The Last of Us
On a clear day, when the wind stands fair and the gamers of the world unite behind something that represents the ideal of what a game can and needs to be. Not 'good but needs better pacing,' or, 'the graphics are great but not much substance,' or, 'clever indie gameplay but dull as dishwater.' Just a game that works, on just about every level.
The Last of Us could very easily have been another disc on the massive pile of zombie/survival shooters out there. There are the zombie types which need different strategies, different weapons, a cover system, a beak, post-apocalyptic world, the works. But there’s also something more here: heart.
This is a game about details. From the absolute note-perfect writing on the characters as they bond and fracture, to the combat based on a few dangerous, threatening enemies rather than wave after wave of weak foes, to the dynamic environments that allow for cover nearly anywhere and the NPCs that are designed to help and never get in the way, this game makes it a tragic pleasure to get these characters through many dangers on their journey.
With a poetic tone, a stock story elevated to beautiful, elegiac heights by the writing, beautiful graphics and motion capture on the characters, and organic gameplay that is genuinely tense and threatening, there’s very little to criticize. This isn’t high concept, gimmicky or trying to be something it’s not. This is a sterling example of what a game can be.