"And the Oscar for the best movie of 2013 goes to... 'The Last of Us!' ... oh wait, it's a video game..."
1. Man, I hope this game never ends - and it doesn't end for around 15-16 hours;
2. How many GOTY awards this game is going to get;
3. The angst caused by McShea's 8.0 score and review that intensified with each passing hour. I don't do useless personal attacks and ad homs but they really should have had someone else review the game, anyone really;
The game is kind of a mirror reflection of the Uncharted Series. There is no more wise-ass cracking jokes, no more jolly good fellows, no more happy time running away from the exploding ____ (insert here), no more fun collecting shiny collectibles, no more acrobatics and suspension of the laws of physics. Shi1's just got real. Instead, there are brutal (even by today's standards) killings, life-or-death in your face encounters, scavenging, genuinely creepy moments, making every shot count, well executed sneaking, and much more.
You may upgrade some of your character's attributes as well as your weapons. The game struck a perfect balance with this upgrade system. No single upgrade makes your feel overpowered, yet every upgrade makes you believe that you face slightly better chances of surviving the next encounter. And when you kill someone or quietly take them down it feels like you have actually done so. Juxtapose that to mowing down AI hordes in COD or Left4Dead.
As for the graphics, well, I won't waste too much time on that because you already know it's gorgeous. However I do want to point out that it seems like ND used some photo-realistic textures on a number of buildings. I'm not sure those textures were part of the engine but some of them, especially in Pittsburgh, looked, well, real. Also, there's not a single loading screen in the entire game.
I won't spoil the story or anything about the characters. But I can tell some of them could be used in the future single-player DLC's.
Joel's movement is somewhat slow, sluggish and cumbersome BUT extremely realistic. Forget about hanging off of ledges, climbing buildings, making impossible jumps, rolling over and surviving any combination of foes thrown at you. Each and every encounter in the game requires wit, patience and at least some means of doing offense/defense. The AI delivers for the most part. They flank, they retreat, they snuff you out with molotovs, they sneak up on you, they call each other for help, they do everything that you would expect humans to do. The infected come in three forms and each require different tactics. The game also excelled in showing that one hit with a wooden stick is not fatal yet one hit with an axe is. And when you finish the game on hard, play it on Hard+ with all your upgrades (one play through is not enough to get them all). And when you are finished with that you can finally play on the Survivor difficulty. And then on to the Survivor+ difficulty.
As for the bad, well, you can tell the PS3 is barely running this game since it's firing away on all cylinders. At times (rarely) there are FPS drops and texture pop-ins. The some-what slow analog stick movement often contributes to you not being able to see who is behind you, especially when you are engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The camera also snatches away control from you every time you are fighting to focus on that one enemy and it is really hard to switch to another foe in the midst of the encounter. The anti-aliasing is still nonexistent. I can only imagine how this gem would run on PC.
It's going to be really hard to excel this game in the third-person action/adventure genre. I know I didn't say much about this masterpiece but this game is a triumph, in the broadest meaning of that word.
In the end, I think that McShea created an unnecessary stigma that Gamespot is going to be dealing with for years to come. And I can't imagine for a moment that he didn't think about changing his score. This game in no way deserves anything less than a solid 9.0. I wonder what kind of position GS is going to be put in at the end of the year when they have to consider this game for the GOTY award with their 8.0 score. A review is not just "an opinion", contrary to the popular belief. An opinion is when you think that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate ice cream. A review, especially an allegedly professional review, is supposed to be a well argued piece of journalism, and the few barely noticeable negatives with the game do not, in anyway, distract or mar the experience. I've never felt compelled to "defend" the game in such a way even though 8/10 is a "great" score. So this is going to be my one and only exception.
I'm not arguing that McShea should have liked the game to give it a higher rating, I'm arguing that I can't find any good and valid reasons for rating this game an 8/10.
This game deserves a 10 by all means, but I am keeping that score for the Witcher 3. I don't know why you are still reading this, that's five minutes you could have spent playing the game.