The Last of Us has been highly anticipated since its announcement. The breaking point for Naughty Dog (as it is their first original venture since the beginning of Uncharted), The Last of Us sets out to do something very different with the survival horror genre and zombies as a whole.
Almost instantly (once the actual survival gameplay started) I was able to draw comparisons from the new Tomb Raider. The differences lay in execution though. The Last of Us is far more limiting and therefor far, far more about survival. Ammunition is unbelievably difficult to find, and you can only carry so much of it, forcing you to really keep your inventory in check and search everywhere for more supplies. It also seems like you go through ammo very quickly, adding more to the tense feel of the game. The tutorials even tell you specifically to find alternative methods to survive when low on or out of ammo. The gunplay is solid, the melee combat is fluent and the stealth elements are nearly perfect.
Speaking of which, stealth is crucial to the gameplay; serving as your opportunity to choose whether or not to simply silently do in unsuspecting patrols or infected, to pass by them altogether if possible, or to start a loud gun fight (though this option should be the last of all last resorts). Your character, Joel is fragile and he cannot cycle through his backpack quickly. So you really need to plan ahead when walking through enemies. This is one of the only games that has ever made me really think about how to get from point A to B alive. A minor issue I have is that stealth killing enemies without a shiv/knife takes some time to perform and can be frustrating to pull off only to be spotted by enemies anyway.
For those who may have been concerned, AI escorts serve absolutely no detriment to you in stealth mode. The AI is not always the sharpest, but enemies don't ever seem to see them until after a battle has begun. This leads to some awkward moments when using stealth, but it's a minor and ignorable flaw.
I encountered one glitch during the game where I fell into level zero during a segment where I was moving through a motel to get to a bridge. Eventually Joel landed and I was able to shoot all the enemies in the area, but then I had to restart from my checkpoint a half hour prior (I had been using stealth mostly and therefor had moved on sluggishly). This was humorous, but overall a waste of time. This was the only glitch of this kind I encountered and most likely a rare fluke.
Graphically, this is one of the best games the PS3 has to offer. Massive environments with motion blur, dynamic lighting and shadows makes me understand why the engine is being used for the next generation. Naughty Dog's attention to detail is at its best in this title.
Not much to say on the multiplayer. It's fun, but it doesn't carry the same tense feeling from the campaign.
Finally, this is hands-down one of the most cinematic games I've ever played. Gameplay fluently shifts into cutscene and vice versa, making for an extremely tense and interactive experience. Every second feels like there could be potential danger and forces the player to keep on his or her toes. This falls well in line with the brilliantly written story and overall gritty atmosphere of the game.
This is the finest in video game storytelling; if you're a Sony fan, shame on you for not already having played this. You are completely missing out on this amazing game if you have not already played it. It is a must-have for any PS3 owner and a brilliant send off for Sony's third home console.