We all have opinions. Sometimes they’re in unison, this is one of those times. reReview is where we voice those opinions. The Last of Us was released earlier this year to much praise. Now that some time has passed, let's see if TLOU is looked as favorably upon. To checkout Darkstation’s official score for The Last of Us, read Joel's original review of it here.
Grade inflation in video games has made me hopelessly cynical when it comes to approaching the latest and greatest 5-star, AAA, 10/10, A+++ game that gets glowing reviews from every corner of the internet. That is why I was so delightfully surprised when I played through The Last of Us. It is the first game that has, for me, lived up to its hype in years. It is everything that it is billed to be, and then some.
The Last of Us has gotten a lot of praise for its visuals, story, and characters, and with good reason. They are all top notch. That discussion has almost done the game a disservice though, because it causes people to overlook the game’s intense shooting and wonderfully refined stealth-action gameplay. Through its resource scarcity, The Last of Us is the first stealth game that I have played in over a decade that makes stealth critical for survival, and not just a meta-gaming choice. The resource scarcity also makes exploration meaningful, and it makes the game’s “loot” (i.e. ammo and crafting components) valuable. Finding loot is, ironically, more fun and satisfying than it is in most loot-based RPGs.
And then, there’s the wonderfully paced campaign. The Last of Us takes a page out of Half-Life 2’s book with its feeling of being on a long, action-packed journey. No one area ever overstays its welcome, and there are many opportunities for downtime where you can take a deep breath, stock up on supplies, and interact with some characters. The game’s visuals are incredible too, not that it needs them. If it were a mediocre looking game, it would still be the best game that came out this year.
I stand by my review, I believe The Last of Us is not only one of the best games of this year but of this generation. The story alone ranks as one of the best in video games. The heartfelt dialogue, the quiet moments, the intense quickfire banter in distress all helps connect the two main characters. For me The Last of Us is a game that kept me thinking about it weeks and months after I got done playing it. And after I get through all of the holiday backlog I look forward to joining back up with Joel and Ellie and reliving one of the best adventures I’ve ever played.
There is no doubt that Naughty Dog can make a good action video game. The Uncharted series stands as the best trilogy this generation has seen. What draws me to their games is not the gameplay (which is just fine) or the graphics (which are incredible). Instead, its the relationship between the characters in the story. This is, without a doubt, what Naughty Dog does best and The Last of Us is a defining moment in the company’s history. Joel and Ellie have been infused with more heart and soul than any other duo and their interactions with the survivors of the dead world feel completely genuine. Naughty Dog also knows how to effectively get an emotion out of people and that's what makes the game so compelling for me. From the shocking and tragic opening to the last scene’s punch to the gut, the game is filled with moments great and small that pulls you into its world. All this makes up for what I felt were gameplay shortcomings. Stealth mechanics get tedious after awhile and the impatient gamer in me wanted to blast everything in sight instead of taking such a methodical approach to combat. The gameplay isn’t bad, it just something I wasn’t looking for.
Our thoughts laid bare, tell us what you thought of The Last of Us? How did you feel about Joel and Ellie's dynamic? Would you rather have TLOU 2 or Uncharted 4 next? Let us know in the comments below.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.