The Last Of Us is a third-person action game where the player, in control of grizzled survivor Joel, must guide young girl, Ellie, through a Zombie infested post-apocalyptic nightmare world in order to reach The Fireflies - a ragtag outfit who stand up to the seemingly corrupt military. In this world, threats are everywhere; both from the living - the looters, the gangs, the crazies - and the dead. These are no normal living dead Zombies though. A fungoid-virus has taken hold of those once living and addled their brains, causing them to turn on their fellow man and eventually even sprout spore-spreading fungal bodies out of their flesh, ready to spread the infection even more. No one is immune, everyone will die and get back up, a pathetic puppet of a microbial master. However, when one girl is bitten and does not turn, the world changes once more. That girl, that last great hope for humanity, is the girl under your care, Ellie, and you must do everything possible to keep her safe.
After hearing great things about this PlayStation-exclusive Zombie game, I decided to take the plunge, purchasing the required 4th generation console. I am so eternally glad I did as the hype for this game, the rave reviews - it is all totally justified. The game is simply fantastic. For a start, the visuals, animation and sound are spot on. Objects seem to have a real weight to them - when you pick up a baseball bat and swing it at someone, when it connects, the victim doubles over, staggers back and lets out a pained gasp of air. The guns also provide a realistic kick, causing enemies to react in believable ways when hit, taking cover if bullets fly too close. To be honest however, you'll soon learn that stealth is the best approach for the majority of situations, especially when facing the blind Clickers - Zombies whose heads have been grotesquely deformed by protruding fungal growths, finding their pray bat-style with echolocation. The story though is probably, and quite surprisingly, the real winner. To begin with, Joel sees Ellie as a waste of time; her immunity leading to the manufacture of a vaccine to save humanity, nothing more than a pipe dream. As the game progresses, the characters grow on each other and by the end, the emotional rollercoaster punctuated by dubious characters, murderous infected and hostile bandits, has made them nigh-on inseparable. There are two minor failings though; the levels are all very linear with set ambush spots where infected or bandits will show up, I never really felt like I was in a true post-apocalyptic world where anything could jump out at me at any point. The Zombies too felt underused, a bit non-threatening unless encountered in already alert groups. Still, these small hindrances are eclipsed by the sheer joy of playing a game that has won more than a biblical 240 Game of the Year awards. Buy this game, buy it now!
Sony Computer Entertainment