Beta Scan: “The Last of Us” Review

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Courtesy of IGN

On June 14, greatness arrived in the form of Playstation 3-exclusive video game, “The Last of Us.” The game is a faultless blend of survival-horror, action and adventure genres that work together to further the narrative. This isn’t Naughty Dog’s first game; in fact, they have had a long track record of making great titles for the Playstation. However, “The Last of Us” rises above all their other achievements and could possibly be deemed the best Playstation 3 game of all time.

The gameplay of “The Last of Us” isn’t amazingly new. It is a standard third-person shooter, but the game always keeps it interesting by changing up the ways you act in-game. The story is about survival and Naughty Dog portrays it very well by providing extremely little gun ammo, causing the player to really feel the struggles of the characters. You have to decide whether or not to use guns to storm an area or take a stealthier approach due to limited resources. This game makes it very difficult to just run in and shoot everyone, and I usually defaulted to hiding and taking down each enemy one at a time.

The enemies changed throughout the game; the player is pitted against the military, savage survivors and the infected, who are contaminated by a spore that turns people into flesh-eating monsters. All of these enemies were unique, and Naughty Dog further added complexity by having the assailants react differently once they realize the character has a gun. The fights were sometimes predictable since the game provides bottles and bricks to use in the process of taking down the combatants, and when you see bricks and bottles laying around, you had better get ready for a fight. There was a lot of fighting, but this did not take away from the gameplay. The game also provides a plethora of upgrades, customizations and weapon options that allow the player to play the game the way they want, and to use whatever weapons they want to use.

The graphics were amazing. The environment was detailed and everything really popped out. There was beauty beneath the ruin of the post-apocalyptic world, but it was obvious that the old world was gone. The graphics were quite realistic and really gave the game a great cinematic feel. Almost all the cutscenes were pre-rendered, making the scenes beside the gameplay look amazing. Where most games would have a distractingly noticeable disparity between in-game and cutscene graphics, “The Last of Us” made prerendered cutscenes flow seamlessly with the in-game graphics, which were marvelous throughout. The people were detailed and facial expressions were meticulously captured, making the game look stunning overall.

The story of “The Last of Us” seemed cliché at the beginning — another old and tired story about a post-apocalyptic world overrun with infected individuals and ragged survivors. However, the story handles itself much differently than other stories with a similar plot. The story is depressingly sad, but it’s never sad enough to make the game a tired mess of tears — although those tears would be well deserved, as the writers created tons of sympathy for the characters in the game.

Within the first 15 minutes of the game, Joel, the main character, experiences his first personal casualty right as the infection starts. Twenty years later in a post-apocalyptic world, Joel meets Ellie and is forced to take her across America initially to get his guns back from a rebel group called the Fireflies. However, Joel soon realizes that Ellie is more than just a 14-year-old girl and there is a definite reason why she needs to be transported. The two embark on a perilous journey that strengthens their relationship and explores the psychological drives behind each character. The story never ceased to shock me and many times left me wide-eyed and gasping at the happenings in the game. The game is about Earth in ruin, but is so inventive that it feels fresh and new. The story may fall to cliché occurrences, but always adds in an extra twist that creates a shocking result. The enemies turn out to not be zombies at all — they are humans who have been infected and are still alive, but are no longer conscious. The game also subtly explores what it is to be alive and whether or not the infected are even human anymore, giving another dimension to the mindless creatures. The story always keeps gamers on the edge of their seats, making the game a quite impressive feat of storytelling.

With “The Last of Us” selling around 1.3 million copies in its first week, the game amazed fans in its ability to tell a compelling story about two survivors on a journey. The gameplay used old mechanics and new features to make the gamer’s experience one to remember. The astonishing graphics were textually rich, giving the game a much more realistic look that worked well in its favor. The story was beautifully crafted and the acting and voices made the story much more believable and the characters much more relatable. You truly feel sympathy for the characters in the game, even when their motives and actions are not to your liking. “The Last of Us” is truly a title to be played by all gamers and definitely shows that Naughty Dog knows how to make amazing games.

Rating: 5 stars

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