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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed By: Naughty Dog
Genre: Action
Players: 1 (2-4 online)
Rated: M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language)
Release Date: June 14, 2013
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy NOw!
Written By: Marcus Prunty

July 29, 2013 - Never have I looked forward to playing a game as I did with the Last of Us. Ever since I saw the video of Naughty Dog presenting their game at E3 2012 I wanted to get my hands on this game and experience the visceral and beauty that this world contains. As I learned more about the actual narrative of the game I was even more impressed with what Naughty Dog had up its sleeves. Makers of the Uncharted franchise Iím very aware of their ability when it comes to crafting a story as well as creating the most realistic environments imaginable. The Last of Us is PlayStation 3ís best game and exclusive to date and after reading this review you will understand why itís a must have, a must play, and an experience you must have.

The Last of Us narrative is about the United States being overtaken by a pandemic, a disease that has destroyed everything and made a wasteland out of the world. You play the game as Joel; a hardened survivor who remembers the days before the collapse of society but understands the world he lives in now is not those days. He, like many of the other people who live post infection, have to take on odd jobs to get food, clothing and shelter to survive. Each passing day, each passing week, and year this gets harder and harder and you can tell as supplies gets scarcer people have to get more ruthless to survive. Itís a you versus them mentality that you have to develop. If you donít protect yourself someone will kill you to have what you have, and to survive you may have to kill them as well. From the opening moments of the game you will be bonded to Joel and you will root for him to survive and make it and that feeling you have will carry you through the whole game.

Taking place in the year 2033, 20 years after the infection begin spreading. There are flashbacks and moments that Joel experiences that make you recall things from our own times. Itís interesting to see how the world has crumbled around Joel and how he has had to evolve to stay alive; whether thatís stealing or killing people. Itís not his fault; itís the world he lives in now. Never had there been a protagonist like Joel where no matter how dark his story gets no matter all the vicious and brutal things he does your right there with him hoping he makes it through.

A little way into the story Joel meets up with a resistance fighter named Marlene who wants him to escort a girl across the country to other members of her group. That girl Ellie is truly remarkable and impacts Joelís life greatly. In a world where no one really trusts or believes in anything other than the other person will screw you over to save them. The pairing of Joel and Ellie was one of uncertainty and doubt. As they travel together you see a somewhat father-daughter bond that can best be described as dysfunctional. Ellie is a wise cracking foul mouthed kid that you will come to love and understand. Hardened by being born and living in this dystopian environment she has a complete lack of knowledge when it comes to the world before it collapsed. So when she experiences things like movie posters and dogs you can see the wonder and the innocence that she should always have. There are several conversations that she and Joel have during these moments where he explains how things were and answers her questions; these moments strengthened their bonds.

The voice acting in the game is top notch. Joel and Ellieís banter back and forth immerse you in the game as you are definitely paying more attention as they interact. When you meet other survivors along the way and interact with them all of which pull you into the game. The graphics coupled with the voice acting and sound make this game amazing. The Last of Us makes Uncharted look like a game; thatís how much realism there is in this game. The environments around you make everything more believable, more moving. The dense and lush landscapes are overgrown from where nature has taken back the land from humans. Cities and towns are abandoned and full of silences and mystery as they crumble from neglect. Scattered throughout these environments are notes, letters, and voice recordings that detail and give you an insight to other stories of survivors and what happened to them or how the disease affected their lives. The amount of beauty surrounding you is often overshadowed by imminent threats of death and violence.

Combat is what this game is about, surviving the long journey across the country with Ellie. Since items are scarce you canít run and gun like youíre playing Call of Duty or any other shooters. Sometimes you have to think, skulk and use stealth kills in order to survive and save some ammo and supplies. Once you get pretty good at doing stealth kills, they become your preferred method of attack. However, when you mess up, the intense battles become annoying as you as have to waste the ammo or another weapon to kill someone/something. Stealth kills give you that visceral feeling as they are all up close and personal. The feeling you get when you step behind someone and grab them and choke them out as you watch them struggle to break free as the life drains from their body. Or the moments where you sneak up behind them and stick a shiv through their throat and the blood gurgles out of their throat as the life drains from them. You feel it in your gut that you just murdered them as you lower their bodies to the ground.

Each kill has weight; means something in the grand scheme of life and the game. You had to do what you had to do to survive. Crouching and using the R2 button lets Joel use what I call his spidey hearing and gives you a glimpse of where the enemies are in your nearby area. You are able to map out which way you want to go to avoid the enemies or engage them. I can understand the hardcore players who think this is cheap and unrealistic and if your one of those peoples you can turn that option off or just not use it. But I will tell you later on in some of the towns you go to, you will need this option or your frustration level will go through the roof.

While the enemies I was describing before were the human survivors you encounter, there are also the inhuman monsters you will fight as well. The fall of society and the world was started by the Cordyceps fungus that attacks the human brain and this infection changes the people inside and out. These infected people can in turn infect others by biting them and in some cases breathing which releases spores into the air; that once breathe in by a healthy, infects them. The infected enemies attack with ferocity and recklessness that isnít seen in the human enemies in the game. the humans will plan and plot and do their best to not end up dead. The infected just attack once they know where you are and I will admit it can be terribly frightening when there rushing you.

