After All We’ve Been Through. Everything That I’ve Done… It Can’t Be For Nothing.
The Last of Us is one of my favourite games. Heck, it’s one of a lot of people’s favourite games. When it came out on PS3 I went over to MrZhangetsu‘s place on launch day and we played through the whole thing from start to finish… and then did it again.
I never actually owned it for PS3, but I was having a sordid love affair with MrZhangetsu‘s copy for a good long while. Eventually when the remastered edition came out for PS4, I bought my first Playstation 4 console in a bundle with The Last of Us, and my first experiences with the PS4 consisted of playing this masterpiece, looking 5 times better than it ever did on the PS3.
Having gone back to finally pick up the plat and re-experience all the game has to offer, how did it hold up? Did I still love every second of it? Was getting the plat a chore? These are the things I hope to cover in this post as we look ahead to the quickly nearing sequel; The Last of Us 2, and the recently announced HBO TV series based on the franchise.
The Last of Us Review
Obviously, I don’t want to give too much of the story away. As incredible as this game is, it’s major selling point is – without a single doubt – its story.
We follow Joel as he goes from semi-comfortable living inside a heavily guarded community to roaming the abandoned and nature-ravaged wilderness outside it’s walls in the hopes of completing a delivery. A very important delivery; a young girl with a secret which could be the key to ending the zombie-like cordyceps fungus infection which has thrown the world into a post-apocalyptic state of disarray.
That’s right, the same cordyceps which infects ants in real life, causing them to grow mushrooms out of their heads and behave erratically.
Unlike the cordyceps of real life, the deadly strain of cordyceps in The Last of Us does not cause it’s victims to have a desire to climb as high up as possible to die and release spores. Instead victims of the infection will become extremely zombie-like, attacking humans to eat or infect them.
Depending on how long a person has been infected, they will go through different phases of infection. From standard runners, to blind mushroom-headed clickers who use an unnerving sonar to detect their surroundings, to devastating and fear-inducing Bloaters who can tear off and throw spore-bombs grown on their own malformed body.
Each different mutation of the infected hosts pose different threats to Joel and Ellie, but the experience is not limited to the struggles of our main duo. Throughout the chilling and touching epic, Joel and Ellie will come within influencing distance of characters such as Tess, Bill and Tommy, all of whom have had their own life-altering experiences within the harsh environments of a cordyceps-ruled America.
In a tremendous world-building effort we’ll also find ourselves picking up bits and pieces of other stories which have long-since concluded in the form of collectibles, context clues and environment design – the invested gamer could easily find themselves entirely engrossed in the history of the fictional disaster, the survivors within, and those who were not so lucky.
For once we aren’t led to believe that the world revolves around our protagonists. You feel like a side-chapter in everybody else’s own individual narratives, just playing along to further your own goal. While Joel and Ellie have a very important mission and role to play in the future of mankind, they’re still just human. Something which is very well-represented within the combat of the game…
Make Every Shot Count
Combat in The Last of Us is pure survival. Joel may know how to kick a butt or two, but he’s not trained military, he’s not part of a large group of bandits or soldiers, he’s essentially just a survivor.
From context we get that he does a few jobs here and there to make a living for himself and Tess, but other than that he just knows what he knows from making his way in life in the many years since the events of the prologue.
As such, killing cordyceps zombies can feel a lot like a struggle. With each zombie you take out, it feels like Joel only just made it out alive and any small slip-up could have got him killed (more true on the harder difficulties).
When not fighting Zombies then you’ll be facing off against other humans. Other thinking, feeling organisms. An entirely different experience, these enemies will defend themselves, use cover, plan their next move and genuinely try to survive too.
When it’s you or them, you’ll find yourself in many a struggle against human enemies, using instincts, the environment and a small array of weapons with limited munitions to ensure Joel is the survivor.
Joel starts off with a pretty pathetic pistol which isn’t a whole lot of help, but if you play the game as intended, you won’t need it much. Using stealth takedown to choke out unaware enemies or avoiding combat altogether is always preferable to wasting valuable ammunition and resources on fighting your way through groups of enemies, especially on the harder difficulties where you’d be lucky to find 2 bullets and a shiv within 2 hours of gameplay. Survival doesn’t always mean fighting, sometimes running away is the best way to survive.
