I got two games for free with my PS4: Destiny, and The Last of Us: Remastered. Destiny was terrible. I have never played a shooter so utterly unsatisfying in my life. I traded it in for $15, and I felt like that was robbery. But we’re not here to talk about that one - we’re here to talk about the other one.
The Last of Us is a frustrating game for me. I’m about 3 hours in, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. As is my form with first impressions articles, let’s run down point-by-point:
- This world doesn’t make sense to me. I just have a really hard time buying the setting. Like, okay, there’s fungus beasts running around numming people’s faces. That part doesn’t bother me (even though the idea is lifted from an X-Files episode, which itself is a rip-off of another X-Files episode that was a rip-off of The Thing). I don’t buy the human element. So, humanity is organized... But everything is destroyed. Really? We’re not talking about a few scattered nomads, we’re talking about hundreds of people in small cities, and an organized military force. You’re telling me these people aren’t capable of keeping the buildings cleaned and maintained? I don’t buy it.
- Also, why am I killing all these people? You’re telling me humanity has been decimated to such a point that the world gets frozen in a state of disrepair for 20 years... So why am I killing far more humans than I am monsters thus far? I mean, two people kill dozens in a single day like it ain’t no thang. Who is the real threat here, zombies or Grampa Joel? This is one of those instances where the gameplay design runs contrary to the world in which the game takes place, and it bugs me to no end.
- The pulling of heartstrings. Kid dies in opening scene. Small violin. Cinematic experience, yadda yadda. I don’t know who these people are. I have no reason to care. A city full of people is being ripped to pieces by mushrooms, and you expect me to grieve for one death? No, that’s silliness.
- Someone is going to die in this. How do I know? It has GOTY awards. Award bait, son. I would very much like to see a video game that can create emotional drama without someone important dying. We’re sure as shit not going to get it with The Last Guardian.
- The stealth isn’t fun. But I may be biased on this; every game is a stealth game now, and I’m kind of sick of it.
- Everyone is a smart-ass. I know, this is Naughty Dog. Their script writers love Whedon-esque swarm. But dear god, nobody talks like this; if you’re going for realism, that’s not how you do it.
- The art design! Oh lawdy, this is a pretty game. I loves me some decrepit, blowed-up, overgrown environments; that’s a fact. It’s a beautifully rendered game.
- The graphics! They are purdy.
- It’s the little things. Like... Hardwood floors being scratched to shit. Office chairs that spin around when you brush by them. There’s so many little touches in this game that just scream effort. That’s something a lot of AAA games can’t quite get right. The tiniest of props in this game world are so beautifully well-made they they feel made. Like an artist spent a few days out of his or her work-week just making a brick. If this is the direction big-budget games are going for, I really welcome it.
- The physics are really good, too. Things like a tarp blowing in the wind, pushing a dumpster around, caution tape flying in the breeze... It all feels right.
- The little clicky noise that comes from the PS4 controller when you turn your flashlight on. THE LITTLE THINGS. :’D
The story’s started to unravel itself a bit, so I have an idea of where it’s going... But I can’t say I’m terribly interested in what it wants to tell me. The gameplay isn’t particularly great either. I only keep keeping me from shutting this game off forever is the art design... And it’s got me entranced. I think I’ll be putting this one on easy, taking my time in the pretty environments, and forgetting I’m playing a dum-dum bro game for bros. Does it get better? Maybe. And if it does, that’ll be a pleasant surprise. There are some intensely creative people behind this game, and I’d feel like a criminal to shrung it off for being the chest-high-walls product some executive wanted it to be.
But at risk of coming off as a hypocrite... I’ll say that I love Gears of War. For similar reasons! But most of the complaints I have with The Last of Us aren’t present in Gears; it tries to pull heartstrings, but then it’s all, “Nah, man up and saw some aliens in half.” And I appreciate when a game’s honest about what it wants to be. The Last of Us, however, is pulling me in two different directions - and the moody atmosphere has got a much stronger pull than the poor gameplay design and story-telling.
What did you like in The Last of Us? What did you hate? What are some great games on PS4, because I don’t have any aside from this one (because Destiny was a shitty MMO)?
THOUGHTS BELOW, LADLES AND JETS.