"The Last Of Us" is a survival horror game developed by Naughty Dog exclusively for the PS3. It was released June 14, 2013. If you were a fan of the Uncharted series, you will most likely enjoy this game as well. It did, however, vary greatly from the Uncharted series in that it focused a lot more on stealth and suspense rather than fast paced action.
A lot of the game mechanics are similar to what we've seen from Naughty Dog in the past but with some interesting improvements. While I think the combat controls could use some serious work, they incorporated a new crafting and healing system that added a little bit of customization to the game. As you explored new area, you would run into parts and ingredients. You could later use these items to craft medical kits, build nail bombs, and also upgrade your weapons.
The weapon system was a very nice addition that I took full advantage of. You could increase clip capacity, reload times, add armor piercing bullets to your guns, or add scopes to give yourself some long range weapons. All in all, I enjoyed the new additions and the controls were what you'd expect from a Naughty Dog game and that's usually a good thing.
Another element I really enjoyed about the gameplay in "The Last Of Us" is that you have to use stealth. You can't approach this game with a "guns blazing" approach and expect to get anywhere. It brought back many great memories from the original Resident Evil games where you were always low on bullets and needed to think of creative ways to eliminate your enemies or often avoid them completely. This added a serious amount of intensity and suspense to the game. Many people have complained about the level of difficulty in this "The Last Of Us" but I believe it added depth to the gameplay and made the experience a lot more enjoyable. They also have an easy mode if you don't have the patience for it.
So let's get into what I enjoyed about this game? First of all, it's visuals are remarkable. I was blown away by the detailed environments, the lighting, and the level of detail in each area. There were many points in the game where I would just stop and stare at the scenery (especially since part of the game took place in my hometown of Pittsburgh). The lighting was incredible, the sound effects really added to the creepy atmosphere, and the variety in environments really created an experience that never got stale.
Rather than focusing on plot, "The Last Of Us" creates an immersive character driven experience. The two main characters, Joel and Ellie, get paired up when Joel is tasked with escorting Ellie to the Fireflies, a friendly resistance group trying to create a cure for the infection. Both characters are hesitant to travel together but eventually set out on this adventure. Ellie has never seen the outside world and once she leaves home with Joel she begins to realize what the world has turned into since the infection. In the beginning of the game, she appears to be just a naive 14 year old girl with an attitude. Joel on the other hand is a hardened, cynical old man who has lost all faith in humanity (and for good reason).
Some of the scenes in "The Last Of Us" are incredibly dark and even twisted at times. During their travels, Ellie is exposed to many cruel and heinous experiences which begin to take a toll on not only her, but Joel as well. The way their characters develop and the relationship between the two of them begins to grow, you really start to feel a strong connection to them. As they travel, you catch glimpses of Joel's emotions as he watches Ellie and starts to remember what he should be fighting to protect.
The real brilliance of "The Last Of Us" lies in it's analysis of human nature. The game begins to beg the question, "Is humanity worth saving? And at what cost?". In a world overrun by human bandits and infected, which of the two are worse? By the end of the game, you will likely find yourself contemplating the answer to the question: What would you sacrifice to save a torn and broken humankind?
Overall, I would say "The Last Of Us" is easily worth the price of admission. It only took me about 13 hours to beat on normal, but it's one of the best games I've played this generation. You won't find fast paced action scenes like in Uncharted games, but what it does give you is a deep, suspenseful experience which is a refreshing addition to the survival horror genre.