Written By: Luke Mythen
Distributor: Sony Computer Distributions
Production Company: Naughty Dog
Directors: Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann
Scriptwriter: Neil Druckmann
Main Cast: Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Annie Wersching, Merle Dandridge and Jeffrey Pierce
Released: June 14 2013
Platform: PlayStation 3
Running Time: 20+ Hours
Back in 2012, Naughty Dog released a teaser trailer for their newest game away from the hugely-successful Uncharted series, The Last Of Us. This created huge excitement within the gaming community, as Uncharted is now one of the most highly accredited games on the market. The idea of ‘Naughty Dog’ and the end of humanity had a nice ring to it, and many were left hoping that they could knock this one out of the park and deliver us something special. I personally bought the game out of interest, not because of anticipation or excitement. I saw the reviews, and they convinced me to take a gamble and spend £40 on this game.
The beginning of the game is one of the greatest to date. I have never been so attached to characters for the game to take me in a completely different, more emotional direction. This is what Naughty Dog are experts at: creating characters you really care about and attach to. I am not going to give away any spoilers in this review, but be prepared to have your emotions taken in different directions. The story revolves around the main protagonist Joel (Troy Baker) and his journey from being a single father in Texas before the outbreak to him being tasked with looking after a young teenage girl called Ellie (Ashley Johnson) and travelling across America. We are taken through different stages of the year as the story progresses from summer, through winter, into spring and back to the summer again. Ellie has been bitten by the infected, but she isn’t infected or affected by it. The Fireflies, a group outside of the law, want to make sure she is safe because she could hold the answer to the future and survival of the human race. This is Joel’s mission. Along the way, you will meet up with new characters like Joel’s brother, the former Firefly Tommy, and brothers Sam and Henry. It is a fascinating story that will leave you wanting more every time you stop playing; it is one of the most addictive stories I have ever had the pleasure to watch and play.
With so many standout features, it is hard to speak about them one by one. That being said, I cannot write this review without discussing the graphics. The game was released roughly six months before the launch of the PlayStation 4, and this game could easily be a launch title for that console (although it did come to the PS4 in 2014), which is how highly I rate the graphics. The game is visually stunning; the lighting and mood that it brings is something special only to this game. The character models are brilliant: Ellie looks the identical twin of Ellen Page (Inception, 2010), and Joel looks like a tired, sad, old man, where you can tell the years have not aged him well.
The gameplay is a carbon copy of Naughty Dogs’ other franchise, Uncharted. The shooting and aiming are similar and work well. I didn’t struggle with aiming or shooting, which in a game where that is necessary is a good start. The physical fighting is where this game really excels: the fighting feels fresh, violent and bloody, as each punch connects with a crack of the bones and each swing of your bat connects painfully with the infected. The ability to craft medic kits and new bombs really add a sense of desperation when finding certain items, as you have to choose between more power and more health. All this added up creates a real sense of achievement when you complete a certain point in the story when ammunition is low along with health. The voice acting is equivalent to what you would see in an animation film, it is that good. Troy Baker is known as one of the best in his field, and this has to be his strongest performance to date.
Overall, in a gaming world that is saturated with post-apocalyptic games, this is something really fresh and something I have been personally waiting for. It takes everything good about Naughty Dog and puts it into an environment where this really excels. This is, hands down along with Grand Theft Auto V, the reason why 2013 gaming ruled!
Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding