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112 comments

  • BladedFalcon - June 25, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    Okay, very late to the party here, but that's because I just finished the game yesterday. And holy fuck does this article get it right. As a lot of other people, I WAS excited about The last of Us, but somehow I couldn't stop thinking that it was made by the same people as uncharted, and thus, it probably wouldn't be as great or subversive as everyone was touting it would be. Both gameplay AND story-wise. Boy was I proven wrong. Without echoing all that Hooters said in the article. I just want to say that Naughty Dog has indeed created a masterpiece here. And without using super "plot-twists" like the Bioshock games often rely on. There's really no shocking plot-twists here, because everything that happens in the journey you take makes SENSE and goes with what you're going trough. But at the same time, it's not at all a predictable story. And THAT is what makes it amazing to me. Also, Houghton hit the nail on the head of why this game succeeds when most others fail. Games often tell or try tot ell larger than life stories, how what's going on around the character is bigger than him or anyone around. And this story is the other way around, and why I like it so much. It dares to go where most stories won't: Screw the world, screw humanity, what do I care about the rest of humanity if in the process I lose what's important to me? And funnily enough. I think this game's ending is the complete antithesis, and proof of all that's wrong about the Mass Effect 3 Ending. See, this ending wasn't a "happy" one either. And it didn't wrap up every single thing to be good. But it DID bring proper closure towards the characters we cared about in the story, and it explained all it needed to explain without leaving plotholes OR over-explaining everything like say, Bioshock infinite did.
  • gilgamesh310 - June 25, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    I agree with pretty much all that. I like how the game took the time to properly develop the relationship between Joel and Ellie too. They didn't just start off being antagonistic to one another and then immediately bond after one specific event. It was a gradual change in them growing to understand each other. The ending also came full circle with the intro in a profound way. Bioshock Infinite's story was a self indulgent journey into Ken Levine's bloated ego and little more.
  • BladedFalcon - June 25, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    Eh, I wouldn't be so harsh to Infinite's story because I DID like it. But it's not nearly as well crafted as this. Every part of the story here matters, everything has a purpose and an effect. There's no padding or meandering parts like in infinite. Another thing that I loved but hadn't mentioned before, is how they handled all of the side characters. I loved how they didn't at all submit to any known story conventions, and instead did with those characters what made the most sense. I remember when I first saw the trailer introducing Bill, that I compared him with Pigsie in Enslaved, and thought his story arc would go along the same path. But NOPE, Bill doesn't find redemption, he doesn't grow as a person. He just repaid a favor out of a sense of duty but nothing else, he was all about self survival, and as a result, he kept surviving. In most other games, Tess would have been the romantic interest built trough the entire game... Except here she's not, because, just like with Sam and Henry. The story teaches us that there ARE risks, and that if you embark in quests such as the one they took, sooner or later your luck IS gonna run out. And thus Tess, instead of being a romantic interest, becomes a cautionary tale and a catalyst to further motivate Joel along in a task he didn't want to get into in the first place. Best of all, I loved David and his gang. Just when the story had presented you the whole Pittsburgh Hunter gang as this savage, survival of the fittest and grown-ups only kind of band. They show you David's and makes you think it's the same... Except nope, he actually isn't a merciless bad guy, he DOES have women and children to care for. And suddenly, all the enemies you had killed up until that point don't feel as justifiable anymore.
  • gilgamesh310 - June 25, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    The way David was handled was excellent alright. There were several characters depicted as antagonists that weren't really bad people at all. They were just looking out for one another. Joel was far from the hero of the story. I liked that moral ambiguity a lot. I don't really have any complaints about the storytelling aspect of the game. There are several gameplay flaws that bare mentioning though. The AI of the guards is often inconsistent and poor for a start. Sometimes they won't notice you strangling people in front of them and yet other times they can spot you a mile away and everyone gets alerted. They also never notice your companions moving around which is a real immersion breaker. The puzzles in the game are fairly shit too. The game does enough right for me to consider it a great game though. Compared to how overrated the likes of Bioshock Infinite and Dishonored are, TLoU actually deserves at least some of its acclaim.
  • BladedFalcon - June 25, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    Eh, most of those gripes you mentioned are done for the benefit of the player though, the idea behind a strangle kill is that is silent, so in game terms, that applies even if an enemy is pretty close, besides, they WILL see you during the animation so it's not like you can just get away with it easily. I mean, honestly, sneaking behind people becomes pretty fucking tricky towards the end of the game, and without a few conceptions, it would be kinda ridiculous. Same thing with the AI partner. You say it breaks immersion, but otherwise, you would blame the AI and call it shitty every time it got spotted. The thing about getting spotted right away only happened to me a couple times, and i think it had to do mainly with the parts in which you faced hunters, those half fungi faced kind of infected that are supposed to be stalkers. And even then, you could almost always get away and hide because one of the things this game DOES right that most other stealth games don't, is that the enemies are aware of your last known location only, they won't automatically all come after you. Lastly, regarding the puzzles... Eh *shrugs* it's not meant to be a puzzle game :P those are there mainly to break up the action a little, and at least they fit within the context of the situation you're in. They're easy, but they aren't broken or frustrating at least. Sometimes, it feels to me like you feel obligated to nitpick every single possible flaw and overinflated when any overly acclaimed game comes out :P I mean, yes, all of these are flaws and most acknowledge they exist, but I feel they barely really matter considering that well, no game is fucking ever perfect.
  • gilgamesh310 - June 25, 2013 3:37 p.m.

