So far, 2013 has been an excellent year for games. This usually happens at the end of a console generation and as a result, the Game of the Year awards are gonna be awfully competitive this year. I had been hearing Bioshock Infinite as one of the top choices so far but we now have a new contender. In some ways, The Last of Us is a similar game to Infinite. Both have a grumpy and violent guy as the player character, both have a girl that needs to be shepherded and both are set in crazy, messed up worlds. However, in this reviewer's opinion, The Last of Us is the 2013 game of the year...so far. Many of the strong story games I have played in the last few years suffer from repetitive and boring gameplay. The Last of Us succeeds both in having a great story and being actually fun to play.
You play as Joel, a grizzled survivor in a world full of ruthless humans and zombie-like creatures. You are initially hired to transport a young girl named Ellie through the city. The Last of Us doesn't do anything especially unique in combat but the player is given an impressive amount of freedom in how they tackle the enemies and obstacles. You can run into a group of armed humans or zombies with gun blazing or slowly sneak around any threat by using stealth and diversions. Though with ammo being quite limited, you will be required to do both at times.
Weapon options aren't vast but you do get some interesting things like a flamethrower later in the game. Those zombies are very combustible and lighting them on fire does the trick most of the time. Because the ammo you pick up is limited and is specific to each gun, you find yourself having to switch weapons on the fly a lot. This makes overcoming the challenge much more rewarding. In the final level I found myself constantly switching between my rifle and sniper pistol and my shotgun based on the distance of the enemy. I felt like a real expert when I took all the mobs down with strategy.
Weapons can be upgraded and there is also a crafting system for your items. This part of the game is very fun and it makes scouring nooks and crannies for materials much more rewarding than it does in a game like Bioshock Infinite. You are given the chance to make things like health packs, shivs, Molotov cocktails and bombs. You can also boost your melee weapon by doing stuff like adding scissors to the end of a bat. This seems to create what I call a SUPER BAT and pretty much kills any enemy with one hit. I was just sad that my SUPER BAT would break after every use. Bombs can be placed in strategic locations where mobs will trigger them. I had to use this strategy a few times when I was low on ammo and already knew which direction the enemies would be coming from.
The story of The Last of Us is definitely it's strongest point. It's like a really great episode of The Walking Dead. The relationship between the characters is engaging and most players will either cry or at least suffer from a case of manly eye watering at certain scenes. I will not spoil anything, go experience it for yourself!
Hint: Always have extra shivs in your inventory. They are great for taking down foes but you can also use them to open locked doors and get extra loot!
by Alexis Kirsch