The Last Of Us

Apocalypse New

The Last Of Us trusts players, and the result is refreshing.

By Ellie Gibson • June 10, 2013

So much for the theory that cockroaches are the species most likely to survive the apocalypse. In the world of The Last Of Us, where a mysterious virus has decimated the human race almost to the point of extinction, ladders are taking over. They are everywhere, breeding and multiplying and conveniently placing themselves next to ledges the main character needs to reach.

The ladder’s mortal enemy is the plank of wood. These can be mainly found in their natural habit, next to gaps that must be crossed. If only ladders and planks of wood teamed up, they might have a fighting chance against the most prolific occupants of this ravaged landscape: walls, fences, bushes, and crates that are exactly the right height for crouching behind.

The guy doing most of the crouching is Joel, a gruff, middle-aged Texan with a brow more knitted than a woolen tuxedo. He is accompanied by a precocious teenager, Ellie, whose hobbies include swearing and not being able to swim. Together, they must fight off hordes of jabbering homicidal lunatics, which they call “the infected” but which anyone will recognize as zombies. Joel and Ellie are also at risk from other survivors who have abandoned their moral principles in favor of blowing people’s heads off for a jar of Miracle Whip. Life in this desolate world is nasty, brutish, and short, and it is nigh-on impossible to get a half-fat hazelnut Frappuccino after 6 p.m.

The Last Of Us

It is not the most original premise, as Cormac McCarthy would probably agree. And to start with, this feels like Just Another Video Game, following the formula of run-hide-shoot-repeat, with occasional breaks to find ammo in lockers. But as it gathers pace and confidence, The Last Of Us reveals itself to be a refreshing and remarkable game. It is by turns poignant and thrilling, scary and surprising. It could even be described as innovative, if Sony and Microsoft hadn’t bought up all the rights to that word for their E3 press conferences.

What sets The Last Of Us apart is the amount of faith it places in the player’s intelligence, patience, and imagination. This is evident in everything from the way the game looks and feels to the way it sounds—or rather, the way it doesn’t sound. For great swaths of the game, there is no music at all. You’re left to wander through an eerily quiet world, experiencing the encompassing isolation that only comes with stillness. The effect is so powerful that it’s startling when the silence is broken by a distant gunshot or a screeching enemy.

When music does feature, it is always appropriate and understated. The score, by Oscar-winning Hollywood composer Gustavo Santaolalla, skillfully layers melancholy refrains with a Southern lilt evocative of Joel’s roots. It frames the game’s most moving scenes gently without intruding on the moment.

The Last Of Us

The sense of uneasy peace that permeates The Last of Us is enhanced by the way the characters know when to shut the hell up. Unlike so many of their video-game-hero peers, they resist the temptation to comment on everything that occurs or to remind each other of the time that thing happened that explains everyone’s relationship and all their motivations.

Neil Druckmann’s excellent script leaves room for ambiguity and counts on the audience to read between the lines. Even more bravely, it declines to provide all the answers. At one point, Ellie raises chilling questions about the enemies she and Joel (and by extension the player) have been merrily blasting out of existence. Earlier on, the issue of scavenging versus looting is addressed via a short, beautifully written exchange between two other characters. They happen to be black, by the way. The game rightly does not make a point of that. Characters are allowed to be black, female, or gay without having that attribute define them.

Along with moments of peace and pathos, there are boss battles and shootouts. And there is a crafting system: You create weapons and health kits by combining items you’ve collected. This makes sense in the context of the story—faced with mobs of bloodthirsty monsters, who wouldn’t grab all the duct tape they could find with a view to knocking up a few nail bombs? It also adds tension. Exploring an abandoned subway station in the dark is even more stressful when you’re worried about where you’re going to get your next shiv.

The Last Of Us

Although there is a linear path through each section of the game, there are plenty of shadowy corners and dead ends to investigate for those who can be bothered. The rewards for exploration extend beyond extra ammo. Entire subplots about characters you never meet are played out by way of scattered notes, abandoned possessions, and messages scrawled in blood. Following one of these trails in the sewer level, I made an awful discovery that will stick in my mind as one of the most horrifying moments of the game.

