I had actually avoided most information about The Last of Us.  Part of me was worried it was going to be “just another survival horror/zombie apocalypse game”, and another part was hoping that it would be worth avoiding so I’d get a fantastic surprise.  Well, The Last of Us so far exceeded any expectations – it is an incredible game.

For those who don’t know, The Last of Us takes place years after a bizarre fungal infection has wiped out a huge portion of society.  Those who are infected lose control over themselves, becoming similar to “runner” style zombies.  The longer the duration of infection, the worse it gets, with infected eventually becoming “clickers”, losing all sight but developing echo-location.  Finally, infected become a fungus growing in the dark, emitting infectious spores.

The story centres around Joel and Ellie.  Joel is a hardened survivor, brusque and quiet, and deeply wounded.  Ellie was born after the outbreak of infection and can’t imagine what the world was like before.  Their relationship grows throughout the game in a believable and truly organic way.  As they travel across the US of A, we grow to understand each of them, and are exposed to some incredible visuals.

The story-telling is gripping right from the start.  You feel for Joel so intensely from the opening chapter, and the connection is never broken.  Much like Joel, I had mixed feelings about Ellie at first, but over the course of the game she grew as a character and became truly lovable.  Their bond is the driving force behind the game, and leads to powerful emotional moments during gameplay – I became fully invested in them, leading me to take part in the survival and killing, not for pwnage’s sake, but because of that relationship.  However, due to the nature of the story-telling, The Last of Us is a very linear game – no open world elements, and no options to go back to previous sections.

The gameplay follows two main mechanisms: stealth, and covered shooting.  You gain access to new weapons as the game progresses, although I generally stuck with the stealth approach.  I prefer to sneak up on my enemies and kill them, or even distract them and avoid fighting all together.  However, that said, there are some areas where mass murder is the best option, and for those that excel at shooting (apparently, I don’t) the game handles the mechanic beautifully.  Speaking of impressive mechanics, as a game that released at the end of the PS3 life-cycle, it makes perfect use of the controls.  Without making it gimmicky, The Last of Us has you shake the controller when the batteries in your flashlight occasionally run low.  It’s subtle and adds an extra aspect of realism to the game.  Speaking of realism, while you might find maps in certain areas, you never get a mini-map or HOD.

For the most part, you play as Joel.  He gains crafting skills, so you can make your own shivs, first aid kits and IEDs.  Also, using pills (vitamins on steroids?) he can upgrade his health and abilities.  All these elements are done with extreme realism – it takes time to apply a first aid kit, or to craft one.  There is no health regeneration, and supplies for crafting can be scarce in certain areas – you will need to be careful with your resources.

There are two main types of enemies in the game: infected and humans.  Of the infected, there are the runners, clickers and bloaters.  All of which post unique challenges and need to be addressed differently.  Oh, and clickers are just terrifying.  Prepare for them to kill you, a lot.  However, once you get the hang of it (or have the supplies), they become a bit easier to kill.  Truly, the most insidious enemies are the humans.  They’re armed and dangerous, and as the story progresses you grow to despise what remains of humanity.

This becomes a play on the title of the game: The Last of Us.  What of humanity actually remains when survival has been the only goal for so many years?  What moral or societal standards can survive?  It’s not about the last of the humans, but the last of ‘Us’.

The design of the game is flawless.  The developers so far outdid themselves.  Not only is the world precise and impressive, the characters are as well.  From subtle “unconscious” movements to facial expressions, every detail is seamless and spot-on.  And I’m not just talking about Joel and Ellie – every character, good or bad, is lovingly created and designed with incredible attention to detail.  Even the numerous enemies are unique; they may fall into the “faceless bad guy” aspect of the game in the sense that you will kill a whole bunch of them, but they are well designed and even voiced so that it doesn’t feel like you’re killing the same five guys over and over.  The music also plays a particular role in adding to the atmosphere of the game, right from the moment you turn it on until the credits roll.

I was transfixed by the game, truly loved playing it.  It is definitely my game of the year, if not my game of the PS3.  That said, there were some very, VERY minor things that irritated me.  Caution, minor spoilers present, so only click to read if you are okay with that.

1) Ellie is immune to the infection, and the whole purpose of the game is to get her to a research facility/hospital to see if she is the cure.  This premise seems a bit trite in a game that is anything but clichéd.

 

2) For the most part, the AI is spot on.  However, Bill (a character you meet after leaving Boston) can be very frustrating to have as “help”.  He seems to only really adopt the “shoot everything” approach and is not proficient at sneaking past clickers.  He lead me to my death on a few occasions.

 

3) While most of the controls and QTEs were seamless and beautifully done, there were occasional moments where ladders wouldn’t place unless you stood in the exact right location, or certain interactions were also less than forgiving if you weren’t placed correctly – no matter what I did I could not interact with the giraffe at the end, for example.

That said, these were such minor problems that they really could barely even be called such.  The game is so impressive, it almost seems like nit-picking to even mention them – like I’m looking for something bad to say about a game that is, truly, fantastic.

