The Last of Us (PS3)

Thank you, Thank you. Yes it’s good to be back. I know it has been a very very long while since I did one of these (discounting Tomb Raider because I started that before my hiatus). I’ve been busy moving house and getting a dog and such, but please don’t think that it makes me unprofessional (a shout out to any potential employers as much of a long shot as it may be). This time I’m reviewing my favourite game of 2013. The reason it’s my favourite is probably due to the fact I didn’t play Grand Theft Auto V or Bioshock Infinite. Without further or do, The Last of Us.

The Last of Us starts before the outbreak. A young girl named Sarah wakes to find her farther Joel missing, he then appears barking like a madman and proclaims that they have to go. Her Uncle and his brother Tommy appears in a car and they proceed to escape the town. Car crashes, Sarah is shot and killed then the story skips ahead 20 years, to present day where a grumpy, middle aged Joel is working with a woman called Tess as smugglers in the militarised safe zone of Boston. During an operation Joel and Tess finds Marlene the leader of the terrorist group The Fireflies. She tasks Joel and Tess to smuggle a teenage girl Ellie out of the city and thus the story begins.

Lets get one thing straight right now. The Last of Us may have been my game of the year but it still falls short of the other holders of that title (Far Cry 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim & Heavy Rain). It does have a number of issues, my biggest one must be the lack of immersion. I just couldn’t get sucked into it. I’d stick it on, play for an hour or so and then find something else I’d rather do. I really wanted it to be one of those games I’d start playing at 7pm and find myself still playing it at 11am in the morning… 3 days later.

As regular readers will be aware I do like a good story well told, but to make a good game it’s got to be seamless with the gameplay, neither sacrificing one for the other. Sadly in the case of The Last of Us, it only get 2 out of 3 of these right. The story is very good and it’s told well (if a bit choppy at times), unfortunately it’s gameplay is the turd in the custard. Now I’m not the best person at playing video games but I like to think since I’ve been playing games for roughly 20 years I’d like to think that I’m defiantly above average. With that in mind, the amount of times I died because as I was sneaking up on an infected* only for it to miraculously know I was there and lunge with it’s unblock-able kill move, it’s controller snappingly frustrating. Ammo can be plentiful if you insist on resorting to melee or stealth and like the continual look of the loading screen, or fairly scares if your name is Nathan Drake. It gets easier the further into the game you get and the more guns and upgrades you have at hand.

The stealth engine as mentioned before can be overly sensitive, meaning enemies can pick up a sparrow fart from 5 miles away or the complete polar opposite and not notice a rhino charging through a china shop from which they’re purchasing a rather lovely vase. Some middle ground would be nice. This is just one of many examples of issues I’ve had with the gameplay, all of which effects the pacing of the story causing it to stop and start, stop and start constantly, which in turn effects how I feel about the story, which then has effect on my overall view of the game. A couple of tweeks to let the gameplay flow a bit more would have changed The Last of Us from a fairly good game to a rather excellent game.

Now for my final thought. Despite all the nasty stuff I said about The Last of Us, I have given it my “Game of the Year” badge over titles such as Papers Please, Tomb Raider, God of War Ascension, Remember Me, Metal Gear Rising & DMC. Sure had I played Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed IV, Batman Arkham Origins, Saints Row IV, Beyond Two Souls, Total War: Rome II or Company of Heroes 2 I’d have given it to one of them, but the bottom line is this. Out of the 3 games I played last year that I’d recommend, The Last of Us I would recommend the most (the other 2 out of interest are Papers Please & Tomb Raider).

Finally because it’s a new year like last year I’ll share the game I am looking forward to the most this year. The nominees are as follows:

  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • InFamous: Second Son
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Destiny
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Thief
  • The Walking Dead: Season Two
  • Watch Dogs

And the winner is:

Watch Dogs
Every trailer and every piece of game play footage I see gets me that little bit more excited each time. Graphically it looks amazing, it’s gameplay look smooth and seamless but most of all, it’s something new and something relevant to our modern way of life. That’s all for now and have a wonderful 2014.
* In this scenario, the infected does not refer to zombies but are human husks made from a mutated form of the ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungi which is known for infecting insects using their spores and take over their nervous functions.


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