In fact, it had more of an impact than all the times I watched someone get their eyes poked in and their jaw pulled apart. The level of gore in The Last of Us is somewhat excessive. It’s gratuitous from the get-go, so after a few hours the violent deaths are no longer shocking, just unpleasant. But to be fair, this is a survival horror game, and some people like that sort of thing, in the same way some people enjoy the music of the Black-Eyed Peas and haggis.

Full credit to the development team for delivering some of the most realistic renderings ever seen of someone getting their eyes poked in and their jaw pulled apart. More importantly, credit for creating a world that feels alive even as it has been ravaged by death and decay. Crumbling buildings and rusting cars are standard issue in post-apocalyptic landscapes, but this one is embellished with touching details, like the poster for the Twilight-style werewolf film that catches Ellie’s attention. She mourns the fact she will never get to watch a movie, a poignant scene tempered only by the knowledge that at least she will never have to watch a Twilight movie.

The Last Of Us

Moments like this are made even more powerful by spectacular character animations. Once again, it’s all in the details, like the way Ellie reaches up to tighten her ponytail mid-run. The facial expressions are startlingly realistic, even if Ellie’s eyes do sometimes go a bit “Puss In Boots from Shrek.” In short, The Last Of Us is a fantastic technical and artistic achievement. At the very least, BAFTA should announce a special award for Best Beaded Curtain in a Video Game.

But above all, The Last Of Us deserves praise for exhibiting one quality in particular: restraint—at a time when so many games subscribe to the theory that more is more, with extra more on top. Nothing demonstrates this game’s commitment to dialing it down better than the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s leave it at this: It’s worth playing right through to the finish.

And that means playing through those first couple of hours, when it’s all planks and ladders and “Hang on, didn’t that happen in episode three of The Walking Dead?”. Stick with The Last Of Us and all that falls away. What’s left is a bleak yet vibrant world, populated by engaging inhabitants and packed with intriguing secrets, heartrending details, and guns that are really fun to shoot.

The Last of Us has been crafted with care and confidence. It’s a smart game that assumes the player is just as clever. The characters and the choices they make stay in the mind long after the disc has stopped whirring (or going WHHRRREEEEEEEE, if you own a first-generation PS3). Here’s hoping this new species of video game will prevail.

Ellie Gibson is the associate features editor at Eurogamer.

The Last Of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony
Platform: PlayStation 3
Price: $60
Rating: M

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111 Responses to “Apocalypse New”

  1. Enkidum says:

    C’mon, haggis really isn’t that bad.

    This might be the first game I pay full price for since… uh… Red Dead Redemption, I think? Sounds frigging awesome.

    • doctuar says:

      My God, that’s some restraint you’ve shown there. I’ve bought 6 games this month alone. When did Red Dead come out again? The mind boggles.

      • Enkidum says:

        I buy lots of games, just not at full price. I’m on PS+, which gives me so many games that they would more than occupy all my gaming time if I played nothing but them, but I also pick up quite a bit in their sales and last week got another 4 games off GOG. 

        So restraint, not at all. Just I don’t mind waiting for price drops.

        • Asinus says:

          Delaying gratification is restraint. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re not impulsive; we won’t judge you for it. 

  2. The first 15 minutes of the game is one of the best openings ever for a game.

    It reminds me of CHildren of Men, and it pretty much nailed the same effect that Children of Men (especially with the soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla who collaborated with Cuaron).

  3. Intermittent Hairdresser says:

    And I am glad that I bought a PS3. This really looks fantastic.

    • Halloween_Jack says:

      I’ve been thinking about getting one, between the exclusives (the Uncharted series and this) and getting a Blu-Ray player. They can be had for pretty cheap, and while the problems with the PS4 are not nearly as egregious as those of the XBone, I’m still not seeing a need to wait and then pay a premium for a next-gen console.

