Starting from the seventh generation of consoles Naughty Dog have cemented their place as the most reliable developers in the industry, with their Uncharted series being one of the most critically acclaimed trilogies to be released it was basically a given that The Last of Us would be a major success as well and the end result supports that view as this game delivers exactly what was promised. Naughty Dog had revealed that this was "a love story between a father-daughter like relationship", for most of the people who will play this, the game play will probably take a back seat. It's not because it's not fun to play which it absolutely is, it's just that the characters are just so intriguing it's impossible not to wait for the next cutscene and see what happens next.
The main character controlled is the protagonist Joel, however, at the beginning of the game you control his daughter and midway through Ellie will also be playable. On the face of it The Last of Us has a pretty generic storyline. Normal lives are changed when a global pandemic breaks out leading to nation wide panic where Joel and his daughter live. After a personal tragedy, 20 years later in a world filled with Infected and humans fighting against each other, Joel and his partner Tessa stumble upon Ellie who is mysteriously immune to the virus and take responsibility of her at least until they get to the fireflies, a group of rebels who are against the government. As said before the story is pretty cliche as there have been several similar plots seen in movies, however the main standout for the game is how its characters shine. It is the character of Joel who is subject to this the most, it is really engrossing the way he changes from a helpless person to a harsh individual to a more soft personality. The one to drive this growth in him is Ellie, the "father-daughter type relationship" is in full display throughout the game and it cannot be said enough times how extremely wonderful the chemistry between the characters is. The interesting part is that the reason that you get to like the characters isn't because they are kind or nice people, it's almost the exact opposite. Joel can't be called a hero considering for the most part he is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way but there is justification for those actions as killing in this world just isn't a big deal anymore, basically it's survival of the fittest. The Last of Us features such complex characters and even more unfortunate scenarios where they are faced with near-impossible choices that there can be many theories as to whether a person can be termed as good or bad.
Players won't have it easy like Uncharted, here the control over the character is much more realistic giving a feel how it would be like to fend off enemies in a post apocalyptic world. It is up to you how you would like to deal with a situation, whether go with all guns blazing which carries the risk of being overwhelmed by the hordes of Infected or go with the stealthier option which takes more time and the risk of being detected. This is a wonderful situation as far as game play is concerned because the player can go forward as he wishes, whether your decision was right or wrong you gain experience how to deal with your enemies the next time you come across them. There are a range of guns available, however the simpler ones don't carry enough punch though they have more ammo, so it is better to stick with the longer guns which have more power at least when facing the Infected. Guns will only get you so far though, bombs and molotovs are valuable allies as well and will help you in circumstances when you're surrounded by a bunch of enemies.
Hand to hand combat is necessary, for an old guy Joel is a pretty good fighter but when dealing with numerous foes you'll need your melee weapons which could be anything from wooden planks to lead pipes. The player collects parts to modify the weapon arsenal to make them stronger, the environment is filled with all these materials so you'll need to constantly look around for them. The player must craft items quickly and at a carefully chosen time, due to the action not pausing while crafting takes place, and enemies potentially taking advantage of Joel being occupied. Usually players are motivated to simply shoot around to fight opponents so an incentive is added to give the stealth option more flavor, this is the hearing ability which gives the player a kind of x-ray vision look around of the area to see whether an enemy maybe lurking around a corner. The higher kinds of infected are blind, however when provoked they proved to be deadly even having a one hit kill ability, the stealth technique is the best way to kill these enemies. To increase the sense of realism in game play, Ellie and Joel have their different styles, Ellie cannot fight too well and one on one combat isn't a good idea there. You will feel the connection growing between the protagonists in smaller moments such as when Joel is required to find a raft for Ellie to get on, and for him to push her forward, as she can't swim.
Graphics in the Last of Us are beautiful enough to keep the player captivated in it. Rather than the cut scenes, the in game environments are well made. The game is set in one year and chapters in to seasons which have their own theme and the characters' clothing style also changes with them. The winter theme especially exploits the cold weather in the game and the storyline could be classified as part of the horror genre, that's mainly made believable due to the excellent voice acting done for the characters. The intensity with which Ellie and Joel are voiced just makes you feel the raw sadness that they are experiencing. Another character David is executed perfectly, he provides a good example how the world works in The Last of Us as you see how mankind have turned during this time. The sudden burst of music or the immediate silence around you during game play may make you jump once or twice or if you want to shed a tear just play through the more painful moments of the game.
Multiplayer is available for those who won't be satisfied with must going through the story, even in online the infected plot is incorporated and you get to choose which side you want, you complete tasks and the out come depends on whether you were successful or not. There is the standard deathmatch along with the elimination match type. The campaign game play elements are available here as well although you are given limited resources. Although online feels a step lower than the campaign, lacking in charm and occasionally feels relatively dull. It isn't as good as the Uncharted multiplayer but to each their own and this could be enjoyable to some.
Rarely does a storyline drive a player to complete a game than the actual game play itself but The Last of Us does just that. Playing through the story again may not be as rewarding another time round as the first time drains you of your emotion so much that the experience is one you would treasure but the choice in game play is diverse enough for you to try again. If that doesn't compel you to play further there's always the multiplayer to engage yourself in. Needless to say your money will be well spent in buying this game, The Last of Us proves that even video games can make you feel as much as any film or book could as long as you have a compelling story but more importantly if it has wonderful characters to keep you enthralled.