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Review - The Last of Us (PS3) (Read 1361 times)
Nightcrawler
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Review - The Last of Us (PS3)
Apr 4th, 2015 at 12:41pm
 
I got a PS3 for Christmas with a copy of the Last of Us. So, it was finally time to usher in an age of console gaming beyond PS2 for me! My first foray into the PS3 era was a fun one! That was important, as I could have been turned off right away to an entire generation, and gone back to my retro consoles forever!

This game was basically a middle-aged, disgruntled with life man (due to a traumatic past) named Joel. He gets saddled with a 14 year old girl named Ellie. While there was plenty of story and plot elements going on, the core of the game is the development of those two characters. It was great to see a game built on top of character development like that. The development was realistic and never forced. The level of details and interactions boosted the characters even further.

Graphics:

There's not much to say here. The graphics were great. They were realistic and succeeded in creating a realistic environment within the constraints of the PS3. I think they pushed the limits of the PS3. They hid technical limitations very well. and it was few and far between to notice any graphical shortcomings.

The cut-scene graphics were top-notch and really brought the characters to life. The characters were real enough that I could often forget that they weren't real people.

Sound:

The music was nearly non-existent. They were going for a minimal soundtrack here and music only keyed in for certain events, or to transition to more tense moments etc. If I recall, the composer was influenced by the movie No Country for Old Men and was trying to hit that mark. It was well done for what it was, but I would have liked to have some more background music. There were some emotional scenes that probably would have been even more impactful with some more prominent music backing them.

What's there to say about sound effects these days? Aren't they all recorded and mostly real now? Even if not, they sure seemed like it.

The voice acting was superb by the main characters. The voice actors brought the characters to life with emotion and personality. They made the game. It wouldn't have been nearly as impactful or noteworthy without them. They are what helped this game stand out in a sea of games with similar core gameplay. However, they couldn't have done it without working with some well written dialog to begin with.

Gameplay:

The gameplay reminded me of Metal Gear Solid meets Resident Evil meets an adventure game. Normally, you're adventuring looking for supply items and solving simple navigation puzzles to get through areas to get closer to your destinations. In between, and sometimes during all of that, you will go up against enemies. Runners, stalkers, clickers, bloaters, and men are the different types of enemies. Each type of enemy is a bit different. Non human enemies are basically the various different states of the infection. Runners are typical infected zombie-like creatures who don't get too crazy until noise alerts them. Stalkers are relentlessly running around hunting you. Clickers have sonar vision (by the 'clicks' they emit) tuned to your movement, and are very hard to kill. Most of the time, you'll just want to avoid them if possible. Bloaters are in the advanced stage of the infection. They throw spore bombs, have heavy natural body growth 'armor', and are the most difficult to kill.

When enemies are present, you can use a variety of weapons or stealth take downs. The game leans more toward the stealth approach as you are usually out numbered, have few supplies, and will be killed quickly if you go in guns blazing. You have no silent guns, so once you use a gun, you alert all enemies.

As far as the survival-horror aspect, I think the game did a good job creating tense survival moments. I could feel an elevated heart rate during several sequences of the game. Although not horror focused, there were a few places with good scary atmosphere and a few good scares to be had.

Summary

I think the Last of Us had the total package. It was above average is nearly every aspect. It easily could have faltered in several areas had things been just slightly different. However, they didn't falter, and the sum of it all made for a compelling character driven, fun game. The difficulty levels scaled well, and I'm sure you could find a happy medium for both beginners and experts across the available choices (Survivor mode requires beating the game at least once though).

It was a good game, with just the right length. I was a little sad to see it end, yet the last levels were starting to irk me too. More may have been too much. I'd recommend this game to anyone to play.

My only nitpick was the ending was too short. I expected a little bit more from it. However, in this game it was the journey that was the focus, not the destination.

Go play this game, all the accolades it has received aren't for nothing!

Last of Us: Left Behind

Normally, I frown upon pay downloadable content on top of the original game. However, the game and characters were just so well done, I forked over the extra money for this 3-4 hour expansion. While it was short, it was very well done. The quality was worth the money. I have no regrets.

This expansion alternates between a flashback of Ellie's past leading up to what is basically the end of her childhood, and present day during a period of events in the main game. It's focus is to further develop Ellie's character, her background, and her motivations. 

In the flashback segments, the gameplay is more mini-games and optional character interactions. It was done so well that it was heart warming. The present day segments had more stealth/combat gameplay against the enemies. They added the brilliant concept of having the infected and normal humans in the same level. There was an added dimension of gameplay which allowed you to craftily pit the two against each other. This was a great idea and I wish the main game had used it!

Playing as Ellie makes combat different in general as she can't stand toe to toe against grown men as you'd expect. This forces you to take better advantage of stealth and strategy.

Overall, I never would have thought I could enjoy playing a game as a 14 year old girl as much as I did. Fantastically done, no complaints. If you enjoyed the main game, you won't regret getting this expansion. The only knock one could have is it was short for the money, but the level of detail and quality was worth it in my opinion.
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