DESIGN

The Last of Us is a pretty game, perhaps the best looking thing to come out on the PS3 thus far, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. It has a wonderful look to it, but it is pushing the capabilities of the console and it shows. The developers have had to cut back graphically in a few places where less detail was needed: When looking closely at various objects, there’s a distinct lack of texture quality, and sometimes the objects even look flat.  Artistically however, it is very impressive with the same half-comic book, half-realistic look we’re all familiar with from Uncharted: deep colors and beautiful lighting makes the game look almost like a painting, all the while it retains very realistic textures and beautiful animation that is almost true to life.

The sound design is excellent: The sound of zombies, in particular the clickers, is terrifying. Gunshots, which are rare and powerful things in the game, are ear-shatteringly loud, and the dynamic range of the audio is wide and allows for excellent immersion, especially with headphones. On top of all of this is fantastic voice acting, featuring the talent of Troy Baker (Bioshock Infinite’s Booker DeWitt) and Ashley Johnson (Ben 10, The Killing), as well as a dark and moody guitar soundtrack.

the last of us preview Review: The Last of Us (PS3)

As pretty as it gets on the PS3

The game environments have been created with a lot of love; there is detail everywhere. It seems as if every room has been carefully crafted; nothing looks “generic”. Even the areas built for enemy encounters (you know, the ones where you usually find yourself in a large area with geometrically spaced out cover) seem to have been created with the intent of looking natural and not like a shooting range.

The AI goes a long way towards making the world believable as well. Both Ellie and Joel frequently comment upon or interact with the world. You’ll find Ellie flipping through the records in an abandoned music shop, or poking around at something in the corner of a room while you’re looting. As previously mentioned, her ability to interact with you and help you out during enemy encounters makes her presence in the game seem much more real, similar to how Elizabeth has an active presence in Bioshock Infinite. Unfortunately, AI is also where the game looks its worst: In order to not make Ellie a hindrance to your game, the enemy ignores her unless Joel has been spotted. This sometimes leads to her sprinting across the room to catch up with you, or momentarily sitting on the wrong side of cover, all the while none of the enemy NPCs notice her presence. Admittedly, the game would be aggravating if her mistakes ruined your attempts at stealth, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s immersion breaking. Furthermore, while not in combat the enemy AI always walks in very predictable patterns. Once again, this is probably to make gameplay more approachable and less frustrating, but it does remove from the otherwise very compelling immersion.