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The Last of Us -- Quickly becoming my favorite game ever.


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#1 Francis Buck

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:39 PM

EDIT: For those that has played and beaten the game, please put spoiler tags on anything regarding the ending, at least for now. I really don't want to get spoiled before beating it, and I've managed to dodge several close calls on other sites.


So I got my copy early (it comes out tomorrow, officially), played a good amount last night and some earlier today. I want to talk about it, because it's fucking amazing, and it deserves its own thread.

As some may have noted, it's already one of the most well-reviewed video games in history. I would not say that those reviews are at all exaggerated.

For those that don't know, The Last of Us takes place twenty-years after a fungal infection (cordyceps, that nasty stuff that turns ants into zombies, has been fictionalized to take over humans) has mostly destroyed civilization. You play as Joel, and you have to "deliver" a teenage girl (Ellie) to a rebel group across the country, dealing with pseudo-zombies and humans along the way.

Here's a trailer.

Oh, and the music is by Gustavo Santaolalla, who's kind of a goddamn genius.

Now, I was pretty fucking hyped for this game. It purported to be at least attempting some sense of realism, especially in regards to the character interaction and the violence, and its inspirations are all things that I love (Cormac McCarthy's body of work had a large influence on the creators, supposedly). Also, Naughty Dog has a pretty decent track record when it comes to telling a serviceable story with some very well-done (if not exactly innovative) characters and fantastic voice work. So yeah, I was pretty psyched for this game, and I didn't know if it would live up to the hype. But it did (or at least it has so far).

I'm maybe nine hours into it, and the game is supposed to be about fifteen-to-twenty hours total. I'm just going to go over a few bullet-points.

- Graphics are amazing, plain and simple. Animations in particular are really great. The world itself is stunning. If you've ever seen one those "what-would-earth-look-like-if-humans-suddenly-disappeared" documentaries, then you have a pretty good sense of the gameworld.

- Sound design is ABSURD. I'm playing this on headphones, and the detail is just amazing. The brilliant clicking noises the zombies make (along with their pained howling) is creepy as fuck. It's also kind of terrifying when you walk into an abandoned house looking for loot, and then hear muffled banging and grumbling noises coming from upstairs.

- Combat is actually rather unique. It's a mixture of stealth, gunplay, and melee. For those worried that this would be a bit like Uncharted's sort of "auto-pilot" style gameplay, fear not. I'm playing on hard, and you seriously have to think about how you're going to tackle every encounter. Ammo is scarce, as are supplies (needed to make health kits, smoke bombs, shivs, etc.). It's also much, much less linear feeling than Uncharted. I mean, it is still linear, but instead of feeling like you're going down a pretty-looking hallway, in the TLOU there are these big, open areas with lots of little nooks and crannies you can sift through (and you will want to, because you need those supplies if you want to survive your next encounter). In addition, your character's skills and weapons can be upgraded, RPG style.

- The writing so far is great. It's a little predictable, and there aren't really many fresh ideas per se, but the dialogue and character interactions are absolutely phenomenal. They may genuinely be the best I have ever seen in a game. The dialogue is all very natural and organic, and the voice acting is, again, the best I have ever heard. Troy Baker (who played Booker in Bioshock: Infinite -- and who sounds completely different here) is incredibly talented, and so is the girl playing Ellie. It's similar to Uncharted in that these characters aren't especially original; the tough, grizzled veteran and the wise-cracking, foul-mouthed teenager. But again, much like Uncharted, it's the writing and voice acting (and the animations, both for facial expressions and body language) that raise them above the tropes. They feel like real people, not video characters.

- Music by Gustavo Santaollala (had to say it again, he's literally one of my favorite guitarists).

There really aren't many negative things I can say about it. Guns don't quite have the kick that I'd like them to. The human enemies almost border on being a little bit bullet-spongy, but not quite -- and it's nowhere near as bad as Uncharted. A headshot with any weapon is an instant kill. The melee combat is awesome. It's brutal as hell and very effective, and incredibly dynamic. Several hours into the game and I'm still seeing new animations and context-sensitive takedowns.

The artificial intelligence goes back and forth from being some of the best I've ever seen, to hilariously bad. I'll be in a firefight against three guys, and they'll use smoke bombs, distractions, they'll flank me, realistically call out orders and talk to each other, etc., and it's all incredibly tense and exhilarating. Then ten minutes later, when I'm sneaking around, a guy will spot me as I slip behind a crate, and he'll come after me until I throw a bottle in the opposite direction and then he totally forgets I exist (this is isn't super common or anything, but it does pop up here and there). Also, the enemies do not react to Ellie until you yourself have been spotted. This is understandable, since otherwise the stealth elements would become insanely frustrating, but it definitely breaks the immersion from time to time.

So yeah, overall this is honestly becoming one of my favorite games of all time, and I'm just about half-way through. Virtually every element of the experience is perfect: graphics, audio design, music, writing, voice acting, shooting, stealth, exploration. It's all spot-on.

It also has one of most incredible "prologues" to any game I've played, period. It will undoubtedly become a classic opening, joining the ranks of Half-Life and Bioshock.

Edited by Francis Buck, 13 June 2013 - 11:32 PM.


#2 Ramsay Blow

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:01 PM

That's quite the review and praise. I'm sold...

#3 Francis Buck

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:10 PM

Honestly it was weird even writing it, because it felt like I was just overpraising the shit out of it or something, but it's just how I genuinely felt about it.

