I Didn’t Like The Last of Us.
This post is 100% spoiler free.
After 17 and a half hours I finally beat The Last of Us. It took me somewhere around 6 gaming sessions to finish and I didn’t look forward to any of them except the last (where I knew I’d finish the game).
The Last of Us is about a mid-40s guy named Joel who’s inadvertently tasked with escorting Ellie, a young girl who is immune to the deadly virus that has torn apart mankind for the past twenty years, to a small group of doctors that may be able to develop a cure. At its core, LoU is a 3rd person, stealth/action game. On the surface it’s a zombie apocalypse game (technically, they’re not zombies). I love both types of games however the way in which the world of LoU was presented to me left something to be desired.
I enjoyed the story- a somewhat unique narrative that’s as engaging as a really good drama/thriller movie. The dialogue was top notch- acting/writing in both the cutscenes and gameplay were great. These aspects made it seem incredibly cinematic though, this is probably why I wasn’t a huge fan of the game.
The main problem I had with TLoU was that I knew I couldn’t change anything. The fact that the game’s narrative was set in its way and couldn’t be changed had some kind of psychological affect on me. I couldn’t affect parts of the story nor could I approach situations in a way that was beyond, sneaking or guns blazing. My experiences weren’t unique. I was experiencing exactly what everyone else that played the game was. Like a movie, the beginning, middle and end will always be the same.
The game would put me in front of a house and would do everything without directly displaying text instructions on the screen to tell me that I have to search the house. I wanted to go about things my own way and decide if this particular house was worthy of a search. In fact, being a completionist, it was in my nature to explore every nook and cranny before moving on to the next area. Often, I’d be exploring just to explore and I’d get a hint on how to complete the puzzle when either, A. I knew the answer already or B. hadn’t engaged the puzzle yet because I was still exploring. So, yes, I like games that are a bit more open in their approach.
I also like games that play without bugs. This is surprising but I encountered a crash, a progression stopping bug, a failed cutscene trigger as well as a handful of graphical issues throughout my play. Being that I had been a tester for Insomniac Games, I was able to isolate the issues a bit. The first time I crashed I began to stab an attacker just as one of my proximity bombs detonated. The game froze so I restarted it- no big deal. This happened again in the same spot on my very next try. I restarted again and continued past while avoiding the explosion/stab action.
The next bug was just a progression stopper- the game didn’t crash but I couldn’t continue on. I had to place and climb a ladder but the game wouldn’t let me place it. I reverted to an earlier save. When I returned to this problematic area, I was then able to place the ladder and continue.
The cutscene that failed to trigger came later in the game. At certain parts throughout TLoU, you’re prompted to press triangle to enter an in-game cutscene between Ellie and Joel. These aren’t necessary to continue or even essential to the plot but with a game that has such fantastic writing it’s like finding a lost scene from Romeo & Juliet and not being able to read it.
I also experienced a ton of graphical pop-in of the environments. I’d move around and a tree in the not-so-far distance would disappear and reappear. This wasn’t uncommon on my playthrough, though the PS3 console I was playing on was a first gen machine and I was playing on disc (no install). It definitely felt like my console was trucking. My friends all played on newer consoles and/or had downloaded versions- none of which experienced any of these issues
The last thing that failed to impress me was the action gameplay. I understand the designers wanted you to feel a sense of realism but to me, it wasn’t as fun/addictive as I would have liked. Your gunplay levels up (aiming, reload speed etc.) throughout the game but to me the controls and action still felt slow and stiff. I was never excited to engage a group of enemies. Really, my immediate reaction to confrontation was, OK, let’s get past this to get to the dialogue/cut scene! Which says something about the writing, though something else about the action.
In the end, The Last of Us, isn’t 100% for gamers like me. It’s a good story told very well in the best form of art/entertainment. Is it a great game? Not by my standards and definition of the word. I understand the game has to end a specific way but so does a game of chess and you can play that a bunch of different ways. It would make an awesome movie! Though, I’m sure if it was a movie first (and not a game), I’d be saying the opposite.
What do you guys think? Did TLoU live up to the hype for you guys? Was it an awesome game for you?