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‘Last of Us’ challenging yet fun

An ant is seen with a fungus wrapped around its body. A colony of ants ignore it as it stumbles in the opposite direction.

It climbs up high and explodes, spreading spores everywhere.

Every insect nearby is infected.

This real life fungus, the cordyceps, is the premise of last year’s hit Playstation 3 exclusive “The Last of Us,” where it infects the human species.

Players play as Joel, a grizzled, grey-haired man who has survived over 20 years since this outbreak started.

Joel lives in a quarantine zone which is absolutely miserable. A turn of events happens when Joel is tasked with a smuggling job — a 14-year-old girl named Ellie.

Throughout this journey you’ll traverse beautiful scenes overtaken by nature, and in contrast, dark interiors filled with things you wish you weren’t able see.

The graphics and audio are some of the best I’ve experienced in any kind of media which is impressive — considering it’s running on a 7-year-old system.

Survival is everything. Although a linear adventure, numerous open areas are provided with precious supplies to scavenge and enemies to either confront or sneak by.

Combat is unbelievably tense as the A.I. is very perceptive (bandits and the infected).

Numerous solutions exist to these encounters, although going out guns blazing seldom works.

This game is challenging. When your character dies, which may be often, it never feels unfair. It feels justified.

An unreliable A.I. partner can break the experience and occasionally they will be out in open sight when you’re sneaking, which breaks the immersion.

The developers have, thankfully, made your partners unable to alert enemies due to their faults.

In the story you’ll meet several well-crafted characters, though undeniably, Ellie is the star.

There is also a great multiplayer mode; however, the single player is the definite magnum opus.

There are flaws; however, they don’t put a dent in this masterpiece. “The Last of Us” is an absolute thrill ride that keeps on outdoing itself until the end.

Rating: A