    • doctuar says:

      I have enough money to buy more than one thing. Is this just where I live?

  4. Oxperiment says:

    What with all the zed-word fatigue, I am quite relieved to see that Naughty Dog managed to get blood from a stone with this one. Or rather, cover a lot of stones (bricks) with blood. Either one is good, I guess.

  5. The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

    So is this a PS3 exclusive or is it coming out on other platforms?  They have a digital download on the website, but I’m not seeing any news for a PC release, and even the wiki says that it’s a PS3 development.

    • rvb1023 says:

       Naughty Dog is owned by Sony. PS3 only.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

        Bah… well… shit.  Guess I gotta go to the damn store then.

      • Fluka says:

        Damn console exclusives.  It doesn’t matter how good this game is – as far as my PC-having game-enjoying self is concerned, this game may as well not exist.  

        It’s like if we never decided between Blue Ray and HD DVD, and people decided that (sometimes) you could only buy one specific movie for one system.  You could buy *both* boxes, I suppose, if you have the cash.  But otherwise just gamble and accept that you’re going to miss out on a large part of the cultural conversation sometimes.

        (This sometimes happens with books for my Kindle that are only available on the Nook, too.  But paper books still exist, thankfully.)

        I suppose I could buy a PS3 for cheapsies at this point and hook it up to the LCD monitor, but my curiosity about this game is not sufficient to overcome the required energy barrier.  So no eye-gougings for me.  Plus, I’ve got 30 unplayed Steam games.

        • rvb1023 says:

           I can understand that sentiment but exclusive games are ultimately the only reason to pick up consoles anymore. Sony is trying to convince you to buy a PS3 based off of its exclusive properties. If a company hasn’t caught your interest with their exclusive franchises then they have failed in that regard.

          Still, PC is still the smartest choice for gaming. You get to play 95% of all released games. First party games from console developers and a large chunk of Japanese games are the only exceptions.

        • Fluka says:

          @rvb1023:disqus Well, there’s the exclusives, and also the price and ease of getting the machine in the first place.  Plus sitting on a couch in front of your TV.  Though the last is possible with a computer already.  And the price/ease thing is *potentially* possible if the Steam Box takes off.

          It seems so weird to have all this control by the people actually making the gaming machines.  It’s not like buying a TV or another generic media-playing device.  You’re specifically buying an Xbox or a PS.  Also, you’re buying their means of game distribution.  Things would be so much easier if there were a single standard machine design, for which different companies could produce versions.  And people then make game software designed to play on that standard protocol.  But I guess that’s what a PC is!

        • SamPlays says:

          No worries, just watch the inevitable 30-part gameplay walkthrough that will get posted on Youtube within the next few months. 

          Also, I’m kinda of shocked that a AAA title got a GUSHING review from this site. It must be an exceptional game to come from the mainstream and get that kind of praise in these circles. However, I notice a lot of the regulars aren’t chiming in, at least extensively, on this article. Then, again, I’ve been way out of the loop on Gameological lately (collecting interview data for my study over the last month) so the regulars are probably totally different at this point. 

          Post script: Never rush your consumer instincts when competing formats are at large. Let natural selection preside in the marketplace and you’ll always end up better for it.

        • Fluka says:

          @SamPlays:disqus Well, on the one hand, part of the issue is that all the reviews came out over a week before the game actually dropped (today!), I think.  Probably have lots more comments in the WAYPTW soon.

          One the other hand, I wonder if the whole PS3-only thing probably hampers the game’s ability to be part of the cultural conversation…

          And yes.  Laziness and cheap-skateness have served me incredibly well in the consumer market.  It’s just too hard to go out and buy expensive things!  *Curls up with $5 Steam game.*

        • Marijn Lems says:

          @Fluka For what it’s worth (though I can hardly be called a regular here): I have been playing on all consoles and the PC for the past 20 years, and I’ve never been as impressed by a narrative game as I have been by The Last Of Us. If you play games for the emotional experience, it’s worth buying a (discount) PS3 for. And hey, you’ll finally be able to play Uncharted 2, Journey, ICO and Shadow Of The Colossus as well!

