“The Last of Us” redefines gaming

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Author: Will Westwater

This summer I started playing “The Last of Us.” It is possibly the best game I have played…ever. Developer Naughty Dog, famous for Crash Bandicoot and the Uncharted series, has done it again. They have managed to create a game that is both entertaining and emotionally captivating.

The player takes on the role of Joel (a 40-something-year-old man) trying to get Ellie (15) to meet up with a resistance group across America, 20 years after an outbreak of the cordyceps fungus. On this post-apocalyptic road the player will encounter the infected in all of their ghastly forms, fight members of different factions and go toe-to-toe with cannibals.

The Last of Us” is not for the faint of heart. It is a third-person action adventure game that is horrifying, brilliant and earns its “M” rating. While being one of the most violent games I have ever played, it is also one of the most beautiful. The locales are stunning. Post-apocalyptic Boston and Pittsburgh are something to behold as nature slowly reclaims what man once built. The characters move and perform realistically; even subtle moments are illuminated thanks to incredible motion-capture technology. Pixels are rendered over real performances, allowing for cinematic realism during both cut-scenes and game-play. The actors, Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie), give captivating performances in both their voice work and motion capture movements. The combination of visual complexity, engaging script, and strong performances creates a story that draws the player to the end, an ending that continues to give me goosebumps.

Differing enemies create the perfect mix of stealth and action. The player crafts weapons and health kits in real time while fighting these enemies. When confronted by the enemy, one must get very creative – a simple blade and rag become an impromptu shiv. But, the result of this ingenuity only lasts for one kill, and there may be more enemies in the room.

“The Last of Us” is a story that can only be experienced through a video-game. 15-20 hours can be spent on the single player experience, and in that time the player will get to know the characters. This masterpiece creates a world in which terrible acts are almost justified by sheer desperation and will to survive. Simply put, it makes the player care about the characters, and is, therefore, the best game I have ever played.

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