Archive | June 2013

The Last of Us

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So I’m absolutely loving The Last of Us. Naughty Dog always does amazing stuff, but I felt like Uncharted 3 was a step back from Uncharted 2. It looked amazing and had impressive set pieces and whatnot, but the gameplay was often frustrating and I felt like I was almost on rails a lot of the time. I didn’t feel in control at all for much of that game.

The Last of Us fixes most the complaints I had with Uncharted 3. It didn’t start out well, the opening sequence sets the stage really well, but once you get control of Joel in the game proper it takes a while before you get to really play. But once the game opened up with combat scenarios and such, I felt like I had more than enough freedom in how I approached enemy encounters. The stealth feels natural and just makes sense without any type of visibility gauges being necessary, and the combat just feels chaotic and clumsy, in a good way. Not once did I leave a fight feeling good about my badassness, it was always just a really tense and chaotic struggle to survive. The combat design really accomplishes that feeling of being vulnerable.

I can’t help thinking that I would pay good money to play a military shooter type game with these kinds of gameplay mechanics. It would be really interesting to actually be a vulnerable, overwhelmed very mortal person thrown into some crazy Call of Duty sh*t.

I finished it, and then started it again immediately on New Game + and finished that. I haven’t had a game make me want to do that since…Bastion I think. The enemy encounters are far less harrowing the second time through, which made it a bit less interesting though.

If I play it again, I’m definitely going through it on Survivor. On a lot of games, I won’t play on the harder difficulties because the game mechanics don’t really support it. It just becomes cheap and frustrating. But I feel like the mechanics of stealth and combat and straight up enemy avoidance in The Last of Us lends itself well to harder difficulties.

I spent some time with the multiplayer, and it’s definitely very interesting. It can be really slow paced, with smarter players who take their time sneaking and using listen mode completely blowing up the run and gunners. It’s a really nice change of pace from most multiplayer games these days.

The animation, voice acting, writing, art, lighting, it’s all a bloody marvel. What gets me is the subtlety, where small facial expressions and body language takes the place of what would have been clumsy and heavy handed exposition in other games.

I think Ellie is quite possibly one of my favourite characters in a videogame ever. Not only is she just a really well done character period, she’s a female character without an ounce of the retarded writing that plagues female characters in both games and film. She’s not a helpless victim, she’s not a man hating girl power chick, she’s not sexualized, she’s just an actual person, a foul mouthed teenage girl in a messed up situation.

I also love how the game for the most part isn’t trying to make you have fun. It makes you feel a lot of things and its engaging as hell, but most of it isn’t fun. That’s what art is supposed to do. At this stage in the industry, that’s still a pretty big deal when a AAA game tries to take you to places that are not “weeee power fantasy kabloom dieeee brraaaagh!”

All in all, I think The Last of Us absolutely deserves the praise its gotten. It’s one of the best games I have played in years (ever maybe? I don’t know, its up there).

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