‘The Last of Us’ epic in story, grim on gameplay

4 out of 5 stars The Last of Us Playstation 3 Naughty Dog Rating: Mature 17+
4 out of 5 stars
The Last of Us
Playstation 3
Naughty Dog
Rating: Mature 17+

There were times when I wished something cataclysmic would happen to the human race: an impact event, a pandemic on a Spanish influenza scale, or a zombie apocalypse.

That all changed after I played Naughty Dog’s latest creation for the PS3, The Last of Us.

The game highlights humanity’s dark side post collapse: cannibalism, violence and zombies.

The story is infused with a Cormac McCarthy brand of story-telling, accompanied by a helping of science fiction. The protagonist, Joel is a survivor of a cordyceps-like outbreak.

As an aside, cordyceps are a type of parasitic fungus that attacks ants in our real world, turning them into ghoulish aberrations.

However, the strain found in the hapless victims of the Last Of Us turns them into flesh-eating undead.

But it’s not just the cast of clickers, bloaters and runners you’re taking on as Joel, and a little later Ellie, the 14-year-old Typhoid Mary.

Joel meets up with other smugglers, rebels (named Fireflies), soldiers, hunters and, yes, cannibals (who quote the Bible no less).

The Last of Us is incredibly detailed in its plot, with a few irregularities in character interaction. But when it comes to the gameplay, it falls short.

Sure it’s pretty brutal with its gore — my wife felt she was going to throw up when she witnessed me dispatch a clicker — but the AI seems to be a little, well, slow.

Sometimes when you’re traversing the depths of a basement, with nothing but your flashlight and a small cache of bullets, zombies that are not visually impaired, don’t see the beams of your torch.

Other times, guards stare at walls, or seem to lack periphery vision.

When it comes to fighting, there are lengthy pauses in between bouts, and given it’s a stealth game, sometimes fighting isn’t even necessary.

Most of the time you are controlling Joel, but every so often you pick up as Ellie. There is even one scene that smacks of The Hunger Games.

And much like Suzanne Collins’ novel, there are morally challenging moments that make you question what you would do should your life be privy to such upheaval.

Speaking of destruction, competitive online play packs a typhoon’s punch. Be prepared for full-on brutality, as you fight for survival against others.

Oh, and one of the quirks of online play is you can sync your character up to your friends list on Facebook. As you collect parts, you gather food, and more survivors. Those survivors end up getting the names of some of your friends on the social media website.

I’m sure they’ll appreciate the bizarre nature of being a survivor in a zombie apocalypse game.

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