The PlayStation 3 may be nearing the end of its life, but it isn't going to go out with a whimper: the survival horror game The Last of Us was released in 2013 and sold 3.4 million copies in three weeks, becoming the fastest selling PlayStation game of all time. Does it live up to the promise of its hype?
Players control a young single man named Joel in the year 2033 in a post-apocalyptic America where zombies are a reality due to humans being infected by the Codyceps fungus. Joel is escorting a 14 year old orphan girl named Ellie, across the wasteland to meet the Fireflies, a group of humans who believe she may hold the answer to the eradication of the deadly fungus and hope to use her to rid the world of the Zombies. Although Ellie is mostly controlled by the AI, towards the end of the game the player takes control. The player's main purpose is to make contact with the Fireflies but to do so he must protect Ellie not only from Zombies, but also from all manner of enemies such as cannibals, bandits and Survivors, which are hostile uninfected humans.
Ellie and Joel are not the only named characters in the game, There is Melene, leader of the Fireflies, Tess a smuggler, the arms dealer Robert, Joel's daughter Sarah, the mechanic Bill and several more, all of which have a part to play, some big some small. Joel and Ellie's travels take them through many areas of America from mountains to plains. The game can be fairly described as one of the best looking games produced for the PlayStation 3. It creates a post apocalyptic world as many would imagine such a place to be, at worst a dark, dirty, dingy, broken down, and frightening world.
The Last of Us may have a rich story, but it is also an action packed adventure requiring the characters to fight for their life. Players have limited access to weapons such as pistols, rifles, shotguns, knives, and baseball bats, and ammo is also realistically limited, you won't find boxes of bullets just lying around. Weaponry and other useful items such as health aids can be crafted from a variety of materials, mostly everyday objects which have been used and discarded. The Balance of Power AI system gives opponents a sense of combat by hiding when approached and calling for help if needed. This sense of realism adds a lot of atmosphere to the game and makes combat more thrilling as you cannot waste a single attack as if you do so you are open to attack by dozens of opponents all too ready and waiting to take you down and infect you.
Apart form the obligatory fighting the player can explore the world around and discover all sorts of collectables and converse with other characters they may happen to meet.
The sound design is moody and evocative. There is very little music in the game, which is a very smart move and it makes those moments when it does appear that much more effective. Even the sound of your feet hitting the ground varies depending on condition of the terrain at your current location, and the moans and groans of the Zombies are haunting. The voice acting is way above average.
There is also a multiplayer mode called Factions in which the player must choose to be a Hunter or a Firefly. The players have to hold out for 12 weeks and afterwards are again free to choose a side. There is a good deal of customization in multiplayer mode and there are two game modes, Survivors and Supply Raid, each with a maximum of eight players. Supply raid is of the normal Deathmatch type where the losers are the side who run out of respawns first. In Survivors there is no respawn and rounds are won by completely destroying the enemy and the the first to win four rounds wins.
No game is flawless, but The Last of Us comes close. There are also some control issues during combat such as positioning, making it sometimes difficult to score hits. These problems are sufficient to knock its rating down a point or two. However, PlayStation 3 gamers simply can't go wrong with this game, visually and aurally it is a moody and evocative near masterpiece of a game that has so far earned some of the very best reviews.