What’s Killing My Social Life This Week – The Last of Us

What’s up my Evil Geek Indoorsmen and Indoorswomen, it’s been a while since we’ve chatted about gaming, so it’s high time to fix that problem.  Your Friendly Neighborhood C-Mart is swinging your way with a brand new review of a game that’s been hyped as the “Game of the Year” by numerous gaming authorities.  In a world completely over-saturated with zombie movies, games, tv shows, etc. The Last of Us is a late to the table entry in the genre by Naughty Dog, the company behind the blockbuster Uncharted series,  At this point, we’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to zombies, so if you want to knock our socks off, you’re going to have to bring some original ideas along with some incredible writing.  Can The Last of Us bring something new to the game?  Let’s get dissecting and find out!

The game starts out in an unnamed town somewhere in Texas.  You start out playing a Sarah, a young girl who’s awakened in the middle of the night by a particularly loud explosion.  She searches the house for her father, Joel, whom she is unable to locate. Judging by the looks of things, Joel took off in a hurry.  As you search the house for your erstwhile parent, you get the eerie feeling that something just isn’t right.  When you finally locate Joel, he’s in a panic about something that’s going down.  Before you even have a chance to find out what’s happening, one of your nosy neighbors shows up and interrupts.  It should be noted that this “interruption” consists of the now zombified neighbor crashing through the glass door of your patio door.  Joel quickly dispatches the menace and the two are soon on the move, along with Joel’s brother Tommy.  The situation rapidly deteriorates as you drive through the town, trying to escape the chaos.  Escape though, isn’t what’s on the menu this evening.  Once the trio arrives at the outskirts of the town, they are greeted by an Army soldier who’s clearly under orders to kill anyone trying to leave.  in the ensuing hail of gunfire/civil rights violation, young Sarah ends up meeting the business end of an AR-15 round.  Cue the opening credits.

the-last-of-us-2You find out through the news reports played over the credits that the sudden state of anarchy has been caused by a mutated fungus called a Cordyceps. The mushroom, no longer content to be a pizza topping or recreational psychedelic vehicle, emits spores that infect the brains of small animals at first, but then it mutates to be able to infect humans, where it slowly takes over control of their body turning them into ravenous, fast-moving zombies.  The story fast-forwards 20 years into the future, where we find an older, grizzled, Joel still surviving in what now passes as a city.  He’s been living in the quarantined zone all that time and is now involved with a younger woman named Tess.  The two are business partners in some unspecified shady venture, but it’s not really clear if there’s anything more to that relationship.  A group of outlaws (or freedom fighters, depending on who you ask) know as the Fireflies are being hunted by the military soldiers responsible for enforcing the quarantine.  Joel and Tess end up crossing paths with the leader of the Fireflies, Marlene, after chasing down someone who had robbed Tess earlier.  Through a series of misfortunes, the encounter ends with Marlene handing Joel and Tess a young girl named Ellie, who must be smuggled out of the city.  The duo aren’t told the reason for the importance of her saftey, but it’s clear that there’s something special about Ellie.  Marlene asks them to take her to a safehouse, where she can then later be transported to where she needs to ultimately get to.  In exchange for the task, Joel and Tess will be given a large cache of weapons.  During the course of the journey, you find out that Ellie is infected with the Cordyceps spores after being bitten, but for some reason she has survived three weeks since the bite without turning into a zombie.  The safehouse turns out to be not so safe and they find the Fireflies they were supposed to meet all dead at the hands of the military.  Without revealing too much of the plot, after this I’ll just say that it’s up to Joel to make sure that Ellie arrives safely to her destination, because she may hold the key to a vaccine for the Cordyceps infection.

The Last of Us sets itself apart from the rest of the games in the genre in a host of different ways, with the biggest differentiator being the gameplay.  When you thing of zombie games, you probably think of the Left 4 Dead series or even the now run and gun Resident Evil games.  You envision taking down hordes of zombies with shotguns that magically never run out of ammo.  The Last of Us plays with a more realistic angle, where guns and ammo are scarce.  You can pick up melee weapons along the way or fashion them yourself: boards, pipes, shivs, etc. but just like in real life they will break after you use them for a while.  You’re constantly mindful of what level of response each enemy you encounter requires, because you might only have 3 bullets left in your gun or only two strikes left with the pipe you’re carrying.  Perhaps you have a brick nearby that can be used to smash in the mushroom sprouting skull of your attacker?  It’s not a non-stop action fest like the games I mentioned earlier or the zombie modes from Call of Duty, it’s strategy more than anything.  Can I sneak around this enemy or do I have no choice but to get into a fight?  You won’t be able to save the world carrying the same 2 x 4 for the whole game, nor will you be able to best an entire zombie horde with nothing but your fists.  Joel is a very human character, so you won’t be able to take endless punishment without paying the price for it.

last1 Another one of the aspects of the game that sets it apart is the quality of the content.  The Last of Us is by no means an action shoot ’em up, which is in no way a bad thing.  I would even go so far as to say that it’s more of an interactive movie than a straight up video game and again this doesn’t take anything away from your enjoyment of the game itself.  There will be action sequences; one of may favorites of the game so far is when you’re playing as Joel, hanging upside down while ensnared in a trap.  You must shoot the zombies advancing on you and protect Ellie while she is trying to free you, all while hanging by your feet, so the aiming controls are reversed.  The gameplay and the story itself are a refreshing break from the norm when it comes to the zombie genre, but the aspect I was completely surprised to find that I enjoyed so much was the acting.  The characters talk like people would actually speak, they convey tone and emotion all without sounding cheesy or hollow; it’s like they’re real people acting out a scene and not just digital replicas of them.   In the debate of whether or not video games can be art, The Last of Us undoubtedly chalks up as a point on the Art side of the argument.  I can’t stress enough how phenomenally acted out the story is.  The realism of the graphics is also something that needs to be seen to be believed.  I’m playing on a PS3, a console that is nearing the end of it’s life as the top tier of gaming, and I can say that I’ve rarely seen games look this flawless even at this advanced technological state.  The Last of Us is most likely one of the final “Great” games of this current generation of consoles and there absolutely couldn’t be a more fitting swan song.  It’s enjoyable as a game, as a film, and as a work of art, so this one is absolutely getting a recommendation from me.  I’ve been concerned about the lack of stand-out, must play games lately; for a while I even thought I was losing interest in gaming itself, but really it’s just because of the drought of games that have interested me.  It felt like I was playing the same games over and over again, just with different skins, but The Last of Us has broken that rut for me.  DEFINITELY check it out!  That’s all we got for today Evil Geekites, but we’ll be back soon with some more reviews of the stuff that’s currently killing our social lives!

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FInd out what ELSE has been killing my social life…



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About C-Mart

A true Marvel Zombie, die-hard George Romero fan, Star Wars addict, Whovian, and life-long gamer. I make with the Tweets @CMart0979

Posted on August 10, 2013, in Features, Geekology, Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great write-up, I loved this game (played through it twice already), and it’s definitely in my top 10 of all time.

    • I’m actually still playing it through for the first time. I’m at the hospital in Salt Lake City so I THINK I’m near the end. I’m loving this game so much, but I’m laying in small increments every few days because I seriously don’t want it to end.

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