          • Waldo_Jeffers says:

            I finally finished the game two nights ago. The first half really didn’t suck me in, so I took about a month off from playing it. I don’t know if it was because I was in a more receptive mood, or the story just really got better, but once Ellie and Joel left his brother’s compound, I got sucked into the game. I don’t know who was more excited to see the exotic animals in Salt Lake City- me or Ellie. It was a great moment for me- one of my favorites ever in a game.

            I really like the ending- I didn’t go where I thought it would. I figured it would be something along the lines of the “Walking Dead” game, but it really went off in a different direction. It’s been a while since a game’s ending surprised me like that.

        • @SamPlays:disqus There’s already a full playthrough on youtube. 

  6. rvb1023 says:

    Friday can’t come fast enough. This is the second big game of the year for me and I am so pumped. I didn’t even read this review because I want it to be completely fresh. I may even try the multiplayer mode and I don’t like multiplayer much.

    And E3 starts tomorrow. This is a good week.

  7. Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

    Oh man, this game actually looks kinda neat. I won’t get it, but maybe i’ll play it after my friend is done with it or something. This is maybe the first time I’ve ever read a videogame review where the script was even mentioned, which is kind of astounding/depressing. 

    Good words here. I like them.

  8. someperson1984 says:

    “The score, by Oscar-winning Hollywood composer Gustavo Santaolalla…”

    I fucking knew it. From the second the first trailer hit, I could tell that it was either Gustavo Santaolalla, or someone trying to sound like him. Holy shit is that awesome. I hate most of what I’ve played from Naughty Dog (the sole exception being Uncharted 2, haven’t played 3), but that fact alone makes me want to play this.

    • Marijn Lems says:

       If you liked Uncharted 2 and didn’t play 3, what are you basing your hatred of ND’s output on? Jak & Daxter?

      • Girard says:

        “Keef the Thief” scarred her/him as a child.

      • someperson1984 says:

        Don’t like Crash Bandicoot so I didn’t play its sequels. Jak and Daxter was okay, but Jak II is awful, and Jak III wasn’t much better. Uncharted was really dull as well, and then Uncharted 2 came out and was kinda great even if Nathan Drake is a giant douche.

    • CrabNaga says:

      I’ve kind of soured on Naughty Dog over the past few years. I loved the Crash Bandicoot games (at least the ones they were involved with), and the Jak series was great, even though the series took a baffling turn with Jak 2. Uncharted just seems like an entirely unnecessary series, taking the elements from other, more realized franchises and cramming them all into a Crystal Skull-calibur Indiana Jones motif. That being said, I own all the Uncharted games for PS3 but have only slogged through the first half of the first game, so maybe the rest of the series would wow me.

      I’m pretty glad that Naughty Dog is back to doing things that matter, in terms of providing essential console gaming experiences that can’t really be had anywhere else. And I’d never think that I’d be saying something like this about a zombie game.

      • Toparaman says:

         I’m pretty sure Uncharted 2 is considered a big improvement over the first one.  I didn’t even bother playing UC 1, and I didn’t feel lost story-wise in UC 2.

      • Uncharted 2 basically defined the modern idea of a third person shooter.

  9. dreadguacamole says:

     I’d never heard anything by  the Black-Eyed Peas and haggis – is that their Scottish cover band?

    • doctuar says:

      I’m pretty sure I had this meal in the Deacon Brodie, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. I ordered an extra serving of boom-boom-pow sauce as well.

  10. dreadguacamole says:

    Dammit, my apprehensions about this are is vanishing by the minute. I think I’ll probably still wait for a while, as Uncharted 2 had a similar near-orgasmic reception.
     Find it kind of hard to believe Naughty Dog have pulled a subtle, not-dumb game.