Last Updated: June 26, 2013

The Last of Us
There is no denying that this is an incredible game. It hits all the right notes and takes realism in games to a whole new level. The Last of Us raises the bar, not just on survival-horror games, but on games in general.
9.8
The Last of Us was reviewed on PlayStation 3

71 Comments

  1. Happy Hamster

    June 26, 2013 at 15:42

    Awesome

    Reply

  2. Trebzz

    June 26, 2013 at 15:43

    An excellent review girl with an American accent 😛

    Reply

  3. OVG

    June 26, 2013 at 15:43

    9.9 because the Boston Map sucks 😛

    Reply

    • Captain Minion TallTwit

      June 26, 2013 at 15:44

      HAHA!

      Reply

  4. fred

    June 26, 2013 at 15:44

    Starting to play tonight .. hopefully . Had the game for a week now , had to finish the fantastic Tomb Raider first.

    Reply

  5. Richard Mackenzie

    June 26, 2013 at 15:44

    WOW, 9.8…

    Reply

  6. OVG

    June 26, 2013 at 15:45

    9.8 because Elen Page has a funny face :p

    Reply

  7. Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    June 26, 2013 at 15:45

    Hell Yeah ….. Almost done with this game …. one of the best gaming experiences of my life … have never played anything like this before …..

    Reply

    • Tbone187

      June 26, 2013 at 15:46

      I reckon I’d buy a PS3 for this game alone…

      Reply

      • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

        June 26, 2013 at 15:47

        That is what I plan on doing when the price comes down mate.

        Reply

        • Argentil

          June 26, 2013 at 15:48

          PS4 + Gaikai.

          Reply

        • HvR

          June 26, 2013 at 16:17

          Got one last week R3000, 500GB new slim unit, 2 x DS3 controller, GOW: Ascension (tried it do not like, not big fan of hack and slash game).

          Also ordered an armfull of kiddie type games for my 4 year old @ R100 a pop.

          Also serves as a replacement for my aging mede8tor.

          Reply

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            June 26, 2013 at 16:19

            Not bad at all. If you don’t see me on here ever again it’s because I took your advice, went out and spent all my food money on your deal, and realized after 4 days you can’t live off eating a GOW? Ascension disk alone…

          • Spathi

            June 26, 2013 at 16:21

            CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!

          • HvR

            June 26, 2013 at 16:25

            The money I saved for my PC upgrade, but the MB blown so it takes my upgrade bill up to R7k.

            So decided to go for the PS3 there is quite a few games I haven’t played on PC or PS3 exclusives that is free or dirt cheap on PS3.

            Plus it gives my kid something to do during the winter holidays and get him gaming. Bonus is getting my wife to join in the fun with a few coop games.

        • ALKi1234

          June 27, 2013 at 09:37

          Takealot had a sale yesterday.320g slim+extra controller+uncharted 3+God Of War III+some wwe game for R2499,score if you ask me.

          Reply

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            June 27, 2013 at 09:39

            dammit, that is a decent deal.

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        June 26, 2013 at 15:51

        This game is reason enough to buy a ps3 and it’s lengthy too, well worth every penny

        Reply

        • Tbone187

          June 26, 2013 at 15:58

          Yeah, even the soundtrack has me sold…hehe…

          Reply

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            June 26, 2013 at 16:16

            Gustavo santoalalla did a magnificent job

    • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

      June 26, 2013 at 15:47

      Better than FF?! :O

      Reply

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        June 26, 2013 at 15:50

        Haha … One of the best, it’s almost the best…I don’t know. this game is pretty special hey

        Reply

        • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

          June 26, 2013 at 15:52

          I am waiting for the PS3 to come down in price, and I am looking myself away for a weekend with the lights and a blanket to cover my head when scared.

          Reply

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            June 26, 2013 at 15:53

            Hahaha, in all honesty it isn’t scary as much as it is tense, it keeps you constantly on the edge and the story takes some drastic turns …. it really is story telling in videogame form fully realized

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            June 26, 2013 at 15:55

            What do you mean? Is it 5 hours long, has the same story we are all used to, linear, but this one has a dog? Sounds fing AWESOME!

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            June 26, 2013 at 15:56

            Lol it has something better than a dog ….a horse!

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            June 26, 2013 at 15:58

            A horse. Game: SOLD.

  8. OVG

    June 26, 2013 at 15:46

    9.7 because there was a girl on the front cover… sis man.

    Reply

  9. OVG

    June 26, 2013 at 15:47

    9.6 because the ending made me think… I don’t like thinking :p

    Reply

  10. Argentil

    June 26, 2013 at 15:48

    Good review. I did feel that in the harder difficulties, gunplay was more of a detraction than a viable means of progression though. If anything, the game encourages stealth play a lot, without throwing it in your face. If you’re seen, the maps are designed in such a way that running away is better than trying to take on 3 foes at once. It’s difficult to alter the way we play games, but ND are giving it a good shot.

