The post-apocalyptic video game The Last of Us, released just a few weeks back, has already become the blockbuster event of the year. Exclusive to Sony's PlayStation 3, the game has earned several shelves worth of industry awards and near-universal acclaim from critics. It's the console's fastest-selling title of the year by far and, according to Sony, the best-selling new (non-sequel) title in the history of the PlayStation 3.
So what's all the excitement about? The Last of Us is a heavily atmospheric adventure that features two protagonists -- the grim survivalist Joel and his spitfire teenage ward, Ellie. They travel across a post-apocalyptic America ravaged by violent gangs, fascist soldiers and the terrifying unfortunates known as the Infected. It's a literate, character-driven story that evokes novels like Cormac McCarthy's The Road or the 2006 dystopian thriller Children of Men.
But The Last of Us is a traditional action-adventure video game, too, in which the player must employ tactical combat thinking to gun down and blow up the baddies. It's all about execution, so to speak. The game is making waves because it does a lot of things extraordinarily well. It maximizes the many interconnected elements that make for a great gaming experience. We spoke with The Last of Us game director Bruce Straley about what makes a state-of-the-art video game tick.