5 Takeaways From Gamescom 2013 (Gamasutra.com)

Indie games have long had cult followings so it’s no surprise that Gamasutra found an Indie-heavy presence at Gamescom. Read on to find out what the five biggest takeaways were for them at Gamescom.

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Five takeaways from GDC Europe 2013

The GDC Europe conference is over for another year (Gamasutra’s full coverage here), and as partner event Gamescom begins to wind down on the press front, I’ve been collating the various tidbits that I’ve taken away from this week.

There was already plenty to think about with regards to the various talks that were given over the last several days, but numerous conversations I had with developers, publishers et al also cemented a number of key points that appeared to brim to the surface on multiple occasions.

Here’s the five main talking points that I seemingly couldn’t escape from throughout the week.

1. Mobile is a massive market, but it’s not the be all and end all

There were, of course, hundreds of developers all eager to show off their mobile games during the show, and a good portion of the talks at GDC Europe centred around the mobile market.

But there was also notable unrest. Many developers I talked to, some who had dabbled in mobile and others who had not, were quite frankly feeling a little sick and tired of the sentiment that if you’re not making a game for mobile platforms, you face being irrelevant.

The team behind Nintendo 3DS game SteamWorld Dig, for example, had previously released a mobile game — and while it provided decent enough sales, the studio wasn’t really all that happy to eventually have its game lost to the destructive tide of mobile games that land on the iOS App Store every day.

The 3DS eShop has been a different story entirely for the Image and Form team. While there clearly aren’t as many potential consumers to hook, the fact that the team’s game was one of only a handful of titles that was made available during its launch week meant that visibility was high, and a feature on the front page of the eShop meant even more sales.

I heard a similar sentiment from plenty of other developers too, including Shadow of the Damneddirector Massimo Guarini. The industry veteran (who founded the studio Ovosonico) revealed his PS Vita game Murasaki Baby earlier this week, and he too doesn’t see the appeal of launching a game onto an online store where he’ll be battling against hundreds and thousands of other titles to rise to the top for a brief space of time.

Murasaki Baby.jpgMassimo Guarini’s Murasaki BabyThis isn’t anything new, of course — just last month Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell noted that “the middle ground devs all ran off to mobile, and left the door unlocked for us.” He too announced a Sony partnership this week, as his upcoming game Volume will debut on PS4 and PS Vita.

But whereas these sorts of musings have been going on for a while, I really got the impression this week that, for many more developers, there’s acknowledgement that mobile isn’t the answer to everything.

2. The confusing indie console message

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that console manufacturers absolutely adore indie devs all of a sudden.

Jump back just a year ago, and The Big Three were touting their massive AAA releases on a regular basis. Throughout this week, there’s a notable indie movement, as there has been throughout 2013: Sony’s conference was packed full of indie games, Microsoft revealed its ID@Xbox self-publishing program, and Nintendo was bigging up a number of its indie games on Nintendo 3DS, including the aforementioned SteamWorld Dig.

But while it all sounds fantastic on the surface, I came away from this week rather confused about whether it’s all for show, or whether these console giants are truly positioning indie games as a main selling point.

Take the contrast between Sony’s conference and its Gamescom show floor display, for example. I’d set out to play as many of the indie games coming to Sony consoles as possible, but when I arrived at the massive Sony booth, it was rather difficult to actually find the indie games.

That’s because while the triple-A releases had each been granted massive space with a handful of monitors each, the indie games had been relegated to the edges and corners of the booth, with barely any signposting at all.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Sony should have thrown OlliOlliSpelunky or Metrico stands up right next to the potentially millions-selling triple-A PS3 and PS4 games that Sony has on the cards — I’d personally love if they’d have done so, but I’m not naive enough to expect that would have been the case.

But when I say that the indie games appeared to be a complete afterthought of the booth, I’m not exaggerating. You had to essentially skim around the outskirts of the Sony booth, away from all the main games, and then peer down at the scattered Vitas to actually find the games you wanted to play.

Multiple times I had to choose a landmark somewhere else in the room — “Let’s meet just next to the massive The Last of Us booth, then we can walk to my game from there” — because it was so difficult to find any individual indie games. Numerous of the devs that I talked to weren’t very happy about it either.

To be fair, at least I could find some indie games at the Sony booth. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place, but I didn’t see a single indie game at either the massive Nintendo or Microsoft areas. Again, I stress that I wasn’t hugely surprised by this at all, but it does seem to clash somewhat with the indie pushes that appear to be happening online and during conferences.

