The Last of Us

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I raved on about The Last of Us in the PS3 and OST threads, so I thought it deserved it’s own topic.

Has anyone else here played it and what were your thoughts?

I have to admit I’ve yet to play it. I’m not sure why I haven’t do so yet, after all I bought all the Uncharted games and TLOU seems to be a better game in terms of characters and storyline. I have a PS4 so I can get the remastered version.

I recently played through The Last of Us and the midquel, Left Behind. Overall, I have to say I’m impressed by what Naughty Dog have accomplished here. The Last of Us brings dramatic story telling in video games forward in a safe, but highly polished way.

I played through the three main Uncharted games before The Last of Us, so a comparison might be useful for those who have only played the former. The Last of Us builds on the cinematic storytelling of the Uncharted games. Characters assist you in getting to the next area, for example by fetching a ladder or opening a door. For the most part, this is a standard Naughty Dog ‘traversal’ game when it comes to gameplay. What sets The Last of Us apart are it’s characters, particularly the relationship between the two leads, Joel and Ellie. Many of the set pieces are built around providing opportunities to grow the relationship between the two by requiring their cooperation. It feels a lot like a Team Ico game in that respect.

The game is extremely violent, but it never felt gratuitous to me; it accurately represents the brutality of the game’s post apocalyptic setting and what that requires the characters to do to survive. Whereas the Uncharted games trivialise violence by making a mere treasure hunt take higher priority over the thousands of mercenary lives that Nathan Drake takes, The Last of Us makes the act of taking human life feel consequential. Ellie will even comment on Joel’s brutality in places, linking the combat back to the story about characters psychologically damaged by their environment. Moreover some of the combat can be skipped if you choose stealth. The combat gameplay isn’t overly original, but my point is that it brings a certain level of maturity to the act of taking life which is something other story driven games often fail to do.

That leads me to my thoughts in the ending which I’ll enclose in spoiler tags:

The ending represents a classic dilemma between the needs of the few and the needs of the many (assuming Ellie’s death would actually have produced the cure - big if). But the way in which it was presented I thought was brilliant. Joel is not really a hero or a villain. He’s human. Given the right conditions, his psychological state could apply to a large number of people playing as him. The choice of killing the doctor was essentially one of necessity - his ability to go on was dependant on Ellie. It was either that or give up on himself. Similarly, players have the option of turning off the game, but that’s the only option besides killing the doctor because it’s the only one for Joel. I also think Ellie knew that Joel was lying to her about what happened with the fireflies, but she needed him as much as he needed her.

So yes, I definitely recommend The Last of Us. If you liked the Uncharted games, there are some similarities but it is a more mature, better written, take on cinematic storytelling.

There’s a Last of Us movie in the planning stages. Maisie Williams was in talks to play Ellie. I can picture that match, given the similarities to her character in Game on Thrones (even if Maisie is getting a bit old to play Ellie). Who would you like to see star in a Last of Us movie, @UrbanReflex?

I do wonder if a film based on The Last of Us could ever have the same impact as the game. A large part of the experience was becoming Joel and experiencing the world through his actions.

Finally I have some time to reply here with a post that does the game some kind’ve justice :anjou_happy:

Yes, I’d agree that the gameplay isn’t especially outstanding. I think it’s good, I think that it’s satisfying and challenging, and that scratting around for supplies lends a sense of desperation that enhances the game’s overall narrative. However, I also think that adding radically different or new gameplay mechanics to heavily story driven and cinematic games can detract from the experience as a whole, as it can be distracting from the in-gameplay story exposition moments, and jarring when you have to stop for a cutscene. To this end I think The Last of Us excels mightily, because the gameplay itself compliments the telling of the story, simply by being basic but grounded.

The setting of the game necessitates that it be violent - again, this comes in keeping the game grounded in the reality that it exists in. The challenges of the post apocalyptic world are apparent in the lack of materials available for crafting, the lack of ammo, the state of decay in both the clothes the characters wear and the architecture surrounding them (the leaning skyscraper being my favourite).

This is reflected by the way the characters react to both the events that happen around them, and each other. The relationship between Joel and Ellie begins cold, and distrusting - they’ve both become world-weary. However, there soon becomes a point where the more human side of the relationship overcomes that initial caution, and you can really see two people getting to know and becoming dependent on each other. Including some of the worst jokes in history.

The ending was a big choice for Naughty Dog to take. Normally games don’t make you do things that you don’t want to do - the big thing of the last few years has been morality choices (dark vs light). But here ND want to tell a story - and it reinforces how this game is a linear narrative more so than a game that players have choice over. Joel is doing what he wants to do, not perhaps what he thinks is right for humanity or indeed what the player might agree with. It’s an act born out of, you’re right, being dependent on Ellie. And she also forgives him later on for that same reason - however, I’m not sure she’ll forget it.

As for the movie, I’m excited but it’ll be a rare thing for them to recapture the relationship between the protagonists on the silver screen. If done right then it could work, but so much depends on the rapport between Joel and Ellie, not so much on who plays them. Thankfully the writer for TLOU is involved in the script for the film, so I have no worries as far as that’s concerned.

I bought the game again, this time a digital copy of The Last of Us Remastered for PS4 so that it will be in my collection permanently (I tend not to keep games on disc).

This is an excellent remaster. By default the game is rendered at 1800p on PS4 Pro but the frame rate feels a bit jittery on this setting, so I prefer to run it at 1080p for a consistent 60fps experience. The remastered version also has HDR support, which makes the environments look really vibrant. Although The Last of Us takes place in a post apocalyptic world, it’s not the desolate kind, and the urban environments are full vegetation that taken over, so enabling HDR adds a lot here.

If you haven’t played The Last of Us yet there’s little reason to get the PS3 version; the PS4 remaster is the definitive version. This is my second play through of The Last of Us and it still holds up very well in all areas: gameplay, visuals, and especially story/characters. I’m looking forward to playing Part 2 next year.

I saw you playing this yesterday and meant to message you! I’ve been excited to replay TLOU before TLOU comes out and I only get a few hours into the Remastered edition.

Considering how cinematic the game is though, do you not think it loses something in 60fps? I understand that films run at 24fps so 30fps for a game should seem more cinematic and less… gamey.

Film and games are such different mediums. The reason film at 24fps works is due to the fact that we are passively watching. When a game drops frame rate that low, it actually can affect input latency and reduce immersion into the game. If you were talking about cut scenes or passive video that would be different, but you want higher framerates while playing to reduce the latency effect.

The problem is that the 1800p mode also targets 60fps, but it doesn’t consistently meet this frame rate, so the inconsistency breaks immersion. That’s something which has bothered me about other recent games too, e.g. Red Dead Redemption 2, although in that case it aims for 30 but drops below 30 sometimes. I can’t think of any examples of games where I’d prefer 30fps over 60fps, are there any you would recommend playing this way?