The PlayStation 3 was an interesting machine, to say the least. It was a tech marvel when it first launched back in 2006 as it featured Blue-Ray playback right out of the box and a “cell” CPU that was, at least on paper, state of the art.
However, the system’s performance in actual game applications was subpar, at least in its early stages. Who can forget Madden 2008 running at 30 frames per second on the PS3, while its Xbox 360 counterpart ran at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. So much for the PS3 being “more powerful” than Microsoft’s sophomore system.
Sony’s First Party Studios Would Eventually Catch Up
God of War 3 and Uncharted 2 were revelations. The games took advantage of the PlayStation 3 in ways that third party developers had struggled to match. Naughty Dog had created a name for itself by pushing the boundaries of what was possible on Sony’s systems. However, its greatest triumph would come late in the PlayStaion 3 life’s cycle.
Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us arrived in mid 2013, just a few months before Sony launched its new console, the PlayStation 4. For all intents and purposes, The Last of Us was the PlayStation 3’s swan song, but more importantly, a generation defining game.
The Last of Us Defined the PlayStation 3 For Me
The Xbox 360 was my go-to console in that particular generation. Sports games ran better on it, and Gears of War was my favorite series to play during that time period. Perhaps, most damning of all for the PlayStation 3 was its terrible version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
That said, there were a few PS3 games that did stand out to me during that time. While I am indifferent to the first Uncharted game, number #2 and #3 in the series were mind-blowingly great. God of War 3 was fantastic, but it would be The Last of Us that would completely change my perspective on the PlayStation 3 and its capabilities.
The Last of Us Took a Tried-and-True Premise and Made it Work
The post-apocalyptic zombie genre has been around for a while in games. Many older gamers were introduced to it by Resident Evil on the original PlayStation console. Resident Evil revolutionized the zombie and action genre with its fourth main entry on the GameCube in 2005.
Beyond that, Hollywood itself had a period of post-apocalyptic movies like The Road and I Am Legend. The Last of Us is inspired by a combination of these works, but it improves upon all of them (save for The Road, maybe).
The Last of Us is Resident Evil 4 but dirtier, grittier, and more human. It is a story about a father who loses his daughter under tragic circumstances and turns into a hardened survivor. Only to soften up through caring about another daughter figure that he must protect from dangerous people and infected humans.
The game’s story goes deeper than that, but the game was a shining example of Naughty Dog’s mastery of human emotions and deep writing.
We can talk about how The Last of Us pushes the PlayStation 3 in ways that no other game does, and how Naughty Dog’s animation on character models is unrivaled by other development studios, but the Last of Us’s triumph goes beyond its drop-dead gorgeous visuals.
It’s all About Ellie and Joel
The Last of Us is gorgeous and horrifying at every turn, but it is the dynamic and the relationship between Joel and Ellie that steals the show. Ellie needs a paternal figure, and Joel needs his daughter, and both go through an emotional rollercoaster culminating in an unforgettable heart stopping climax.
The Last of Us was so groundbreaking that even though the sequel is just as good, and might even have better writing, many fans despise it because of what it did to one of its protagonists. The Last of Us and its DLC Ellie oriented side story didn’t pull any punches, and neither did its sequel.
A Remake is Coming
Given the absolute perfection of the game’s PlayStation 4 Remaster, I found it odd that Sony would push for a remake. While The Last of Us: Part II is a clear leap in visual fidelity over its predecessor, the Last of Us: Remaster is a recent game. Other than the expected visual overhaul, I can’t see where a Remake improves on the original in a major way.
That said, The Last of Us: Remastered is amazing game and a must buy, even today. I wholeheartedly recommend anyone who hears about the game to play it. The game is, in my opinion, the greatest PlayStation 3 game ever.
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