Initial Impression of The Last of Us

I was incredibly amped for June 14th to get here so I could crack open my copy of the PlayStation 3 exclusive by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us.

For all of the perfect 10’s it’s been getting, I have to say that this must be a game where the story is praised over the gameplay because the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

The game opens up with main character Joel Winter coming home from work speaking with his brother Tommy on the phone about something seemingly work related. In his stressful haze, he seems to have forgotten his birthday for which his daughter, Sarah, got him a new watch. It’s more or less a normal day in the life of a father and daughter.

After Sarah wakes up from going to sleep however, Joel is nowhere to be found and the shit seems to have hit the fan with many emergency vehicles passing the house and Joel coming in the back door, fending off the neighbors who seem to have gone insane.

Joel and Sarah then abandon the house and try to escape the city with Joel’s brother Tommy. After a short intense chase scene Joel and Tommy were separated as he holds off the infected populous as they make their way out of the city.

Joel is on his way to the highway with his injured daughter and they encounter military personnel. He is seemingly given orders to kill anyone he believes may be infected and opens fire on Joel and his daughter. Joel is hit and falls to the ground and Tommy rescue them by killing the military grunt.

Joel then looks to see that Sarah has been shot in the stomach and she slowly dies in his arms.

END SPOILERS

This scene nearly brought myself and my wife to tears as I played through it. Shortly thereafter, the gameplay takes over and this is where the game starts to slip.

My first issue is that the camera controls are a bit wonky. All it takes is a small flick of the right stick to send your camera whirring off into the direction that you pushed it.

The combat is almost to the point of being frustratingly difficult. The right stick’s sensitivity comes into play here again, as aiming is very difficult.

My AI partner Tess wasn’t very helpful in these situations either as she had plot armor and I didn’t. I would try to get her to kill things so I would not lose valuable life but she would usually just jump from cover to cover only shooting after someone began to shoot me.

A counterpoint to this may be the combat is supposed to be difficult. It may be part of the immersion; getting into the story. A device to really drive the point home that you want to avoid combat as much as possible.

There aren’t many clear indicators on the environment of what you can and cant touch when advancing through the streets.

One of the beginning portions where I had to find my way out of a pit I spent nearly 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get out.

I’m hoping that the gameplay improves or maybe that I’ll get used to the control scheme.

For the same token, the story was enough to get me through The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, and that game was by no means game of the year.

So stranger things have happened.

(Archived article, original post from Tumblr on June 13th, 2013)