Got to Winter on hard and had to quit. I just hate how the game forces you into combat at times and how the enemies become fucking bullet sponges on higher difficulties. I think normal mode got the combat part right but there were two many resources while hard mode is the exact opposite. My last death was caused by trying to run away from a bunch of dudes and I got shot five times in a row and ended up stun locked. Sorry, I'm not putting up with that shit.
It's a good game. Sometimes it's great. However, I feel like this game would be getting eaten alive if the story wasn't so "good." I honestly thought the story was fine and well told in places, but it wasn't anything special (outside of the awesome ending, of course). It's an 8 or 8.5 out of me. The dissonance between the world and the "game" part is just too great for me to bear, and the stealth mechanics are far too random and glitchy to rely on them. Tried to sneak up on dudes during Fall's end sequence and they would break animation and spin around and shoot me every damn time. Again, great game when it lets you play how you want, but I can't stand it when you're forced into combat and the game just spawns enemies. The best moments are when you come upon a group and have to figure out how to approach the situation.
And before anyone says anything, I feel the same way when other stealth games force me into combat. Couldn't stand the stupid stairwell scene in Metal Gear Solid, or the awful finale in Hitman 2.
And why the hell does this game get away with so many of the chief complaints about other games released in the past year? Resident Evil 6 is, rightfully, picked apart for having the whole "Pick up a key, now the enemies attack" bullshit, but it's here in this game too. Other stealth games are picked apart, again rightfully, for hive-mind AI, but all of the hunters know where you are if one sees you. Again, I just look for consistency in my reviews, and I feel like Last of Us is getting away, at least among critics, with the same shit that other games are crucified for. I remember Gametrailers made a huge deal out of the fact that you can throw a bottle in front of an enemy in the new Hitman and he will only notice the sound when it hits a wall. And yet, not one peep from the site when Last of Us does the exact same damn thing. Maybe it's because, to its credit, Last of Us doesn't do this kinda thing nearly as often as other games, but it's still there and quite annoying when it happens.
Sorry to rant. Got really pissed on my last death and I think I'm shelving the game for good. I'm glad people like it, and I think it's probably the most important game of the year. I just hate the fact that the game was apparently critic proof among most of the press (though i do think Polygon was a little harsh at points).