It's taken Adam one and a half years to finally play The Last Us. He tells you why, and what he thinks of his experience with it so far.
I had my first time playing The Last of Us on Friday. I'd obviously heard about the game, first in the build up to its June 2013 release on the PS3, and then I'd heard the fanfare post-release praising it for being one of the greatest video games ever made. It's because of its great reception I have tried to steer clear of it, because I didn't own a PS3 and couldn't play it, and wanted to experience it for myself without any spoilers.
I knew the basic premise, an apocalyptic event with crazed zombie-like humans infected with some kind of fungus. I knew the two main characters were a man called Joel and a young girl called Ellie. I'd even heard it's a pretty grim game, in terms of tone and the way it plays out. All of these things I'd heard were more than enough for me, I didn't want to hear or read any more about this game until I'd experienced it myself. So I tried my best to keep away from it as much as possible.
On Friday I received an early Christmas present from my girlfriend, a PlayStation 4. It's the first Sony console I've owned since my PS3 was inflicted with the dreaded Yellow Light of Death (YLOD) about 5 years ago. Naturally she bought me the PS4 bundled with The Last of Us Remastered, the reboot of the PS3 version with upgraded textures, resolution and fps, DLC, and more. So, if you're like I was and want to stay spoiler-free from The Last of Us, stop reading now. Although I actually feel like I'm the last person on the planet to play this game.
I hooked up the PS4 to my TV, eagerly anticipating what I was about to go through - trying to suppress any previous knowledge of the game in an attempt to go into it as purely as possible. Firstly, I noticed what a great piece of kit the PS4 is, it's my first real experience with the console, and I'm impressed. I then booted up the game, being immediately hit by how much I felt like I was watching a movie. The voice acting, cinematography, and the motion of the characters is great. Plus the added music. I was impressed from the very first moment.
It wasn't long until the game shifted into panic, with Joel's brother, Tommy, calling the house in the middle of the night, clearly agitated. I took control of Joel's daughter, Sarah, to search for him in the dimly-lit house as the news displays scenes of panic on the TV, and explosions pop off outside. By this time my mouth was wide open, and I anticipated being attacked or something jumping out at me.
A dog barks outside as I made my way into the kitchen, when suddenly it lets out a yelp, then silence. Yeah, my heart is beating a little faster, I just know something is going to try and make me jump. As I stagger in a sleepy daze into the study downstairs Joel comes rushing through the patio door, quickly closing it behind him whilst clambering for his gun. The neighbours, there's something wrong with them, he tells me he thinks they're sick. Said neighbour then crashes through the patio door's glass, causing me to jump (it got me) as he rushes towards us, and Joel shoots to put him down. OK, the apocalypse has begun, and it didn't take long for the game to completey engross and immerse me in it.
I knew his daughter was going to die, you can just tell from the way everything is playing out. Her time was coming to an end, and I had no idea how it was going to happen. You'd presume she'd get snatched by one of the infected, which would be a rather brutal end. But no, it wasn't one of them.
Joel, Tommy, and Sarah make their way towards the freeway in Tommy's truck, which is blocked by many more cars with the same idea. We take a detour through town after the infected begin attacking the convoy of cars, which ends in our truck crashing. As we made our way through the crowds of panicked people in the town after our truck crashed, we were separated from Tommy, moving towards the highway. Infected chased us from behind, until a lone soldier puts them down and then takes aim at us.
It was the soldier responding to the outbreak, fully kitted out and wearing a gas mask, he kills Sarah. No doubt responding to a direct order from his superiors. He shoots at Joel and Sarah sending them to the ground as Tommy shows up, shooting the soldier in the head. Sarah dies in Joel's arms. Yep, this definitely caused some emotion from me, no tears, but I was definitely on the brink. Call me soppy, but it was hard-hitting stuff. At this moment I knew I was in for quite a ride, and this was more than 'just a video game'.
I haven't played much beyond this moment, I've literally just arrived at where Joel and Ellie meet for the first time, so I know a little more on how she fits into the story now, which is intriguing. The gameplay is solid, prompting memories of Uncharted's similar gameplay, but with much less flair and action hero style - it feels more 'real'. And it's sufficiently brutal. I'll be continuing to play The Last of Us when I get chance, as we have many reviews to write up at the moment, but when I do eventually finish it I'll let you know what I think.