It’s been a busy month of game playing here, with me starting and finishing Pikmin 2 in preparation for taking on the newly released Pikmin 3; keeping up to date with daily Animal Crossing New Leaf; a teensy bit more Pokemon; and starting out on the Last of Us.
I’d say I’m about a third of the way through if the approximate 15 hour first play completion time is an accurate measure. I cranked a fair bit of play in over the weekend, so I thought it was time to write a bit about what I thought of this much-hyped and highly anticipated game.
Firstly I feel it needs saying: Naughty Dog doesn’t fail to impress with its environments and character realism. The Last of Us takes the technology that bit further than Uncharted 3, and gives a beautiful (yet also gritty) visual experience. The attention to detail is fantastic; shadows, textures, lighting – it all comes together to showcase something that is almost hyperrealistic – more than reality.
The opening sequence immediately sets the tension for the rest of the game and, without giving away too much, is gut-wrenchingly emotional stuff. This is not Uncharted. Sure, it might look like it (and some of the sets definitely look familiar), but the world our protagonists live in is not the world of Nathan Drake and his wit and sass.
The game setting changes after the initial sequence and is harsh, violent and full of dramatic tension. A lot of the time you feel you are actually in a movie, but with occasionaly playable bits, and for that I feel there is a fair comparison with Heavy Rain. The dark intensity of that game is mirrored in the Last of Us. It feels like you are against the clock.
Pitched battles between yourself and enemies are ever-increasingly stressful, especially when you head into the depths of the city and have to contend with the Infected. Whilst there appears to be a decent supply of ammunition laying about, as well as other bits and pieces with which to craft items for yourself, I feel too afraid to draw the attention that would come by shooting a weapon. Best to throw a bottle to distract… something… and then creep up and shiv it in the neck.
The environments vary from roaming outside vistas where nature is taking back its space from the city that encroached upon it; to drowned subway stations full of infectious spores where you must swim in the dark to find your destination. Creepy stuff.
I’ve just finished a particularly intense, and hellishly frustrating, sequence involving a trap, hanging upside down, and having to hold off waves of horrific enemies. It took me a lot of tries to beat, given I’m not great at shooting games of any sort, and the combination of swaying upside down, while trying to get the very small reticule onto an extremely fast, aggressive and erratic moving target, tested my patience to its very limits. But I’m not prepared to change the difficulty level. I should be able to do this.
My companion, Ellie, is also giving me grief. I’m sure she’ll become less annoying later on (god, I hope so!) Too much running into the face of danger and messing up my stealth plans. Plus she forgot the golden rule of doing what I say when I say it. Good way to get us all killed, I say.
So first and second impressions, a very enjoyable game experience, promising a lot more tense and “oh fuck!” moments, amid breaktaking scenes both natural and urban. Now if only I could get some sleep. But I’m scared the clickers will get me.