Releasing next month, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us looked and sounded very promising after their fantastic run (and currently running) Uncharted series. Only just being fully completed about a week ago, I managed to attend a special event where I got to get my hands on the pre alpha version of the long awaited title.

The most important aspect of the game is the actually game play. The controls are very easy to understand and are quite similar to Uncharted, but whether or not you’re familiar with the Uncharted series or not, the ease of the controls will allow you to just fall into place and feel comfortable whilst playing.

Joel is a very lovely character to play with. His movements are very free flowing quite like Nathan Drake (Uncharted) but you also feel the weight of Joel in his movements. He’s not a light weight character like most game characters. This adds depth to the game play, especially when it comes to the hand to hand combat.

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The hand to hand combat is one of my favourite features to the game play. It’s brutal, with realistic elements to the way he punches and takes the enemy to the floor and beats the crap out of them. The intensity within his fighting style feels very realistic, pulling you into the game’s atmosphere and is great fun. Also his crouching state is very reliable and easy to handle (unlike the crouching style in Tomb Raider), it’s very smooth.

As it is quite the survival horror type game, there is obviously a lack of bullets; they are very limited so it’s best to just use them when it’s absolutely needed. However, the game does give you many opportunities to use objects as weapons and to also combine two or more objects to make a stronger weapon. E.g. a wooden stick, some tape and a pair of scissors. Also Joel has the skill to detect enemies behind the wall, which helps a lot when wanting to save your bullets and just stealth the enemy, (Playing out stealth attacks are also very smooth and enjoyable when done correctly) so this definitely makes up for the shortage of bullets. The gun play is very sturdy and not all over the place, so you get a good hand on your gun whilst aiming. Also the camera movements are more realistic with the character. It’s much like looking through Joel’s eyes to play the game, even though it’s third person. One example is when Joel is moving backwards, usually a character would turn around, but Joel actually walks backwards, which adds to the intensity o the game especially in combat and there is someone behind you.

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The AI’s are not scripted so their reactions are different in each scenario, but they are very brutal, especially the Clickers. The Clickers are much more of a handful than the infected people and there are basically two ways to kill them. Ellie is also a great companion. She doesn’t get in the way and she really does help you out. Overall, the game play is very clever and makes you think your way out of situations, it’s very technical so you can’t rush your way through. Patience goes a long way.

The graphics and visual effects are amazingly brilliant. There is a lot of fine, technical detail in the characters and the environment, for example, when moving through the grass, it moves and sways the way grass should. A very simple, but interesting finding was the way that Joel puts his gun away and you would actually see it in his back pocket whereas in other games, it would disappear in certain positions, and then reappear.

Overall it was a very exciting, action packed game that relies on patience, skill and applying yourself to the situation. It may be tricky, but the ease of the controls and lack of disturbance from Ellie makes life a bit more easy and the game more enjoyable, even when the deadly Clickers are at large.

There hasn’t been much news on the multiplayer aspect of The Last of Us as of yet, however, there has been a strong rumour floating around that it will involve the co-op feature online and offline, but with the release date vastly approaching, there is a lot of certainty that more information about the multiplayer will be revealed.

A well worthy game to be played and so far, the results are very pleasing. Pure awesomeness.