  11. Crusty Old Dean says:

    It’s too bad I’m super not into depictions of gruesome realistic violence, otherwise I would get this. Well, I’m glad Naughty Dog seems to be evolving none the less.

    • boardgameguy says:

      in the same camp. yes, i’m interested in well-told stories. no, i’m not interested in graphic depictions of dismemberment.

  12. Zack Handlen says:

    Goddammit, I can’t afford to get this game right now. Goddammit, I probably will anyway.

  13. duwease says:

    If the game is half as entertaining as the review, I’m going to have to get it.  Might have to wait awhile, however, as the PS3 will be inaccessible for a bit and I’ll have to make do with the 360 and PC.

  14. stakkalee says:

    Once again I feel like I’ve chosen the wrong side in the console wars.  And over a goddamn zombie game no less!

  15. Effigy_Power says:

    Hooray, almost unilateral appreciation and joy over this game, so my own buzzkill-attitude shall ring even more obnoxious.
    Zombies are everywhere, eating everything but each other. A virus rampages through humankind like an American Idol judge on Thorazine withdrawal. A man must protect a child.

    Is it allowed for me to yawn decisively overdone at this? I am sure aspects of the game are just fine, I don’t doubt that the deeper plot and character development could be good. Hell, even combat might not be a sluggish mess.

    But the setting? C’mon, the setting! I envy people who can overlook this and see the game’s other potential benefits, but jeez… zombies and viruses and post apocalyptic survival again? How many times can the same set-piece be used before people rise up and slay someone?
    Countless other scenarios could have served for this. What about war? Do we not do war anymore? Wouldn’t a man and a child sifting through the refuse of a society that tore itself apart be so much more poignant and sad, rather than lay the blame for it all at the hand of Bioengineer X and leave the rest to Moldy Z. McMoanyhead? Granted, the “War is always the same” scenario isn’t much fresher, but at this point anything seems preferable to zombies.

    What about aliens? A global ecological crisis? Asteroid Impact? AI takeover?
    Again, all of those are ubiquitous and not much fresher than A-Rod’s testosterone level rumors, but zombies have got to be the lowest point there. It occurred to me a while ago that the current Z-wave is now nearing, at least by the way I measure it, a decade in length. I count the release of the “Dawn of the Dead” remake and its superior companion “Shawn of the Dead” as the jumping board into the pool of decade-old guts and limbs, thus making it officially (by pop-culture standards) last FOREVER.

    I have been sick to bloody, shambolic death with zombies for at least half of the decade it has been occupying and to such a point that everything it touches turns to crap. Even steak becomes inedible if you garnish it with the same horse’s rectum every time and that’s what zombies are for me now. Which is a shame, because otherwise this game seems just fine.

    Oh, on a second note, I don’t have a PS3 anyways, so disregard all that.

    • neodocT says:

       I posted this below, but the game does make a half-hearted attempt at breaking away from zombies, only to make more zombies.

      spoilers on the setting

      The “infected” in this game aren’t created by a virus, but by fungi that mind control people. Apparently they based this decision around a real fungus that can control the minds of some insects, or something. So the infected aren’t dead brought back to life, they’re people who are alive, but controlled by mushrooms.

      This isn’t a major change, to be honest, and the post-apocalyptic thing still happens the same way as in zombie movies, but I figured they could have made use of it to actively change who the infected are, put a twist on the tired zombie formula. Maybe they’re actually intelligent, maybe the infection doesn’t spread through bites, maybe they don’t try to feed on people, maybe they don’t wander around aimlessly. But nope, they’re just regular zombies with mushrooms growing out of their heads.

      The gameplay and the writing are good enough that I’m willing to overlook that, but it is still a big downer that the setting is so unoriginal.

    • Halloween_Jack says:

      Hey, I’m totes with you on that; even with my own beloved Mass Effect series, my least favorite parts of the game are usually when the space zombies show up. (My reaction on hearing that World War Z has apparently had a very problematic production history was “Oh, good.”) But this game’s virtues seem to go way beyond the shambolism. 

