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Naughty Dog, the
developers behind the legendary Uncharted series, achieved what many are
calling the leading Game of the Year contender; one of the best games they've
ever made; and even one of the best games ever made. By now, you've almost
certainly heard of The Last of Us, but if you haven't, trust me when I say this
- "You want to." It's a remarkable game, from the emotional roller coaster
you'll experience, to stunning visuals and some of the best voice acting and
dialogue ever to be found in a video game.
Since the game
will undoubtedly cause a different emotional response from the various people
playing it (just look at all of the blogs), I'm joined by mojomonkey12 to discuss the first hour of game play.
Clearly experiencing the totality of the game is necessary to form a final opinion,
but a one hour snapshot will allow us to discuss our initial thoughts and
impressions, without spoiling it for you (or us) by experiencing the ending.
And just to note, we will make every effort to ensure it is a spoiler free
We'll start off
with something easy...
Saint: "After an
hour of game play, where are you and what are your thoughts."
Mojomonkey12: "Never mind the first hour, the
first twenty minutes! Anyway...
At the 01:04:00 mark I was just about to finish my first real
confrontation with the guy that apparently owed some cash to the
Fireflies. Keep in mind, my play style tends to be of the roam and wander
variety. I spend lots of time doing nothing but looking. I would
guess you likely made it a bit further?
My thoughts on the game so far is that it is
truly amazing. I will say I have experienced some minor technical issues,
and enemy detection of AI is...interesting. Other than those two very
insignificant blips (Navy reference, I think/hope), the game is stunning.
The first hour elicited more emotion than many
games do in their entirety, at least for me. If that is a sign of
things to come, I am terrifyingly excited to continue the journey."
like we have similar methodology in the way we play games - explore and try to find
everything. I made it a bit further, but used that encounter as my one hour
marker too. So it sounds like our pacing was similar. Indeed it is truly
amazing and like you hinted, you realize within the first few minutes after one
of the game's emotionally charged scenes - anything goes. In most games, there
are certain events and/or character types that are sort of "off limits", but I
don't think this game is going to have any sort of boundaries or out of bounds.
One of my
favorite elements of the game is the dialogue and voice acting. I can easily
say it's the best I've ever heard. Even though I expected this level of quality
from the creators of Uncharted, I was still blown away with how real the
characters speak - certainly no "Jill sandwiches" here. What are your thoughts
on this part of the game?
12: "The dialogue and voice capture is beyond anything I have really
experienced. Uncharted comparisons are
impossible to ignore, but with the grittier and elevated maturity level of The
Last of Us, it just has more of an impact than the mostly playful banter of
Drake and friends. What really impresses
me in this regard, is the facial animations that go along with the
dialogue. They are so subtle and seem as
natural as I have experienced in any game, including LA Noire. This is much more noticeable further into the
I feel the
writers did a fantastic job of throwing in some lighthearted moments, but they
generally relate back to the game setting.
Ellie has a future in one line comedy.
Saint: "Besides this element, what other feature or features do
you think set the game apart from other similarly themed games?"
"I think the one element that sets it apart for me is the crafting and mini
leveling system. Sure, other games have
done this, quite frequently in fact. I
think that Naughty Dog has struck a nice balance with their system. It's there, but it isn't overburdening and
doesn't require a ton of inventory management.
The reason for that is because there isn't loot lying around
everywhere. You have to explore and seek
it out, and then use it wisely. I have
enough ingredients/components in Skyrim (as one of many examples) to craft
anything dozens of times over, if not more.
That is cool, but it does distract me from the actual game."
Saint: "I certainly agree with your perspective. I'm not a huge
fan of crafting and leveling. I understand why the developers include it, and
it does add a certain extra element to the game, but many of these types of games
I play strictly for the story and it can sometimes be distracting to collect
trinkets to craft into gear. Tomb Raider had this feature too, and I thought it
was a bit much - The Last of Us certainly hit the right balance. Similarly, I
liked how they kept the screen clear for most of the game. Obviously the
inventory and health meter would flash on the screen when needed, but overall,
the screen stayed clear of any sort of traditional HUD type data; it added to
The game isn't perfect though and you already admitted a few flaws
you noticed. What's your biggest grievance with the game and how much impact
does it have on your overall assessment of the game?
"The technical issues I am experiencing are mostly minor, however, from time to
time an AI partner will get hung up somewhere (walk into a car, and keep
walking in motion), and if I don't notice it, I will be on the other side of
the map and start talking to myself. I realized after the second time this
happened, that it was the AI partner talking, and I was responding, only I
couldn't hear what they had said because I was too far away. Like you, I choose many of the games I play
based on story potential, so missing out on those conversations was
other thing I don't like so far, and this has happened to me throughout the
game, including the first hour, is that level design and enemy AI make playing
this game kind of easy at times. I've
experienced it on several occasions, where I will be sneaking, quite a ways
away, and then I will hear "what was that", and the enemy AI will
start walking slowly toward me, one or two at a time. It makes it terribly easy to get through the
level, because in many cases, the enemies from the entire checkpoint come, and
don't really use cover, or common sense.
think these issues are enough to impact my overall assessment tremendously, but
it would likely prevent me from rating it a 10 so to speak."
Saint: "That seems to be the common complaint and is certainly
mine as well. In one instance, I used a stealth kill to take down a bad guy.
