Developer(s) – Naughty Dog
Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s) – Bruce Straley & Neil Druckmann
Designer – Jacob Minkoff
Selling millions of copies worldwide and garnishing many perfect scores from reviewers, as well as a near perfect score of 38/40 from Famitsu, The Last of Us is considered one of the defining titles of the PlayStation 3’s library by gamers and critics alike. I, on the other hand…
Graphics – 8/10
One positive to discuss regarding this game, at least, is how good it looks. The game is both conceptually and graphically sound. Aside from representing the pinnacle of what the PlayStation 3 is capable of on a graphical level for the most part, it also presents a very interesting, yet unsettling take on how a post-apocalyptic earth would be governed under marshal law, and how humanity would cope under such circumstances; or how it wouldn’t. There are also few glitches in the game here and there, but nothing overly noticeable. Certainly not on the same level as Aliens: Colonial Marines, which I reviewed last week. It’s interesting to see where Naughty Dog’s influence comes in, as similarities can be drawn with their own Uncharted series. One of the game’s main characters, Joel, also wears similar attire to that of Nathan Drake, the main character of Uncharted.
Gameplay – 3/10
The gameplay, however, is the aspect of which I find most difficult to wax poetic about. Prior to playing, I had heard through bad word of mouth that this game had it’s downsides, such as it’s level of linearity and lack of overall substance, but I initially thought to myself that it surely couldn’t have been as bad as people made out to me. But I actually found it worse than what people made out, unfortunately. I found myself very disappointed with The Last of Us, with the game only encouraging exploration to a very small extent, having players search areas where they think there may be hidden side quest items, but when there is nothing. Though it is common to have areas, which are merely decorative in games, this game takes it to a pretty ridiculous level. It even reminded me of Murdered: Soul Suspect in terms of how repetitive it can get; but in this case, it’s to an even greater extent than that. At least there were side quests in Murdered: Soul Suspect, but in The Last of Us, there are considerably fewer.
Controls – 10/10
There are no issues with the game’s control scheme, but since it plays out very similarly to any game in the Uncharted series, but with a greater emphasis on stealth as a combat option, I don’t think there should have been any issues with the control scheme, really. This control scheme was evolutionary during the time Naughty Dog developed Uncharted, and although the game loses no marks for not having any problems, they certainly didn’t do themselves any favours by not adding anything new to the table.
Lifespan – 5/10
Discounting the DLC package, Left Behind, The Last of Us can take an average time of 12 hours to complete. But whilst that may sound fairly impressive for a game of this kind compared to any game in the Uncharted series, most time will be spent watching the cutscenes and taking in the game’s story as opposed to players actually playing the game. Although it would seem to last twice as long as an Uncharted game, it’s far less enjoyable to play, and by that token can make it seem much more drawn out.
Storyline – 9/10
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best thing that can be attributed to this game is it’s extremely immersing story. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic Earth following the spread of a deadly advanced strain of the Cordyceps fungus, which turns humans into cannibalistic monsters known as clickers, Joel, a human survivors who lost his daughter twenty years prior to the game’s main events, finds himself escorting a young girl called Ellie across the United States in order to survive and put a stop to the deadly virus once and for all. The narrative told in this game is incredible, with great voice acting, a lot of emphasis on character development and a good few twists and turns throughout. The overall atmosphere of the game alternates from being very intense and very emotional as the relationship between Joel and Ellie progresses throughout the course of the game. Although it is never worth sacrificing good gameplay in favour of immersing story, which to me is become a recurring problem in mainstream titles, the game certainly has a great deal of substance in story nevertheless.
Originality – 3/10
Though it is impossible for me to deny the historical significance of this title for its excellent story, there is hardly anything either original or innovative about the gameplay in the Last of Us, and it’s not as if video games hadn’t had great stories attributed to them prior. There have been much greater narrative told in video games prior to the release of The Last of Us, but have also included greater gameplay.
Overall, whilst having a fantastic and engrossing plot and conceptually and graphically astute visuals, there was definitely room for improvement in terms of both substance and innovation in gameplay. Gameplay is the most important aspect of any video game, and my biggest hope for Naughty Dog now is that they haven’t completely lost sight of that pending the release of Uncharted 4.