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Oh, I am definitely judging this game unfairly and harshly, I am totally aware of that. I just can’t do that setting anymore. I am tired of survival, I am tired of zombies and I am tired of blowing rotting brains out of stuff, fungoid or otherwise.

        • Marijn Lems says:

          (Very vague spoilers) I completely understand your zombie fatigue, but The Last Of Us transcends the genre in often stunning ways. Not only do the clichés that ARE used get a new lease on life because of the stunning acting, direction and dialogue (they don’t feel like clichés because these people feel REAL), but as the game progresses, it actually subverts many of the genre’s tropes (especially the “a man must protect a child” thing) in exceedingly clever (and gut-punching) ways. And if it’s the zombies themselves you’re worried about, they feel much more dangerous and creepy than the cannon fodder presented in other genre entries.

    • Toparaman says:

       I also don’t care for zombies at all, and am bewildered by the sudden pop-cultural fascination with them.  But this game sounds amazing, and apparently wasn’t really inspired by zombie stuff.  It was actually inspired by an episode of Planet Earth.

  16. boardgameguy says:

    this made me chuckle:

    “The characters and the choices they make stay in the mind long after the disc has stopped whirring (or going WHHRRREEEEEEEE, if you own a first-generation PS3).”

  17. signsofrain says:

    Can’t friggin’ wait to play this. Pre-ordered it on Amazon ages ago and expecting it to be delivered on Friday. I’d take the day off to play it if I wasn’t on deadline.

  18. neodocT says:

    I was very skeptical of this game, thinking it was an Uncharted rehash (all those 10/10s didn’t help). I’m not really into buying games on release either, but this weekend I went to a store to redeem some gift certificate before they expired and ran into two of my friends buying The Last of Us at a store. Since we never play the same games at the same time I was peer pressured into getting it too. I played about a third of the game this weekend and, if anyone’s interested, I’m posting my impressions below. I’ll avoid any plot spoilers, but I will talk a bit about the gameplay. In two words, in case you don’t feel like reading it: I’m impressed!

    I’m commenting on the gameplay below, don’t read if you want to go in blind!

    The platforming is just as linear as it was in the Uncharted series, with the addition of ladders and planks, but the combat and survival aspects are fantastic. You mostly have a choice between sneaking past everyone, strategically killing only those who are in your way or hunting down and killing everyone. But the more you go after enemies, the more you put yourself at risk, and health and ammo are pretty scarce.

    The game does make a few good choices about that, too. You rarely ever get anything out of killing enemies, so there’s no point in killing just for loot. And killing is risky too, as it can alert others of your position. The combat sections end up resembling a puzzle of sorts, in which you have to figure out how best to get past or eliminate the bad guys (somewhat like the Arkham games). There’s a lot of trial and error involved, but you immediately restart when you die.

    I have three main criticisms so far. The first is more nitpicky, but the game often leaves checkpoints in the middle of action scenes, so if you were holding off on healing yourself or had just wasted a lot of ammo in the previous section, you can’t go back and better prepare yourself. To be fair, this does lead to the feeling of vulnerability, that I enjoyed. The second point is that there seems to be a small attempt in differentiating the infected in this game from the zombies in other stories, but it’s half-hearted. It’s somewhat like RE4 and 5, in which the infected were clearly just zombies by any other name.

    My other main point of criticism is that, aside from the fantastic intro, the storytelling so far is told almost exclusively via cutscenes and documents you find throughout the game. These moments are very well written and directed, but I do wish I had a bit more control during them.

    Overall, though, I am very much enjoying the game, and highly recommend it to anyone in the market for a weird, Uncharted-style, stealthy Resident Evil game.

    • signsofrain says:

      How did you run into people buying the game… it’s not out yet.

      • neodocT says:

        I live in Brazil, and they’re selling it in the stores, they had a whole shelf with it. Games usually take forever to come out here, but this game seems to have been packaged here in Brazil (which is unusual) so they’re already available in a few retailers, for some reason.

