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The Last of Us review




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Our Score:



  • Immersive story
  • Impressive graphics and lifelike animation
  • Rich characters and tense, gritty atmosphere
  • Effective mix of stealth, action and survival horror


  • Can feel overly linear and scripted
  • AI isn't consistently brilliant

Exclusive to PlayStation 3

We’ll cut to the chase. With The Last of Us, Naughty Dog has created a late PlayStation 3 classic to equal Uncharted 2 and 3; a story-led action adventure that delivers on all technical, narrative and gameplay fronts, though sometimes less upfront about pushing the console hardware to its limits. Funnily enough, it’s also a reaction to Uncharted. Where Uncharted looked to the Hollywood blockbuster for inspiration, glibly mixing drama, romance and violence, there’s nothing glib about The Last of Us. It’s a dark and brutal game – even more so than, say, this year’s Tomb Raider reboot. There’s something hard and uncompromising in its world and in its combat that says “this is still entertainment, but stop, think twice about what you’re doing. How does it feel?”

Watch The Last of Us launch trailer:

The Last of Us: Hello Cruel World

The world it presents is ours, but twenty years after a disease has infected the majority of the world’s human population, transforming them into weird fungal mutants who feast on human flesh. Those of us who remain live in barricaded cities controlled by totalitarian government forces and scratching a living however we can. Joel, the game’s hero, has become a gunrunner and drug smuggler, sometimes working with a resistance group, the fireflies, yet not in any way allied to their cause. While taking vengeance on a duplicitous criminal gang leader, Joel and his partner, Tess, become embroiled in a plan to get a young girl, Ellie, out of the city. The story tracks what happens on the way out, and then what happens when it all goes wrong.

It’s not hard to spot the big-screen and small-screen inspirations – in terms of content and tone this is The Road meets The Walking Dead meets 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later and Day of the Dead, with touches of Children of Men and Stalker. Gameplay-wise, there are elements of Uncharted in small sections of platforming or the third-person gunplay, but The Last of Us owes just as much to stealth and survival horror as the action game.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us: The Breakdown

Looking at it coldly, you could break the whole game down into chunks or encounters. Joel and his current companions have to get from A to B, and there are infected or human aggressors in their way. You can try and sneak past them, crouching behind cover and flitting from one obstruction to another, or you can try and shoot it out with pistol, rifle, bow and shotgun. You can sneak up behind your enemies and take them down one-by-one with a stranglehold or shiv, or you can try setting traps to overpower them.

Frequently Plan A breaks down into Plan B before all plans go out of the window, in which case you’ll be manically attempting some mix of all of the above. Eventually you either work through the encounter or die and start again.

The Last of Us

Naughty Dog skilfully breaks up this basic template by varying the enemies and the situations, and by giving you such a rich set of tools to do your work with. Stealth, ranged and melee weapons all play their part, and some need to be crafted or upgraded using scavenged supplies. Some crafting can be done in the field, while more serious weapons upgrades need a workbench. Meanwhile you’ll be battling through part-flooded wastelands, the graveyards and backyards of deserted small-town America and the grim urban hideouts of the most degenerate survivors. It’s no picnic, unless you like the smell of decay and the taste of rust and blood.

Cleverly, the need to scavenge adds a nice risk/reward structure to the mix. While each chapter is actually quite linear, there are always buildings and outhouses to explore. Doing so always nets you more supplies, but it also raises the threat of attack. Meanwhile, there are minor puzzles to solve, usually involving shifting planks to cross rooftops or skips to reach high ledges, though with things sometimes complicated by threats in the immediate vicinity.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us: Seamless Stealth, Action and Survival

The important thing is that all these elements work seamlessly. The stealth controls are simple, intuitive and predictable. Surprise attacks and grabbing moves come naturally at the tap of a button. Holding the R2 button makes Joel listen, darkening the area and highlighting the position of approaching enemies. Crafting and healing work slowly enough to make you avoid doing either in the heat of combat, but fast enough that you can break away from enemies with a quick sprint, then pop into a corner and get yourself patched up or your baseball bat more deadly.


