I know this was discussed a little bit in the what are you playing now thread, but I think it deserves its own thread. This is simply an amazing game. If I hadn't played Tomb Raider I would easily give call this game of the year. As it is, I think it's tied between those two.
What really makes this game great is the story and the relationship between Joel and Ellie. It's complicated, messy, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and the soul of the game. I looked forward to seeing them interact more than facing off against hunters or infected. I loved how the game showed their moods even when not in a cut-scene. Like when Ellie is upset that Joel didn't thank her after she saved her life. She doesn't talk, she stays away from Joel, and crosses her arms.
The other characters are just as great. I really liked Bill. He was funny, and I loved his back and forth with Ellie. Henry and Sam were also good additions to the cast. I didn't trust them at first but it was good to see Ellie have someone her own age to talk to.
The game really made me feel like I was in a ruined civilization overrun by marauders and hordes of infected. Going into the big cities was awe-inspiring. The game made the areas large enough so that you don't feel hemmed in and stuck on a linear path. The forests and roads were just as fun to traverse. They did a good job of varying up the environments. Having notes and pictures lying around also helped to show just how horrible things had gotten.
There are just so many good moments to talk about. The entire winter section was mind-blowing. It went in places I did not expect. Running through the town trying to dodge enemies with a snowstorm blowing across the screen was exhilarating. Pretty much anytime clickers were present and I had to sneak past them was nail biting. Especially in the tunnels towards the end of the game, where there were clickers, runners, and bloaters. Speaking of the end, that entire hospital section was so hard and yet so much fun at the same time. Thank god by then I had gotten decent at stealth kills.
The quiet moments were effective as well. The sewer community was just so sad. Here was a group of people that had banded together to make something good, to help one another out, and one simple mistake ruined it.
Not many video games would be gutsy enough to end the way this one did. Sure, there's some hope but it's also a dark ending and not much gets resolved. Yet it's the only way the game could end and it stayed true to the characters. They wouldn't have acted any other way.
Naughty Dog has really done it again. They've proved that they know how to craft top notch video games that rival the best works from movies, TV, and literature. I wouldn't be surprised if someone did try to turn this into a movie or TV show. But it really needs to be played. I'd almost suggest buying PS3 just for this game, it's that good.