(No significant spoilers ahead)
If you haven't been living under a rock since 1984, you'll have heard of Naughty Dog. This bench marking company have been behind the geniuses of the Uncharted series, Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, just to name a few; and in 2013, they changed the face of videogames. The Last of Us was released on June 14th, 2013, and was one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, following Grand Theft Auto V. The game places you in the feet of Joel, a rugged, tough but soulful survivor of the Cordyceps virus. Similar to AMC's The Walking Dead, the post-apocalyptic world has gone to ruin, leaving small pockets of civilization left. However, the world can be seen differently due to ones perspective. Throughout the game, you are repeatedly shown all things aren't as bad as they seem, greatly enhanced by the beautiful graphics. The main aspect of the game is definitely the characters, as the development of their emotions, values and views develop and change flawlessly as the game progresses.
The plot of The Last of Us is what initially reels you in. Everybody loves zombies right? What people didn't know they loved was seeing the apocalypse in a completely different light to that of most zombie-based games. Don't be fooled however, this is not a zombie game, although the game does include infected zombie-like creatures, this game is about the story, about survival, and the regression of human nature, and the choices people will make when they are forced to choose between life and death. The story focuses on an outbreak of a virus called the Cordyceps virus, which is sourced by a fungi-like pathogen. This causes the infected to develop spore-like growths if being exposed to enough of it, creating some unique and terrifying foes to face. I won't give any of the story away, for those who haven't played it yet, but be prepared to treat the characters as if they were real people, experience the world as if it were outside your door, and be tasked with surviving, no matter what.
The gameplay of the Last of Us takes everything we love from post-apocalyptic games, and mashes it into one big pile of dense brilliance. It has strong cover based action sequences, although don't expect to be running in all guns blazing, ammunition is limited. It also features a simple, yet effective crafting system, in which the player is tasked with finding several small items to produce a potentially life saving supply, ranging from the simple health-pack, to a more complex 'bomb' filled with nails, blades, and basically anything pointy you could find. You are also tasked with finding 'supplements' which if collected enough, can be used to upgrade certain aspects of Joel, such as maximum health, less weapon sway, and increased hearing radius. If you're wondering what 'hearing' is, its an ability possessed by Joel in which he focuses his hearing to physically see possible enemies, i.e, infected or human enemies, however, it limits his movement to a snail's pace, so use wisely. This ability is best used in the stealth encounters riddled throughout the Last of Us' story, and these sequences are some of the strongest in the game, as you utilize bottles and bricks to distract enemies, similar to Far Cry 3, and use stealth takedowns to silence your foes quietly, similar to the Arkham Series.
The music in this game can only be described as astounding, as you are occasionally blessed with hearing such a serene and blissful score. Composed entirely by Oscar winning, Gustavo Santaolalla, his work is profound and definitely plays a vast role in making the Last of Us the masterpiece it is. Tracks like the self-titled 'Last of Us' and 'Home' stimulates the emotions and gives us sudden blasts of emotions due to the beautiful accompaniment that this game hosts.
If you don't already own this masterpiece, then I and everybody else who does would completely recommend it to you, it takes the best parts of zombie/horror/survival games and mixes it up with flawless scores and complex character development to produce a true cinematic experience, Naughty Dog have set the bar extremely high.
Available on Playstation 3, and Playstation 4