The Last of Us – First Impressions

Buy it. NOW!

Buy it. NOW!

PlayStation 3 Exclusive

If Naughty Dog are to be remembered for anything, I bet you it would be the Uncharted series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Uncharted games, they’re some of the most cinematic games I’ve ever played and they have some of the best characters written for video games. But in my eyes, from the 2 – 3 hours I’ve put into The Last of Us so far, I think this my be their greatest achievement yet.

The Last of Us is set against a post apocalypse setting 20 years after a viral infection nearly wipes out mankind. You play as Joel and you’re tasked with escorting a young girl named Ellie across a dangerous US, having to deal with both the infected and bandits. This is a third person game like their Uncharted games, but is much focused on stealth and melee combat rather than being an all out shooter. Due to the rarity of bullets, you’ll end up only using your gun when you’ve got no other choice.

They will hunt you. Find you. Kill you.

They will hunt you. Find you. Kill you.

There’s nothing quite like a memorable opening to a game. Setting the tone for the rest of the game and establishing the characters. The Last of Us has easily one of the best openings to a game I’ve ever experienced. It blew my mind. Never before have I felt such an emotional connection to characters and what’s happening all around them. Believe it or not, I actually replayed the opening 30 minutes again straight after. I’ve never done that before, usually saving such a feeling for a second play through. But I had to see it all again and I’m still looking forward to playing it yet again when I go through the game on a harder difficulty.

The rest of the game since then has been exceptional too, don’t think it the lets it foot off the gas for one second. Characters are so lifelike, the writing, voice acting and graphical quality all help towards this. Coming to the end of a generation of consoles, you’d expect we’d seen the best from the PS3. Naughty Dog has quite the reputation for having such high graphical quality and they have stepped up the bar once again. Even I had my doubts, but they were put to rest at the very second I saw playing out in front of me. The animations are just as good too, from the simplest animations of walking and running to complex and totally believable animations that play when you’re strangling an enemy from behind.

Combat seen in the game is simple, but mastering to lure enemies and strike at the right time is essential to your survival. Even when playing on normal, it doesn’t take many bullet to put you down. The hand-to-hand is incredibly violent and get more violent as you start to get your hands of metal pipes and 2×4’s. The Uncharted series may have had a focus on shooting, but many fans will confess that the shooting took a little while to get use to, enemies felt like damage sponges and shots didn’t feel like they had impact. Naughty Dog have finally nailed it, maybe the feeling that each bullet counts helps towards the feeling, but the shooting in The Last of Us has a great weighty feel to it.

Mine FTW!

Mine FTW!

The enemies seen in the game have some fantastic A.I. behind them too. At one point I had grabbed someone from behind but got spotted as I tried to choke him out. At this point I saw 2 enemies in a warehouse run into cover and out of sight. It was at this moment I had just finished choking out the guy, only to be flanked by an enemy whom had no weapons and had to rely on using his hands to take me down. I never saw him coming and turned around straight into a punch to the face off him. After dealing with him I then moved into the warehouse and the last guy was hiding behind a box, but I didn’t know where. It was only when I walked into the open did he pop out and get a couple of shots at me. I felt like I had been outsmart for the first time ever in a game.

Infected on the other hand behave a lot like many other infected in games and will simply chase you down once they’re aware of your presence. Clickers and Runners are the two types of infected and the Runners resemble the infected from the movie 28 Days Later or even the remake of Dawn of the Dead. On the other side of the coin though are the Clickers, these guys are blind and use a sonar like ability to find out and rely solely on sound you make. These guys a frightening and will kill you once they have a hold of you. They’re very hard to take out to, so good luck, I died several times when thrown in a room full of infected.

As I’m in the early days of the relationship between Joel and Ellie, it’s hard for me to say what the chemistry is like. Early signs are good though, and if it ends up anything like the way other characters interact with each other, then I know I’ve got much to look forward to. Now the game also includes a crafting system, and whilst a simple mechanic within the game, crafting items on the fly in the middle of a fight is a great risk/ rewards system and can help turn the tide of the battle.

Multiplayer is looking to be just as brutal.

Multiplayer is looking to be just as brutal.

I’ve currently not had the chance to play the multiplayer, but it’s something I can’t wait to get stuck into later. Called Factions, you must initially pick a faction to join, being aligned with the hunters or fireflies. Each player begins with a small number of survivors that must be kept alive and grown over time. You accomplish this in two modes, the first of which is Supply Raid. In this mode, your team has 20 reinforcements. Once they’re exhausted, the match will go to sudden death. In the Survivors mode, no one can respawn. Once you die, you’re finished until the next round begins. Matches are best of seven, meaning the first team to win four rounds, wins the match.

Everything I’ve played so far suggests that The Last of Us is shaping to be the game to beat this year, like many reviewers have stated. Unfortunately, with the next generation kicking off this holiday season, I hope The Last of Us doesn’t get forgotten about as the GOTY nominations get announced. Now please excuse me as I go off and play some more of The Last of Us.

-ast

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