Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Steamworks: The Last of Us Review

Hey Gang,

So about a week and a half ago, Naughty Dog's new title The Last of Us hit game stores. This addition to ND's absolutely gorgeous portfolio was a highly anticipated game that reviewers have been unanimously approving of. I'd preordered the game but wasn't actually able to purchase it until this past weekend.  The Last of Us is a 12-18 hour game (depending on how long you take to search game environments) which is set 20 years after the impending zombie apocalypse and focuses primarily on Joel, a 40-50 year old smuggler and his convoy, Ellie, who is a 14 year old girl. For my spoiler-free, generalized review, keep reading; for a more in-depth, spoiler riddled review, please continue to scroll down after reading the spoiler-free review.


Overall I have to say the story in this game is good. Sadly, not great; but good. It seems to be following that common formula we've been seeing in video games recently where you play as a smuggler or an escort with a sentient cargo trying to escape a place or an event (one could say with a more than decent amount of accuracy that this game is basically Bioshock Infinite except on the ground and with zombies). And even if you don't take that tired formula into consideration, the game is still very predictable. You can tell when something bad is going to happen, when there's a jump scare, or who's going to live and who will die. The only variable in the game that I wasn't completely sure about was whether one of the main characters would come out dead in the end.

I do have to say this game looks graphically crazy good. The art is phenomenal, the characters are both relatable and likeable (or easily hated, if they're a villain), and combat took an interesting twist from previous similar ND games (*cough* Uncharted). I also have to admit the game scared me quite a bit; I played the game completely in the pitch black of my basement (I was trying to immerse myself into the game, and that definitely helped). Another feature I thought to be a great idea was exploring a zombie apocalypse environment 20 years after the fact instead of doing the typical time span which is usually located in 0-3 or 4 years. Clickers are one of scariest monsters I've encountered, however they sort of lost their fright value when I could craft a few molotovs (also when I upgraded my shotgun a bunch).

Crafting is something I must comment on. To summarize the crafting system used in The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie would go around the map encountering and collecting supplies, such as rags, alcohol, sugar, adhesives, blades, and explosives. Once you had enough of a certain material, you could craft items like health kits, shivs, molotovs, smoke bombs, etc. I have to say that this is probably my favorite feature of the game, and I really hope ND finds a way to work this into their next Uncharted title. Not only was it challenging and fun to find supplies, it was very often crucial to my survival.

Overall I think it was a decent game. Do I think it was all it was chalked up to be? Sadly, no; I didn't find the story to be quite as good as everyone said it was going to be. But do I think it's worth your money? Absolutely. Whether it lived up to its hype or not, it was still an awesome game that zombie lovers, survival fanatics, and shooter gamers will love. On my final note, I guess I'm trying to say it wasn't great, or as good as people said it'd be, but it's still worth checking out while it's hot and current.


Peter, The Steamworks

Look guys, I said it once, but I'll say it again just in case you didn't get the memo. From this point out, I WILL BE TALKING SPOILERS. IF YOU WISH TO KEEP THE ENDING, OR ANY OTHER REVEALS A SURPRISE, PLEASE STOP READING:

Ah, there. It's always fun trying to warn people of spoilers. Anyway, moving forward:

I have to say I'm upset with the ending. I want to know what happens to Ellie and Joel, and Naughty Dog has already stated that while there may be discussion at the studios to start a sequel, they have absolutely no intention to even touch Ellie and Joel again. Naughty Dog feels they've told the story they needed to, and they wanted to make sure we had our resolution by the end of The Last of Us. The thing that makes me mad is; it didn't provide any resolution for me at all. What of the Fireflies? They aren't all dead, and surely there's another superior that wants to find Ellie. Do they ever find her? What of the settlement they're headed to? Yes, last Fall the place was starting to get electricity, but Joel's brother mentioned they were dealing with raids. From the look of the settlement in the last shoot of the game, we can't tell if it's running or if it's not. And what of Ellie and Joel? I don't believe for a second Ellie believed Joel was telling the truth about the Fireflies. I also don't believe that she wouldn't either take some sort of action if she didn't believe him or if she did, would have eventually figured out the truth.

I could go on and on about more open strings ND left dangling in the wind, never to be answered from the sound of it. Sure, maybe we'll get a Easter egg in a future sequel if we even get one, but I doubt we'll get a status report on Ellie and Joel. I feel, if this is the route they wanted to take, and they never wanted to continue Ellie and Joel's story, that they have completely failed on this part of the game. With the chaotic world Ellie and Joel live in, I have no doubt in my mind they didn't live on to have long happy lives and die of old age. And if they did, I feel that to be poor storytelling. Normally, I wouldn't mind if we were getting a direct sequel or even an "interpret it your own way" sort of deal, but ND feels they've addressed it in the game. I'm sorry but I disagree entirely. 

That was really my only qualm that contained spoilers. Just some food for thought...

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