    Reply

  11. OVG

    June 26, 2013 at 15:49

    9.5 because it is longer than 5 hours… My attention span is like normal people who go to the cinema… 45 minutes… then I need to piss out my 2l coke.

    Reply

  12. OVG

    June 26, 2013 at 15:50

    9.4 because no content was cut… I like my experience to last as long as possible by being promised more DLC every month that should have been in the game.

    Reply

  13. RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

    June 26, 2013 at 16:01

    Actually rather impressed with the length of the game. Thought 10 hours at the max. This pleases me very very much. I find it difficult to fully realise a character in anything under 10 hours. Very awesome.

    Reply

    • Spathi

      June 26, 2013 at 16:09

      I finished on hard difficulty, disabling the “listening” ability and the game took me almost 21 hours. Not because I died a lot (which I did), but rather because I could help but stop and look at the world the whole time. Every building, house, room etc was created with so much love and care. It feels as if every “scene” was created to be special in it’s own right.

      Portal 2, Red Dead Redemption and The Last of Us – My three favourite games this generation for various reasons, but most of all, all three actually succeeded in making me care much more than I should about a game.

      Reply

      • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

        June 26, 2013 at 16:11

        What is the listening ability? Excuse my ignorance.

        Reply

        • Spathi

          June 26, 2013 at 16:13

          You can effectively “see” through walls for a small while. It’s not really “cheating”, as you can only “see” things that are moving, and thus creating a sound, but I felt it detracted from the game so I disabled it.

          Reply

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            June 26, 2013 at 16:16

            Game sounds better and better man.Dammit, I don’t suppose you hated Sony’s E3 release so much, and loved the Xbox One’s you want to get rid of anything related to SONY, like your PS3 and TLOU?

          • Spathi

            June 26, 2013 at 16:19

            Unfortunately not 😀

          • RinceTheWhiskyWithIce

            June 26, 2013 at 16:32

            Le sigh!

  14. Mathias

    June 26, 2013 at 16:04

    It’s not survival horror… The only problem is that it doesn’t know what kind of game it wants to be. It’s still amazing, but the final mission is so Uncharted. You can replay it, but it’s not as fun (you have to at least play it on hard, otherwise you’re a pussy).

    Solid 9/10 for me.

    Reply

  15. Mathias

    June 26, 2013 at 16:05

    Multiplayer is ok, but anyone that tells you that you’ll be playing it for months is lying
    Not that good and almost impossible to enjoy if you play solo or with one friend.

    Reply

  16. Slade Boender

    June 26, 2013 at 16:06

    Good Review! Dying to get this game 🙂

    Reply

  17. Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    June 26, 2013 at 16:14

    One thing i must add is that there are alot of optional dialogue pieces that can be missed. It really adds a nice touch to the story and interaction

    Reply

  18. Admiral Chief Groot Wors

    June 26, 2013 at 16:29

    HOD or HUD?

    Reply

  19. Jonah Cash

    June 26, 2013 at 16:36

    Noooooooo!!!! I haven’t bought this game yet, but reading your review so makes me want to buy it, like now!!! But I can’t play scary games anymore! I think the fact that I bought my PS1 when I was 12 and my first game was Resident Evil 2 I am broken for Survival Horror games!!!

    Reply

    • Zoe

      June 26, 2013 at 16:44

      i’m similar with that, and believe me there were some scary moments. but it’s so worth it! such an amazing game!

      Reply

      • Jonah Cash

        June 26, 2013 at 16:48

        Your not helping my bank account here lady!!! Hahaha….. OK fine, as soon as I return from PE tomorrow I will drop in at BT Games and give in to the Last of Us!!

        Reply

        • Zoe

          June 26, 2013 at 16:51

          you’ll thank me for it, i swear!

          Reply

          • Jonah Cash

            June 26, 2013 at 16:56

            I hear you and the rest of the gaming world except for a site called Quarter to Three who gave this game a 60….. My word, Metacritic should fire their asses just for that!!

  20. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    June 26, 2013 at 18:49

    Game of the decade!

    Reply

    • Ninja_c00kie

      July 2, 2013 at 10:52

      No, close, but no.
      I played it twice and while it was Excellent everywhere i noticed that the ending feels rather rushed and some characters were really sympathetic., But this is just a personal opinion.

      Reply

  21. ALKi1234

    June 27, 2013 at 09:59

    This is by far my most memorable gaming experience,and something i will always remember vividly.I’t would be such a shame if ND choose not to make a sequel for such a unique new IP,For history”s sake…….Naughty Dog please!

    Reply

  22. Bill Bailey

    July 29, 2013 at 18:33

    great review. the last of us is probably my favourite game this year and definitely my favourite game on ps3. Joel does look a lot like nathan drake though
    I did a review of the last of us on my website http://www.genuinegamereviews.com

    Reply

  23. FFSalready

    September 13, 2014 at 10:50

    Guy, your spoiler code doesn’t work. Also, if you could try to cram a few more adjectives into each sentence, I’d really very truly hugely appreciate it.

    Reply

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