Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Leaden Finger Gamer’s Review: The Last Of Us

‘The Last of Us’, a shooter/adventure/puzzle game revolving around yet another ‘zombie’ apocalypse, is one of the best reviewed games of all time. I was therefore very curious to see it, and see it all the way through, which I recently did – on walkthrough. Yes, in the case of this game review my gaming fingers were so leaden that I did not even play the game at all.

Actually, watching ‘The Last Of Us’ on walkthrough is I feel one of my better ideas. The game is only available on a PlayStation, and since it is unlikely that I will buy one of those just to play the console exclusive titles I thought: why not just watch the whole thing on walkthrough? I can then see the whole story, and without any of the stress of dying and whatnot. (I could take this even further: ‘Red Dead Redemption’ may be next on my ‘watch list’.) Anyway, it’s not like I was doing completely nothing: I used my time watching the walkthrough to do some jogging (when I was not settling my newborn daughter), so as the main character Joel was running about I felt like I was running with him, even if I was doing nothing else.

For those unfamiliar with the game ‘The Last of Us’ takes place following a pandemic that infects most of the world’s population. You mainly play as Joel – a tough middle-aged man tasked with escorting a young girl named Ellie who holds the key to saving the human race. You face off against many enemies; naturally the infected people, but also many crews of uninfected people who are not at all sympathetic to your plight.

By the title I thought that people would be few and far between in the game, but actually there are quite a lot of people that you encounter, with the military having taken control soon after the virus broke. More of the action also takes place in cities than I imagined, rather than deserted woodland. And those infected ‘clickers’ are damn fast – not at all the slow-moving zombies than one might expect.
The game was also larger than I was expecting – much larger. It feels like ‘The Walking Dead’ blown up and blown out, and makes that game feel like the small, 2D game that it actually is. It also reminded me of ‘Batman: Arkham City’ in that it takes a lot longer than you expect to get where you are heading to, particularly in the scenes in Pittsburgh.
Still watching ‘The Last of Us’ as a walkthrough probably gave me a somewhat different experience to actually playing it. Really, it hardly felt like looking at a game at all. Because the game is quite realistic and cinematic in style, and the person doing the walkthrough obviously knew what they were doing it felt very close to watching a movie, where the gameplay blends seamlessly into the cut scenes. I did not get a sense of how much your character actually dies if you play it.  That absence of possible failure may also be part of why it seemed to me that there were a few too many combat scenes.
Nevertheless you can see why this game rates near the top of many people’s all-time lists. The story and characters must rate amongst the best to ever appear in video game form. I am glad I sat/jogged through twelve hours of it; perhaps even more than if I had actually played the damn thing. 

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