The lights are on
While I was waiting for The Last of Us to install on my
PS3's hard drive, I sat and contemplated how I would approach Naughty Dog's
latest adventure. Aware that they were pushing narrative more than ever before,
I decided to focus my attention on the gameplay, and just absorb the narrative
as it came along. Maybe I made a mistake.
From opening cutscene to the end credits, I sat with my
mouth agape. The Last of Us wasn't just well written, it had prose. I felt as
if I were wondering through a virtual Cormac McCarthy novel as was intended and
the game soared sky-high on its many subtleties, which is something almost
entirely foreign to the video games industry.
I won't skirt around it; Joel is in my opinion one of the
most incredibly complex and polarizing characters I've ever experienced in any
fiction. You think you know what kind of man he is as the story opens, but you
never truly understand this broken human being until his final line in the
game. I might collect a few scoffs for saying this, but Joel would fit right in
with the Daniel Plainsview's of the entertainment biz.
His teenage counterpart Ellie is a fantastic foil to his
dark and complex demeanor. She's light-hearted yet fully aware of the doom that
surrounds her. She carries many traits that exist amongst the teenage girls of
today, except that she seems to carry the weariness that you might see on
thirty year old woman.
The narrative beats carry these two dynamic characters
through many gorgeously rendered locations and past many characters that bear
the same complexity as our two leads.
Unfortunately the gameplay hinders what should be
perfection. Out of place, and awkward environmental puzzles litter the levels.
Arena's that carry that "I know I'm about to murder people here" appearance disrupt
the natural flow of the games environments and disrupt that sense of realism
and despair that existed only moments before. An unexpected boss fight, and
wonky ally AI uproot the player from their masterfully fabricated immersion.
None of those things would be problems if they were
consistent, or apart of the games overarching gameplay. There are times when I
would find myself in a natural, flowing area where I would be attacked by
infected or taken into a gun fight or stealth segment and it was wonderful.
Those gamey elements listed above broke that naturalness that exists in so few
games, and worked in contrast against those natural encounters that I enjoyed so
The most jarring aspect of The Last of Us was the final thirty
minutes, when I was overrun by body-armor wearing, gun-toting militiamen. I call
this the "Naughty Dog Crutch" which is when Naughty Dog makes their enemies "tougher"
or "harder" by making them walking bullet sponges. The Uncharted series became arduous because
of those moments and because of The Last of Us' survival elements, it becomes infuriating
The Last of Us is a narrative masterpiece, yes. In terms of gameplay
however, it's okay. The lack of resistance in the PS3 thumbsticks, and clunky triggers
only bring it down even further, and I'm sorry to say that we're left with a game
that is held back by its own gameplay. The Last of Us was so incredible on a narrative
level that the poor execution stands out like a shiner on a Childs eye, and I can't
help but wish that the game had been saved for the PS4. The Last of Us was thought
provoking, human, and intelligent, it just wasn't any fun.
Best game of the year so far, 2013 is now the year of the Last of us. Just how I feel but I enjoyed your review.