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post #1 of 1 Old 07-24-2013, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Location: Long Island, NY
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400
Overall rating:
5/5




Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
92




Platform(s): Playstation 3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Third Person Adventure/Survival Horror
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

Length: 12-20 Hours
Difficulty: Easy-Very Difficult (Optional)
Game Modes: Single Player Campaign, Competitive Multiplayer

Full Game Size: 26 GB
Disc Install Size: 50 MB
Resolution: 720p (2D)
Frame Rate: 30fps (with occasional dips)

Audio Format(s): PCM 7.1, PCM 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic II, Stereo Headphones, Stereo Speakers
Spoken Languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Ashley Johnson, Troy Baker

Director/Lead Designer: Bruce Straley
Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla
Written by: Neil Druckmann

Release Date: June 14, 2013



Synopsis:

20 years after a pandemic has radically changed known civilization, infected humans run wild and survivors are killing each other for food, weapons - whatever they can get their hands on. Joel, a violent survivor, is hired to smuggle a 14 year-old girl, Ellie, out of an oppressive military quarantine zone, but what starts as a small job soon transforms into a brutal journey across the U.S.


My Take:

After reading the synopsis, you could be forgiven for writing off The Last of Us as just another zombie game, but it wastes no time in separating itself from the pack. Naughty Dog has outdone itself once again, although this is a far cry from the lighthearted adventures of "Uncharted." The introductory sequence is particularly riveting–it makes the effort to earn your suspension of disbelief through unwavering attention to detail, before launching into one of the most genuinely frightening sequences I've ever played. Progressing through the full spectrum of fear, from creeping anxiety all the way to sheer terror, it's exceedingly rare for a game to be so utterly engrossing from the very beginning. After such an intense intro, I needed to take a step back for a few minutes–where other games expect you to lose yourself in the experience without laying the proper foundation, The Last of Us swallows you whole from the first moment and never lets you go.

Joel, the protagonist and player character, initially comes off as distant and cold. Ellie serves as a counterweight to his detachment, and is easily one of the most lovable characters ever to grace a video game. Having never known the world before the apocalypse, she still exhibits the playfulness of an outgoing teenage girl, with occasional bouts of outright naiveté. But far from a damsel in distress, when backed into a corner she bares her fangs and displays a ferociousness that betrays her innocent exterior. Strong female characters in video games are as rare as diamonds, but she easily makes up for three decades of neglect. Although it is quite apparent that manners have slipped since the apocalypse–Ellie has a way with words that would make a sailor blush. Although it's frequently extremely violent, the typical over-the-top bloodbath is replaced by an unglamorous brutality. It's quite effective in making you feel uncomfortable more often than heroic, but the body count is still unreasonably large by the end. Outright filler content is fortunately absent, but a few unnecessary chapters and battle sequences dilute the experience, and the occasional poorly designed level may leave you at a loss of how to proceed.

Overall, there are very few ways I could imagine how the game could realistically have been improved–this is a must-play for anyone who can stomach the brutality. Without relying on heavy-handed exposition and an excessively complex plot to drive the narrative, The Last of Us is refreshing. Although the moment to moment gameplay holds up its end of the bargain, it's the characters and human drama that will stick with you. It may especially strike a chord with gamers that have children of their own, but this is definitely a game for adults only.


Parental Guide:

Extreme and realistic violence, frequent graphic language.




AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**Ratings are judged against the state of the art in contemporary games. As technology rapidly improves, standards will raise appropriately.**


Audio: 100

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Low Frequency Extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Positional/Environmental Cues: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Detail/Realism: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue/Mix Quality: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699


Easily the highlight of the A/V experience, TLOU sets a new high watermark for audio in video games. With dynamic range set to maximum in the options menu, the soundscape is given ample room to breathe. Turning up to reference level allows dialogue and ambience to shine through clearly at a comfortable volume, while saving plenty of headroom for louder effects. No other game has come so close to capturing the frightening and awesome power of firing a rifle or shotgun. Environmental modeling is top notch, with layers of ambience blending seamlessly with positional cues, allowing your theater to melt away and fully absorbing you into the experience. Low frequencies are employed with restraint to give a satisfying weight and authority to effects without crossing the line into the ever-present rumbling that tends to plague most action games. The score displays a similar restraint, with simple and evocative pieces that evolve throughout the course of the game. Mixing of all the various elements is flawless with dialogue always clear and intelligible–Naughty Dog has mastered the art of keeping sound effects from trampling all over dialogue. If you have the gear to make it shine, TLOU will not let you down.


Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Aliasing: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Frame Rate: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Calibration Adherence: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Technical Quality: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Art Design/Production Values: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699


In the twilight of a console generation, expectations for visual fidelity are running high. In most respects, TLOU doesn’t disappoint. Facial and character animation is simply phenomenal in the cinematic sequences. Naughty Dog's performance capture technology is second to none, capable of capturing the slightest facial twitch of genuinely gifted actors. Ashley Johnson (Ellie) steals the show, although the rest of the cast carry their weight. The world feels truly alive; no detail was spared in recreating a believable post-apocalyptic U.S., from the authentically modeled locations torn apart by 20 years of neglect, all the way down to the realistic pattering of rain against a dirty window.

Unfortunately, the ambitions of the developers clearly exceed what the Playstation 3 is capable of delivering. Most of the power of the PS3 was turned towards rendering the detailed environments, leaving the core presentation somewhat lacking. 30 frames a second is already barely adequate for games of this type, and only a light touch of motion blur is present to smooth it out. Occasional dips in performance during complex sequences further degrade the presentation. Resolution is a native 720p–standard for the platform, but heavy aliasing frequently rears its ugly head and severely hinders the overall appearance. Still, Naughty Dog deserves credit for treating well calibrated displays with respect, no tweaking is necessary to produce a balanced and rich picture. Although they've squeezed every last drop of performance out of the PS3, a game of this caliber deserves better. I can't help but feel that TLOU would be more at home on next generation hardware.


Recommended In-game Settings:

  • Audio—Dynamic Range: Maximum

  • Audio—Center Speaker: Large

  • Video—Brightness: Default



Game Design: 80

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Overall Gameplay: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Controls/Feel: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Interface: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Stability: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Load Time: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692


TLOU exhibits excellent pacing, with frequent shifts between action, stealth, exploration and exposition. But far too many collectables distract from the pace of the narrative, which all too often feature essential story elements that can be easily missed. Combat feels tight and satisfying, with remarkably unpredictable enemy AI. Controls are tight, but the low frame rate and mild input delay can lead to a somewhat detached feeling. The basic interface is intuitive and checkpoints are frequent and well placed, but a few glitches popped up during my play through, with enemies spawning or disappearing right in front of my character, leading to several untimely deaths. The initial load time takes an eternity, measuring at a full three and a half minutes–but reloads after death are near instantaneous, a tradeoff I'm more than happy to make. The multiplayer modes are rather forgettable, but the campaign is reason enough to purchase the game.


Bonus Features:

  • Cinematics Gallery (Acquired upon chapter completion)

  • Character Uniforms (Unlockable)

  • Concept Art Gallery (Unlockable)

  • Alternate Render Modes (Unlockable)





Final Thoughts:

The Last of Us is the full package–a story with subtlety and depth, which rarely falls back on taking the easy way out. Even though familiar genre tropes manage to sneak in from time to time, they rarely play out as anticipated. Solid gameplay and an excellent A/V presentation round out the experience–where it falters, it's difficult to hold it against the developers. Judged against its peers, TLOU is a front-runner for game of the year, if not the entire generation. It's an incredible way to send off the Playstation 3, but we can only hope a Playstation 4 edition isn't too far behind.



Mark D'Aria
AVS Forum Video Game Reviews


Reference Review System:

Panasonic TC-P60ST30 60" 1080P 3D Plasma Display (Calibrated with i1 Display LT)
Anthem MRX300 7.1 Channel AVR (Calibrated with Anthem ARC)
Paradigm Studio 40 v.3 (Main)
Paradigm CC-470 v.3 (Center)
Paradigm Studio 20 v.4 (Surround)
Velodyne HGS-18 (Subwoofer)
Sony Playstation 3 Slim (500GB Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid HDD)
Microsoft Xbox 360
Custom Gaming PC (Intel i5-3470, Nvidia GTX 760, 8GB DDR3, Samsung 840 SSD)

Steam/PSN/Xbox Live: Darius510
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