From my perspective, it’s clear that these companies are well aware that indie games aren’t going to sell consoles to a certain segment of players, hence why the triple-A showing is still very much front and center. Still, it’s discouraging to see one message being pushing in one area, and then seeing an entirely different message in another.

3. Exciting and quirky new hardware still brings in the masses

People are always happy to queue up or stand around to see something a bit different, and this year was no different.

The lines to experience the Oculus Rift VR headset were lengthy, and I had plenty of conversations about how the new HD visuals looked and felt, and what could potentially be done with the technology.

I hadn’t tried the standard version of the Oculus Rift, but pretty much everyone I talked to who had sampled both the standard and HD versions said that there wasn’t a great deal of difference between the two. Still, it’s early days for the hardware, and no doubt numerous months before it will be made available to the public.

But it wasn’t just the Rift that was pulling in the crowds. Mikolaj Kaminski’s Achtung Arcade, an arcade machine packed full of smaller games from the dev, sat quietly in a corner until someone decided to pick up a controller — at which point a crowd would gather to see what all the fuss was about.

And the Luggatron was particularly exciting. Joon Van Hove from Glitchnap, who has previously created arcade-style machines in the most wackiest of places (for example, integrated into a baby carriage) wanted to bring another of his crazy machines to GDC Europe, but could only check one bag in.

This gave him the idea to build the Luggatron — an arcade machine built into a suitcase, with the monitor on the outside. It’s more than an impressive feat, and as you’d expect, plenty of people wanted to give it a try.

It’s remarkable to see this sort of innovation with your own eyes, and it’s no wonder that so many of these smaller indie shows like Wild Rumpus and Bit of Alright are growing so rapidly in popularity, when they have great ideas like these to enjoy.

4. Being an indie console launch title is not the same as being a AAA launch title

Whenever a new Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo console launch rolls around, we regularly hear the same studio names — Ubisoft, for example, are massive fans of early console adoptions, and always make sure to have at least a handful of titles ready for launch.

It’s obvious why, of course: Gamers want to pick up a small number of games with their new consoles, sometimes regardless of quality, and so having a wide spread of titles at launch that perhaps don’t incur as large production costs as normal can be very beneficial. Of course, your relationship with the manufacturer won’t exactly be harmed either.

And there’s the added bonus that the press wants to talk about each and every console launch game. If you’re launching alongside a games console, you are going to get articles all over the shop.

As it turns out, however, it may be the case that smaller indie games delivered at launch don’t see such benefits. As part of a talk earlier this year, Felix Bohatsch from Broken Rules revealed that his game Chasing Aurora had not received any sort of sales spike at the Wii U launch whatsoever.

I’m not going to pretend that Chasing Aurora was fantastic and essential — even Bohatsch himself admitted that the game needed more time, and it was rushed for release at launch — but the fact that the studio saw zero sales spike at launch, while triple-A companies churn out some awful stuff for console launches and still see enough of a spike to make it worthwhile, should really tell us something.

Bohatsch’s reasoning was that it was a combination of players picking up a handful of triple-A games and being satisfied enough with that, and a slightly high price point for the amount of content Broken Rules was offering. From my point of view, it does seem to make sense that more traditional players are going to be focusing on the likes of New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land instead of heading to the new eShop and plucking out games at random.

In fact, Bohatsch suggested that if he could go back and do it again, he’d instead launch a few months after the Wii U came out, in a bid to catch those people who had finished off all the triple-A titles, and were now hungry for me. It’s an angle well worth considering for any developers who are currently crunching hard to be ready for the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launches.

5. The emotional game uprising

Although I don’t like to admit it, I regularly shed a tear or five when watching tear-jerker movies and TV shows. In contrast, I cried for the first time ever at a video game last year — the glorious The Walking Dead.

Stirring up emotion in players has never really been at the forefront of game design — well, unless you’re David Cage, of course — but the last year has definitely seen a surge of developers talking about injecting emotion and personality into their characters.

Take the recent Brothers, for example, which managed to stir up emotion in players simply through gameplay, rather than any real storyline. Telltale and Starbreeze aren’t the only studios exploring emotion either, as plenty of conversations I had this week involved making the player feel something for the characters and their tales.

