The Last of Us is the best game I've played all year, and arguably one of the best games I've ever played. Naughty Dog created a true masterpiece, a title that even makes their previous work, Uncharted, look like a kiddy show program in contrast to the heavy themes present in The Last of Us. After making three Uncharted games spanning much of the PS3 lifecycle, TLOU was a breath of fresh air, and showed the world that Naughty Dog can continue to create awesome new experiences.
There won't be any heavy spoilers in this review, basically the game is set with a man named Joel, twenty years after the start of the infection that caused people to turn into these fungal like monsters that now prowl the streets. Society is heavily fragmented, those that had survived the outbreak either banded into small groups, hunters who pillage and kill anyone outside the clan, or they live in government save zones in cities where they are ruled by martial law.
Joel is a troubled man that would rather not face his problems. His flaws become more and more apparent as the game goes on, but Joel presses forward. Ellie, the young girl of the story, is his companion. It's told that she's infected, but hasn't turned. Somehow her body is able to reject the disease, thus making her the cure to the infection. So Joel is tasked with getting her to a location where they can extract a cure and potentially save all of mankind. But the adventure puts them in harm's way where they must help each other in order to survive.
The combat is easily the best part of the game. Since Joel is in a post-apocalyptic world, he doesn't have much when it comes to ammo for guns. In the harder difficulties, this is even more of an issue. So Joel has to rely more on equipment that he can create. As you explore the world, you pick up items like rags and alcohol, which lets you create a molotov. Or you get explosive powder with some parts of scissors to create a nail bomb. And many of these items require similar scrap, which means you have to pick and choose what to create.
As you find yourself in a room full of infected, usually the only way out is to sneak past all of them perfectly, or throw some fire in their face. The gathering of supplies to create new items and weapons can be a balancing act where you either choose to create a shiv that can open locked doors/stealth kill enemies, or create a sharp edge to a melee weapon, like a pipe, to make a one hit kill weapon for the next enemy.
You'll find that the difficulty lies in getting from Point A to Point B by trying not to use up all your ammo and supplies, and only using them when you desperately need them. For example, I went most of the game without much ammo for the hunting rifle. And there are certain situations where a hunting rifle will trump other weapons.
As for gunplay, it's pretty solid. Naughty Dog tried to simulate that Joel was not much of a marksman, so the guns will sway a bit. He's not a soldier, so don't expect a bunch of headshots.
It helps create tension, as you are struggling to get the cursor on the head of a rushing infected, only to miss or hit him in the chest. It sounds much worse than it really is, but it was one gripe I saw people had with the game.
Easily one of the best PS3 games out today. Especially in the cutscenes, you feel so much emotion radiating from the face of Joel, Ellie or whoever else in the game. The torn up cities, the rotten sewers, the cold winter days at the lodge all are represented well. As the game takes you from location to location, you don't feel like they just arbitrarily added a bunch of locations so you can have a big set piece here, and another event there. The journey feels right, and all the locations look beautiful, grim, desolate, and even scary.
Probably the most fun I've had on the PS3 online in quite some time. Now keep in mind it was not the focal point for Naughty Dog, but they did well for what they did. The online pits the Fireflies against the Hunters, one's a military group, one's a group of savages. You can pick which side you'd like to be on, and there's two modes. Basically team deathmatch and elimination with rounds. Much like the single player, you move around the map collecting supplies and trying to eliminate the other team with limited ammo.
The multiplayer actually requires a bit of teamwork, those with mics to call out enemies will usually be the team to win it all. As you progress with the matches, you're trying to collect these pill bottles that you get for receiving kills, or aiding you teammates by creating items or healing them in the match. These pills allow you to expand your clan, which is basically the rank up system for the online. Every so often you will receive a challenge, for example, down 9 enemies with headshots and you have 3 matches to do it. Failing it could either mean losing clan population, or succeeding could mean gaining a nice boost.
It's these little things in the game that greatly enhance the experience. You'll end up pretty addicted to trying to complete challenges, trying to unlock items to equip on your loadouts, and communicating with your team to win the match.
This is seriously one of the best games you can possibly play, one of those true gems that it's a shame it had to come right at the end of the PS3 lifecycle. Naughty Dog created a story where you will care about the protagonists, it has a serious tone and isn't about cracking a bunch of jokes as he foils the bad guy, it's a story about a flawed man given a task few could accomplish. And when that final scene fades to black, it will make you question everything you did to get there in the game.
+ Mature themes handled well
+ Incredible story with well designed characters with facial expressions that make you truly feel the pain
+ Good balance of not having enough ammo or supplies, but being able to make it through to the next area
- Loading takes awhile
- Minor AI issues here and there
Overall Score 10/10