Update: The original review which was posted on November 9, 2013 wasn’t a full review as I had not finished the game. So, after finishing the game, it was time for me to update this review, and now you can check it below is a full review of the game.
Disclaimer: as with every game review, the opinions given in this article are merely based on my own personal experience with the game. Also, this is my very first time playing the game, and I haven’t finished it; therefore my opinion could change towards completion of the game (Multiplayer features are not being reviewed).
Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment on June 14, 2013 exclusively for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us caught the attention of the gaming world, as it has been considered as Naughty Dog’s masterpiece.
Spoiler alert: Even though I’m going to try and avoid spoiling the game for you, there will definitely be some spoilers. Whenever a spoiler is going to appear I’ll make sure to state so, and then let you know when the spoiler has passed so that you can keep going without having to worry about have the game spoiled the game for you.
If you’re interested in knowing a little bit more of the story when it comes to its announcement, sales, and so on, please check out this article, in which I’ve provided all that information.
Basically we have the “default” or “standard” infection story where nobody knows what initiated the whole thing, but people are getting infected, and have started to attack others, which is something quite normal as the virus needs to be spread, right?
In the prologue chapter of the game you get to see -sort of- the beginning of it all. Joel, one of the main characters of the game, gets home from a long day at work, and Sarah, his daughter is waiting for him, asleep on the couch.
She then gives her dad a birthday present, because it was his birthday, and goes to sleep. At that time Joel takes her to her bed and tucks her in.
Later that night, Sarah wakes up thanks to a phone call, which asks for Joel, and makes her aware of the fact that her dad isn’t at home. She looks for him, and after seeing a rather big explosion at the city hospital from her window, Joel gets home, followed by something. Turns out to be a neighbor, as Joel warns her to stay away from the sliding glass door leading to their backyard.
This is the first time in which Sarah sees an infected, but she doesn’t know about it, as she gets shocked by the fact that her dad had to kill his neighbor right in front of her.
The whole city is a chaos and everyone is trying to get out of there, something that Joel does, accompanied by Sarah and his younger brother, Tommy. While infected are running around the city “killing” everyone they see, the special forces are going to contain the situation by any means, even if that involves murdering non-infected civilians.
This might be a little spoiler, yet it is quite important to set the basis for the rest of the story.
While Joel tries to keep Sarah safe, he runs away from the city, following some alternate paths behind some homes, but sadly, he crosses the way of some officials from the special forces, who have to follow orders, and theirs were to kill them, so they shoot at Joel and Sarah, hurting Joel and murdering Sarah…
End of the spoiler.
This is the mere beginning; Joel survived, and he would not stand still. Twenty years later, Joel is still around, and has been doing some “jobs” during the last years, where he has been just getting along.
You might be wondering about the acclaimed Ellie–well, she is the key to mankind’s survival, as she is invulnerable to the infection, and it is now Joel’s responsibility to protect her and bring her to a place where this condition can be used for good.
It is totally worth clarifying that The Last of Us isn’t about “zombies”; the creatures you fight against are humans, both healthy and infected. When it comes to your main adversaries, you’ll have the infected; however, you’ll have to face plenty of civilians during your journey, and these are quite dangerous.
The “Infected” are the people that have mutated due to this weird virus, that enters the human body by inhaling the spores of the Cordyceps, which actually explains how this all started, given the fact that during the first scenes of the game, you get to see a newspaper headline saying that there was a Cordyceps breakout.
This situation, which seems completely taken from a fiction film (mostly given the circumstances of The Last of Us being a video game), has some real life precedents; some animals can get infected and even killed by ophiocordyceps unilateralis, something that has been documented by the BBC, during an episode of their documentary “Planet Earth” entitled “Jungles“. (Click on the link to watch)
So, Naughty Dog’s developers got the idea for The Last of Us from an actual fact, something that could happen, even though it is said that humans can’t be fatally infected by the ophiocordyceps genuses, however, inhaling the cordyceps’ spores can modify the behavior, which means that, perhaps, some mutation of the cordyceps could lead to a zombie-like behavior taking place…just something to think about.
Going back to the infected, there are 4 types of them:
This is the first stage of the infection, they were humans, and are mutating already, they’ll attack and kill anyone that isn’t infected.
This is the second stage of infection. Stalkers have already left behind most of their human appearance due to their mutations. They behave somehow like Runners, yet, they are more cautious and lethal.
Clickers are way stronger than Stalkers, and humans, for that matter; they have created this fungus around their bodies that completely take away their human appearance. Clickers make a quite particular noise that gives out their position, and they are completely blind.
This is the maximum form of infection. To become a Bloater, an infected must’ve been exposed to the spores for a long time, making them super strong, and capable of throwing some sort of “spore bomb”, which spreads the infectious spores around, making it quite a threat.
There isn’t much to be said that hasn’t been said already; Naughty Dog created a masterpiece. Astounding visuals, with some easy-to-learn playability and a wide range of different features, not to mention the overall story, makes this game a must play for any survival enthusiast.
Among the features that I like the most are the crafting system, which allows you to use items you find around the game’s world in order to enhance your weapons, or create kits to heal yourself after being hurt by the infected… or other survivors.
There’s also a nice feature which involves Joel’s hearing sense, as it seems that Joel has an enhanced hearing system that allows him to locate nearby enemies. This is quite a useful feature, yet it sort of gives you an “unfair” advantage. However, Joel doesn’t have this skill in the hardest difficulty of the game.
As I mentioned before, graphically, this game is simply outstanding; the scenarios are beautiful, despite the post-apocalyptic feel.
To be fair, there are some down points, not that many, but there are. For one, the overall story is quite standard for a zombie apocalypse. What does this mean? Well, the fact that there is a zombie apocalypse/virus and that there is one survivor that is invulnerable to it sounds quite familiar…does “I Am Legend” ring a bell?
The story, however, gets to a quite interesting twist at the end of the game, which for obvious reasons I won’t disclose. But I will tell you, it actually gets you to think and compare between your own personal gain against mankind’s survival. Which one would you prefer?
Also, during my time playing the game, I’ve found some rather annoying little bugs, mostly the sort of bugs that stop you from moving. It happens mostly with random bushes here and there, that should allow you to move through them, but completely stop you from moving.
Just to wrap this up, I want to repeat myself and say that this game is amazing, the scores given to it by everyone are well deserved; however, those little details mentioned above stop me from giving this game the 10/10 a lot of sites gave it, and so, I’m giving The Last of Us a 9.8 out of 10, which is the highest score I’ve ever given.