June 5, 2013, 7:39 pm

Not my type of game at all, I don't like linear type action adventure games but going by all the reviews and the amount of people who loved Uncharted I think a lot of people are going to be very happy with this game.

To be honest I was kind of hoping it wasn't like uncharted because a lot of what I have seen of it appealed to me.


June 6, 2013, 5:06 am

TLOU showcases a great combination of the ingredients found in movies like The Road, the zombie phenomenon, desperate survival themes and scavenging objectives into a delicious game. However, I would rather put something "new" like State of Decay or Remember Me into my plate as it seems to offer more. My opinion will still not stop me from playing all three titles though. Great review.


June 6, 2013, 8:53 am

I've just ordered a PS3 Slim because of this game. Picked up a copy of the Ico/Shadow of Collussus HD remake while I was at it. May as well squeeze as much life as possible out of it until the next generation arrives.

Matthew Bunton

June 16, 2013, 8:47 am

A typical Naughty dog game with high production values but you spend more time watching their games than you do playing them.

Brilliant Interaction

June 16, 2013, 10:51 pm

Video games were born and died with the PlayStation1 in a way. The amount of effort put into graphics these days has affected things a lot. Modern consoles have noisy fans. The PS1, the N64, had no fans. The original Nintendo too. Dust and evergy sucking graphics units turn me off gaming these days. If I can get games like this to run on my silent PC, I might give it a try, because I do like linear games. I loved the old resident evil games.

Hamish Campbell

June 17, 2013, 1:19 pm

Or, you could play it using headphones.

Your choice.

Falcon D. Stormvoice

June 21, 2013, 2:16 am

It's pretty much the opposite of Uncharted. It's action in the sense that you have conflicts.

Falcon D. Stormvoice

June 21, 2013, 2:18 am

Nope. Lots of great gameplay that adds to the story here.


August 19, 2013, 11:26 am

I'm not sure to get it is it good


August 19, 2013, 11:28 am

Tell me

Matthew Bunton

September 2, 2013, 7:20 pm

I just couldn't get into this game I played about 10 hours and just gave up on it. Whilst the story was good I want good game play. The game was very repetitive and amounted to sneak, kill, cut scene repeat and rinse.

Very disappointed with it to be honest and as I predicted a typical Naughty Dog game where you watch it more than you play.

Falcon D. Stormvoice

September 4, 2013, 11:10 pm

It was white-knuckles tension and fear interspersed with moments of false security that only heightened the sense of impending doom. I couldn't play this game for more than 10 minutes at a time due to the sheer emotional toll it took on me -- people were wondering why I was taking such long breaks from this game I had waited forever to play. And I am not prone to histrionics. Being one of the best stories ever told with an ending that left me feeling stabbed in the heart was just the icing on the cake.

It's unfortunate that you were unable to extract that from the experience.

Falcon D. Stormvoice

September 4, 2013, 11:15 pm

So you can't play awesome games because of the fairly quiet PS3 fans, and we should downgrade graphics so we don't have a slight fan noise?

Are you perchance afflicted with a form of high-functioning autism?

Falcon D. Stormvoice

September 4, 2013, 11:15 pm

It's the best game ever.


September 5, 2013, 12:15 am

New loot system looks much better than PC version. Also no AH makes this one worth to try. Xbox 360 version would be my choice.

Matthew Bunton

September 5, 2013, 12:48 am

Maybe I should give it another go then.

You make it sound so good, glad you enjoyed it that much.

The finisher

November 6, 2013, 11:54 pm

The game was great! thanks for the small tips that I used and did not use! :)

Mart van Duijn

February 21, 2014, 8:39 pm

I think the trailer is too ´´badass´´ though.. What do you think?


July 10, 2014, 4:47 pm

Or you could just give up gaming altogether, since this is not your thing.

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