If you have been hiding under a rock with plugged ears singing lalalalala you may not have heard of The Last of Us taking the gaming world by storm with some even seeing it as Naughty Dog’s Magnum Opus. And yeah, you could even get away with saying that because having played it; I’ll admit it is pure awesomeness in disc form. Having been waiting over a year for this game, it had a lot of hype to live up to and it does, it really does. The plot, the absolutely stunning artwork, the voice cast, the look of the characters, their personalities, the enemies, and so on and so on. However for what is meant to be gaming perfection, there is still much that I found lacking in what this game could have brought to the table. Just to be clear these are niggles that I have and does not mean that people shouldn’t buy this game. You should. In fact if you haven’t you are either mentally diseased or an Xbox player, for which you have really, really missed out.
Firstly is the story-line. You should know this since it has been out for nearly a month and the bare-bones plot line even before that, but I’ll run through it quickly. Its twenty years after a cordyceps-like disease starts plaguing the human population, with only heavily controlled government areas, nomads and small independent settlements left. You are Joel, a hardened survivor who has been around since before the infection and have been given the job of transporting a young 14 year old girl called Ellie to a resistance movement called the Fireflies, literally symbolising that they are the last light of hope against the darkness of infection and government tyranny. As the story progresses, it turns out that Ellie is immune to then infection and so the necessity of keeping her alive is known as the Fireflies seek to create a vaccine and save the surviving remnants of mankind.
Although this story-line works well within the context of what is happening in the game, I almost felt like putting the game down when this was announced in the first few scenes of the game. It feels like a bit of a cop out. With such an imaginative concept as to what would happen in cordyceps-fungus affected humans like it does for insects, you would have thought that the story writers would have come up with an equally imaginative way to do the whole “cure mankind thing”. In fact, they could have even left that aside and done the game purely as a “we must survive” thing with no feasible hope in the future, with perhaps only vague whispers of hope in the background which could have made continuations for this game more feasible. But no, there must be a cure as the driving force of the game; it has what has come to be expected from games in apocalyptic settings which is sort of a shame. Although this concept of “cure mankind” is done masterfully well, a little voice in the back of my mind keeps saying that another, more imaginative concept would have done much, much better for the game as a whole.
Secondly, the AI for your support characters when you are trying to stealthily get past enemies is about as dim-witted as. Whilst you cannot make so much as a loud breath, the AI support character can stand and run about, thumping past the enemy infested room without them so much as batting an eyelid. Seriously, sometimes it sounds as if they are wearing lead shoes in order for you to deliberately shit yourself in fear of the enemies hearing, or possibly seeing you support characters. However if you should make a noise that is slightly louder than a mouse’s yawn, bullets start whizzing overhead or the infected start charging towards you as if you are some sort of all you can eat buffet. Furthermore, they can be seen in the open by the enemy without them reacting in the slightest whereas if you have a knee out of cover you are instantly spotted. It really does throw the stealth aspect awry in this game when the need for stealth in the AI characters does not apply, whereas for the playable character it is the only option one has unless you go in guns blazing, which would most likely lead to a bullet through the fact or a clicker (infected enemy) at your throat.
Next on the agenda is the issue of infected patrolling an area. Now I understand human enemies patrolling areas they control. That makes sense. They control an area; they need to protect it against intruders, so they patrol it. You don’t expect to see relaxing humans in this sort of dystopian apocalyptic game. That is fine. However, infected patrolling an area? Really? I mean, they follow an arbitrary line or circle that they keep doing over and over again, i.e.: patrolling. But they are infected. They have lost all cognitive function to the infection, or at least to the best of my knowledge they have. So why patrol and area? When I bought the game, I expected random movements with infected going wherever the hell they wanted. They can remain in a cluster, but can move around as they please instead of maintaining the same route all the time, and since there are varying forms of infected enemies, their movements can vary due to their infections. And yes, I know they do that in the game, but their movements are still predetermined by patrol logic.
The final thing that annoyed me was, in a weird way, the amount of weapons you could carry. I know I shouldn’t be complaining about the amount of weapons because in a game like this you really need all the weapons you can get your hands on, but the fact that you can carry so many weapons takes some of the realism away from a game that strives to be as realistic as it can within the scope of what it was trying to achieve.
I have gone on way too long about this game, a game which by rights is absolutely awesome and a nice twist on the whole zombie apocalypse genre which has been done to death (very bad pun) in both games and movies in recent years. It gives you the sense that this could possibly happen in the real world. I hope for more games to come out in this world, though none for Joel and Ellie. Their story is finished, even with the anti-climactic ending…spoilers.
9.5/10 – Not a 10 purely because of the niggles.