Through these significant but not particularly prominent features of the combat system, you the gamer are made to feel immersed in the mindset of a survivor, something which Naughty Dog undoubtedly crafted with care and attention.
Naughty Dog Polish
The graphics in The Last of Us are peak PS3, undeniably the most beautiful and detailed game on the PlayStation 3 console. The anti-aliasing issues with the PS3, however, are extremely prominent in The Last of Us and even when first playing the game I found it hard to see past the way sawtoothed jagged edges would invade beautiful panoramic scenes and vistas.
Playing the game on PS4 is a much more exciting experience. Main character models are upgraded with more polys, textures are higher quality, anti-aliasing isn’t even remotely an issue on PS4 and particles in certain scenes where there are spores are much more prominent and realistic.
The downside being that the game was created for PS3 and so some textures can look muddy and some models can lack the extra poly or two which could have made it really pop. There are various details so fine that you could never see them on PS3, which are difficult to see past on PS4.
But what am I saying? I’m looking at this game with the mindset of a person from 7 years in the future, who has had the absolute pleasure of experiencing gorgeous games like Uncharted 4,God of War and Marvel’s Spider-man. I have been spoiled by the fidelity of my console of choice and the talent of the fantastic developers who choose to make their games PlayStation exclusives.
Step back in a time machine to June 2013 and you’ll see my utter childish excitement at what I was seeing, the way I was absolutely blown away by the things I was vicariously experiencing on my friend’s PlayStation 3. Naughty Dog pulled out all the stops as they always do and made a game just as beautiful visually as it was emotionally and I cannot wait to see what they do with the PlayStation 4’s hardware as we near the end of its life, and more-so with the PlayStation 5 in their inevitable The Last of Us 2 remaster.
My The Last of Us Platinum Trophy Experience
I had obviously played this game many years ago, multiple times albeit only ever on normal. I was in love with the story but had little interest in gathering all the collectibles and what-have-you.
A few years later, MrZhangetsu started his Trophy hunting journey and slowly but surely influenced me into starting mine.
Around that time, MrZhangetsu decided he wanted to work on the The Last of Us platinum trophy and I agreed to help out with the multiplayer trophies, which sure took a long time, but The Last of Us has one of my favourite online multiplayers so I was happy to join in and had a lot of fun doing it.
Still ever-stubborn and distracted by new games, I inexplicably put off platting The Last of Us until this past week so my journey is a little broken up and a lot of the finer details of the earlier parts of my journey are lost to my prematurely senile memory.
The online multiplayer mode is a team-based TPS (third-person shooter) and features 3 similar game modes in which your faction will face off against another.
The two factions are fireflies and Hunters, each having their own micro-story going on between matches. You will need to complete 12 weeks with each faction.
To make it through a week, you need to earn enough supplies in matches to be able to feed your faction’s population. The higher your population rises, the more supplies you will need to keep them all alive and the better you will need to do in each match. Not being able to provide for all of your faction’s population will result in a few dying, until you eventually lose the entire population and have to start again from week 1.
It can get a bit hairy at times as random events can cause you to lose huge chunks of the population and you need to be able to adapt to these changes and ensure your faction makes it through.
In reality you just need to do an average job in each match to ensure your faction stays in the running. Luckily, I did all of my online multiplayer with MrZhangetsu who is fantastic at multiplayer games and pretty much carried the whole team, including myself, each match making the trophies easy to get during my first attempts at them.
We were at this daily for a couple of weeks, though, as 12 weeks in-game takes a really long time and you’ll need to be able to commit plenty of time to playing the online mode each day.
There are just 4 online mode trophies, one for each faction surviving for 12 weeks, one for getting your faction to a population of 40 survivors and one for completing a supply raid successfully – one of the online model’s game modes.
Years later, when I re-installed this game with the intention of platting it on my week off work, I assessed my trophy situation.
I had zero collectible trophies, zero new game plus trophies and just two difficulty trophy for completing the game on Normal and Easy.
I had 6 save files and on one of them I was halfway through a grounded run, but for some reason it wasn’t new game plus.