It's funny, 2013 has had two separate games (this and Bioshock: Infinite) that have absolutely blown me away, and they both involve escorting a teenage girl for the better of the game, and both have Troy Baker playing the main character, and both developers cited the A.I. and characterizations of their respective NPC companions as being the games' most significant and innovative features. But as much as I liked BS:I, I think I prefer this. I can't say for sure until I beat it, but that's my gut reaction right now. The main thing I'd say BS:I had over this was a much more original storyline. Other than that, TLOU pretty much beats it in every category for me.

#4 NestorMakhnosLovechild

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:13 PM

Plant.

#5 Francis Buck

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:43 PM

Plant.


Ah yes, the oft-coveted ASOIAF-Nerd demographic.

#6 NestorMakhnosLovechild

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:51 PM

Ah yes, the oft-coveted ASOIAF-Nerd demographic.


I don't even know what that's supposed to mean!

This game looks great though. Naughty Dog doesn't have many misfires in my book, and the Uncharted series has been one of the shining gems of this generation.

#7 Francis Buck

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:01 PM

I don't even know what that's supposed to mean!


Lol, just a dumb joke about Naughty Dog putting plants on a forum dedicated to ASOIAF, of all things.

But yeah, the Uncharted games are great, although they're surprisingly polarizing. People either love them, or hate them for the fact that they're so linear (thus my comment about them having sort of "auto-pilot" gameplay). I really hope that the people who didn't like Uncharted don't blow off this game because of that, since the two truly have very little in common, aside from the storytelling and production values (which are probably the best things to have in common with Uncharted).

#8 DemonKing

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:19 PM

I'd love to give this a whirl but no PS3 = no Last of Us for me.

I'm hoping one days soon my oldest son will start nagging me for a console and I can justify buying one, but it won't happen for a while I fear.

#9 funkymonkey

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:33 PM

Just finished the game. HUGE props to naughty dog for taking a risk on such a bold ending. Don't think I've ever seen any developer do an ending like this. Reminded of a Coen Brothers ending.

#10 NestorMakhnosLovechild

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:36 PM

Just finished the game. HUGE props to naughty dog for taking a risk on such a bold ending. Don't think I've ever seen any developer do an ending like this. Reminded of a Coen Brothers ending.


Well that was fast.

#11 BLU-RAY

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:37 PM

I enjoyed this Grantland piece about it. Makes me want to play the game, and I don't even own a console, nor have I played anything but various Halo games in forever.

#12 Ferrum Aeternum

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:51 PM

This looks amazing both in concept and execution, but disappointing it's PS3-only at release. Needs a PC version pronto.

#13 Ser Rodrigo Belmonte

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:12 PM

Yes it definetly needs a PC version like Bioshock infinite. It's time naughty dog gave PCs the fucking respect they deserve. I'm also waiting for RDR to come out on PC..

We need a critically acclaimed game that's PC only, then console gamers will know what it's like..

#14 Ser Rodrigo Belmonte

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:13 PM

Also graphics and environment(major plus points of this game supposedly) 200 times better on PC. The AI would probably be better to..

#15 Triskan

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:24 PM

I think the title alone is incredibly intriguing. I kind of regret that I didn't become a novelist or a screenwriter that wrote an epic called The Last of Us before this game came out.

#16 funkymonkey

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:34 PM

Well that was fast.


Don't get me wrong. The game was quite lengthy. And very satisfying.

I have to say this game probably has hands-down the best melee combat I've ever tried in a third-person game (with the possible exception of batman arkham city, but that game is more martial arts type melee combat, whereas this is more "smash hobos with clubs and tire irons" combat). Very brutal and visceral. Also, if you have a surround sound system, make sure you turn it up. The sound design in this game is unbelievable.

#17 Jabronius Maximus

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 12:13 AM

I'm gonna grab this game first thing in the morning. Clinic is being renovated so I've got a shitload of free time to dump on this game.

@OP, did you try out multiplayer yet? It seems to have a solid one according to reviews, but I'd like to know a user's take on it.

The title seems fitting, seeing as it's probably the ps3's swan song. The last of the great first party games as we fall to the zombie infested ps4 (mind you, very powerful zombies capable of streaming their cannibalistic action to one another).

Edited by Barristan the Boss, 14 June 2013 - 12:14 AM.


#18 Pliskin

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:14 AM

This looks amazing both in concept and execution, but disappointing it's PS3-only at release. Needs a PC version pronto.

Yes it definetly needs a PC version like Bioshock infinite. It's time naughty dog gave PCs the fucking respect they deserve. I'm also waiting for RDR to come out on PC..

Naughty Dog is a Sony studio. You won't see any of their games on Windows.
It's like asking Microsoft to develop a game for PS3 or Wii...

#19 The Anti-Targ

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 06:20 AM

I'd love to give this a whirl but no PS3 = no Last of Us for me.

I'm hoping one days soon my oldest son will start nagging me for a console and I can justify buying one, but it won't happen for a while I fear.


No excuses. If the Mrs (or co-Mr. hey modern families and all that) needs some convincing you can show her/him some youtubes of fun, family friendly Move games, and then accidentally forget to buy Move.

I enjoyed this Grantland pieceabout it. Makes me want to play the game, and I don't even own a console, nor have I played anything but various Halo games in forever.


So you've named yourself BLU-RAY ironically? /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />

#20 Werthead

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 08:08 AM

We need a critically acclaimed game that's PC only, then console gamers will know what it's like..


We've got quite a few. However, most console owners don't give a fuck about StarCraft 2 or Crusader Kings 2 /smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /> The only recent PC exclusive game I've seen get a lot of interest in from consoleland has been DayZ.



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