Month: August 2014

Review: The Last of Us: Remastered

Returning to 2013’s Game of the Year

            Collecting awards left and right including over 200 Game of the Year awards, Naughty Dog’s juggernaut of a game, The Last of Us was truly a watershed moment in videogames. The game which was in development for over 4 years even took home the official DICE Award for Game of the Year as well. Making it the official game of the year for 2013. Which justifies the reason why Naughty Dog, the games publisher would decide to remaster it for the PS4. Hitting the next gen expectations of 1080p and 60FPS, the game now runs better and looks even better than before on the PS3. The game which sold over 7.5 million copies was the bestselling new franchise last year. In summary the game was in the top ten most bought games last year and was the only console exclusive game to do so. Many traits and elements made this game into the wonderful experience gamers enjoyed, each one essential to how successful it was, therefore allowing Naughty Dog to remaster it.

When most adults first think about video games, games such as Call of Duty or GTA, they probably only see senseless killing with hardly any backstory or story at all, which in fact is true. Those two franchises thrive on gameplay and recycled mechanics. This is where Naughty Dog took the first step to immerse the player in this post-apocalyptic America where the game takes place. The Last of Us takes place 20 years after a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus spreads and turns into a pandemic which eventually consumes the entire world. The fungus when infecting a human host slowly over the course of 2 days turns the host into essentially mindless cannibalistic monster, sort of like zombies but there is a catch. Over the 20 years since the outbreak the fungus has found out during gameplay has begun to emerge from beneath infected skins. Eventually spores and fungal shells begin to emit from the hosts skull, forming what the people in the game call, Clickers. Clicker use echo location to seek out the player who controls Joel, a male from Texas who is in his late 40’s when the game takes place. This goes into further depth in the game, but I don’t want to spoil the whole story but the rest of the backstory about the outbreak is revealed to the player in cut scenes and collectibles found throughout the game that detail the previous events, truly immersing the player in the world.

Gameplay in The Last of Us is brutal to say the least. In some cases the infected are the least of your worries as you journey west across the U.S. with a 14 year old girl named Ellie. (Won’t spoil why you are tasked with going west) As it turns out other survivors who are scavenging to survive will attempt to kill the two of you out of pure survival. This puts the player in a dangerous kill or be killed scenario. So while being under the constant threat of other survivors and infected the player will scavenge for weapons and supplies that can be crafted into med kits, nail bombs, Molotov cocktails, etc, anything useful that can help you survive. What makes this game truly feel like a post-apocalyptic world is the fact that all of these items, including bullets are extremely scarce. This forces the player to not waste anything, and make every shot count.

Into further gameplay regarding combat The Last of Us is a truly brutal game, being forced to construct crude weapons from various scrap metal makes hand to hand combat intimidating and dangerous. Few games go into the displaying brutality it takes to actually kill someone, such as Call of Duty, or Assassins Creed where the player merely swings their sword or knife in a quick swipe killing the enemy almost immediately. Yet in The Last of Us, the player realizes right off the bat that it isn’t a simple task, and honestly the developer’s nailed the realism behind the melee combat, war and survival of the fittest isn’t a pretty thing. And the brutality in the combat displays this, for example the player as Joel may swing a club, with spiked metal at the ends at an attacker, which is then proceeded by several brutal strikes. The relentless nature behind the combat is draw dropping to say the least and truly makes the player question their morals in the game. Even in other games where the player may simply snap an enemy’s neck, The Last of Us pushes towards reality, as choking someone out isn’t a fast or pretty thing to do. It takes 4-8 seconds to slowly choke someone out as they struggle, the attention to detail regarding facial animations is slightly disturbing and once again makes the player question their actions as the enemy struggles and takes their last breath.

Yet as I said earlier this game isn’t all violence and brutality, what makes The Last of Us stand out is the fact that it was able to portray a story unlike any other franchise in its medium. Taking full advantage of cut scenes, player interactions and items, the game itself feels like a movie. The cut scenes alone clock in at 203 minutes, not one of them wasted in this deep story. To match the story the game has character who also have much depth to them. Joel voiced by the veteran voice actor Troy Baker, who voiced Booker Dewitt in Bioshock Infinite, The Joker in Arkham Origins and many more games including the main antagonist of Far Cry 4, truly brings the gritty Texan, Joel to life. When interviewed by IGN Troy Baker stated that Joel is “purely a survivor, who has few moral lines left to cross.” This sums up Joel in a short manner, yet there is much more to him as the player will discover later on in the game. Ellie, who is voiced by Ashley Johnson, is a girl who never knew the world without the pandemic or crippled society. She simply wants to survive and without going into further detail is paired with Joel to go on a journey which I once again won’t spoil why. All that I am willing to say is that these characters in the beginning hate each other for various reasons and don’t get along to the slightest degree. Yet as life or death situations occur and their survival begins to depend on each other, we the player begins to notice a sort of father daughter relationship between the two characters which for a video game is the best transformation I have yet to see. These two character begin to only trust each other and genuinely will do anything to see the other survive.

In summary The Last of US: Remastered is an incredible refresher to the almost perfect game. The new graphics that are possible thanks to the PS4 are quite noticeable, especially the lighting in the darker areas of the game. The textures which on the PS3 looked fantastic yet seemed muddy in a sense are now crisp and clear, well-polished in a better sense. This games Remastered version gives me high hopes for the now current gen consoles capabilities. So if you missed out on The Last of Us on the PS3, I highly recommend this game, as it in my opinion was one of the best games of the last console generation.

If you are on the border when it comes to purchasing this game, you can watch my full 10 hour play through in the link below.