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More is emerging about the story in The Last Of Us. With 99 percent of games we wouldn't care - oh, we've got amnesia, you say? - but Naughty Dog is different. The story matters. Leading beard Joel is a 40-something black marketeer with a dark past, while 17 year-old Ellie is not his daughter - Joel's simply been paid to smuggle her out of the safe zone.
It's twenty years since the outbreak, and humanity is reduced to this one final compound. It's run by the military, and executions are common - as are attacks by the infected. Morality is breaking down. Joel and Ellie narrowly escape capture outside the walls, and set out to find an old friend of Joel's beyond the quarantine zone.
The Last of Us is extremely high-end survival horror with a focus on chaos and realism. Gangs roam the quarantine zone and, while most aren't yet infected, almost all of them tend to rob and murder any strays they find. The realism comes in the combat itself: frantic melee with whatever you can grab, plus gunplay - with tightly rationed ammo. The approach shows just how far this is from Uncharted.
A single bullet can kill, and the merest sight of a weapon will send foes scattering for cover and switching to sneakier flanking manoeuvres. It's a combat system the developers refer to as the Balance of Power, and a perfect fit for TLOU. It's not one big escort mission, either. Even though Ellie is AI, she can pick out enemies for you from the start, and her combat abilities improve in (as yet) unspecified ways.
There's little of Uncharted's wise-cracking good humour here, then, but Naughty Dog's skill with character-centred play is only getting stronger. So, whisper it: The Last of Us might just be the game that makes the apocalypse interesting again.
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