I will be addressing the single player, story mode in this review.
I pre-ordered this game in November of 2012; needless to say I was really anticipating its arrival. I was the father waiting for the baby to arrive hopefully on its due date. In this case the baby was a healthy horror survival game at a respectable 5 ounces. Oh I am a proud daddy indeed. I’m just reflecting now on how much better a video game is than a baby; there’s no mess to clean, you don’t have to keep an eye on it 24/7 and it doesn’t continuously cost you money every single day of your life. I swear I’m not bitter… right, the game.
The company behind The Last of Us, Naughty Dog knows in order for a game to resonate with players it must come with substance and of course a killer story. From the creatively brilliant minds that brought us The Uncharted Series brings us a whole new breed of animal and let me tell you, this one is a beast! It’s a rare thing to come across a game with this much to show off for the video game world. A video game that puts story before all else has a lot of potential in my eyes and I knew a Naughty Dog produced game would bring just such a thing.
In the beginning it was chaos, people for no apparent reason begin attacking one another like rabid, mindless animals bent on nothing more than eating flesh. We are first introduced to Sarah, a little girl who awakens to an empty and dark house. As she saunters through her home she yells for her father who is nowhere to be found. Her father eventually shows and hell follows with as they make their escape. After tragedy happens the screen blackens and we are taken to a time twenty years after the first outbreak. Joel is a shell of a man and seemingly void of any kindness. He has replaced any humanity he once had and in its place he put his survival instincts. He is a no bullshit kind of guy and has killed to continue on. When he is met with a proposal to transfer some “cargo” to a location far off he is reluctant but the payoff is far too great to ignore. This cargo just happens to be a little girl by the name of Ellie and her secret is something that could change humanity forever. What originally was supposed to take hours ends up taking an extremely large amount of time, season after season passes as they make their journey. Along the way horror is shown in all its grotesqueness whether it is in the form of infected humans or uninfected survivalists who see the only way to live on is to kill others. The world in many ways has come to an end and all that remains is a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with nothing but disease and death. Will Joel and Ellie make it to their destination? This is one unforgiving, realistic horror survival game and not everyone will see the light at the end.
Where this game truly shines is in the relationship between Joel and Ellie. In the beginning it is all business; he will take her safely to her destination and that will be that. As time passes and their continuance depends on one another they form a bond that can be unbroken only through death. Each one is the most important person in the other’s life and will go to any length to protect them. Through their bond not only does a friendship form but a lethal killing team is created as well. Working well off of one another they take down any obstacle in the way of their ultimate goal and they do this through the strength of each other. As you make your way through the game you see these characters change as they experience more and more. For instance, in the beginning, Ellie is an innocent 14 year old who likes to talk and sing. As time goes on and the things she is forced to do change her, her demeanor and general attitude change quite dramatically. In a way she turns from a normal 14 year old girl into a grown woman merely from the things she has seen and done. Joel turns from a heartless, iced down asshole into a caring, extremely protective father figure to Ellie.
This is such a beautiful world that Naughty Dog has created and in doing this it immerses you into this world filled with the infected and deranged. Trust has its price in this world and with wonderful A.I. the consequences rely upon your decisions whether it is to ignore someone, kill them or put your life into their hands it all depends on you. The ammunition is scarce, the adversaries are aplenty and death waits around every corner. It is tragic, funny, horrifying in its subject matter both visually and story wise. When these characters interact, when they yell at one another or share a tender moment it hits you like it’s supposed to, it has weight to it. You care for these characters, you want them to complete their journey and you must help them get there… good luck.
It is foul mouthed, extremely violent and gory but none of it is without purpose. If you have played any of the Uncharted games and then move on to this you will spot a lot of similarities at least in terms of game play; this is where the similarities cease though. The Uncharted Series is certainly a T rated series with little blood, PG-13 action and violence and not to mention its overall tone of lightheartedness with intensity thrown in. With The Last of Us the intense aspect is 99% of the game and it almost never lets up. A good rule of thumb for this game is to remember that when things are quiet and you can relax, this is usually a sign that something terrible is coming and isn’t doing so slowly. It will make your heart race and will leave you truly thankful for those brief moments of calmness thrown in from time to time. This isn’t a time to relax however; collect what supplies and ammunition you can, reload your weapons and prepare for another wave of hell.
To sum it all up; this is a masterpiece and should be played if you get the chance. This is for me at least, the greatest video game I have ever played. I would like to thank Naughty Dog and all those involved in making such an amazing piece of art for me as well as millions of others to experience because that is exactly what this is, an experience.
Rated M For: blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language
Approximate Game Time: 12 – 16 hours of game play
Game Type: Horror survival, action/ adventure
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Characters in terms of development, realism and relatable qualities: 5/ Visuals: 5/ Replay Value: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below: