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From the developers of the iconic Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter and Uncharted series, Naughty Dog adds another touch of genius to the PlayStation 3 in the form of The Last of Us. In a post-apocalyptic setting, a deadly fungus similar to the one seen in popular movie I Am Legend spreads throughout the city and infects humans, turning them into hostile beasts that attack protagonists Joel and Ellie.

The difference between The Last of Us and every other zombie game in the world, however, is that there are also other humans in the game who have not been infected but still remain hostile to the player. This adds an additional element of danger that requires quick thinking as these survivors are far more capable than infected humans without the ability to think for themselves any longer.

One of the most interesting points of Naughty Dog’s game is the way that foes understand and react to the player as he controls Joel. For example, pulling out a gun and firing at an enemy prompts him to warn his allies, shouting that Joel has a gun and to watch out for incoming bullets. This causes them to engage in realistic behavior, such as hiding behind cover and warily glancing around corners to avoid being hit.

Though controlled exclusively by the AI, Ellie also displays intelligent behavior. She doesn’t wander off the beaten path or accidentally invite trouble like most escorted characters; instead, shr keeps out of sight and hidden to avoid imminent danger. This makes for a welcome change after many games that poorly display AI behavior and make a partnership more of an inconvenience than a sense of companionship.

Due to the dynamic engine used to render AI, the game can completely play out differently on a second run-through as well. For example, on one playthrough Joel could climb a ladder and reach an object, but the same scene on a separate playthrough might show the ladder completely absent, requiring Joel to boost up Ellie to climb up and reach the object herself.

Set for release sometime in 2013, The Last of Us already displays a great amount of remarkable gameplay that excites all PlayStation 3 players. Perhaps the only thing better than what Naughty Dog has shown so far is the fact that there is still so much more to reveal.

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