Going into The Last of Us I was a little cagey. I reviewed I Am Alive and was expecting something that similarly took the conventions of survival horror and grafted action/adventure elements onto them.
That's fine (I Am Alive
certainly had its strengths) but I'm not a massive fan of games that keep things interesting by heaping stress on the player. The Last of Us
, it turns out, is so much more than that. In fact, it's one of the pinnacles of this console generation.
The Last of Us
stars Joel and Ellie as they trek across a post-collapse America riddled with 'Infected' (zombies). Beyond that... I'm incredibly loath to give away any plot points, actually.
So we can get our pigeon holes in a row, let's talk genre. As I said, I was expecting something survival horror-ish. While there are definitely elements of that, the game also leans heavily into the third-person action genre Naughty Dog has really cemented its reputation in with Uncharted
Strategy has a large role to play too, with a strong element of stealth and a hefty scavenging and crafting aspect. In short, the 'survival action' tag someone in Sony's marketing department came up with is actually very apt. The Last of Us
strides confidently across genres and doesn't really want to sit in any one of our existing pigeon holes.
Making your way across The Last of Us
's broken-down America you'll meet two main types of challenge. One is the aforementioned infected. The other is the often greater threat of scared hungry humans.
While the humans can be a bigger problem than the infected, however, let's not underestimate the creepy, horrible, disease-ridden bastards. They're covered in growths, to the point where one type you meet early on ? the clicker ? has horrible fleshy nodules covering its eyes and has to use echo location to get around. You'll even see fungal flesh growths on the environment where an infected has died off and just continued to grow on the walls.
Dealing with them is when The Last of Us
is, as you might expect, at its most survival horror-ish. Most of the time, though, you'll have more than one way to deal with them.
Resources are always scarce and what you have in your inventory will often determine your approach when dealing with either the infected or
human enemies. Ammo is only available in small quantities and hand-to-hand weapons often have to be crafted and can wear down.
Thankfully resources aren't so
thin on the the ground that you'll only have one option. In some instances you might get away with sneaking past infected without a confrontation, relying on Joel's hearing to locate and avoid them.
Other times you might approach a situation more stealthily, but you'll need to be mindful of their different strengths and weaknesses. Clickers, for example, can easily hear you and can only be killed at close quarters if you've made a shiv.
If you're feeling more bullish (or if you've been detected) you might go in guns blazing and find yourself in an encounter reminiscent of Left4Dead 2