Dead Space 3, Metro: Last Light, and The Last of Us...so much misery is so much fun.
I had a light week of gaming this week, the first big snow of the season always seems to bring so much work. Got my snow tires on, a new mat for the boots, and the snowblower is all ready for the season...so let it snow all it wants now, I’m staying inside to play video games.
I had another excellent Dead Space 3 session with my buddy this week. I understand the complaints that the horror element is somewhat lessened, but it really feels like the game was made for co-op. Playing with another person always takes the scary down a huge notch; part of horror is being alone. I know you are alone in single player, but the game really feels like it was designed to have the second player included and these design choices impact the game in single player mode as well.
We are simply loving it and it makes for a fantastic co-op game. Aside from the terrible save system, I’m really not sure what all the complaints were about. Plus, who doesn’t love a game where one player hallucinates and the other player can’t see the crazy stuff the other is freaking out about.
Metro: Last Light is creepy though, I don’t scare easily in games at all, but I’ve certainly been wound up really tight while playing Last Light. It is just amazing looking and they handle lighting so well that the atmosphere just ramps up the tension on its own. I actually put it down because it was kicking my butt, but I haven’t played anything in between so I’ll be heading back in this weekend. Often what was hard at 3am after several hours of play can be a snap the next time when you give it some breathing room.
(thanks Google image search for the pic)
The Last of Us has finally seemed to turn around and become something somewhat new in terms of gameplay. I was seriously underwhelmed for the first long while in the game. The Infected up to this point have been ok to fight, but certainly nothing to write home about.
The stealth felt a little wonky since you have to be concerned about them hearing you when you sneak up behind them, but you can very loudly strangle an Infected directly next to another Infected and the second one won’t bat an eye. To add insult to injury, your AI partners are apparently invisible to the enemies. They do a superficial effort at hiding, but clearly it is only you that triggers the enemies via sight. I understand that this is a problematic area, as bad AIs that can trigger enemies in stealth games are often far worse of an issue, but it really pulls you out of the game when you watch your AI pals go running right in front of enemies and the enemies don’t react at all. Also add to this that your AI partners seem to be wearing 80 pound sabatons on their feet and make more noise that an AT-AT; the illusion of stealth is somewhat ruined.
But I can pretty much overlook all that now that I have fought humans.
The issues listed above still apply to the human vs human stealth aspect of the game, but the enemy AIs are exceptionally well done for stealth and make for a great time.
First off, the enemies in The Last Of Us seem to remain alerted once you’ve been seen. This is awesome and is a huge pet peeve of mine in other stealth games when they don’t keep enemies alerted. Most often games have units alerted to you and then execute a search pattern. After some (usually short) time, the enemies will say something like “They must have gone.” and then the baddies return to exactly the same positions they were in previously as if nothing happened. This obviously makes them much easier to pick off and this ruins the realism. If I stumbled upon several bodies of my teammates, I wouldn’t go back to any relaxed state for a very long time, if at all.
But The Last Of Us does even better. They remain alerted and move to search the area where you were last seen and, as far as I can tell, they’ll stay there. They don’t return to their original patterns plus they search in groups, that seem to form amazingly naturally, so it is harder to pick off singles. It really feels much more “real” than most stealth games with the enemy behaviours.
All in all, it makes for a very satisfying stealth game and it is probably the most sophisticated AI behaviours I’ve seen for this type of game. Big thanks to Naughty Dog for such an advancement.
If this type of gameplay keeps up, I can really start to see what the fuss about the game was all about. It is by no means perfect and some of the design choices appear somewhat questionable to me, but enemy behaviour of that caliber goes a long way to making up for any other warts.
So, what are you playing this weekend? How many people are now proud owners of a PS4?