Quantic Dream’s Cage was once again doling out the prize sentences as per usual, explaining in his GDC Europe talk that “we should learn from films” when it comes to injecting emotion into games.

But there were plenty of developers talking about emotional responses to non-film-like games too. Gone Home was mentioned numerous titles, for example, while the aforementioned Massimo Guarini is currently building an entire game around emotion, as players take his Murasaki Baby by the hand and guide her through fear and elation.

There’s still a long way to go, no doubt, until we can truly claim that video games stir up the range of emotions that other mediums have been mustering up for years. But the overall impression I got this week is that plenty of steps are being taken in the right direction.

Elder Scrolls Online: 2-Hour E3 Gameplay Review (TenTonHammer.com)

As TenTonHammer mentioned last week, more coverage of their E3 gameplay was coming and here’s the second part of that. Basically, it’s a 99.9% approval review. I’m hoping we start to see over the next few weeks some more pessimistic posts that offer some kind of “cons” for the game, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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The last time I got my grubby little hands on The Elder Scrolls Online was during a press event Bethesda hosted a few weeks ago in Santa Monica. This time, they were showing off the game at E3 and rather than play the same areas I had at the previous event, the team was kind enough to let me break the rules and start a brand new character to see the beginning of the game. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity because it was, in a word, awesome.

The Elder Scrolls Online starts off in a similar manner to the other games in the series, in which you’ve had something happen to your character and need to make your way to civilization to begin the completion of an epic destiny. Being the eternal RPG player that I am, I immediately hopped on that rail and followed it through to completion. Oh, I’m sorry. Actually I meant to say, “Hell no! I’m going my own damned way and there’s not a thing you can do to stop me.” And that, my friends, is exactly why I love The Elder Scrolls series of games so much. After you complete a very short period of mandatory gameplay, you are completely free to pick whatever direction you want and just go. In my most recent play through, I even took this to the extreme by jumping off the dock walkway rather than even go into the first town the moment I got off the boat the game starts on.

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Splashing my way through the water, swimming around the island and hopping up onto a mound of rocks, I was immediately set upon by a starving wolf. Easily enough (thanks to the combat lessons given to me by Combat Designer, Maria Aliprando, during my first play through), I made short work of him and was quickly on my way. Whether it was bandits, assassin beetles, wolves, or any number of other manner of death dealers, I was able to handle the situation with my character. As a quick hint, I advise always choosing at least one skill that allows you a bit of crowd control capability, no matter which class you choose to play. It will make all the difference in the world when you find yourself taking on more than one opponent at a time.

Quests are scattered throughout the land and easily found by checking the mini-map and heading to any gold dots. Those dots on the map correspond to people or items that will begin a quest line for your character. As you may have already guessed, you are free to accept them or not, all depending on your particular whim of the day. Even though I’m a huge fanatic for free roaming in any game, I went ahead and did a few of the quests I came across just to check out the writing to see if it lives up to the excellent lore-filled tales and exploits that we’ve become so accustomed to over the years. I’m happy to report that you won’t be disappointed.

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Within the first 30 minutes of following one quest, I had donned a costume to pass unscathed through a town of bandits, poisoned a maid and let her die (there was an option to save her), stolen a gem for one quest giver, and then betrayed them by giving that same gem to a completely different NPC that asked for it. After that, I spent another 30 minutes assisting a mage gain entrance to an ancient ruin that had been sealed for an untold number of years, battling machines of ancient power, bypassing traps, and unlocking puzzles to reveal magic knowledge not seen in centuries. These were only two quest lines out of nearly a dozen I saw within the very beginning areas of the game. Considering the fact that The Elder Scrolls Onlineis bigger than any other game in The Elder Scrolls series, I can’t imagine just how many quests are actually in the game.

The most amazing thing to me during my play time was the fact that I not only didn’t notice how long it took to get from level 4 to level 5, I also didn’t care. It probably took almost an hour to gain that level. The entire time I was playing, I wasn’t paying attention at all to what level I was, whether I was gaining experience at an efficient rate, or anything of the like. I was just out there playing, having a good time, and getting into all the trouble I could manage. And dear gods, is their more than enough trouble one can find themselves buried neck deep in.

