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Set 20 years after the Cordyceps parasitic fungus has mutated and begun infecting people, The Last of Us puts players in the role of an amoral black-market dealer named Joel as he attempts to usher a 14-year-old girl named Ellie across the country to a resistance group known as Firefly. The journey is extremely perilous, as gamers must escape quarantined zones where martial law has been enacted, avoid the infected humans, scavengers, and bandits roaming cities that have been reclaimed by nature, and elude the military, who desperately want to return Ellie to her quarantined city.
Developed by Naughty Dog, the company behind Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and Uncharted, The Last of Us represents something of a departure from those action-oriented franchises. While guns and visceral melee combat do play a large role in the game, the post-apocalyptic environment means that ammo and weapons are quite scarce. On top of that, the fungus enters through one's eyes, rendering those infected either partially or fully blind, but giving them remarkable hearing ability, so loud noises are generally inadvisable. Therefore, survival is likely to hinge as much on the use of stealth and guile as the use of guns and knives.
Several other characters join Joel and Ellie during their trek, but for the most part gamers will be controlling Joel while the AI handles Ellie. Players can attempt to make their way directly through each level, but those who explore will find a variety of collectibles and objects that can be combined and used as weapons or health kits. The world does not stop when Joel goes into his backpack to craft something, however, so gamers must plan ahead or make sure they are in a secure area before crafting. The Last of Us also features a fully formed multiplayer mode, complete with in-game currency and a perk system.