It’s out globally next week Friday; one of the current generation of console gaming’s great swansongs – Naughty Dog’s apocalyptic The Last of Us. It’s been getting glowing praise from just about everywhere. Just about. Here’s how its being viewed by critics.
OPM – 10/10: As a showcase for what Sony’s seven-year-old machine is capable of, there’s really nothing else to touch Naughty Dog’s latest. When such a talented developer hits these creative, narrative and technical heights, the result is a game that wouldn’t look out of place smuggled into PS4’s launch lineup. The acting is more believable than LA Noire’s hi-tech gurning. There are sneaky set-piece excursions that outdo even Metal Gear Solid 4 at its best. And tying it all together is an utterly mesmerising world instilled with a seamless sense of time and place. This is a work of art in which amazing sights and sounds fuel an emotionally draining, constantly compelling end of days adventure.
CVG – 10/10: The Last of Us is a remarkable achievement, and one of those rare games that you never want to end as you approach the finale. It tells a moving story that will linger in your mind long after the credits have rolled, but never loses sight of the fact that it’s a video game, not a film. It’s a masterful marriage of storytelling and game design, and easily Naughty Dog’s finest moment.
Destructoid – 10/10: The Last of Us‘ cold open, easily among the most gripping introductory sequences a videogame has offered, lets us know exactly what we’re in for. In just the opening minutes of Naughty Dog’s genuinely emotional adventure, I was amused, excited, scared, and saddened. The Last of Us is possessed of a certain magnetic power, able to make one laugh, to shake, and to cry, all the while aware that one state will transition to another with pitch perfect subtlety.
Edge – 10/10: Naughty Dog has delivered the most riveting, emotionally resonant story-driven epic of this console generation. At times it’s easy to feel like big-budget development has too much on the line to allow stubbornly artful ideas to flourish, but then a game like The Last Of Us emerges through the crumbled blacktop like a climbing vine, green as a burnished emerald.
Eurogamer – 10/10: At a time when blockbuster action games are sinking into a mire of desperate overproduction, shallow gameplay and broken narrative logic, The Last of Us is a deeply impressive demonstration of how it can and should be done. It starts out safe but ends brave; it has heart and grit, and it hangs together beautifully. And it’s a real video game, too. An elegy for a dying world, The Last of Us is also a beacon of hope for its genre.
Gamespot – 8/10:The Last of Us is a singular adventure that looks the downfall of humanity in the eyes and doesn’t blink
GiantBomb – 5/5: The Last of Us is not simply Uncharted with zombies, but it couldn’t exist without Naughty Dog having made Uncharted first, either. It’s a dark adventure, one rarely filled with laughs or joy. There are bitter pills to swallow along the way, and nothing is taken for granted, not even characters. People live, people die. Sometimes it’s fair, sometimes it’s not. It’s still a zombie game, but a sobering one. Take a deep breath.
IGN – 10/10: Its unrivaled presentation in particular sets the bar even higher than the Uncharted trilogy already did, and its writing, voice acting and layered gameplay combine to create what is very easily the game to beat for Game of the Year 2013.
NowGamer – 8.5/10: The Last Of Us is special. Not in an arty-farty ‘oh-the-story-is-so-deep’ kind of way, but in that it doesn’t cater to common tropes, it simply does what it wants to do – popular consensus be-damned. For that alone it deserves your attention.
Polygon – 7.5/10: There are hints of a nuanced message in The Last of Us, but convention wins out too often to easily find them. Naughty Dog commits to a sombre tone that affects every piece of the game for better and worse. It achieves incredible emotional high points about as often as it bumps up against tired scenario design that doesn’t fit its world. Survival in the post-apocalypse requires compromise, but The Last of Us has given up something vital.
Videogamer – 10/10: he Last of Us succeeds in the same way as the best movies do, challenging you more than you’ll ever expect, demanding that you think and discuss it weeks after it resolves. The fact I had the urge to pick it up again almost instantly is just added acclaim it has more than earned.
That’s an unprecedented number of perfect scores – barring the quite jarring 7.5 from Polygon, and Gamespot’s 8. I’ve come to learn to not trust waves of perfect scores; reviewers seem to be caught in the hype themselves – and the real critical consensus tends to come later. Nor do I believe a perfect score means a perfect game – but that’s a different discussion completely. However, the verdict is almost unanimous; The Last of Us is something special – and something you very probably want to play.
The Last of Us will infect your PlayStation 3 on June 14.
Last Updated: June 6, 2013