Developer(s): Naughty Dog
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertaiment
Director: Bruce straley & Neil Drukmann
Writer(s): Neil Drukmann
Composer(s): Gustavo Santaolalla
Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Release: WW June 14, 2013
The Last of Us is not a very imaginative post-apocalyptic zombie game as far as its plot and narrative is concern, the common tropes of this stories are there in spades and more often than not one would wish the developers have come with a spin on them, in the end this gripe is not enough to sink the story nor the game as a whole thanks to solid directing and design in the visuals, level progression, resource management and combat.
The game is divided in four seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring) over the course of each season you will introduced a variety of levels, puzzles, enemies and challenges all of which come together to provide enough variety to avoid making the game feel stale and repetitive from a gameplay perspective, it also helps that the locations come with distinctive visual flavors, structures and aesthetics.
Combat is well balanced, you are given just enough ammo and crafting materials to deal with the clickers (the game’s zombies) and human foes but not enough to force your way through without applying and thoughts in your action, generally game is at its hardest when you are surrounded by lot’s of enemies so being careful with encounters and taking them down individually is adviced and this where stealth mechaniques come into play which work surprisingly well thanks to the open enough levels, while not filled with dozens of routes they do have well placed obstacles, covers and paths to that you can take advantage of to kill without wasting resources.
For a game with an post-apocalyptic setting there is a lot of silent moments in the game, moments where there is no inmediate danger and the story moves at a more calm pace, this is not necesarilly a negative as it provides some breathing room between the more blood pumping tense encounters with enemies and the character interactions & developments that take place before and after them. The only part where most could find the slow pace annoying would be the in the first season as the game can take between two and three hours to introduce most of its mechaniques as well as exciting challenges but after that the game follows a more even pace.
The Last of Us shows promises and delivers on the interactive experience but, as stated in the beginning, the game falls short on its narrative. It is not bad per se, the game does its best (with a lot of success I might add) to make endearing characters, making us care about them and showing with brutallity how dire situations can get but, it is hard to ignore how straight the game plays with popular tropes of this kind of stories and how often it repeats some of them (the most common being how out of nowhere and without warning danger scalates up to 11) and not providing different enough twist or take on its narrative. Despite this shortcoming the game still manages to execute them with great result and pay off to be at the very least entertaining and effective.
All in all, in spite of its narrative shortcomings the game is totally worth playing thanks to well polished levels, crafting, production values and presentation. Is it a must have? For its level of polish alone, yes. Botton line, this is the most (or one of the most) polish game you could ask for.
RATING: A- (Just a bit short of being amazing)