I've been playing The Last of Us since the moment I got home, for about 6 or 7 straight hours now it's been that engrossing. Suffice to say I'm a fan, and it's great to be back sharing the love for Naughty Dog after the depressingly disappointing Uncharted 3 campaign.
The gameplay for starters is significantly more involved and mechanical than anything found in the uncharted games. Your scarcity of ammunition truly makes every bullet count, and from how I've been playing it at least, it's almost more of a stealth game. I was surprised at how prevalent the infected are, though that's not necessarily a problem as they're presented well as a genuinely powerful threat and can be rather unnerving to deal with. Many a time has there been where I'll suddenly realise that I'm holding my breath as I slowly sneak up to one of those clickers...
Even the encounters with regular people can be incredibly intense at that, and the way it all dynamically plays out --such as Ellie calling out a guy who's almost spotted me to my right, or me getting sucker punched from behind while I'm trying to shoot his friend in front--definitely gives the combat a very kinetic feel.
There have been times where the game is clearly giving you the option to get the hell outta there as well, which helps create a great risk-v-reward scenario for whether it's worth braving the remaining mobs to then procure any additional stuff in the area.
Besides the combat, though, simply exploring environments, looting new ''skill augment pills..?'' and other bric a brac, and listening to Ellie gasp in awe at everything is, well, downright delightful. One of my favourite parts of the game thus far has been exploring the small town with the music store and the arcade machine.
Everything about how this game plays feels about as thematically appropriate as you could wish for. Patrick's ''anti-Uncharted'' abbreviation for this game fits perfectly I'd say. Joel's of course not nearly as agile or limber as someone like Nathan Drake, so every step he takes feels full of weight; Naughty Dog have done an exemplary job in animating a character who moves like he's actually spent 20 years living in a post-apocalyptic Hell. The way the reticule shakes when you aim is another neat effect and really forces you to pause between every shot and to appreciate every headshot you can nail off.
The story is pretty standard fair as of where I'm at. A lot of really predictable story beats thus far, but even still, the performances that carry it are fantastic. I guess it goes without saying, but even for how much I'm getting sick of hearing Troy Baker in every fucking thing, his work as Joel is undoubtedly some of the best voice work in video games. Ellie, Tess, and Bill also all have some standout performers bringing them to life at that -- especially Tess, who quickly became a favourite of mine. I would love if one of those upcoming DLC stories they're doing will centre around her in any case.
The soundtrack is minimalistic, but it works in the game's favour and only makes itself known when necessary to great effect. I should also add that this game's apparently pretty long too. As I said, I'm about 7 hours in and it still feels fairly early on; like I'm still only at the middle of the game at the latest. Not like that's a bad thing, because I've found the Last of Us to be so incredibly engaging so far across all of my time spent with it.
I've also given the MP a quick whirl too... I got slaughtered. It all seems surprisingly complex with a lot of variables and customisation to account for. Though it did appear like just rushing up to people and beating them down may be all you need to score a kill... Haven't played nearly enough to come to any solid conclusion with that, though; it's no doubt because I'm currently so bad at it that i'm an easy target to wail on with a 2x4.
You're pretty fragile in the MP, as you may expect, and it can be a little frustrating to get dropped in seconds -- sometimes without even managing to find out who you were killed by. Certainly looks like it has quite a learning curve to it, but it'll all hopefully pay off once you play enough to get over that hump. Though there's only the two modes, I can tell this could definitely grow into a fan favourite and could stay afloat as long as Uncharted 3's MP if they give it a similar degree of support.
So in short, The Last of Us has lived up to the hype! Now perhaps it's a bit too early to lavish such praise, but even from what I've played thus far, it's undoubtedly one of my favourite games of the year already. Though with that said, I should also note that I still haven't played BioShock Infinite yet. Discussions between the two are of course going to lead the way for a lot of GOTY debates this year I'm sure. Not only for the games themselves, but maybe even our favourite Troy Baker performance of the year as well...
Anywhoo, The Last of Us is great, and I hope it'll continue to be from here on. I'm to understand the game gets a little more action-y as it gets deeper in, so I'm curious to see how I'll respond to such scenarios. Now then, I've got a post-apocalypse to return to.
EDIT: Oh, if there is one thing I'm a little iffy on, it's Ellie's face... She just looks so weird. Her eyes are almost bordering on anime-big. And while i know it's a common practice to give sympathetic characters big, googly eyes like that, when you put Ellie next to everyone else in the game, she looks downright alien. The character itself is still great, though. Has a lot of attitude and her banter with Bill has been stellar; reminiscent of the dialogue from Uncharted even.