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So what’s my verdict after getting my hands on The Elder Scrolls Online for only the second time (once again, playing for nearly two hours thanks to the kindness of the Bethesda team)? Plain and simple – I can’t wait for the game to come out. Between the complete freedom to engage in or ignore any quest I choose, the return of open dungeons (see more about them in my previous ESO article here), and the amount of just plain fun I’ve had while playing, it’s impossible to state just how good the game is looking so far. At the end of the day, I know everyone wants to know if The Elder Scrolls Online genuinely feels like an Elder Scrolls game, and the answer to that is a resounding, “YES!” The game certainly isn’t perfect right now, and there are some issues the team continues to work on, but it is incredibly fun and in the end should prove well worth the wait!

Original TenTonHammer Article

The Last of Us: IGN Review

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.

The Last of Us is a near-perfect analog for The Road, a literary masterpiece written by Cormac McCarthy. Both present a hopeless, post-apocalyptic situation navigated by two characters – an adult and a child – with nothing but absolute despair surrounding them. Like The Road, The Last of Us is perpetually dangerous and unpredictable, and like The Road, what happened to get society to a point of rapid decay isn’t the focus. It’s the story of the characters at hand, and those characters alone, at the center of both plots. The beauty of The Last of Us when compared to The Road, however, is that it’s fully interactive, complete with all of the vulnerability, uncertainty and perpetual insecurity such a situation inherently provides.

The Last of Us seamlessly intertwines satisfying, choice-based gameplay with a stellar narrative. It never slows down, it never lets up, and frankly, it never disappoints. It’s PlayStation 3’s best exclusive, and the entire experience, from start to finish, is remarkable. I lost myself in Naughty Dog’s vision of a pandemic-ridden United States, in the characters that populate this unfortunate wasteland, and in their individual stories. The 17 hours I spent playing through the campaign are among the most memorable I’ve ever spent with a game.

Joel remembers the world before the pandemic.

Players are cast in the role of Joel, a grizzled and tired survivor stuck in a cycle any person could imagine finding oneself in two decades after the collapse of society. He takes odd jobs, acquires food, clothing, and shelter, and repeats the process endlessly, a process that only gets more arduous and desperate as time goes on. Joel does what’s necessary to stay alive, and in the ruined United States he travels around, his survival often means someone else’s untimely death.

Occasionally haunted by his past but living in his dystopian present, Joel is surprisingly easy to root for. In many ways, he’s strangely relatable. He retains shreds of his humanity as best he can, considering the extraordinary circumstances he finds himself in. He has a sharpness to him, but a tenderness, too, which he occasionally displays to his partner, a woman named Tess. In the time it took me to beat The Last of Us, I came to care about Joel, and I became invested in his story, and the stories of those he meets along the way.

The Last of Us takes place in 2033, so the regular world Joel harkens back to on occasion is one you and I understand. It’s fascinating to think about how he’s evolved since the world crumbled around him, and even if he does what’s necessary to stay alive – including stealing and murdering – it’s hard to fault him for it. In fact, one of the great ironies of The Last of Us is that you’ll be pulling for him no matter how dark things get, or how violent his actions are. He does what’s required. Joel knows it’s either him or them. There’s no gray area. Joel can be cold and ruthless, but those around him have the propensity to be far worse.

As riveting as Joel is, he isn’t the only character of consequence in The Last of Us. Indeed, calling him the main character is true only to an extent, because it’s his companion, a young girl named Ellie, who truly steals the show. Joel makes a business arrangement early in the adventure to help transport Ellie across what remains of the United States, a wasteland marked with boundless wildlife alongside cities and towns ruthlessly reclaimed by nature. From there on out, the two are virtually inseparable, even if they are at first skeptical of one another, forced together by circumstances in a world where trust and faith are in extremely short supply.

Joel and Ellie develop a sort of dysfunctional father-daughter relationship as their collective experiences bind them, and rooting for Ellie in particular is commonplace in The Last of Us. Her success means the player is successful, and her hardened exterior is the perfect complement to her complete ignorance of the world before it was destroyed. Ellie was born after the collapse, and as such, she’s full of questions and wonder, often communicated through the many contextual conversations she and Joel share. She’ll pick through records at a music store, become fascinated with wildlife she’s never seen before, and ask a million questions about the past. You watch her learn, grow, and gain meaning. It’s impossible not to become attached to her.

