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Letters from the Front

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( Editor’s note: I have finally gotten around to picking up a Playstation 4. It took me a while to come upon a decision but I finally did it, it took me almost to the midway point of this generation to pick one up. I will most likely use the PS4 as just an exclusive machine to play games like Spider-Man and God of War. After all the talk about The Last of Us, I decided to actually play it and see for myself. So, here is my first impressions of The Last of Us. I’m about 5 hours in. Enjoy!)

The Last of Us is a gem of a game. In many ways, I feel like The Last of Us is akin or similar to a very good book that has a gripping plot that’s not only original but also is inspired by novels like The Road and movies like The Book of Eli. Often times, I am reminded of The Road as it presents a very similar situation to that masterful piece of literature. The reason why I say this is because the plot of The Last of Us never stops, it never ceases to pull you out of it’s grasp, it’s like a very good book that happens to pull you into it’s pages.

No wonder why everyone raves about The Last of Us. I feel like it’s Playstation’s best exclusive since Uncharted, it is a remarkable game. The United States is a pandemic-ridden nation filled with dangers, and filled with the stories of different survivors that you come across. The five hours that I got to spent with the game are the most memorable five hours of a game I’ve ever played since the beginning of the original BioShock, and I bet it’s going to get better with each passing hour as I continue on this linear adventure across a United States that’s in ruins.

Joel is the protagonist of the game, he’s a tired and grizzled surivivor who happended to see alot of things in the course of his lifetime. He takes on several odd jobs, acquires food, shelter, and basically anything that we would do in a scenario like this. He does what’s necessary to keep alive, his own survival is the utmost importance over someone’s else.

He’s a man whose occasionally haunted by the memories of his past, he has a sharpness about him, but also can be tender-hearted, which he occasionally tends to display towards Tess, his partner in crime you can say. In the five hours I got to experience this fascinating game, I came to care about Joel and I became invested into his story. Not alot of videogames can often say that, he does what’s necessary and I must say he’s good at what he does. It’s either him or them, it’s a dog eat dog scenario and I’m already pulling for him.

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Joel is a riveting character, I feel like his character only comes once under a blue moon in videogames. He has a certain depth to him that makes him not only relatable but also makes him a special kind of character, as riveting as Joel is, he’s not the only character that shows depth and of consequence in this game. You can say he is the main character but he doesn’t steal the show, that belongs to his companion of sorts, Ellie. Joel makes a business decision at the very beginning of the game to help transport Ellie to her destination and help her get across what remains of the United States, the United States is a wasteland filled with horror and beauty that only such settings can provide. From there on, the two are basically inseparable, even if Joel doesn’t like Ellie or vice versa, they’re forced together in a world where trust and faith in people don’t exist anymore.

As the adventure continues, they develop some sort of friendship as their experiences bind them as they travel through what remains of this broken world, Ellie is the type of character that you don’t see coming and by the end, you end up rooting for her. In many ways, her success means that you’re successful. The interplay between Joel and Ellie is one of the great highlights of the entire game, the voice acting is excellent, the world building is interesting, but the graphics of TLOU makes the game shine the most. Everything becomes more memorable because your surroundings are believable to a point. You can believe it because there are abandoned cities, overgrown trails and abandoned small towns and forests, the earth is slowly reclaiming the land. TLOU is pretty to look at. The gameworld is full of small details like Audio Diaries and letters from survivors that you’ll never get to see. Realism. The game kind of demands that you explore everything because you’ll never know what you’ll find.

Combat in The Last of Us is kind of weak, although it’s tense and nerve-wrecking but it’s kind of weak. I like the stealth portions of the game, when you stealth kill a room full of clickers and zombie type enemies it’s satisfying. The game is more stealth-oriented then the games I’ve previously played, the shooting mechanics aren’t the best I’m afraid, the shooting mechanics doesn’t feel as tight as I would hope for like in other games. It feels wonky and uncomfortable, the Hunting Rifle feels right but weapons like the Shotgun and the pistol feel wonky, not sure if they were aiming for that or if that’s just me but they don’t feel as tight as other games. I wish they improve on this. Joel carefully can listen to his surroundings which also gives him glimpses of enemy locations in his surrounding area, it’s useful but I kind of don’t like it as that kinda ruins the realism that the game is trying to strife for but luckily that feature is completely optional.

Stealth in TLOU is beautiful, it’s uncomfortable to witness as you’re kind of forced to watch Joel shiv an enemy in the neck and listen to him gurgle on his own blood or when you watch an enemy swat his arms at Joel unsuccessfully as he strangles him, it’s uncomfortable but real. TLOU does combat a little bit different then other games, every life you take is unique and not only alive but also feels human. There’s something there that most action games don’t offer, perhaps it’s the emotion that you’re not only killing people that look like you but also killing off the zombies who were once human just like you.

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Now, I see all the raving about The Last of Us. It’s campaign is incredibly well-done even 5 hours in, it’s a sort of story that the medium can only tell, it’s a sort of story that says that videogames can do better in telling stories. It is slowly becoming one of my favorite games ever.

Even 5 hours in, The Last of Us sets the bar high for videogames and it has join the likes of BioShock, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and others as the best of all time. Check out my review soon.

 

 

 

 

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