    It's not really about the challenge though. It's about how immersion breaking it is. Human Revolution had that same problem. With regards to the companion AI, I reckon the game should have gave you the ability to command them so that they move when you tell them to or just move with you if you don't order them to stop. I actually agree about the enemies not being exactly aware of your location being a good thing. That is something it does better than most stealth games. However it's often extremely hard to sneak past areas with human enemies without being spotted at some stage, just like in Uncharted. It just gets frustrating at times that you can't do that. The puzzles just become fairly rote after a while. They're all almost identical to each other and feel very contrived. Why would ladders, raftboards and planks be conveniently lying around everywhere? I don't, but I do reckon people should acknowledge them more. People have called TLoU a perfect game. I do still think it's a great game anyway but some people still blow it out of proportion. There are also other games with more serious flaws that go ignored.
  • BladedFalcon - June 25, 2013 4:10 p.m.

    Yeah well, don't really know who has called it a perfect game, but no game is,a t least, not in my experience. I still think that the flaws they do have are pretty damn minor. Like the puzzles, sure, they are always the same, but they aren't found often enough to become annoying or repetitive to me. And well, regarding humans enemies and stealth, I honestly can't say for sure if all areas can be sneaked past if you want, since I honestly didn't try it that often. But I do know is perfectly possible, specially if you make good use of bricks and bottles ;)
  • gilgamesh310 - June 26, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    I also had the game glitch on me twice in the early stages. I couldn't be killed or kill the enemies in front of me. I had to reload my previous save in order to negate the effect and progress. The stealth seems to be designed in a way as to accommodate action at the same time. You can't sneak past enemies nearly as well as in a game like Splinter Cell, which is fully designed around stealth. There's hardly any games like that anymore.
  • BladedFalcon - June 26, 2013 1:15 p.m.

    ...Which that could be a good thing, depending on who you ask. Like myself for example :P Splinter Cell was an awfully boring game series to me. As for the glicthes *shrugs* as long as they weren't persistent or that common, it shouldn't really matter, I'd say.
  • gilgamesh310 - June 26, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    Splinter Cell 1-3 are great games. Stealth going extinct is not a good thing.
  • BladedFalcon - June 26, 2013 2:08 p.m.

