The Last of Us is obviously a masterpiece of video gaming. Ever since it was released back in 2013, it has consistently been praised for its incredible production values and overall quality. The gameplay, music, story, acting—*muah*—all great. But the game is six years old now, and even though it was created by Naughty Dog, few video games can remain as fresh as they were six years prior.
That said, The Last of Us comes pretty darned close. These are five ways that the game still holds up, and five ways that it doesn't.
10 Holds Up: The Emotion
If there's one thing that The Last of Us has been consistently praised for, it's the emotional values. Few games hit as hard as The Last of Us, and even to this day, it remains a bleak, depressing affair that can pull on the heart strings like few, if any other games, can. Whether it's the small gameplay moments, the little conversations between characters, or the big emotional moments like Sarah's death or Henry's suicide, The Last of Us consistently nails everything that it hopes to achieve in terms of emotion. Six years old, but still as impactful as ever!
9 Dated: The Story
While the emotional values of the game remain incredible, there's no denying that the story is sort of stuck in the mid 2010s zombie craze. At the time, zombie stories were all the rage, and The Last of Us proved to be gaming's primary contribution to the medium. But now that zombies are "out," The Last of Us sort of comes across like a relic of a once-popular craze. Not saying that that's a bad thing, but it does reek of its own time. Not only that, but Children of Men told basically the same story, and that was released back in 2006. Add in Logan, and you've got yourself a story formula that has been milked dry.
8 Holds Up: The Stealth Mechanics
We love stealth in video games, but they are often one of the first things to become dated. As AI gets better every single year, the stealth sections of old video games grow dated, as they don't seem as natural, instinctive, or fun as modern games. However, the AI in The Last of Us holds up surprisingly well, and it keeps the stealth sections fun and challenging. The hearing mechanic was also well integrated, and Joel still moves quite well from an animation perspective. With stealth being such a major aspect of the gameplay, we're glad it has held up as well as it has.
7 Dated: Crafting
It's not that the crafting mechanic has grown dated, necessarily. It's just that it was never that well integrated in the first place, so now it seems even more silly. There's really not much to the crafting in this game. You simply explore the area, find items, and use said items to craft one of, like, seven items. Even then, there's hardly any strategy to the mechanic, as players will typically stick to the same two or three items to craft. We guarantee you that some people out there have legitimately never even touched a smoke bomb. At a time when crafting mechanics have become more intricate, The Last of Us sticks out like a sore thumb.
6 Holds Up: The Acting
It's amazing how far video games have come in terms of acting. Back in the 90s, video games were full of voice actors that sounded like they were plucked off the street and given $5 to read some crappy lines into a microphone.
But sometime in the mid 2000s this began to change, and video games featured respectable voice actors. The Last of Us is arguably one of the best-acted video games in history, and it remains incredible to watch and listen to. It's sort of hard for good acting to become "dated," but that's the thing. This was good acting, which is more than we can say for some of our other favorite games.
5 Dated: The Shooting
While the gameplay of The Last of Us was generally praised upon release, a small segment of players criticized the rather wonky shooting mechanics. Unfortunately, this criticism has only grown more valid over the years, as the shooting is certainly not The Last of Us's strong suit. Handling weapons always feels a little awkward and unnatural, the controls seem floaty and weightless, and the aiming is difficult to get used to. Adding to that, it typically takes three or so shots to kill an enemy, unless you manage to snag a headshot. It feels unnatural, and it's best if you just stick to stealth and silent takedowns.
4 Holds Up: The Graphics
It goes without saying that one of the first things to go in a video game are its graphics. Like AI, graphics seemingly improve every year, complete with more natural animations. It's amazing how much difference just one year can make in gaming. That said, The Last of Us holds up remarkably well for a game released in 2013. While animations may be a little clunky during gameplay, the rest remains gorgeous to look at, whether it's the cutscenes, the facial animations, or the beautiful vistas. Naughty Dog really knows how to make 'em, and we can't wait to see The Last of Us II in person.
3 Dated: The Gameplay Animations
Well, we briefly touched on the gameplay animations being a little clunky, so we might as well go into detail on that. While some animations hold up well, including running zombies and the jerky clickers, some of it is beginning to show its age. Joel moves like a tank, and sometimes it feels like the man weighs 400 pounds.
It shouldn't be that difficult to just turn around, man! Ellie can also completely block your path if she manages to get in the way, and human enemies fall in some incredibly awkward and stilted ways when they get shot. It's a little nitpicky, but when compared to gameplay footage from the sequel, you can tell just how dated the animations have become.
2 Holds Up: The Sound Design
Sound design is also a thing that tends to age quite poorly. For example, look at the first GoldenEye 007. That game was technical magnificence when it was first released, but now we realize that the enemies make goofy noises , the slaps are horribly cartoonish, and all the guns sound incredibly boring and flat. But The Last of Us still sounds absolutely incredible. Creaking buildings, booming gunshots, the pitter-patter of feet as zombies stumble around a dark basement, the horrifying clicking and screeching of the clickers...it all sounds magnificent and just as terrifying as it did back in 2013. Granted, it's only six years old, not twenty, so come back to us then...
1 Dated: The Multiplayer Component (Kind Of...)
Now, hear us out here before blowing up. It's not necessarily the multiplayer itself has become dated. In fact, we would argue that it's just as fresh and inventive today as it was back in 2013. However, like any six year old game, the only people remaining are the die-hards. This means that any new player who hasn't played the game and is gearing up for the sequel will be absolutely bombarded. Experienced players know all the tools and tricks of the trade, they know all the secrets, and they know all the hiding spots. New players will be steamrolled, and there's no denying that the multiplayer just isn't as fun as it once was.