The Last of Us: multiplayer review

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  • Format: PS3
  • Unleashed: June 14th
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: Naughty Dog
  • Players: 8
  • Site: http://www.thelastofus.com/

It should be clear to all and, indeed, sundry now that The Last of Us is well worth purchasing for the story mode alone. As promised however, we now bring to you our evaluation of the online portion; as it was extremely difficult to find players in the final days leading up to release. Can it be more than a box ticked in a corporate business plan?

The very idea of competitive multiplayer seems almost antithetical to everything Naughty Dog did to craft the offline experience, and perhaps we’ll never know whose idea it was to include it. A grand effort has been made to keep the mood of the story, however. Music is almost non-existent, environments (taken from the plot) are dark and dirty, and ammo is hard to come by. Players start each match with only a handful of bullets, and you can’t take weapons from enemy players.

There is also a story (of sorts), which aims to keep the experience grounded in the world of The Last of Us. When you begin, you choose to align yourself with either Hunters or the Fireflies (in gameplay terms, this makes no difference at all). The story takes place over twelve weeks, with each match representing a day. There may as well be no story at all, however; plot bumps are few and far between, and consist only of static silhouetted images and almost apologetically brief on-screen text.

The gentleman on the ground is unhappy because the gentleman with the hat refuses to return his giant toblerone.

Instead of XP you earn and scavenge ‘parts’, used to buy items such as ammo and armour in-game (via the backpack). Your total is also totted up at the end of each match, and converted to top up your earned Supplies. An interesting idea – though one which never really goes anywhere – is that each player has a ‘clan’ to look after. Simply put the better you perform in matches, the more supplies you earn. Keep earning a high amount, and your clan will stay healthy and expand; fail to earn enough supplies, and your clan will start to become sick, and even dwindle in numbers through death. These people are only ever numbers and text to you however, diminishing the attachment somewhat. That didn’t make it any less frustrating when we lost connection to a match however, and suddenly found that we had a dozen sick members for the first time.

A nice touch is the Facebook implementation. Rather than the unwelcome and tedious element this usually is, it makes no posts on your account at all – but uses your details to draw names and profile photos from the site. If you opt in, therefore, your clan will be populated by your Facebook friends. Cue much “Dave is trying not to think about food” hilarity.

The aiming has been sensibly tightened up, a little, for online. There is no AI, friendly or unfriendly, at all; strip away the scripting pretensions, and what we have here are just two modes – team deathmatch with respawns, and team deathmatch with no respawns. Listen mode has been implemented well (you’re now limited to just a few seconds of use before it needs to recharge) and you still need to craft and heal, but there’s only so much that can be done with the basic idea.

Thanks to sparse ammo and purposefully awkward weapons, if only one team is working closely together then that is the team which will win (by a huge margin) – and players are starting to realise this. Unfortunately, it also means that the pain of upgrades and unlocks is felt more keenly than ever here. Every little advantage can make a huge difference, and this makes the fact that only experienced players have access to the most powerful (and silenced) weapons and highest-upgraded perks immediately frustrating. It also means, however, that taking down a high-level opponent is extremely satisfying. Nothing beats the rare opportunity of launching a surprise attack on enemies right beside you, oblivious of your presence because you’ve stayed perfectly still.

We’re sure there are dozens of fascinating online possibilities for The Last of Us, but we’re equally sure that none of them involve simple pvp deathmatches. There’s nothing special here, especially when compared to the wonder of the singleplayer. We’ll again tell you that you need to buy this game – but certainly not for the online modes.

critical score 6

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

One comment

  1. SnarlyYow /

    I don’t know, I’ve found that this is perhaps the best online shooter experience since the original Socom. My first run through was painfully awkward and my clan died at 9 weeks. My hat was repeatedly handed to me match after match. That is, until I learned that this game is unlike any multi-player to come before.

    1) It rewards camping. Sitting still means you’re off radar and you can’t be heard.
    2) You have to move eventually. Getting pieces to craft items is absolutely necessary to survival.
    3) Running means you show up on radar and then you die.
    4) If you go lone wolf you die and cost your team the game.
    5) I’ve never been spawn camped.
    6) Stay too close to your teammates and a single molotov will be the end of all of you.

    Compare this to the brainless shooting of the CoD franchise. And while Ghost Recon Future Soldier was great in concept the amount of spawn camping the game allowed made it virtually unplayable. The old Socom series really benefited snipers by a high degree. TLoU multiplayer might be the most well-balanced multiplayer I’ve ever played. If you’re outgunned you can revive your teammates which is a huge deal. Crafting bombs and upgraded melee weapons can change your circumstances by leaps and bounds. Every inch is a mile, every bullet precious, every reload a lifetime, every shotgun purchase a dream.

    Multi-player has never given me the feeling that every choice I make, from loadout to movement, can decide the game. If I have any complaint it’s that health kits are too abundant. With that said, I think only about 25% of the players online actually use them.

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