    Disagree, played both the first and second one, found both of them boring as fuck, same with Double Agent. I don't disagree that strict stealth like that going extinct is a bad thing, because even if I don't enjoy them, I can understand there's people that do. That, and variety in games is NEVER a bad thing. Even if I personally do enjoy the direction stealth has been taking lately. Speaking about stealth, I'm playing TLOUS campaign again on survivor mode, the hardest difficulty, and one that straight up blocks your hearing sonar so stealth is reliant purely on your field of view. Anyway, to test myself, I decided to pass the two areas after Tess's death without being detected, I'm talking about where the capitol gets swarmed with cops. First area I passed it without even touching a single cop. Second area I went trough it undetected by only taking out two coups... out of 10. And this in less than 5 tries each. So stealth and proceeding undetected is more than entirely possible in this game, even in the hardest possible conditions ;)
  • gilgamesh310 - June 26, 2013 2:38 p.m.

    I just think the 'choice' aspect that most games currently give you is usually bullshit. That's one of the reasons why I didn't like Dishonored much. If you can just kill enemies if you're spotted it destroys the tension and makes the game too easy. I just started TLoU on survivor too. I haven't played much of it on that mode yet though. I'll see how it goes.
  • BladedFalcon - June 26, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    It's fun, it forces you to be much careful when you lack the sonar as a crutch, makes you be much more creative in stealth sections. And well... That's actually why I LIKE dishonored, or this game, or the MGS games. You're not helpless if you're spotted, you CAN fight back if you want, but it's usually not recommended. And I guess it all just depends of what you mean by easy, this game for example is by no means easy even when you have to fight, specially those damn clickers. I think it's just more preferable to make the enemies though enough to make you NOT want to fight them. Which I'll fully admit it's a mistake Dishonored did make.
  • gilgamesh310 - June 26, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    I agree TLoU did handle the blend of stealth and action a lot better than other games did. The clickers were a bit cheap at times though, with their instant kills. I just found Dishonored to be an above average game. I expected something like Thief but it was nowhere near as good.
  • BladedFalcon - June 26, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    I am kinda glad they were that way though. It forced you to switch up your tactics, and to be very effing careful around them. Anything else you could even dispatch using only your fists, or one shot with a reinforced melee weapon. And I mean, it's not like their one shots were unfair or avoidable, as long as that's never the case, I'm fine with having punishing enemies such as them. Never played a thief game so I couldn't say regarding the comparison. But dishonored was a pretty damn fun game nevertheless.
  • duane-cotton - August 30, 2013 2:34 a.m.

    I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect game since taste is subjective but I think you can have a perfect gaming experience. I had a perfect gaming experience with TLOU. I didn't experience any bugs or problems with pop in and I didn't experience problems with game saves. I had no complaints with the game. I will say though, that having played the game a few times on different settings in my experience the easy level setting had more realistic AI. The characters didn't run around as much because they weren't threatend as much as they were on the harder settings and I found that the AI moved more fluid and natural. Since my first play through was on easy my first impressions were good. I still enjoyed the game on the harder settings even though I often felt cheated as it offered a new experience. It added tension forcing me to play differently but at the expense of realistic AI behavior because they were freaking out. This is where suspension of disbelief comes in because the game is still amazing inspite of it's flaws. The game does far more things right than it does wrong.
  • tuna_ - June 26, 2013 11:25 p.m.

    "I couldn't stop thinking that it was made by the same people as uncharted, and thus, it probably wouldn't be as great or subversive as everyone was touting it would be." Huh?.. You mean the Uncharted series that have been consistently great and won a bunch of awards, including Game of the Year, and is highly reviewed by both fans and critics? You're on crack if you thought The Last of Us was going to suck because it was made by the same people who created the Uncharted series. Everyone knows Naughty Dog is one of the best, if not the best developers in the gaming industry. You're the only one that was "proven wrong," everyone else knew this game was going to be great because it was made by Naughty Dog.
  • BladedFalcon - June 27, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    Don't put words in my mouth. Never did I say or suggest that last of us was going to suck, nor that Naughty Dog wasn't a good developer, or even that Uncharted was a bad series, because it isn't. I was saying that I didn't think the game would blown my mind the way it did, because the Uncharted games didn't. They are good games, and I enjoyed all three of them, but they aren't FANTASTIC, even if they have been critically over-praised. The uncharted games are certainly gorgeous, fun action games, but they broke new ground on nothing, the combat was essentially the same as Gears of War's except slightly faster and less gory. The platforming and puzzles were extremely simple and streamlined. And the stories where fun to move the game along, but they weren't fantastic, or moving, and much less original. Heck, Uncharted 2's was mired with cheap, painfully predictable plot turns. Actually, just compare any of the three uncharted games or TLOUS. Last of us is leaps and bounds better at anything Uncharted does. The stealth is done better, the combat feels more different than any other game before, and it's far more weighty and tactical. The game is not only prettier, it integrates it's world and atmosphere with the story in a way Uncharted could never dream of. And that's to say nothing about the story and characters themselves, which are deeper, more nuanced, subtle and way better developed than anything uncharted came up with. So yeah, I stand by my initial stance. Considering that was Naughty Dog had previously done was good but not groundbreaking the way TLOUS was. Yes, i didn't expect it to be as good.
  • xtech1 - June 24, 2013 2:32 p.m.

