There is no surprise that The Last of Us will end up on just about everyone’s best of list. Naughty Dog has been refining their formula over the Uncharted series and The Last of Us represents the basic perfection of that formula.
If I was to take the gameplay alone there is nothing that sparkles as innovative, which is not a ding against the game. Gameplay is natural and smooth, it feels intuitive. Very much like Telltale’s Walking Dead the stars of the show are the characters and story. You easily empathize with them, despite some serious character flaws. That Naughty Dog was able to get us to relate to these folks who are clearly broken is a triumph.
If there are any criticisms they are minor and generally relate to the AI or difficulty spikes in certain areas of the game. Ellie for most of the game is invulnerable and it feels a little weird that she can make some mistakes and have no repercussions, but I expect some of that is limitations of the end of life PS3 hardware.
If you own a PS3 and don’t have this game (Rated M, for violence and language) then head on over to your local store or online retailer and buy it. The very best games tend to come in the last third of a consoles life cycle and this is clearly one of them.
BONUS: Apparently someone over at Naughty Dog really digs Kane’s Donuts in Saugus, MA where I grew up. Part of the appeal for me was that a section of the game takes place in Massachusetts and it looks like they did their homework.
Here is a shot from the game:
and here is the sign from Kane’s.
Not exact, but due to the colors and lack of similar signs I’d say someone at Naughty Dog likes torus shaped confections.
Photo: Kane’s Donut sign via Google Earth