The Last of Us Review: A Story of Stealth and Scavenging

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Published by 6 years ago , last updated 6 months ago

Posted on June 14, 2013, Phil Hornshaw The Last of Us Review: A Story of Stealth and Scavenging

Update: Though Game Front received an early copy of The Last of Us for review, at that time, multiplayer was not accessible — and thus, without reviewing the full game, we felt it was unfair to assign it a final score. With the game officially released, we’ve had time to test the multiplayer portion. You’ll find the multiplayer discussion, as well as the final score, on Page 4.

Early in The Last of Us, protagonists Joel and Ellie are searching their fiftieth or so abandoned apartment for broken scissors and rubbing alcohol — among the most important and abundant supplies of the apocalypse, it seems — when Ellie begins making weird blowing noises.

“What’re you doin’?” Asks Joel, as he opens yet another empty drawer some designer put there just to f–k with the player.

“I’m trying to whistle,” Ellie returns. “I don’t know how.”

Then Joel attempts to demonstrate proper whistling technique — and finds that he can’t whistle, either. The two wander the room for a second, blowing and producing nothing but the sounds of bits of spit flying through the air.

Moments like this (which I’m paraphrasing from memory) happen quite a bit during The Last of Us, taking place between major set pieces or the game’s primary, stealth-combat action sequences. They’re by far the best moments in the game. They are what makes The Last of Us a game worth your attention.

And yet, you may well miss them. One of the major flaws of the game is that The Last of Us so often directs your attention elsewhere with the busywork of endlessly scavenging for supplies, and too many combat scenarios with too few variations.

The Last of Us often is a great bit of storytelling — but a lack of cohesion means it sometimes feels like gameplay is hindering that story, not helping it.

The Last of Us
Platforms: Playstation 3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony
Released: June 14, 2013
MSRP: $59.99

Since story is, quite obviously, the major draw of The Last of Us, it seems appropriate to discuss it first. Set in a post-apocalyptic version of the United States in which exists a fungus that can turn humans into creatures that are ostensibly zombies, it follows the story of a smuggler named Joel who lives in a walled-off quarantine zone under military control in Boston. There, he engages in all manner of illicit activity, not the least of which is sneaking around chest-high obstructions, strangling his enemies to death. This is not a nice man.

Joel is pretty much Cold-Blooded Lee Everett Who is Okay with Murdering People.

It’s not long before Joel accepts a job from the Fireflies, a group of radicals dedicated to … something. As a nationwide group, they seem to be angry about the functional police states that the quarantine zones have become in the 20 years since the outbreak began, but it’s never really clear, nor is it narratively important. We do know that the military authority and the Fireflies are fighting, and the Fireflies, in a desperate moment, enlist the grizzled Joel to take 14-year-old Ellie out of the Boston QZ to meet up with an escort group elsewhere in the city.

Things take a somewhat-predictable turn soon, though: The escorts are dead and Joel ends up being Ellie’s caretaker. They cross the country in an attempt to find the Fireflies’ headquarters, and in so doing, get in a lot of adventures along the way.

Really, the various events that take place in the interim are fairly standard for post-apocalyptic stories, and seasoned fans of this sort of thing will see the twists coming a long way off. In fact, the story will likely remind many players of last year’s The Walking Dead from Telltale Games, as it has a similar premise and hits a lot of the same beats. In simplest terms, Joel is pretty much Cold-Blooded Lee Everett Who is Okay with Murdering People.

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