        On the other hand, games are a lot more expensive here, so I would have paid U$75 for it if I didn’t have my gift certificates. New games usually cost from U$75 to U$120, here, and there’s little in the way of a used games market.

        • signsofrain says:

          Huh, that’s very interesting! I had no idea the games situation was like that in Brazil! There must be a thriving piracy scene if there’s no used market and new games are even more expensive than they are in USA/Canada…

          Example: I’m paying 80 bucks Canadian. That includes the game and rush shipping so I get it at my door on release day.

        • neodocT says:

           @signsofrain:disqus Yeah, there’s a lot of piracy here. Games are very expensive and the prices never really go down, not to mention the prices of the systems themselves. To make things worse, the system’s digital stores have wildly overpriced games (Stem is the sole exception). But gaming is still huge here. In my experience, people either buy black market systems and games (imported from other countries, but mostly Paraguay) or just pirate stuff.

          Nowadays I have enough money to actually, you know, buy my games, but I have dabbled in piracy in the past, and am fairly well acquainted with the piracy methods for pretty much every system. The Wii and the Xbox 360 are very easy to softmod to play games on, but the PS3 is harder. Just last week a friend bought a softmodded Xbox 360 from Paraguay, and has a hard drive full of games already. Actually, now that I think about it, the PS3 is surprisingly popular over here, considering how hard it is to mod…

        • signsofrain says:

          Incidentally the PS2 is a rather easy softmod also. (You just need an Action Replay and a Fat PS2) Or if you’ve got a slim somebody to install Free MCBOOT on a memory card for you. I collected a pretty nice library during the PS2’s heyday so it’s nice to have all that stored on the hard drive and ready to play whenever I turn the console on.

  19. aklab says:

    This is one of my pet peeves: zombie games (or any media) that call the zombies anything other than zombies. I’m fine with suspending my disbelief long enough to enjoy this zombie-ridden universe, but then I also have to pretend it’s this weird alternate universe that was exactly like ours before the Outbreak of Infected Walkers except no one had ever heard the word zombie. 

    • Effigy_Power says:

      “Shawn of the Dead” is the only movie that springs to mind that handled this issue correctly. Replying to calling the infected Zombies with the line “Don’t call them that” should represent the only response not immediately agreeing with the assessment.
      That said, the constant inability of people in movies and games to recognize wide-spread tropes is a generally moronic plot device anyways.
      I do wonder how many Scooby Doo episodes we have to pump into American teenagers via Ludovico chair until they stop picking up Sean Bean in a dirty trench-coat in the middle of nowhere? Or to stop them from splitting up into small groups? Are we learning nothing?

      • aklab says:

        I am not going to spend all morning reading TV Tropes now. Not going to do it! It’s a Monday and I have work to do for chrissake!

    • JamesJournal says:

      Only the creatures in The Last of Us are explicitly not zombies

    • Penis Van Lesbian says:

      There’s a fun British zombie film, “Cockneys vs Zombies”, where the main character takes one look at the unfolding apocalypse and just says “it’s zombies” in a nicely off-hand way.

  20. NakedSnake says:

    Haggis FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. zpoccc says:

    another reminder that the fine line between writing a witty and entertaining piece and one overstuffed with snark is all too easy to cross.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      …and that the internet is full of people who think they know the difference. :P

      • zpoccc says:

        uh oh – did you read a comment that was slightly critical of a website you’re weirdly obsessed with? fuck dude – i hope you make it through this rough time ok. my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. 

        • Fluka says:

          Honey, she’s not the one who comes off as weird and overly defensive in this exchange.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Hahaha… oh brother. Thanks for that. The XBone Press release was very unfun, so this was a great cheer up. Jesus. :)

      • zpoccc says:

        i’m glad to see you putting on such a brave face in this difficult time. you’re an inspiration to us all.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Are you still on this? That is slightly less funny. Not as funny as that shift button you obviously sold for a pack of nickels, that’s for sure.
          Move on. It’s been long enough.

