I'm reviewing The Last of Us. It's a game exclusively for the PS3, and if you have a PS3, I highly recommend buying this game and giving it a try. Even if you don't have a PS3, I'd say that shelling out the money for it just to play this game would be worth the money spent.
I'm going to try to do this by spoiling as little as possible.
First, I'll start with the "simple" stuff, because as soon as I start talking about the story, I'm going to blabber forever. I know I will.
Fantastic, A+++ graphics. They are mind-blowingly beautiful. Even when it comes to the dark, desolate parts/areas of this game, the graphics still somehow manage to be beautiful. The transition between gameplay and cutscenes is smooth, and even the animations during the fight scenes is really really good (you get to choose to be up close and personal with enemies, and the animation for finishing moves is wow).
I mean, really, guys, take a look at this:
The scenery is breathtaking. Often, it helps to set the mood of the situation. And sometimes while I was playing, I couldn't help but stop and admire the surroundings, even with dozens of infected rushing at my character (usually resulted in me getting myself killed but hey).
Your character(s) can die in various ways throughout the game, too... if you don't do things correctly, that is. Death scenes in this game are brutal in general. Lots of blood splatter and lots of gore. Very appropriate for the type of game it is.
The composer has this wonderful way of taking one song and changing it up a little to create something entirely different. The music can be beautiful, and it can also be heart-wrenching, and it can also make you even more tense than you already are while playing. I don't know what else to say except each song definitely compliments/completes what's going on in the game at the time it plays.
A little bit like the Fear series. One thing, though: ammo is scarce, so use it only when you absolutely have to. Using your gun(s) alerts other enemies to your presence, which usually makes getting through a certain scene/level more difficult than it has to be. Of course, you can go rushing in with your guns blazing and your lead pipe (to beat the shit out of folks) at the ready, but I don't recommend it.
If you want to come out of fights without using a health pack or two, I recommend learning how to be stealthy and trying your best to be super patient. It's kind of easy at first but becomes much more difficult as you go on. Stealth kills are your best friends, and when those are impossible, use the damn bow and arrows to your advantage. There's also these lovely things called molotovs and, a little later on, nail bombs. They may not always save your ass entirely, but they'll give you enough time to run the hell away, hide elsewhere, and regroup.
I'm neither patient when it comes to combat, nor great at being stealthy. That changed when I started playing this. It's possible to go through this game with the gung-ho shoot them all approach, I suppose, but again... I don't recommend it. There are other methods at your disposal--methods which do not use precious ammo (which I promise you will need towards the end of the game). Use those methods.
Or don't. It's entirely your choice. XD I, however, tried to be as patient and stealthy as I could be (it became very difficult sometimes).
Sometimes, bricks and bottles are your best friends. Distracting the enemy is often the key to getting out of a fight alive.
You wind up with a good amount of weapons at your disposal if you go out exploring, and the upgrade system reminds me a little of Tomb Raider and/or Dead Island. You use supplements to upgrade Joel's maximum health and listen mode distance and weapon sway. These are all pretty important. You can also craft weapons like nail bombs and shivs and melee weapons and molotovs. You can craft health packs as well. Melee weapons break after so many uses, which is understandable.
Sometimes the AI is a little wonky. Also, it's amazing how the zombies never see Ellie despite the less-than-graceful running around she does. You can definitely be spotted, though, so when there is a need to stealth through an area, don't get cocky.
Even though I got frustrated with this game at times (not the game's fault--my own for not being able to keep from getting caught), I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was very, very fun.
This trailer doesn't even begin to cover the depths of this game:
No single description of this game can even begin to truly describe it. I can say that it's a zombie game, which is kind of true, but also not. I can say that it's a survival game, which is true, but also not fully the truth. This game is emotionally-driven and character-driven, and most of the story takes place during the non-interactive cutscenes. The voice acting is flawless, and to give props to the animation of this game once more, I will say that years of unspoken words are shared through mere glances and you know what is being said even when it's not being said at all.
This game is about two people who don't quite fit together, but they really do. You have Joel, a nearly-middle-aged guy who has been given the task of smuggling a girl, Ellie - a fourteen-year-old girl who has been bitten but cannot get infected - to a group of soldier=like and revolutionary-like individuals called the Fireflies. Your enemies along the way are the military, the infected (zombies), and bandits. There are others, but I'm trying not to spoil anything here.
Despite the zombies, this story is very human. Very directed towards your emotions. If you have played this game and you did not get teary-eyed, cry, rejoice, and get incredibly angry at certain parts, you are either a liar or you have no heart whatsoever.
Naughty Dog does not hesitate to rip your heart out, either, right from the very beginning. This is in the intro, guys. The intro:
(It's a bit long, but worth the watch).
This game does not shy away from death, which is one of the main reasons why you're left worrying about Joel and Ellie.
And the funny thing? Joel is not the most moral person in the world. The game doesn't neglect to remind us of this several times. He's killed innocent people in the past, and yet you sympathize with him. As he grows to love this little girl and she grows to love him, you start to root for them. This is Joel's second chance to be a father, and despite the shit you know he must have done after he lost Sarah, you still want the guy to be happy. To take care of Ellie.
Ellie does some growing up of her own during the course of this game. She proves more than once that she can handle herself, but you still want Joel to protect her anyway. I think she still wants him there too, even when she doesn't necessarily need him to be.
By the time you reach your destination, realization hits you full-force, and it's terrifying. It's that shadow that's been following you around this whole time--the "what if this happens?" Joel is left with a choice, and for what it's worth, I honestly think he made the right one. People are throwing around words like "selfish", but I don't think it was really selfish at all, per se. I guess it all depends on how you look at it.
The ending is definitely a bit of a cliff-hanger, but that's okay, really. I hear it's going to be a series, and if it is, I can't wait.
Beautiful, heart-wrenching, sob-inducing, sometimes-dismal (and then uplifting) game. It's about love. It's about family. It's about sticking together and enduring and surviving. It's about loss and it's about friendship. It's about the loss of innocence and it's about second chances. And oh, there's zombies, too.
I give this game a 10/10. Hands-down the best game I have played in a really long time, if not the best game I've ever played, period.
"No matter what, you keep finding something to fight for." - Joel.
Now I have a mighty need to have a Joel and Ellie layout. I think I'll get started on that.