Another bad guy started to approach so I took cover behind a crate, but his
comrade's body was lying in plain view. He walked right up to it, nearly
tripped over it, looked around and said something like, "I guess it was
nothing." And walked off. I quickly jotted that down. It almost happened again
later on, but as he started to walk off it was like he all of a sudden noticed
this dead body and raised the alarm. This is a common problem in some games -
AI can be a tricky thing to tweak and perfect. So I chuckled about it, but
certainly didn't throw my arms up in the air in frustration or think any less
of the game. My biggest grief is my own teammates, and their AI. They
continually run out in the open or block doorways I'm trying to go through. I've
also noticed sometimes when they're out in the open, the bad guys don't seem to
notice them near as quick as they do when I poke my head out from behind cover.
Very minor annoyances in the overall scheme of things and the story is so good
it's easy to not even really notice it when it does happen.
I'm really enjoying playing the game as Joel. He is such an
amazing character. I kind of view him as a mash up between Nathan Drake and
John Marston from Red Dead Redemption. Agree, or disagree? If they were going
to make a movie version of the game, who would cast as Joel and Ellie?
"Yep, I'd say the flaws, if we call them that, are nothing to really fret
Joel is an
amazing character, and I am sure the development of his story/plot will only
deepen as we both delve further into the game.
I'd say Nathan Marston or John Drake would be a dead ringer Saint, good
call! Agree for sure. I was expecting one of your famous "if
this, then who" questions, I just wasn't sure which angle you would take,
and this one is a good one! Let's
see...I am not a real cinemafile, so my knowledge of real man actors is
somewhat limited. Remember that I do
live 60 miles one way to the nearest cinema theater and all.
Joel would be played by none other than Josh Holloway, of Lost Fame (Lost/Last...no?). He played Sawyer, the conman. I didn't specifically care for Sawyer the
character, but the actor did a good job, and I just kinda see Joel as the same
general personality. Distant, but can be won over, slowly. I am sure there are others, but he comes to
mind at the moment, also I recently watched Lost, so there's that.
easy, Miley Cyrus...yeah right! So, I
was thinking about this, and Who's The Boss era Alyssa Milano would be great
for this role, but it's not 1987. So
next I thought about who the most badass (sorry Saint) young lady actress I
know right now. This happens to be
Maisie Williams. Maisie is best known
for her role as Arya Stark, in the hit HBO Show Game of Thrones based of the
series of books by George RR Martin named A Song of Ice and Fire. There are certainly similarities in their
characters, and even more, Maisey fits the bill in real life. She is of an age with Ellie, has similar
enough looks, though she has a strong British accent, if Rick and Maggie can
pull it off in The Walking Dead, certainly Maisie can fake an American
accent. Look forward to hearing who
would get top billing in your production.
Saint: "Hah, great picks. Sawyer would be great. I didn't even
think of him. The game reminds me a lot of The Road, so I was thinking Viggo
Mortensen. I had no idea about the girl...I didn't really know any young girl
actresses. Until I read your pick. Now, I couldn't agree more. I only recently
started watching Game of Thrones and that is a perfect pick.
"Doh! How could I forget Aragorn! Viggo would be great, never saw the movie,
but read the book and loved it."
Saint: "Other gamers have noted some similarities between The Walking Dead
series and this game. Do you think so, or does the game remind you of any
"I certainly see similarities between the two on an emotional level. There are
the obvious common threads, such as the infected/zombies, and the older man
traveling with a younger girl scenario, and of course, the end of days
storyline. Both Telltale and Naughty Dog
have mastered telling their respective stories, using their individual gameplay
approaches, I think that is the biggest thing for me. Story, and the way it's told so brilliantly
in both. As far as reminding me of other
games, I haven't played Spec Ops: The Line, but I have heard some people
compare it to that, i.e., dark storyline, etc.
Of the games I have played that come to mind, I'd say Enslaved has some
common themes, and is great on its own, in my opinion."
Saint: "Good points. I think perhaps the most striking similarity
between The Walking Dead and The Last of Us comes down to the relationship
between the survivors. Since we're only talking about the first hour (although
it happens throughout the game) you have chance encounters with other people
who are just as scared and are trying just as hard to survive, and you want to
help, but you can't always just do that without endangering you and your own.
There is a scene when Joel and his brother are in the truck (part of the
opening scene) and people are yelling for you to stop and help...but you just
drive around them and keep on going. I've always been fascinated with this
element of any apocalyptic game, and The Last of Us certainly implements it
with such an emotional impact.
Okay, well I suppose we should wrap this up. Any parting words or
Dog and Telltale Games both did a great job with showing those relationships,
and most often the hostile relationships.
Really in both universe's, it seems to be the human element still
causing as much if not more damage than the infected, and I think that is shown
very well. Regarding the scene you
mentioned, I would likely be the one pulling over and trying to help. It really is hard to say if that is right or
wrong in that situation. Personally, if
I am all alone and can at least try to help, I will. Where it becomes tricky, is when that choice
also endangers the rest of the group. I
am not sure if you have finished, so I'm going to end here.
Since we are
focusing on the first hour here, I do want to mention that there is a scene
about 15 minutes into the game that is just...well it is something else. The baffling part to me is that I saw it
coming, and I am not even that smart. I'm sure we ALL knew something would
happen, I mean how could you not. Yet
when it happened, it had the full emotional impact on me as if I was caught
completely off guard. That is a sign of putting all the pieces together just
right, and that is what Naughty Dog has accomplished with The Last of Us.
Saint: "Indeed. We all saw it coming, yet it was just as shocking
and gut wrenching as if we were caught completely off guard. That's some
powerful scripting and story writing if you ask me. Well, I've enjoyed chatting with you about
our one hour of game play. I'm nearly done with the game and imagine you are too
(if you're not already). Hopefully we can sit down again and chat about our
experience playing the game all of the way through.
Until then...keep your head down and your powder dry. And no more crying! It's just a game.
Hope the rest of you enjoyed this. Stay tuned for our final thoughts, coming soon to a blog near you.