Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

the-last-of-us-remastered-review-01

Whoa, Nelly. This was a good game. Most video games are fun enough to keep me entertained on a Friday night, but The Last of Us was simply insane. I can’t believe I waited this long to play it. Well, in all fairness, I didn’t own a PlayStation back when Naughty Dog released the original. I finally bought the remastered version last November, and the game just sort of existed unplayed in my library until a couple weeks ago.

Few games (if any) can be readily compared to this one, at least when you examine the storytelling. Even Naughty Dog’s more recent Uncharted 4 doesn’t stack up, however good. Halo tells one of my favorite stories in gaming – but only because I’ve read the books – and the Mass Effect trilogy certainly took me for a ride I’ll never forget. Yet neither of those tugged on my emotions quite like The Last of Us. In fact, I can’t think of a movie, book, or any other medium that hit me in such a profound way.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re going to take this game for a drive, buckle your seatbelt. I teared up more than once before it was over.

What I didn’t like: A lot of you are going to disagree with me on this, but I thought the first hour or so after the prologue felt dry. As a character, I guess Tess was fine. Marlene – not so much. I was glad she didn’t play a major role throughout the meat of the game. Boston was only interesting after Ellie showed up.

What was just okay about it: Joel was okay – at least in the first half. I actually really liked his character by the end of the game. There were several occasions when he was a massive jerk to Ellie, and more than one of them seemed forced for the sake of character development. In those moments, I didn’t find him to be likable or relatable. Generally, though, that wasn’t an issue.

What I liked a lot: Ellie. Freaking Ellie and her relationship with Joel. That whole father-daughter thing going on between them was the game’s meat and potatoes, and boy was it good!

As a character, Ellie is the most well-developed one I’ve seen in a game. Easily. Naughty Dog had to have spent half their development budget on her design. That’s how complete she was. Ashley Johnson’s voice acting performance was spectacular. Couple that with the game’s incredible writing, and Ellie was supplied with just the right dose of color to make her seem unbelievably real.

And that’s just it. Ellie practically was real, and by the end of the game, my brain felt confused by the fact that she isn’t. When she was first introduced, her mannerisms were typical of a spunky teenager overflowing with naive curiosity and humor. As a rather subtle element, Naughty Dog made her body language lively. During gameplay, she often picked at the ground with her feet or adjusted her ponytail or examined things in the environment. If you stand in one spot too long (like when you get up to go to the bathroom or something) she gets annoyed. She asks questions and tells stories and makes jokes. All this happens constantly. Oh – and this is one of my favorite things about her – in combat, she makes hilarious remarks if you kill an opponent in a particularly brutal way. It’s like she’s amazed and amused and grossed out all at the same time. A nice touch, if you ask me. 

But as the story progressed, things happened. Bad things. I won’t spoil what they are, but I will say there were times the game was hard to play. The writers created the story in a way that actually made me feel empathy for Ellie, and that was tough. If you’ve played the game, I’m sure there’s one scene in particular that comes to mind.

After that, she was changed, damaged – even bruised. Once the storm had passed, so to speak, Ellie wasn’t the red-headed spark she was before. She was quiet and reserved. She no longer fidgeted or cracked jokes or played with her hair. As Joel scavenged various places for supplies, sometimes she’d sit quietly without saying a word. It was sad to see her transform that way, and yet given what had happened, it made a lot of sense.

Joel grew on me by the second-half of the game. Bonding with Ellie really seemed to changed him. Instead of viewing her merely as cargo to smuggle, she became his daughter. This dynamic seemed to fill the void in his heart that was created during the prologue, and more importantly, he was there for Ellie when it mattered. He became the trusted refuge she could count on.

I also loved the game’s ending. I think Naughty Dog really nailed it, as I left feeling satisfied and pleased with the way things turned out.

I rate this game: 9.7/10

I’ve always wanted a daughter, but The Last of Us made me want one so much more. Man, this game slapped me right in the soul.

Oh, and here’s one of my favorite scenes. It’s the only one I can show you that doesn’t contain spoilers. (Note: Whoever was playing stopped to watch the giraffes around 2:20 and stayed like that for the rest of the video.)