I decided the first thing I wanted to do was tackle collectibles to re-familiarise myself with the game ahead of doing the grounded difficulty run. I started a new game plus save on easy and started working my way through the game, getting every collectible I could along the way. In the end I missed a comic in one chapter and a training manual in another which I used chapter select to clean up.
Something strange happened with my save files though and the trophies popped in a very weird way. I got the trophy for all Firefly Pendants and the trophy for collecting all collectibles popped, which was crazy since trophies for collecting all comics, artifacts, and training manuals hadn’t popped yet, clearly some strange glitch.
Upon completing the easy mode new game plus run, I now had everything I needed to make grounded a breeze.
Grounded Made Easy
Completing a grounded mode run is particularly brutal due to the lack of resources and ammunition, making it especially important to stealth as many conflicts as possible, which can be hard since enemies will notice you almost instantly if you’re not too careful. Using a neat trick, though, you can cut the resource issue out of the equation and have a much easier time getting those grounded mode trophies.
It is of importance to note that you don’t need the Grounded Mode trophies for the platinum and if some of the more difficult combat encounters prove too much, you can take things down a notch by playing through on survival difficulty and still get the platinum as the grounded mode trophies are additional DLC trophies.
So, on to the exploit.
If you have a fully completed new game plus save you can use chapter select to replay a level on any difficulty. The idea here is to complete each chapter using chapter select and once each chapter is listed as completed on Grounded while using a new game plus save, the game will kindly recognise this as a full playthrough of the game on grounded new game plus, netting you trophies for all difficulties and all difficulties on new game plus.
The key here, though, is to do it in reverse. Start with the last chapter and work your way back through the chapters until each one has been completed on grounded. The reason for this is that you will start each chapter with the supplies you had at the start of that chapter in your last run. So, if your last run was on easy difficulty like mine, then you’ll have been inundated with supplies. More than likely, you’ll have full ammo for all weapons and more-or-less maxed out supplies.
This completely eliminates the struggle for resources and you can just use your ammo and supplies willy-nilly to take out any opposition without needing to worry about leaving yourself short on supplies for the next chapter since you will have already done the next chapter.
While this doesn’t exactly make grounded difficulty easy, as you’ll still struggle with many encounters, it certainly makes it a lot easier to recover from a slip-up during combat and make it through.
Once I’d done all this, the graveyard section during Bill’s Town for some reason hadn’t registered as being completed in Grounded. Apparently this happened to MrZhangetsu on his recent PS3 run-through too. All I had to do was make it through that section from Bill’s basement to the school car park on grounded again and the game finally recognised it as being done on Grounded.
This section is fairly easy, just be sure to walk very slowly near Clickers and don’t try sneaking up or down stairs near a Clicker as the game will speed Joel up when he is on stairs, enough to be audibly noticed by a Clicker.
To sign and seal the Grounded package, once all chapters are marked “Completed on Grounded”, I just needed to play the final chapter again, which is extremely easy given the lack of combat. This presumably forces the game to check for full grounded-difficulty completion and then awards all previously un-earned difficulty trophies.
I then had just one trophy left, to upgrade all of Joel’s weaponry. As per MrZhangetsu‘s suggestion, I was fairly smart about how I upgraded Joel’s weapons as I played through on my collectible run, making sure I upgraded my weapons towards the end of the game once the flamethrower had been unlocked. This meant that I would only need to do a partial play-through to upgrade the remaining weapons.
In previous runs I had already fully upgraded the bow and the 2 first handguns, leaving only the flamethrower, shotgun, sawn-off shotgun, scoped revolver and hunting rifle to upgrade.
I managed to upgrade every weapon except the shotgun and hunting rifle to max so on my final penultimate run I would need to reach Bill’s Town for the shotgun at a minimum provided I found enough scrap on the way.
As it turned out, I had to play quite a bit further than Bill’s Town, I didn’t get the trophy until a little over halfway through the Pittsburg chapter of the game but as I’d just completed multiple runs of the game, a final easy-mode run was extremely quick and in around 2 hours I’d managed to reach far enough to acquire the trophy and, with it, the treasured Platinum which I am very happy to finally have in my collection.
That concludes my The Last of Us platinum trophy review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let me know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and I love engaging with people over the game I just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!
We also just started a Twitter account @GetPlat where I’ll be sharing updates, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games I’m working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!