      • zpoccc says:

        wow. coming up with amazing shift key jokes when things are so dire?! how do you do it??? i do actually often sell things for ‘packs of nickels’ – i don’t think that’s a very common thing, how did you know this intimate detail about me? perhaps being so close to the brink, such as you are, has granted you second sight. 

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I continue to be unclear on what you are actually trying to say, but it’s still adorable.

      • zpoccc says:

        understandably, this brush with the void has rendered your critical thinking and reading comprehension skills a little… less than optimal. you shouldn’t feel bad about it, i’m amazed you can still read at all after all you’ve been through.

  22. skitzfiggitous says:

    The controls are very soft. Very squishy. Way looser that Uncharted 3, which I liked. WTF?

  23. thwartley says:

    I’m only about an hour in, but the controls feel too soft. I was expecting it to play kind of like Uncharted 3, but it feels mushier and slower. So far, not so good.

    • Marijn Lems says:

      This is going to sound like the remark of an apologist, but the controls are “mushy” (pun intended?) for a reason: to make you feel more vulnerable and clumsy. Your mileage may vary, but in a game that tries so hard to place you in a world of desperate survival, I think it works (see also the nasty, crude way in which Joel attacks his enemies at close range).

  24. Anon210 says:

    Making me all regretful that I don’t have a console. Hopefully I can play this on the PS4 if and when I get that. (Yes, I know the backwards compatibility thing is still in flux.)

  25. doctuar says:

    I don’t want to spoilt the ending, but it cuts to black and the credits roll.

    Sorry to shatter any illusions.

  26. Thats_A_Paddlin says:

    Okay – so let me just start by saying I absolutely love this game.  However – it’s not the sort of game that makes me want to play nonstop, because it’s NERVE WRACKING!  I think my blood pressure seriously rises, but that makes me love the game even more, if that makes sense.  I just have to take it in doses, and I’m normally the type that can play for hours on end until my eyes are red (Skyrim, Borderlands, Dishonored etc).

    • Waldo_Jeffers says:

      The last game to put me on edge so much was Dead Space. The tension gets pretty high in some parts of this.

  27. Mike Taylor says:

    Superb review from Ellie Gibson as usual. Games journalism hasn’t been this good or amusing since the days of Amiga Power

  28. Adam Fangman says:

    I gotta say I find it disappointing that both here and in the AV Club proper’s video review the critics feel the need to lay on the jokes about the ladders and perfectly sized planks. It misleads the reader into believing this game often feels too convenient to be realistic or taken seriously. So, why are the planks the perfect size and ladders at hand when needed? You may as well ask why at the beginning as you travel underground with Tess there is a backpack with Joel’s stuff down there. How convenient! Backpacks everywhere!

    No. This game takes place 20 years in the future and the urban areas Joel and Ellie traverse have been gone over hundreds of times by bandits, tourists, and groups of survivors. Many before them have made paths, written maps, established routes through the concrete jungle. Just like in the beginning how Tess and Joel hide a secret exit with an entertainment center or cover their exit outside the city limits with a pallet – the ladders and planks are there because survivors before Joel and Ellie left them there, and probably used them frequently. We know they were there because we find their notes – and their corpses. That is, when survivors or the survivors-turned-infected aren’t trying to kill you. It all adds to the tragedy and creepiness of the environment that you know at all times that you’re retracing the steps of people who died years ago.

    This is all so thoughtfully constructed. When out in open urban areas you don’t find many supplies except some loose bricks. But in a failed camp you find lots of forgotten ammo left by a group that became infected. In the same way when you need to cross a gap in a city someone in the past 20 years has found a means with which to do so – they died and now you are retracing their footsteps, using their ladder, following their path. But in the less inhabited places you need to climb on a piano or pile of rubble or rely on an ally to boost you up. When this game is convenient it’s because you’re standing on the shoulders of dead men. That is one of the things that makes it so great.

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