^This was most appropriate image I could use in describing this game.
It's been a while since I had to do a fangirl review, several games I've played (Or my brochacho played) were worthy of my high level of girlishness. The Last of Us was probably the LAST game I thought I would squee about, mostly because it doesn't contain the things that cause me to squee...okay that's a fucking lie, Post Apocalyptic/Zombie will invoke the squee.
But the game will also call forth the tears....endless tears. Tears I'm positive Naughty Dog has harnessed into a machine for their magical game crafting powers. And once again proves why they are a AAA developer and why Sony needs to continue to pay them the teams weight in fucking gold Wonka bars to keep them on the PS team.
I'll start off by saying, the first 15 minutes of the game will tear at your SOUL! You know what's going to happen, it's obvious something traumatic happens to Joel that sets on the path of being a grizzled merciless hardass. But the way it happens and the reaction...lemme just say the level of voice acting in this game is TOP TIER. Even if you don't cry, you will feel a pang in your chest..
AND THAT'S FOR THE ENTIRE GAME...DEAR MOTHER OF GOD WHEN WILL THE HURTING STOP?!
The Last of Us doesn't just pull at your emotions, it tugs them by a 6 wheel tractor trailer over 6 lanes of traffic. There are very few moments of brightness in this game and that's for good reason, this is not a happy game, it's not tragic for tragic sakes, it's a game to show you flat out and BELIEVABLY that this is what humanity would become if this became reality. The bad guys are obviously bad (they're the motherfuckers SHOOTING at you) but they WILL blur seamlessly with the 'good' guys...in fact, you MIGHT have trouble finding the villain as you get closer to the final chapters. And in those final chapters you will be face with confronting EVERYTHING you once buried...no one walks away unscathed and the ending is truly one of the most perfect endings I've seen in gaming period. This game doesn't require a sequel, it's that perfect and I would be HIGHLY miffed if there is one.
The characters that are in Last of Us are few, no large cast, but a small tightly crafted group of people each trying to survive by any means and ALL of them wonderfully flawed. Joel stands out as the opposite of Lee Everett of the fantastic Walking Dead game, he's harsh, curt, guarded but as the game opens up you see that wall chip away so naturally that you start wishing to see more of who he was before the fuck happened. Ellie is also wonderfully crafted, she's *GASP* like a 14 year old girl, not a mini adult, she has a mouth, she's curious, she's tough and capable of surviving on her own not out of 'cockiness' but because of seemingly genuine experience. The two interacting together is a delight, you see them earnestly try not to get close but the nature of the story and their circumstance plays out beautifully and you almost get fucking furious when something happens to one of them (And when it happens, you're not ready)
There's a chapter in the game that I will not spoil but it's so heart pounding that you are truly scared for one of them, you can fill in the blanks on what the terror is but it's not overt, it's veiled and in such a way that you truly want to survive, the helplessness that you feel gets compounded so fast and heavy that when the relief comes you kind just become gutted. Like...'Did that happen? What would've happened if I....' yeah...it's like that.
Then finally the end, the beautiful wonderful end....I just...wow. What would you do? It's not what you expect because it certainly wasn't mine.
Also, Joel? 100/10 would bang.
WHAT YOU NEED ME TO EXPLAIN THIS? FFS LOOK AT IT.
After that you see the destruction, the chaos, the lawlessness that plagues the land and it is GORGEOUS! I'm convinced that the three Uncharted games were made just for this purpose, just for this game. The landscapes alone were eye sex, 'Hey look at that lush skyscraper? Really pretty! Oh look death at every corner, run..' Yeah you could spend about a good 5 minutes looking at all the pretty but you're on edge so, look and run.
Naughty Dog pulled out all the stops with the textures and lighting, plants looked bathed in sunlight, rusty decayed structures creaked and eeked with age, you look at the remnants of peoples lives and you want to wonder if they made it or not. Or if you'd end up like them...
The constant thorn in ND's side has always been the gameplay, it's more or less an issue here, you aim and shoot, stab, throw, pummel but it's a little shaky even slow when it comes to targeting foes. You have to play smart, there's no infinite ammo, no devil trigger, you are essentially a 50+ year old man and a 14 year old girl. GOOD LUCK OUT THERE SON!
Obviously each character plays differently, Joel is the bruiser while Ellie is quick and stealthy, the reliance on stealth at certain sections of the game is refreshing and not a deterrent you actually do NOT want to fight certain enemies close on because you WILL get swamped and with health and ammo as well as the health of your melee weapons, you want to get battles done with minimal damage to you as possible. Especially around the two types of infected, Clickers and Bloaters (and fuck the both of them) Your A.I is fairly competent depending the character, some will get your back better then others which I think was a conscious decision on ND's part. You can't trust anyone in the game, so get ready to plan your attacks more effectively in this game. Also although you might consider this game to be a escort mission, it's really not, Ellie can handle herself and rarely will you have to save her if at all. There is a thing about you characters getting in your way at times but you just have to move fast, the name of the game is precision. If you go in there throwing moltovs and aiming like you're some sort of Liam Neelson you WILL die and a fuck lot.
Remember what I said about death and alot..well yeah you're going to die, alot...ALOT. It's not Dark Souls punishing, you might get some cheap deaths because if one of the Clickers or Bloaters get you it's automatic death bro and it's brutal. It's a challenging game because you want to make weapons and see how you can kill things but the game is CONSTANTLY reminding you for all of your creativity that DOESN'T make you invulnerable either by random spores or swarms of infected.
While I haven't personally encountered any game crashing issues, there ARE some glitching issues that pop up, getting temporarily stuck, sound dropping out, Autosave errors that were reported...I haven't suffered the full fucking gamut of issues but I kinda expected there would be some, this game kinda pushes the PS3 to the limit.
Never played it, don't give a full fuck about it, presumably the length of the game was impacted by the need to multiplayer which sucks but honestly, the length of the game actually was decent...Last of Us isn't a game that NEEDS to be long. I don't think emotionally I could take it being longer then 15 hours..
There are a handful of games with soundtracks that you can listen to over and over and over again, Last of Us is one of them, right up there with Red Dead Redemption it's a hauntingly lonely soundtrack, light, almost frighten and frail. If you're looking grand sweeping overtures then no..this aint it. You listen to the music almost as if its being made for you to get lost in, there's a sense of wonderment, of growth but ultimately the tunes are for loss, loss of innocence, of happiness, each pluck of the guitar even as it gets to a fast tempo it's quickly ended as it began...afraid of having any joy get violently taken away from the harshness of the world.
The Last of Us shows me and the gaming world that if you want an experience such a game you'll only get it on the PS3 and by Naughty Dog. It's not a perfect game, in fact it's only good for one play through because by the end of the game you're practically shellshocked. The way the game is structured, the characters, the story and how it deals with loss and grief is as painfully nerve wracking as pulling a scab that's not fully healed but you do it anyway knowing its not good to do. It shows you the ultimate cost of loving someone and what you would do for that person even at risk to your own being.
Last of Us shows us how beautiful life is, how wonderful it is to be with people...and how fucking ugly it is when it's cruelly transformed in front of you...at the end of the game you will find yourself asking the same question, 'What would you do?' and be surprised at the answer...it's not what you think and perhaps..it never was.
cupcake out of jelly doughnut.