After having played the one zombie apocalypse title after the other; The Last of Us seemed to be yet another far stretch in the same genre… so I gave it a wait.
Soon after release, I realized that I was a bloody fool not having ordered it to start with. This game just exploded, and ripped all charts to pieces. But… THE PRICE!?
I had to scavenge the one webshop to the other to find a decent price. Anyway, the events that followed were pretty embarrassing and, well, it took a while before I got my copy in the mail…
As soon as you start the game, knowing a little bit in the back of your head what this game is about; you already mentally start to limber up, like that one important little warm-up session in the movie Zombieland.
Anyway, no spoilers. After an extremely emotional and heart-pacing intro – the game really starts…
Protagonist Joel – a grumpy, unshaven man with a conscious so cold, you’d need to wear a couple of sweaters to actually start feeling comfortable with his presence. But he has his clear reasons – he is a torn man with absolutely nothing to lose.
The world as we know it has been attacked by an extremely hostile fungi virus, that have infected people’s brains, and have made them savage killers. The ones longest exposed are the ‘cutest’ looking ones. Joel lives in a military quarantine zone, protected by soldiers. Joel works as a smuggler. Together with a fellow accomplice they go ‘outside’ and trade people for food, guns or other merchandise to survive. Clearly something goes haywire in the process, and Joel eventually finds himself stuck with Ellie – a clever-mouthed teen girl with a great attitude. You can’t avoid falling in love with her character. They now embark on a journey that will suck you in, kick you in your ass and makes you stop breathing at certain points…
The graphics and sound effects + music score in this game are amazing. Controlling Joel is a pleasure. Certain enemies you encounter are blind, and can only ‘see’ by sound. Crouching and pushing the analogue stick full speed ahead will give your position away, whilst pressing gently will make you move more slowly, but then completely silent. Joel has a special listening talent. When you enable this ‘listen mode’ the screen turns black & white, and every enemy / NPC in the room that is making noise will light up. Very handy in very dark areas where a flashlight will mean certain death (unless the enemy is blind, of course). You’ll find enough items scattered around, though, to distract these foes. You have to take advantage of your surroundings, like a true survivor.
The game also sports a nice crafting feature, which will allow you to craft bandages, Molotov cocktails, shivs and also weapon upgrades. Throughout the game you will find a large variety of items, e.g. rags, scissors, alcohol etc. Collecting these items will make it possible for you to create those necessary items. As you progress, you will be able to sport more stuff. Working benches will allow you to upgrade your arsenal – extra weapon holsters, firearm upgrades for better accuracy, more firepower, clip size – you name it.
I finished the game in approx. 20 hours because of my obsession in turning every rock upside down to find items and other hidden collectables, but your first run should take an average time of 12 to 14 hours. I really thought this game was intense, even though the only thing that really bothered me, very often, was that I had no bloody idea where I had to go next. NPCs usually lead the way, but sometimes you’re led to figure your own way out to the next phase of the area. One thing that also struck me as quite a bump, is that your fellow NPCs can run freely around those blind enemies without triggering any type of alert. As soon as you step on a twig, you’re toats. I otherwise have heard both positive and negative things about the online-play.. haven’t tried it yet.
If you like survival games, where senseless Leroy Jenkins tactics are not very helpful, with a very good story and game mechanics: I can heavily recommend this game.