Joel and Ellie’s magic, infected mystery tour stands as Naughty Dog’s tour de force.

Part gut wrenching shootout, part storytelling masterpiece, and part multiplayer paradigm shift, ‘The Last of Us’ is – if anything – a foray worthy of a pedestal place as one of the PS3’s all time greatest offerings.

Perhaps 'The Last of Us’ greatest achievement is raising the intellectual bar for what gamers should and could expect from a five star title. The Last of Us is not afraid to pull any punches on some of life’s biggest questions, and with it will leave even the hardiest of souls near or at actual tears at several instances. To declare The Last of Us the single best – to date – videogame storytelling example is a controversial but probably fairly accurate declaration.


For all is its barrier breaking, the premise behind the Last of Us is fairly ho-hum. Guy (‘Joel’) has family, guy meets infection apocalypse, guy discovers tragedy shortly thereafter. Several years pass. Guy – now shell of former self - finds teenage girl (‘Ellie’) along journey toward redemption. Guy and girl go on symbiotic and symbolic quest both to save themselves and humanity. Insert several actors guy and girl become attached to…and subsequently lose tragically.

Even with this prescriptive approach, The Last of Us is anything but formulaic. Its choice of environments, supporting characters, interaction types, and variety of gameplay challenges makes every new area intoxicatingly addictive. It’s nearly impossible to put The Last of Us down after the emotional and survival sacrifice simply to move past the previous.

An essential portion of this experience is the jaw-dropping graphics, combined with magnificent soundtrack and sound effects (even without proper surround sound). One would be hard pressed to find a current-gen game that looks and sounds better than The Last of Us, to include the masterpiece that is ‘Tomb Raider.’


Related – and to give credit where credit is due – it’s terrific to see developer Naughty Dog not rest on their Uncharted laurels. Uncharted 2 and 3 were very solid but flawed games, with frustrating jump and camera mechanics, unclear level design, also repetitive and over-the-top battles sequences seemingly to no where. These statements, however, are akin to declaring Kona coffee slightly earthy at times. One criticizes near-excellence out of respect.

The same could be said about the leap in multiplayer dynamics between the two. Gone are the endless Uncharted wave match modes, replaced with excellent multiplayer maps and match types where teamwork is literally the only way to survive. The Last of Us does what Brink tried to do in this area…except it succeeds. Still, expect to encounter many a leveled up jackass talking smack to his/her non-mic’d, newbie teammates. Also, some weapon types (e.g. nail bombs) are a bit too powerful. That’s multiplayer for ya’.

With this being said, The Last of Us multiplayer rewards persistence and play styles native to a specific fighting class. Snipers need to snipe. Covert folks must follow their namesake to survive. Guns blazing is always quick death. If you can muster up a decent headset and crew, there’s a lot to like about The Last of Us multiplayer. (FYI for Used Game buyers: an Online Pass is required for this feature.)


On gameplay-at-large, The Last of Us mainly hits…but misses in one key area. Real time item crafting is a stellar gameplay mechanic, also the emphasis on stealth/detection nuances for survival. Literally every enemy encounter becomes an exhilarating, by-the-skin-of-your-teeth victory. Expect to die a lot in this one. Cover dynamics are essential and physics brilliant, also ‘listening’ for enemies and setting decoy traps and sound misdirections.

The miss? Despite the variety of available play styles, environmental interaction, and weapon types, Naughty Dog has a deliberate and lone intended sequence for complex stage area completion. Meaning, The Last of Us unintentionally punishes players to frustrating ends for attempted yet encouraged improvisation and/or deviation. The wide discrepancy between reading gameplay designers’ minds and going improv is the world greatest gaming chasm. When the former nut is finally cracked – after dozens of deaths for seemingly no reason - one can’t help but feel cheated that s/he didn’t ‘beat’ the stage versus figuring out what one was ‘supposed’ to do.

This flaw is further hampered by occasionally unclear and/or glitchy detection areas for moving items or teamwork-based action. To explain, The Last of Us prides itself on allowing gamers to bypass enemies through clever strategy. Unfortunately, this is more potential than actual in execution…a critical flaw when – in some instances – Joel or Ellie are outnumbered almost 10:1. Ditto for sluggish over-the-shoulder camera work during intense melee battles. See previous comment on dying a lot.

With this being said, I’m going back to the Kona reference. The Last of Us is a stellar game, one that the game development and play community should look to as a highest-level foundation to build off of. Expectations are high for the PS4 and Xbox One; hopefully both can see titles like the Last of Us as beginning benchmarks to surpass.


The Last of Us stands as one of the finest PS3 titles in the console’s existence, a wonderful and often gut-wrenching tale that pushes gameplay and storytelling boundaries. Despite some level design and gameplay hiccups, both its single player and multiplayer experiences are rock solid. [9.6]

  • Highest level production values
  • Unsurpassed storytelling
  • Solid multiplayer mode emphasizing strategy
  • Forced stage completion design
  • Glitchy close-up camera
  • Pseudo versus actual stealth
Quote: "The Last of Us stands as one of the finest PS3 titles in the console’s existence, a wonderful and often gut-wrenching tale that pushes gameplay and storytelling boundaries."
Reviewed by Paul Stuart | 09.08.13 | Platform Reviewed: Playstation 3

Similar Games: Uncharted 3 (8.4) | Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (9.8)


The Last of Us


Naughty Dog


US Release
June '13



Players 1
Online MP
5.1 Surround
HD 480-1080i