Naughty Dog take a break from Nathan Drake to ponder the future for our world.
The Last of Us, an astounding third person action game developed by Naughty Dog, tells a compelling story of the struggle for survival with two very likeable characters – Joel and Ellie.
The Last of Us starts at the very beginning of an outbreak which will go on to consume pretty much all of America, leaving mankind living in quarantine areas under strict military rule. But that is to come later, first we are introduced to Joel and his daughter, and the basic mechanics of the game. Joel finds himself, his brother and daughter trying to get to safety while the world seems to be falling apart around them.
This opening sequence is only short and serves only to introduce the player to the world of The Last of Us, and the various basic controls required to play the game. However, this highly polished sequence is both desperate and emotional, and one of the stand out moments in the game. Players will find themselves investing in the game from very early on.
Anyway, twenty years later and the world has been transformed after the disease has managed to infect the majority of the population, either killing them or turning them into very aggressive mutants. The survivors exist in a secure militarized zone controlled by government forces.
Joel resides in one of these quarantine zones, protected by the military from the horror found beyond the walls and fences in the infested wasteland. He has become a guy on the edge – not a superhuman by any means, but someone who does what he has to do to survive. The grim reality is that he finds himself working with the Fireflies, a resistance group, by helping the young girl Ellie to escape from the city.
Together they embark on this dangerous journey. As they have to work together to survive, a relationship begins to build between them. The scenarios that they encounter and the remaining survivors that they discover will strengthen and expand this relationship as they face and overcome potential tragedy together.
Joel and Ellie explore barren environments, often abandoned, discovering those infected or those who are out to destroy them. Either way, their need to survive is strong and often forces them into difficult situations.
Sometimes the enemies in The Last of Us can appear in hordes and threaten to overwhelm the player as they try their best to survive. Other times the player has the upper hand and can sneak up on enemies to perform a sneaky kill from behind. The pace of the game begins slow, but soon accelerates to an exciting mixture of quick thinking combat and biding your time, skillfully waiting for the perfect time to attack.
Fighting hordes of enemies is both challenging and exciting, but the limitations of ammunition and weapons, and the possibility of being overwhelmed suggests that stealth is the way to go in most situations, using plenty of cover and making sure every attack counts.
The game offers a great selection of weaponry, both ranged and for close combat, and the player will find themselves crafting as they journey through the wasteland to upgrade their weapons. The world is filled with decay and bodies are rotting everywhere, but it is your job to search those bodies and scavenge for much needed ammunition and supplies. You grab everything that you can, and use it in whichever way is needed, with many items having more than one use.
Besides the threat of other human factions, the infected will present the most challenge as they are more beast-like in their attacks. From the overpowering bloaters to the creepy clickers, when they attack, it is brutal, fast and very violent.
Joel has the ability to listen closely and work out the placement of enemies by using the R2 button, giving him enough time to position himself appropriately and work out patterns for a successful attack or avoidance. When the coast is clear and there is no looming threat, the player can easily heal themselves. There seems to be a fair amount of medicines and supplies to keep your body in good condition.
It is evident from very early one that both Joel and Ellie have had to deal with some difficult situations, and their attitude to life has been affected by these situations. Sometimes you may feel that you just want them to get on with it, bypassing any empathy you may have had. But it is impossible to stop caring about these two lost souls who have been thrown together in a desperate world. And so you embark on the perilous journey with them, watching as their relationship grows, hoping that will find some safety in their life.
The Last of Us is a cinematic and engaging experience from the very start, building a connection with the characters and their emotions. The game is stunning and very well polished, with a distinctly “Uncharted” feel about it. There is a huge amount of gameplay available, and even a multiplayer mode, making The Last of Us a worthwhile investment.