Yes, this is a video game review. Yes, this is not a video game website. What of it?
Every now and then, a game or film comes along that it seems like everybody loves. Natural sceptics (such as myself) are normally lead to believe that this is some kind of crazy marketing shenanigan – How does something get 10/10’s across the board? How can something be that good? We live in a world where paying somebody to make your product look good is probably far easier than actually making a good product in the first place. With this in mind, it’s quite clear as to why so many people were sceptical about the incredible critical reception The Last of Us has been receiving.
The game follows Joel (Dominic McDermott‘s doppelgänger) and Ellen Page (or Ellie, whatever you want to call her… we’re sticking with Ellen Page.) The two must work their way across a dangerous, zombie infested wasteland to reach a firefly hospital to reverse engineer a vaccine for the infection, because Ellen Page appears to be immune to the virus.
Right off the bat, you’re probably in awe at the staggering originality of this plot. A zombie apocalypse? What a revolutionary and fresh concept, clearly this ‘gaming’s Citizen Kane’ claim is not in vain.
Honestly though, given the un-originality of the base concept and some of the scenarios, the story really shines due to the brilliant chemistry between the two central characters. The two are fantastically developed throughout the course of the game, leading you to really care for them as if they were real people. Much like The Walking Dead, the story’s strengths are in the beautifully written characters that inhabit the somewhat un-orginal world.
The gameplay has had to take a slight hit to allow for such a character driven story, but that’s not to say it isn’t good. The stealth sections are brilliant, tense and require a certain amount of skill to pass. Yes, the AI of enemies and friendlies alike is a little poor, but it never halts gameplay or gets in the way. This is an aesthetic issue more than anything.
There are certain points in the game that are overly scripted, and a little too ‘Uncharted‘. 80% of the game wants you to conserve your ammunition and use stealth to advance, but certain parts force you into situations in which you have to just flush away your ammo to progress. It’s clear they have done this to keep the game interesting and exciting, but really it just turns the game temporarily into a cover-based shooter. The problem here is, the controls and gameplay are not as tight as most other shooters (yeah, yeah, because it’s realistic) which can make these sections become a real chore.
Setting aside these few sections, the atmosphere is almost unrivalled. It’s a rare game in which you can walk through a completely empty building for 20 minutes and have nothing happen – and it not be boring. When the infected do finally show up, the tension rises to near fatal levels as you sneak around attempting to remain undetected. The experience is not necessarily scary, but it definitely is a pulse raiser.
Overall, the game is just brilliant. Is it gaming’s Citizen Kane? Well, it’s hard to say as I don’t really like Citizen Kane, but honestly I don’t think The Last of Us deserves an accolade such as that, given what Citizen Kane really did for cinema. The Last of Us truly is an amazing and unforgettable experience, but it’s not as revolutionary as many people would have you believe.
Verdict: Like waking up to go to work, only to realise that it’s Sunday (8/10)
My face when playing: