So here it is – after an incredible countdown of the best games of this year, we have finally reached No. 1. So, gaining 38% of the overall vote, you have made your decision – the best game of 2014 is Naughty Dog’s triumph The Last of Us.
Released over a year ago on PS3, and re-released as a re-mastered version on PS4 this summer, The Last of Us has won over 200 ‘Game of the Year’ awards and was the second biggest release of 2013 after GTA V. So what is it that made this game so incredible, and what is it about the re-mastered version that has made it still the best a year after its original release?
The first and most important thing to start with when discussing this game is its story. The Last of Us plays out on a bigger scale than any game to come before it, and has been praised for its characterisation and the way in which it beautifully and powerfully explores human nature. You will be hard pressed to find another game that can come close to The Last of Us’s ability to pull you into Joel, the playable protagonist, world, and to evoke such empathy and emotion from the player. Even the prologue has the ability to bring you to tears.
So the story. Without wanting to give away any spoilers, the game is set in an apocalyptic world where the considerable majority of civilisation has been infected by a mutant Cordyceps fungus, turning them into cannibalistic monsters. You play as Joel, who is entrusted with escorting your AI companion Ellie to the rebel group, the Fireflies. The two travel together, and you the player are forced to join them as they make impossible decisions in order to survive. The game’s setting creates a powerful backdrop, questioning the human condition in a powerful and evoking way. Even from this, you can tell that The Last of Us is a deep and emotional game, but is one of the most rewarding you can ever play.
As for gameplay, The Last of Us is a third person game involving gunfights, melee combat and an inspired cover system. As you travel through you world, you must fend off infected monsters that will try and kill you; however, as is masterful in this game, you have the choice to either go in all guns blazing or try and sneak past undetected. Weapons can be upgraded at workbenches throughout the game, as well as upgrading Joel’s skills, such as his health bar and crafting speed, through the collection of plants and pills. The game also has periods of non-fighting, where you must complete puzzle-like situations, such as helping Ellie cross areas of water as she cannot swim.
The Last of Us also has three multiplayer game types, each allowing for eight players. Two are death-matches, one that doesn’t involve re-spawning, and the third is an interrogation, where each team must interrogate a captured enemy in order to gain the location of a lockbox. However, in each of these game types, the players must not only try and win, but also must try and survive by collecting supplies.
The Last of Us: Remastered not only contains the original game, but also the incredible DLC The Last of Us: Left Behind. This updated version really looks stunning, making the most of the graphics on the PS4. The environments are incredibly realistic, which only make the game more engaging that it was on PS3; if that was even possible.
The Last of Us really has the perfect balance of gameplay and narrative, neither one of them overshadowing the other. Naughty Dog were developing this game alongside the last two Uncharted games, and this is pretty evident in the character development and combat style.
So, is this game truly deserving of being voted the best game of this year? In my opinion, yes – 100% yes. This game is of another standard compared to many of the games that came out in 2014, and 2013 for that matter, and has now gained yet another Game of the Year award.
Online Games and Tech Editor
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