“The Last of Us” Review

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Copyright Naughty Dog 2013

Joel, Tess, and Ellie traverse America’s wasteland future in “The Last Of Us.”

Joseph Rivas, Columnist

Naughty Dog’s latest title “The Last of Us” is a masterpiece, and undoubtedly one of the best games ever made as it blends visuals with raw emotion in a way that’s never been seen before.

The story of “The Last of Us” is relatively simple and quite like the plot of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Joel, the main character, has problems after losing his family and having the constant fear of losing someone he became attached to. When told to escort a teenage girl named Ellie, both Joel and Ellie are hesitant. Neither of them really knowwhy the other person is important, this type of relationship in and of itself is new. It’s a departure from the usual immediate chemistry characters have when they first meet.

The theme and setting of “The Last of Us” are superb and has one of the best and most realized worlds in terms of art direction and mythos I’ve seen since Bioshock (Irrational games, 2007). Despite being set in a post apocalyptic America “The Last of Us” feels different and somehow manages to keep itself from becoming the same homogenized setting that has been seen time and time again. This applies to the “infected” as well. Despite being zombies, they have been spared of that name, because of what they are. The “infected” are regular people, who came in contact with cordyceps spores and started to lose control over their actions. Over time, they mutated into a grotesques monstrosity that serves but one purpose, spread the spores and infect more people (cordyceps is a real thing, but only affects ants).

“The Last of Us” is not only an achievement in storytelling but also in visual quality, the breathtaking visuals are only bettered by the extreme attention to detail. Naughty Dog used performance capture, a method that records body movement, facial expression and voice over at the same time, in lieu of hand animating its characters body and face movements. This adds a new level of realism as the ingame characters can show subtle emotions and details like a slight raise of an eyebrow or a smirk. This technical prowess is absolutely stunning and hopefully will be employed in other games.

As a somebody whose deeply invested in the gaming industry and very intrigued to see where the medium goes. I found “The Last of Us” deeply refreshing and I believe it will make an indelible mark on the gaming industry and the medium as a whole as one of the most prolific games to ever exist.