    I must say I felt that the end of the winter chapter (where you play as Ellie) was one of the best parts of the game for making the players feel the emotions on the characters. This is especially true once Ellie escapes and is trying to get back to Joel, while he is busy trying to find her. The "boss" fight and it's conclusion being the best part of all. You can feel her desperation mixed with a bit of fear as she is trapped in the burning building with David, who is trying to kill her. They even change the AI behavior for him making the listening mode less useful because he stops moving. You ultimately end up desperately crawling for the machete so that you wont be killed. When you do reach it that scene that plays really shows her desperation, anger, fear, determination, and her relief that she was able to survive. It really got to me that she kept hacking away until Joel pulls her away and comforts her while she breaks down. This is mostly because I didn't like the thought that Ellie had to do and see all these things, which clearly have an effect on her mental state. She even becomes very withdrawn in the following chapter's beginning. I was glad that Joel didn't give her a gun for a long time even though the help would have been nice sometimes. Once he did I felt a little uneasy about the fact the she would be killing people. I felt the dirty work should be left to Joel. This is definitely an amazing game and much of that comes from some of the more subtle things being paired with and blended naturally into the gameplay and story.
  • gilgamesh310 - June 24, 2013 1:30 p.m.

    Well I have to say, despite my initial cynicism about the game I enjoyed it very much and would agree with most of what's said here. It's definitely not a perfect game like some people make out though. There are a number of flaws. It's one of the best games I played in a long time all the same.
  • BladedFalcon - June 25, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Heh, glad to hear you came around :P Just finished yesterday, and yes, not a perfect game, but certainly amazing, and probably Game of The Year for me so far. My reasons why will be explained in a standalone post above.
  • RayPaw - June 24, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    Just finished this game over the weekend. The ending is still rattling around in my head and will be for some time. The Last of Us certainly doesn't entirely escape certain game-isms — Joel can absorb quite a bit of gunfire, instantly heal his wounds by eating, is never lost for something to crouch behind, and always seems to find a ladder, plank, or raft laying around at the exact place he needs one. But it's also refreshing to see that he is more grounded than Nathan Drake or Lara Croft. The recent Tomb Raider reboot was a fine game but Lara's super-human leaping abilities kind of pushed it over the edge; she was a more interesting character in the first part of the game when she was taking hits and learning the ropes but she quickly morphed into an action-movie god. Joel doesn't fall into that trap ... at least not entirely and The Last of Us is better for it. But indeed gameplay is just the medium — the message is the growing connection between Joel and Ellie ... or more abstractly, the importance of having people in your life who care about you and about whom you care. Games are unique in the ability to make you directly feel the emotions of the protagonist (after all, you "are" the protagonist) and The Last of Us is masterful at making you care about Ellie and about protecting her. To that end, I was reminded of the extraordinary bond you start to feel with Yorda in Ico ... but Yorda is just window dressing compared to Ellie, who has a life and vitality to her that few NPCs attain. And, indeed, she's not just an NPC — Naughty Dog were smart to switch to her perspective ... not only does it help keep the game feeling novel just when it might start to feel rote but it it rounds her out even more & helps you understand her relationship with Joel from the other side. (Maybe that GTA V dev was right that all games will now feature multiple protagonists, ha.) As for the ending ... I thought it was very knowing about human relationships. I'm not sure there has ever been another game that has managed to convey such a subtle theme amid such a grand setting ... certainly not at the AAA blockbuster level. That The Last of Us has had such an impact can only mean good things about the future of gaming.
  • majamaki - June 24, 2013 7:41 a.m.

