The Last of Us is what happens when the Uncharted series mixes with Resident Evil 4. Like Uncharted it combines polished gameplay with a cinematic feel that makes it as interesting to just sit and watch as it is to play. Like RE4 it's a 3rd person survival horror (even a similar camera angle) where you have to spend a large chunk of time escorting another character. Unlike Ashley in RE4, however, Ellie isn't useless and annoying. Ashley shouts “Leon!” because she needs you to help her, but when Ellie screams “Joel!” it's because she's coming to help you. She saved my bacon a few times.
The Last of Us really excels in story. I don't play as many games as I once did. I've neither the time nor the money. But as a writer they interest me as a medium for storytelling. Which The Last of Us knocks out of the effing park. The story opens on the night of a mysterious zombie-like outbreak which we see through the eyes of Sarah (a girl around 13 years old) and her father Joel, but quickly flashes 20 years later. Joel has been working as a smuggler, a series of circumstances forces him to escort a 14 year old girl name Ellie who is looking for a group called “The Fireflies.” The game follows them through a year as they trek cross country trying to find the mysterious organization. The story is very episodic, which is how it's intended to be, and divided up into seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring). However, where it really hits the mark is the bond that develops between the characters and making them feel very real. After a few hours playing I would do anything for that little girl. Which is a good thing, because I had to. The game is packed with emotional moments. When the characters are separated there is a sense of anxiety that had me up until 3am until the characters were reunited. The top notch voice acting helps sell the story, and cinemas use the same motion capture acting as Uncharted. I've said this about movies and I've said it about books, but I really can't think of a time I've said it about a game but... have some tissues handy. If you don't get misty in those opening minutes I might have to question the existence of your soul. It's brutal.
Gameplay wise it shines as well. Unlike Uncharted it's much more stealth based. Much like Dead Space it's very stingy about ammunition. Every single shot needs to count, and guns should be used sparingly, since they just draw unwanted attention. I'd get pissed every time I missed a shot because I'd searched a building for five minutes to find that bullet. It's much more efficient to sneak up and strangle or simply use a brick as a melee weapon. If I could have done one thing different I would have had them space out the checkpoints more. They're very close together, and sometimes it robs you of a sense of tension. But other times I was glad for it, so it hardly registers as a proper complaint.
It's a must for PS3 owners and, arguably, a reason to buy one even at the end of the system's life. The Last of Us is easily one of this generation's best games and makes a helluva swan song for the console.