The end of the world is near! Especially if you’re into pop culture. A parade of apocalypses is storming theaters this year in an effort to turn the end of humanity into the beginning of lucrative franchises.
A pandemic has decimated humanity. The world is struggling to survive. And at the centre of this are Ellie, a teenage girl, and Joel, the hardened survivor hired to smuggle her out of the quarantine zone and across America. As they travel, you’ll encounter a stunningly-realised America that has been reclaimed by nature, and take the characters on an emotional journey as long and fraught as their cross-country trek.
The broad strokes are spectacular, but the finer details impress the most, the environment telling its own stories as Joel and Ellie explore
But while moviegoers can spend their last days with good-looking celebs, gamers will be spending theirs with one of the best-looking video games ever created.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
Developed by Uncharted developer Naughty Dog, post-apocalyptic survival game The Last of Us (due out June 14) has been on “must-watch” lists since its tremendous debut at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards. Already the winner of numerous pre-release honors from countless outlets (us included), the PlayStation 3 exclusive is about as hyped as games come. Should we really be this excited about our final days?
According to critics, absolutely. With over two dozen perfect scores and an overall 95 current rating on Metacritic, it’s already among the best-reviewed games in the PS3’s seven-year history and a shoo-in for Game of the Year contention.
That’s to be expected, to a degree; Naughty Dog has already earned a reputation for delivering jaw-dropping graphics. But The Last of Us sets a new bar.
The Last of Us seamlessly intertwines satisfying, choice-based gameplay with a stellar narrative. It never slows down, it never lets up, and frankly, it never disappoints. It’s PlayStation 3’s best exclusive, and the entire experience, from start to finish, is remarkable. I lost myself in Naughty Dog’s vision of a pandemic-ridden United States, in the characters that populate this unfortunate wasteland, and in their individual stories. The 17 hours I spent playing through the campaign are among the most memorable I’ve ever spent with a game.
The collapse of society
Joel and Ellie develop a sort of dysfunctional father-daughter relationship as their collective experiences bind them, and rooting for Ellie in particular is commonplace in The Last of Us. Her success means the player is successful, and her hardened exterior is the perfect complement to her complete ignorance of the world before it was destroyed.
Ellie was born after the collapse, and as such, she’s full of questions and wonder, often communicated through the many contextual conversations she and Joel share. She’ll pick through records at a music store, become fascinated with wildlife she’s never seen before, and ask a million questions about the past. You watch her learn, grow, and gain meaning. It’s impossible not to become attached to her.