The interplay between Joel and Ellie, as well as the other characters you meet on your adventure, is one of the great highlights in The Last of Us. Voice acting is not only consistently superb, but the game’s graphical beauty makes the events of The Last of Us overflow with realism. Everything that happens is immediately more memorable, more powerful, and more poignant because your surroundings are so believable. Forests, fields and wooded trails are overgrown, dense, and lush. Abandoned villages and metropolises alike are eerie, silent, and crumbling. Each environment is unique, thoughtfully created, and bursting with little details, including notes, letters, voice recorders and more that tell ancillary stories of survivors you rarely ever meet in person. The game took me so long to beat because I was obsessed with seeing every inch of it. The Last of Us demands exploration, not only to scour for needed supplies, but to satisfy your curiosity.

Joel and Ellie’s endless chatter is one of The Last of Us’ highlights.

The Last of Us is undoubtedly pretty to look at, but that beauty is often overshadowed by imminent peril. Joel and Ellie will confront enemies in all of the various locations they visit, and these battles represent the other side of what makes The Last of Us shine. Combat is tense and nerve-racking. Fighting is as emotionally taxing as it is physically dangerous, because the people Joel fights are, like him, just normal folks trying to survive. In a world where everyone has a singular motivation to keep breathing for one more day, it’s hard to judge even the harshest remnants of humanity you encounter.

Stealthily killing entire rooms of enemies is incredibly satisfying, so much so that when you blow your cover, it’s hard not to feel a sense of disappointment (especially when one of your companions occasionally fires a gun or walks in front of an enemy, which you can’t control). Holding down R2 while crouching lets Joel listen carefully to his surroundings, giving him a glimpse of enemy locations in his direct vicinity and an edge in staying away from danger. Some players may consider this a bit cheap, but I’d merely call it gamey. Just like the L3 prompts that tell you where to look and hints that appear if the game determines you’ve been stuck in an area too long (all of which can be turned off), Joel’s listening skill can simply be ignored if you feel like it doesn’t fit. But rest assured, it’s very helpful, especially later in your quest.

The beauty of stealth in The Last of Us is the incredible, uncomfortable realism you’re forced to witness each and every time you execute a silent kill. Watching a survivor fruitlessly swat at Joel’s arms as he strangles him to death is disturbing, as is quickly shiving a man in his neck and listening to him gurgle some parting breaths as he collapses to the ground. The Last of Us does a phenomenal job of making each and every enemy feel human. Every life taken has weight and each target feels unique and alive. It’s hard not to think about some of the older folks in particular, ones that remember the real world, lived in it, and were once normal. There’s an emotional pang when you’re taking out thugs that look a whole lot like you and your allies.

Of course, there are enemies that are decidedly inhuman in The Last of Us, too. The collapse of society was instigated by the sudden prevalence of a fungus that wreaks havoc on the human mind, and those humans – known not-so-lovingly as The Infected – are alive, but not well. No matter which faction of humanity a person falls on, whether he’s with the remnants of the federal government, or rogue groups known as Hunters, or even the mysterious resistance organization known as The Fireflies, everyone is united against The Infected. This is simply because The Infected can in turn infect others, further eroding humanity’s already dwindling numbers. They are a perpetual threat to even the slightest hope that humanity can one day step back from the precipice of extinction, and running into them is always frightening.

Unlike your human adversaries, who often work together, audibly communicate, plan their actions, and practice self-preservation, The Infected attack with reckless abandon, with absolutely no regard for their safety and with every intention of killing you. Fighting them is terrifying, especially during your first few encounters, and feels completely different than your engagements with pockets of humanity. The lesser versions of The Infected, colloquially known as Runners, can be taken out with firearms and melee strikes alike, but it’s the Clickers – characters so infected by the Cordyceps fungus that they can’t even see – that will haunt your dreams. They can only be killed with silent shiv strikes or via firearm – silence is more often than not your best weapon against them — but if they so much as get their hands on you, it’s game over. In this world, they are the true threat. It’s unlikely you’ll ever get comfortable dealing with them, of being mere feet away from them, crouching, hoping they don’t somehow sense you.

Another brilliant aspect of The Last of Us is its crafting options, all of which happen in real-time. With the exception of actually going to a pause menu, there’s no way to stop the action, so you need to find lulls in order to scavenge for items, put them together and create new goods that can be used both curatively and offensively. The system is extra tense considering you can use, say, alcohol and rags to create either a healing pack or a Molotov Cocktail, but not both with the same goods. Thoroughly exploring environments nets you the components necessary for item creation, giving you yet another reason to inspect surroundings already begging to be rummaged. And item scarcity, a perpetual issue in the world of The Last of Us, means that everything you find is precious in its own way. There aren’t any factories making more of anything you find, and that includes the greatest prize of all: bullets.

