The end is here, and it’s the sickest, most gut-wrenching, perversely violent hellhole you will ever love.
And I mean: You. Will. Love. It.
Next generation? Honey, forget the PS4/Xbox One war (which the PS4 will win). Next generation, for the time being, is here. And it’s called The Last Of Us.
This is a game that makes the Uncharted franchise look like an alpha test of Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour. The graphics provide more detail than Anthony Weiner on Twitter. Although much of the scenery is grim, it’s impossible not to admire the artistry that went into this epic tale.
And what, exactly, is the tale? Without providing too much in the way of spoilers, it’s a spectacularly bloody joyride through a nearly-apocalyptic future filled with humans who have, quite literally, gone viral. A cordyceps virus has stricken much of humanity, translating them into gruesome and, of course, dangerous things.
On the back of that outbreak, humanity has done what humanity collectively does best when faced with a crisis: something totally stupid. A totalitarian regime has emerged, leading us all to make the observation once made famous by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Aliens: “I’m not sure which species is worse.”
The protagonist in the story is named Joel. Picture a bearded Bruce Willis type of hardened, cynical, don’t-trust-anyone-with-a-puls e-rate attitude. In a nutshell, he’s not afraid to call someone a “cocksucker”.
The yin to Joel’s yang is a 14-year-old girl named Ellie. Joel is tasked with protecting her for reasons you don’t want to read about here, because that would detract from some of the fun of the game. The interaction and the storyline development between the two adds a satisfying depth to the plot.
Not that the plot, on its own, needed much help. Although it’s a dire vision of Americana future, the overall story is intelligent and riddled with complications that should make most Hollywood producers hang their heads in shame and ask, “Why can’t we make stuff like this?” They probably can, they’re just too lazy.
The game play, in many respects, is a standard third-person shooter. For those two of you who don’t know, a third-person shooter is when you can see your character on the screen, moving about and shooting. A first-person shooter, on the other hand, is when you can just see your hands and forearms on the screen, usually holding a gun.
However, The Last Of Us adds significant variety to the third-person shooter recipe to make it a whole new dish. Much of the combat, for example, is hand-to-hand. As one might expect in this kind of environment, it’s exceptionally violent and gruesome hand-to-hand combat. As some might joke, plenty of heads attempt to damage walls and baseball bats. People who prefer their games bloodier than their steak will not be disappointed here.
There is also a strategic aspect to this game that you won’t find in many other shooters. Joel starts the game off with a few supplies, then collects other things which can be used to “craft” new items to help him during his various combat initiatives. This is where strategy comes into play, as Joel may have to choose between creating an explosive or a health kit. In short: if you’re just a hack-and-slash jackass, then this game might not be your cup of swill.
If you’re a Black Ops 2 fan, then you might be accustomed to running around a mutiplayer, guerrilla-warfare battlefield as fast as you can so that you can get the drop on your enemies. If you try that in The Last Of Us, it is you who will be dropped. Part of the game requires you to maneuver about stealthily so that you can avoid detection. See the note above about being a hack-and-slash jackass.
The Last Of Us is a great swan song for the PlayStation 3. It’s a mind blast of biological danger set against the backdrop of police state tactics and brutality. It’s fabulous romp of teeth-clenching, hair-raising, action sequences coupled with the satisfaction of destroying numerous members of the amoral, post-human remains of biological detritus that would end what’s left of humanity.
It’s not a game. It’s an experience. And it should be yours.