IT'S APPROPRIATE that I finished up The Last of Us only hours after E3 2013 ended. It's pretty clear that from here on out, the industry is going to be focused on the next wave of gaming consoles—but if the PlayStation 3 had to choose an exclusive on which to end its life, The Last of Us is one hell of a choice.
Superficially, the game seems cliché: It's a post-apocalyptic title that drops you into a dystopian wasteland populated by angry, filthy humans and what are effectively zombies. (If that's a remotely novel concept for you, congratulations, you're that guy from Memento.) The good news, though, is that developer Naughty Dog only lifted these basic storytelling tenets so that it could hang an impressively nuanced tale on them.
The Last of Us opens on an idyllic family scene featuring a young man and his daughter. Obviously this serenity doesn't last long, and soon they're running from apparent Armageddon. I won't spoil anything crucial, as The Last of Us features one of the most thrilling opening sequences in the history of gaming, but the end result is that the father wakes up 20 years later, his daughter is gone, and he's immediately pressed into service as the protector of another young girl. That's a clever premise if you hope to explore paternal relationship dynamics, and I can't believe I'm typing this, but The Last of Us is as real and emotional an examination of these themes as nearly any film or novel. It's a deeply resonating work that uses its medium's interactivity to utmost effect.
I won't claim the game is perfect. But it's a fine example of what games can be when given proper care: engaging, intense, affective, and, most crucially, entertaining. Here's hoping for more like this from the imminent PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.