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Game Info:

The Last of Us
Developed By: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: June 14, 2013
Available On: PS3
Genre: Survival Horror, Action
ESRB: M
Number of Players: 1 offline, 2-8 online
Price: $59.99

Opening with one of the most captivating introduction sequences I have ever experienced in a videogame, The Last of Us starts up by taking your breath away and seldom stops. Joel, a father and a wanderer finds himself in a world succumbing to a unique type of zombie apocalypse. After events early in the game leave Joel especially jaded, he becomes a quintessential survivor; Joel will do whatever is necessary to live one more day in a world filled with ruthless scavengers, terrorists known as the fireflies, and creatures that will drive you insane if they get a good bite or scratch. Despite most things looking grim for Joel, he quickly receives a mission that will take him far from the quarantine zone that he had resigned himself to and into a truly crazy world.

The gameplay in The Last of Us consists of three distinct parts: exploration, stealth sections, and outright gun battles. Exploring actually takes up a considerable portion of the game and facilitates much of the storytelling that develops the fatherly bond between Joel and his 14 year-old companion, Ellie. During these sections you can also search around for supplies that are used to construct useful items like med-kits or Molotov cocktails. Additionally, hidden collectables, like comic books for Ellie to read, are scattered in places that only the most thorough will find. Next, stealth sections are a huge part of this game and arguably a part of every confrontation. While the stealth mechanics do not have the depth of Splinter Cell, they are streamlined well and sneaking becomes as second nature as using any of the other weapons in the game. Before the enemies know that you are in the room, you can throw bricks and bottles for distractions, strangle unsuspecting victims, or even use explosive weapons like the Molotov cocktail without being seen. Since Joel and Ellie both have unexplainably good hearing, they can pretty much see any enemy that is making a noise through walls. While this may seem extremely overpowered, and often is, enemies eventually start to sneak themselves, making them invisible and more frightening. Finally, once you are revealed, a typical shootout occurs where you can use any of the weapons in your arsenal to eliminate your foes. Firearms range from a shotgun-like pistol to a flamethrower and all pack a serious punch. Every shot you land on an enemy sends them reeling and shots that hit you send you to your knees. Melee weapons like wooden planks or fire axes can be used for grisly effect as well.

During all three of the aforementioned sections, crafting, upgrading your weapons, and even upgrading your character are integral parts of The Last of Us. When you collect supplies from the environment like alcohol and tape, you can use them to construct improvised weapons on the fly. Thankfully, the menu system is well designed such that you can craft a first aid kit during a battle and use it while under cover. Next, gears are hidden around the environment and can be used to upgrade your weapons' fire rate, ammo capacity, or even armor penetration. Most of these upgrades feel significant once purchased and affect the weapon for the rest of the game. Finally, pills can be collected that can somehow upgrade Joel’s abilities. Upgrades to Joel include increasing his hearing range or reducing weapon sway (which is significant early in the game).

Highlights:

Strong Points: Gripping storyline from beginning to end; gritty, realistic combat; strong character development
Weak Points: Platforming is relatively limited; small number of enemy types
Moral Warnings: Extremely graphic violence and torture scenes; superfluous cursing

Even though zombie-like creatures are the main enemy in this game, many encounters involve scavengers that will attack you and your allies for the spare scissors in your backpack. The scavengers use the same wide variety of weapons that you have access to and are adept at flanking you while their teammates keep you pinned to a given barrier. As the game progresses, some start to wear body armor, helmets, or even start to sneak, increasing their difficulty. The zombies, on the other hand come in a few forms that require different tactics. Some have recently turned into the undead and run frantically toward you once they see you. Other zombies, called clickers, have been infected so long they cannot see. These zombies use echolocation to find you and will attack at the slightest noise. All of the zombies are very creepily animated and make grotesque, unnerving noises as you attempt to sneak up on them and take them out silently.

The multiplayer portion of The Last of Us is much more sneaky than similar online titles, which is a great thing. Players must scavenge for resources to build weapons that they can use against the other players. In addition to having the preternatural hearing of the main characters in the campaign, enemy players can be marked for your whole team to see. The online mode has several game modes including one that gives each survivor only one life to use. This mode also has Call-of-Duty-like perks that can be used to upgrade your character. It seems like the online for The Last of Us will offer an interesting experience long after the main campaign is finished. 

Graphically, The Last of Us is a stunning tribute to this current console generation. Characters look amazingly realistic and facial animations are even better than Naughty Dog’s other famous franchise, Uncharted. The scenery is also detailed and interesting. Cityscapes on the east coast look brilliant as they bathe in the light of the sun while subterranean tunnels are immersive and dark. The design of the zombies was extremely well done and immediately conveys the level of sickness of each one.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 96%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 47%
Violence - 1/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 4.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

The voice acting in this game is amazing and was used many times to convey huge emotional payloads as the plot twisted and turned. Enemies, particularly the zombies, sounded as they should; scavengers swore believably and zombies moaned and cackled creepily. The music is definitely better than most games I can currently think of and had mostly acoustic guitar tracks that really conveyed the depressing mood of a world on the edge of collapse.

