Game of the Year: “The Last of Us”

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The Last of Us had quite a few expectations to live up to after being nominated for game of the year. With titles preceding The Last of Us including Uncharted 2Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3, and other greats this game had plenty of expectations to live up to. Naughty Dog Games has not disappointed in the recent past. With such blockbusters as the Uncharted series and the Jak and Daxter series, this company has been setting the standing for video game greatness the past few years (and for all of those who can still remember Naughty Dog also did the Crash Bandicoot series). There weren’t many surprises when The Last of Us took away top honors on many of the game of the year lists.

The good news is that Naughty Dog has produced another amazing game with their release of The Last of Us. Gameplay is super easy to pick up even for the most novice video game player, but also delivers a lot of surprises for the more experienced player. I enjoy the ease of the use of the controls. A simple X or Δ will suffice for the most complex or simple of actions. The aiming system is just the L1 and R1 buttons and requires little time to acclimate. I wouldn’t consider myself a person who plays shooters but I found no problem with the aiming controls. While most of the controls are pretty straightforward, it takes a little more time to master them. Guns are a simple weapon to master but if you really want to take control of the game it is going to take a little bit of time to perfect the use of the bow and arrow. The little things are truly what makes this game great. Mastering a bow and arrow is going to be harder than a gun and therefore it is harder in the game. The level of detail here is amazing.

I could probably gush over the gameplay detail all day (compare the above picture with the one seen here) but my praises would surely take away from the true crowning achievement of the game, the story. The game starts with the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and an outstanding cut scene that sets the tone for the rest of the game. However, none of the other scenes will be a disappointment. Think of Metal Gear Solid type cut scenes (without the extreme length). The overall story involves Joel and Ellie’s quest across the country in search of a certain group of people. They encounter many zombies, ne’er-do-wells, and other obstacles along the path. The post apocalyptic America is a inhospitable place. You’ll have to play the game for yourself to see the trials and tribulations they these two endure. This is a game that should be nominated for some type of “best drama” movie award. The story never disappoints and each cut scene is better than the last. I would say that even if you don’t consider yourself a “gamer” you should still run through The Last of Us on easy just for the story.

Some of the greatness of the game also lies in the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ellie, who only knows the post apocalyptic world, points out a fashion poster at one point in time. She asks why the model is so skinny despite the fact that food was plentiful during that time. Joel remarks that people starved themselves just so that they could look good at the time. Ellie deems that as “stupid.” It’s just little touches like that that make the experience all that much better. Analyzing how society would change in apocalyptic circumstances is a little detail that adds another dimension to the game. Ellie also comments when they come upon an ice cream truck when traveling. Joel says that the truck would play “creepy” music and kids would follow it to then buy ice cream. Ellie doesn’t even believe that his story is true. It’s interesting to look at everyday occurrences for us in a different light.

Overall, this game will not only go down as 2013’s game of the year but one of the best games of all time. I hope that Naughty Dog keeps the trend up for future games. If so, we have a lot to look forward to with releases of new consoles and even better abilities. So long, and happy gaming. Beard out.

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