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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (495)

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Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5

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The Last of Us   PlayStation 3 

This Is How a Generation Should End    4.5/5 stars

One of my most anticipated games of year, The Last of Us lived up to the massive hype surrounding it. Though it may fall just short of being perfect - I can say with certainty it is my favorite Sony exclusive on the PS3 and any fan of Survival Horror, or anyone who wants a game that is just as focused on the characters and story as the action, should definitely check this out. Even if the next generation of systems hasn't got my attention - at least I know that Sony went out with a bang by saving this gem until the end.

Presentation: Gorgeous - the quality is some of the best I have seen in both the character design and the levels. This takes place in a world where fungus-infested humans have decimated the population (zombie-styles) and the looks is perfect. Vegetation has taken over skyscrapers and homes alike - rusted hulks and burned-out vehicles litter the roads - and everything has an age to it that looks suitably weathered and broken-down. The game takes you through many locations, from a university campus to a hydroelectric dam to a resort in the middle of a snow storm - and, while you are going to get a few jaggies here and there - I have to say I was impressed all around.

But it's not just the levels that look good - the characters are just as well rendered. Though Ellen Page may have a beef with the designer using her likeness (it's not that big of stretch) - it is done beautifully. What is more, the vocal talent is spot on with veteran talent like Troy Baker (who also voiced Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite - amongst many other roles) and Ashley Johnson providing some of their best work as leads Joel and Ellie. Johnson should be singled out for making Ellie into a character that seems, well, just more real than a typical video game character. She cusses a lot - but also pulls out a joke book or starts jamming along to music - or even whistling. She can't swim, but she's a good shot with a gun. Oh, and she happens to be the best chance for humanity to survive - not too much on her shoulders. Even the secondary characters - whether you only see them for a chapter - manage to make a nice impact - from psycho cannibals to moralistic Firefly members, to fellow survivors - it's never bland or boring, that is for sure.

Both the music and sound effects are also well done. Those with surround sound capabilities will be happy - especially as the "clicker" enemies and echoing human voices - often seem to come from different areas. Speaking of enemies - although there isn't too much variety, what they give you is well done. The fungus-crusted former humans are deadly (and apparently based on the real-life phenomena of zombie bees - look it up!) and even more deadly are the humans - especially those armed with guns. They get the post-apocalyptic look right - and they get the enemies right as well.

Story: We start off at the home of Joel and his daughter Sarah - he is the typical hard- working dad who is never around enough - but don't worry, he'll have all the quality time he needs with a mysterious infection starts turning the world into a madhouse. You know this isn't going to end well.

Flash forward years later and the world is a much different place. The few human cities are under strict military control and only splinter groups like the "Fireflies" work against this oppressive threat. Joel is just getting by - and when a weapons deal goes south, he is forced to take on a new escort, a young girl named Eliie - and deliver her to the Fireflies. What starts off as something relatively simple becomes much deeper, as the duo find themselves having to travel much further than they thought. This journey is just as much an emotional one as it is a physical one. Joel slowly opens up after having been shut down for so long as Ellie, who reminds him so much of Sarah, starts to break down his walls. They meet up (and lose) a lot of people along the way - a lone, slightly-off survivor who has turned one town into his own fortress, Joel's estranged brother who runs his own community, a father-son fellow survivors who have lost most of their group to deadly scavengers (who kill in order to get their supplies) and a whole community of cannibals led by one twisted man (who reminded me a bit of The Governor of the Walking Dead).

What drives Joel is that Ellie is one of the few (if not the only) person who seems to be immune to the infection that turns everyone else into fungus-covered monsters. She has been bitten - and is infected - but doesn't show the symptoms that turn you into a walking mushroom. She's like Typhoid Mary, without the whole infecting-other-people-because-I-can outlook. The Fireflies are looking for her because they want a cure - but the closer Joel gets to the destination, and the closer he becomes to Ellie - the more and more unsure he is of handing her over. The ending is both brilliant and stunning - and I'm still not sure how I feel about it - but it is one of the most memorable in recent memory.

Gameplay: The only downfall I found with Last of Us is that it attempts to be more Metal Gear Solid than your typical Resident Evil style survival horror. There is a lot of sneaking and stealth going on - a lot more than I was expecting - and the game is unforgiving. Although the game will load up scenarios if you die - I found myself replaying some areas a half-dozen times before I got things right. It also uses a scarcity of ammo - and breakable melee weapons - to make things even more intense, thought at times it just made things more annoying. I did enjoy the variety of weapons - nothing like taking down a hunter with a bow and arrow or pulling out your shortie shotgun and blasting a clicker in the face - but overall there is not a lot of variety.

Enemies come in three main zombie types - the runner - somewhat human (you can sneak up and take them down if you're silent) but once they hear you, they will all come running - meaning you better have a bomb handy or a lot of ammo saved up. Clickers are the deadlier (they can one-hit kill you) fungal-bloom monsters. They are blind - so if you stay quiet you can sneak by them. You can kill them by using a shiv (a one use weapon you craft - two uses if you upgrade it) or take them down with bullets or melee weapons - but if they catch you, it's game over. Finally you have the "Bloaters" - much tankier guys that take multiple bullets to take down - luckily these guys are few and far between.

The human enemies are much more devious - they will flank you, have excellent aim and, true to the reality of the game, you will die in short work if a few bullets or baseball bats come your way. Once again, stealth is your friend as sneaking up and taking them down quietly is preferred to a firefight. You have a "hearing range" that lets you slow down the game and, if enemies are making any sound, they will be highlighted on the map. This lets you somewhat put together a strategy for taking them out without being seen (though I found myself in plenty of firefights for the most part). The game allows you to craft a variety of items - healing kits, molotovs, smoke bombs, shrapnel grenades and shiv. I found myself barely using the bombs or other thrown weapons - though the shivs come in very handy for quickly taking down enemies (and opening certain doors) and the healing kits are essential in my book. At least on Normal I never found myself lacking (after the first chapter or so) materials to craft things.

The game also lets you collect pills and scrap for upgrading your character and weapons accordingly. The pills give you extra health, shorter crafting times and more hearing distance while the upgraded weapons give you less recoil, more bullets, less sway and a wider spread (depending on the weapon) amongst other things. These are scattered about much like the crafting materials. In order to fully max out stats and guns, you will have to get through at least on New Game +.

The game is not open-world - although you can explore certain buildings and areas, you are limited where you can go and the game is on a linear path. That's okay, as the design more than makes up it. But so many games get linear paths wrong that I don't feel so bad about the way they make it work in The Last of Us. The best level in the game is the one where you take over as Ellie - although you're still using stealth, it has the best side-plot in the game.

However, for me, the gameplay was a bit of a letdown - compared to the excellent story and characters, I just wanted a bit more. It's not terrible, it's just not what I wanted.

Replayability: The game has a variety of difficulties (from Easy to Survivor Mode) and once you pass it on any difficulty setting, you open up a New Game + (keeping all your upgrades) on the difficulty on that level or lower. Plus, the many collectibles (Artifact, Firefly Pendants, Comic Books and even Optional Dialogue) will keep you coming back as well.

Overall: The best exclusive game for the PS3 as far as I'm concerned and one of the best survival horror games on the market. Excellent story and characters make this a memorable and fantastic experience.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Replayability: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5/5

 

 


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