Ellie is undeniably the star of the show.

This perpetuates real consequences based on your decisions. Will you use those scissors and some tape to create a shiv? Or will you attach them to the end of a pole to create a makeshift weapon of war? Will you create a smoke bomb only because you found sugar in the environment and can only carry more if you use what you already have? Or do you bypass the sugar and hope you don’t need it – or what you can make from it – later on? Will you opt for melee strikes to save ammo for another day? Or will you walk in guns-blazing and hope you find shells on the bodies you leave in your wake? How you choose to navigate these forks in the road have considerable effects on how you approach future enemy encounters, adding a special dynamic to The Last of Us not found in very many games.

Joel can also upgrade himself with pills and other supplements hidden throughout the adventure, though here you’ll also have to make careful choices, as there isn’t enough medicine in one playthrough to fully upgrade him. Likewise, all of your weapons, from pistols to shotguns and rifles, can also be upgraded using parts and tools found on your journey. Similarly, you won’t be able to max-out everything, so you’ll need to make thoughtful decisions. This adds an analytical, tactical slant to The Last of Us not found in the likes of Uncharted, though if you really want to upgrade Joel and his goods fully, you could always take advantage of The Last of Us’ very welcome New Game+ feature.

While the campaign is absolutely worth playing through multiple times, The Last of Us also comes packing a robust, rich multiplayer mode that isn’t simply a retread of Uncharted’s. In fact, The Last of Us’ multiplayer seems decidedly scaled back in order to fit it into the context of the post-civilization United States, with small player counts and only two modes that pay exceptional detail to the greater context of the single-player campaign.

The Last of Us’ online functionality exists within a mode called Factions. Once you begin, you choose one of two sides and then jump into one of two sub-modes: Supply Raid and Survivors. Both are atypical in their approach, especially Survivors, which presents players with a best-of-seven series in a four-on-four match where death is brutally permanent. Survivors forces meticulous play virtually ripped right out of the campaign, except instead of fighting AI-controlled partners, you’ll be dealing with even smarter humans. It’s a truly fun mode, one where every player on the map is overflowing with nerves and afraid to make a mistake.

Supply Raid, on the other hand, is about whittling down your team by eroding their overall life count. It’s more generic than its counterpart, but the idea of having a shared number of lives forces you to strive for better play. It makes you not want to be the reason your team loses, it makes you not want to make silly blunders. Like Survivors, Supply Raid also allows you to craft items on the fly using components found on the map and feels a whole lot like the single-player game. By scaling back the modes and the player counts from the likes of Uncharted, Naughty Dog has removed the tall barrier between single player and multiplayer and has made the two feel interconnected, even ancillarily.

Playing The Last of Us online is exceptionally fun.

What’s especially neat about The Last of Us’ online functionality is the metagame that transcends everything you do. When playing online, your character – who is fully customizable in both appearance and loadout – is the leader of a band of survivors. Successfully navigating online matches, collecting items and engaging in one-off challenges called Missions helps grow your band. Of course, if you fail, your band decreases in size. It’s a simple system in premise, but it’s undeniably addicting when you start getting into it. It creates another, higher level, a different way to gauge your overall success by something other than wins or losses and your kill-to-death ratio. Like the single-player campaign, which judges your actions based on future consequences, so too does multiplayer in The Last of Us reward or detract based upon performances that, at the time, may not seem entirely consequential.

Then again, The Last of Us is still all about its single player campaign. Many players will never jump online, and frankly, they won’t be missing out on what truly makes the overall package so incredibly special, so exceptionally noteworthy, such a must-play experience.

THE VERDICT

PlayStation 3 isn’t only well-known for its number of exclusive games, but for the sheer number of quality exclusives. That’s what makes The Last of Us even more impressive, because not only does it join the ranks of Uncharted, Killzone, God of War, Infamous and more, but it bests them all. In short, Naughty Dog has crafted a game that impresses in virtually every way. The Last of Us is a true feat.

Its unrivaled presentation in particular sets the bar even higher than the Uncharted trilogy already did, and its writing, voice acting and layered gameplay combine to create what is very easily the game to beat for Game of the Year 2013.

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