincts to find food, but the longer they are infected, they can mutate, taking on several different forms like runners, stalkers, and clickers.
The infection is spread through fungus spores and bite wounds, but the dead don't come back from the grave. Just like in popular zombie/post-apocalyptic stories in recent years, you find the real threat is from the non-infected people and limited resources. People are willing to do some really scary things when they are desperate to survive, and that is what this game is about. It's not really a run-and-gun shooter where you are a badass; you are a couple of average people put in a brutal world, and you must stick together to survive.
The story of this game reminds me of “The Road” – there are no happy endings, and the things you have to do are not pleasant. This game can take a real emotional toll on you, but that is what makes it so great because the story and environment really suck you in and make you feel emotionally invested in these characters. The game make you feel very vulnerable at all times; you never have enough resources, and you have to sneak in the shadows and use your cunning to get the jump on a adversary with a homemade shiv. Sometimes there is gunplay, but with the lack of bullets and the commotion it creates it is often not worth the trouble.
Although this game has the best story mode around, it also has an interesting multiplayer element; it isn't as good as the story, but it is worth checking out. The first multiplayer mode is called “Factions.” Survivor mode is a four-on-four match that feels similar to campaign levels where you have to survive and gather resources. The other mode is supply raid, where your team has to share a set of lives, forcing you to play better. Both multiplayer modes feel like the single player game but with human players. Something cool about the multiplayer, though, is that you can craft items by using things you find on the map. The multiplayer isn't nearly as good as the story mode, and you wouldn't miss anything by not playing it. However, multiplayer can be an interesting diversion if you can't get enough with the game.
“The Last of Us” is shocking and violent and leads to several questions on what you would do to save the ones you love. This game is a marvel in graphics, gameplay, dialogue, and has an incredible story; Naughty Dog has outdone itself in every way. This is the best Playstation 3 exclusive, let alone one of the best games of this console generation. “The Last of Us” is a remarkable game that simply cannot be missed.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at email@example.com.