There are different versions of the infected Ė Runners and Clickers Ė you will come into contact with. There are the Runners who do just that run all over the place once they see someone to attack. These enemies can be taken out with firearms and melee strikes. Pardon my French but oh my fucking god the clickers!! The Clickers; on the other hand, are the infected that are the most dangerous and will haunt you majorly. Their bodies have been riddled with by the Cordyceps fungus for so long that they canít even see, blinded by the infection they make clicking sounds as they use sounds to pick up where you are and they wander aimlessly in the dark. They can only be killed by silent shivs, which mean you sneak up behind them using stealth and you stab them in the neck with the shiv or with firearms. If you use firearms make sure your aim is good because if you donít get them your dead instant game over. They are the biggest threat in the game as they can be 2 feet from you and youíre hoping they donít sense your presence and you can sneak on by them or shiv them.

The game can probably be beat in 12 hours or so but it took me around 20 in my first play through. The game is ripe for exploration as you will want to experience every inch of it that you can to look for various collectables that help enrich the story. Besides exploring the environments to find collectable, you will also need to find supplies you need in order to survive. And with these supplies, The Last of Us has included a crafting option that will allow you to make use of these items. From making health packs, to Molotov Cocktails, to smoke bombs, and nail grenades, or shivs to stab enemies with as well as making attachments for melee weapons. You have to think when using the crafting option because some of the items like alcohol and rags can be used to make either a health pack or a Molotov Cocktail so you have to decide what you need more at the moment or in the future. Also crafting happens in real time so when youíre making these items you are also leaving yourself open to attack, so make sure to do this during lulls in action or in a safe spot or you will die. All these items are scarce so make sure you scavenge the environments when you can and grab what you can as it will help you out down the line. Your crafting choices will greatly impact your game and adds a dynamic that makes surviving that much more interesting.

Joel can also upgrade himself and his equipment to aid in his surviving. Pills and other supplements are hidden throughout the game. They can increase his hearing ability, crafting ability, health, shiv durability and other options. But you have to be choosey because there isnít enough medicine to fully upgrade him in one play through. So you need to decide whatís best for the way youíre playing. Also your weapons can be upgraded as well using gears, parts and tools you find on your journey. You can use a bench and make pouches so you can hold more weapons at once, you can upgrade fire rate, clip size, damage and other things. Like the medicine used to upgrade Joel, you wonít get enough parts in one playthrough to upgrade all your weapons so stick to upgrading the weapons you use a lot and you should be ok. This is another tactical part of The Last of Us you have to plan out. You need to know what weapons and upgrades are important to you and will help you survive and beat the game. But if you want to see how badass Joel can be play, through the game again with the New Game+ option and you should be able to fully upgrade him if you scavenge enough.

As I write this review Iím in the middle of my second playthrough so you will definitely want to play it again. Naughty Dog also made sure to include a pretty deep multiplayer mode, which before I played it, was thinking it will be basically like Uncharted but no they actually scaled it back a bit so that it fits in with the story and the post-apocalyptic United States. There are small player counts and only 2 modes that harkens back to the story in the campaign. One of the modes is called Factions where you choose one of two sides - Hunters or Fireflies - and within that mode are two sub modes called Supply Raid and Survivors. In Survivors you have to play virtually the way you did in the campaign stealth and brains are your friends. There is no health regeneration or respawns if you die your dead. Supply Raid on the other hand is where you have to lower the other teamís life count. Your team is given a certain number of lives that are shared amongst the team so you have to be careful and think because once the lives are gone the match is over. Also in Supply Raid you can craft items from items you find on the map. In this iteration of multiplayer Naughty Dog went with a stronger connection to the story then they did with Uncharted which makes it feel like a true extension of the original game. the other aspect of multiplayer is your clan, while playing matches and gathering supplies your clan gets bigger and stronger. All of the modes involve humans, there is no co-op mode or horde more or mode where you can play as infected but Iím sure if Naughty Dog wanted to they could add it via DLC.

The Last of Us is amazing. Itís so deep and immersive that when someone makes the statement that this is the best PS3 game out; that truly means something. Especially considering all the exclusives that Sony has that are amazing like the Killzone series, Uncharted, heck even the likes of the God of War and Infamous games. The Last of Us outshines them all with its gloomy exterior and its take on what survival would be like for the human race when an infection runs rampant and changes the landscape of humanity. Your connection to Joel and Ellie will develop and you will feel for them and want them to survive. Their journey across the country and encountering all the hunters and infected who try to kill them makes you tense and questioning everything around you. the lush environments and overgrown vegetation is a stark contrast to the crumbling decaying buildings that once housed civilization. The haunting sounds of the clickers as you crouch and try to move past them, the huddling in the corner crafting a Molotov cocktail so you can get by some hunters all of these things make you alive and give you a sense of urgency. This game is a true masterpiece and just thinks I left out a huge point of why are Joel and Ellie traveling across the country. Go play the game and find out itís definitely worth it.


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