As far as stability, I did not encounter any problems until literally the last 15 minutes of the game. For some reason, the cutscene dialogue would play, but the screen would be black or a frozen image. I had to look up the ending on YouTube to see it properly and have yet to properly finish the last cutscene on the console because it freezes. I do not think that this is a common issue, but it is unfortunate.

The violent content in this game has few equals. Heads can be decapitated with fire axes or blown off with a well-aimed shot. Body parts can be removed from the impact of bullet hits. When a zombie kills Joel or Ellie, a graphic cutscene will play with the zombie ripping out neck tissue or even gouging out Joel’s eyes. Large blood pools emanate from dead corpses and zombies have a lot of dried blood on their bodies. Additionally, some scenes depict cruel torture, such as breaking a victim’s legs or shooting them in a non-lethal way, to extract information. Another moral pitfall is the cursing in this game. The f word flows freely from nearly every character's mouth, but it comes most surprisingly – and nearly continuously – from Ellie who is only 14 years old. Some scenes require you to make predetermined moral decisions that are reprehensible and violate most people’s code of ethics if they were to actually do it. Finally, there is some sexuality in the game in the form of an adult magazine containing males that one of the male characters views. That same male character is also suggested to be “partners” with another male character. Additionally, Joel is in a relationship with a woman named Tess and they live together.

Despite all of the moral failings of this game, I can’t help but feel that it was one of the most immersive and thought provoking games that I have ever played. The entire story, especially the ending, are well worth the monetary admission price, but I can only recommend this game to those who can accept the extremely graphic and offensive moral content of this game.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Soldier4Christ

    THank you for the review. I ended up taking this game back before i opened it. Too much conviction from Holy Spirit after I heard of the content. I felt a pressure come off me when I returned it. I want my heart kept sensative to hear God.

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  • Glad you found the review helpful!

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  • Guest - WranglerAz

    I found this is a well written and very informative review, and is helpful when making a purchasing decision or talking with others about the game.

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  • Guest - Mooba

    "Moral failings" Well, as they say in the game: You either hang onto your morals and die or do what you can to survive. ;) And failings is subjective. Nonetheless, I agree that it is an amazing game. It's perfect in every way for me. I love love LOVE Ellie and her development as a character. She's so relatable and witty. I'd want her as a friend. And Joel is one serious bad***. But he's also quite the interesting character, as Ellie forces him to come out of his shell and provoke his thoughts and ideas he generally had hidden.

    Oh, by the way, Joel and Tess aren't in a relationship, just Bill and Frank. And for anyone who reads the comments, I personally don't care/mind about anything graphic or gorey in this game, but some of you might--The reviewer forgot to mention how at one point (SPOILERS) Ellie nearly gets raped and eaten.

    However, that's just the way it is. This game does an amazing job of presenting a very real possibility of our future, where everything is covered in blood, nobody trusts anybody, if you're in the wrong place, you'll be used and abused, and most importantly, humanity isn't worth saving when it's down to the last of us.

    Comment last edited on about 3 months ago by Cheryl
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  • Guest - Scott

    Thanks! This review confirmed the game is inappropriate for a Christian and saved me from considering it.

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  • Guest - JitterbugJive

    In reply to: Guest - Scott

    the best way IMO to enjoy media like this Scott and S4C, is to take it as a movie (watch a Longplay, or cutscenes&bossfights only) rather than play it yourself. This spares you the moral guilt of having paid for or interacted with the material, but you still get to see the story unfold. I feel that cutting away the interaction gives you a larger buffer from the immorality, as well as the guilty feeling of being forced to press certain buttons to 'pull the trigger' so to speak in various cutscenes (though from a gameplay perspective I think this is a bad thing as well, as more games should encourage non-lethal solutions to even your greatest foes). Taking properties like this, Metal Gear, ******in's Creed, Castlevania, or Devil May Cry as movies and not games allows you to experience the artistry involved in a less objectionable way.

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  • Guest - dima

    you forgot to mention that ellie also had a lesbian kiss with that one girl.

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  • Guest - DaddyLikes2Play2

    I thought the name of this website was Christ Centered Gamer. After reading your review, I am astounded you would recommend it. There should be no Christian that could as you say, "accept the extremely graphic and offensive moral content of this game." Looking at your Morality Scores, I am shocked you even finished the game. God authored a standard of morality for everyone. I say this with nothing but love brother, but you praise of this game should cause you to question your relationship with God. Salvation comes through not through an intellectual belief in God. It comes through faith and obedience in God. For the sake of our cause, please stop recommending trash like this or change the name of your website. Your product should be no means be ***ociated with Christianity.

    from Wilmington, NC, USA
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  • Guest - Daniel Moir

    I think the point the game was trying to make was that, at our core, humans are pretty rotten. Take away our food and our creature comforts, and we become monsters. The sad truth is, at it's core, this game has a lot to say about the social decay we are experiencing in real life. Even if it is represented as zombies and a post apocalyptic world. I love this game. It shows us a world where God has been forgotten, and it is not a pretty one.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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