    Great discussion and I agree. Hands down one of the best stories and experiences I've played in a game. I just completed the game on Saturday and posted my own thoughts in a writeup at http://majamaki.com/2013/06/the-last-of-us/
  • peaceful765 - June 24, 2013 6:05 a.m.

    I personally enjoyed the subtle symbolism like the broken watch from his daughter, the transformer toy and the seasons reflecting the stages of the story. I would love to have DLC concerning the story of Ish in the sewer. See there full story. I fully expected an ending like the Walking Dead game ( or The Road) but TLOU was perfect without a blatant twist/emotional punch (not that theres anything wrong with this). It was more subtle and thoughtful. Alas I feel that its will be missed by some players.
  • Danomeon - June 24, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    (SPOILERS) Did you notice the parallelism between Ellie and his daughter, with how he carried his daughter in his arms at the beginning of the game before she was shot? and how, when he carries Ellie in the exact same way at the end of the game, and is given a choice to save her or sacrifice her for the good of mankind, he chooses that she lives? That's cool, it's clear that he saw the similtarity between the situation and decided that he wasn't going to let history repeat itself. That was really neat.
  • peaceful765 - June 24, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    Yes I did. Like he was getting a second chance to make it right and nobody was going to stop him. At the end of the game, when he carried her, I noticed they prominently showed the watch. During some cut scenes, including the end if I remember correctly, he touches it. I like that. Some thought has been put into it.
  • PatHan-bHai - June 23, 2013 3:52 a.m.

    I really want to play TLOU but writing a 3 page article has made me want to play 3 hundred times more!
  • shinkeiDEI - June 22, 2013 9:26 p.m.

    Excellent read Dave. Although I have to dissagree on one thing, Spec Ops: The Line was the 1st truly mature game, by providing a holistic experience it teaches a lot of the human psyche and about us as gamers; though I can safely say The Last of Us tops it though. ***SPOILERS AHEAD** One thing that I noticed, at the beginning of Winter, when playing with Ellie, I felt depowered, I felt weak and scared of not gettng Joel back to health. Once Ellie was abducted and I got control of Joel again, I was only thinking "wait until I get to you fuckers". And that "boss" fight and the conclussion, is one of the touching moments on gaming.
  • Bloodstorm - June 23, 2013 11:53 a.m.

    I couldn't make it an hour into Spec Ops: The Line before I turned it off and deleted it from my PS3. Game mechanics are kind of garbage.
  • frankthetank18 - June 22, 2013 8:26 p.m.

    Sights and Sounds Pack DLC QFDH-47NG-GTM3
  • Rub3z - June 22, 2013 2:52 p.m.

    Just couldn't say enough about it in your review, could ya Dave? Dave, I'd really, really love to read this and provide my thoughts on it, and I pretty much always enjoy your writing, but I also really really want to play the Last of Us without spoilers. I haven't gotten the chance to grab it yet. I mean, it's 100% David H. approved, like Bulletstorm. I must get it, and promptly read this piece on it afterwards. Cheers, mate.
  • Danomeon - June 22, 2013 1:07 p.m.

    SPOILERS AHEAD IN THIS COMMENT. I would disagree that it's the FIRST mature action game. The original Bioshock also told a pretty mature tale about why the balance between economic freedom and economic restrictions is so important, and why tipping too far in either direction can be a dangerous proposition. It also made an interesting commentary on the linearity of video games with the tale of the main character. Bioshock Infinite had some interesting societal commentaries as well, like how it told the dangers of taking patriotism to a fever pitch. Both of these games told their stories using the tools that video games can lend to the telling of a narrative: The fleshed-out plots were delivered through the eyes of the player, both in scripted events and by observing and exploring the environments. I think The Last of Us is certainly the BEST example of mature story telling in an action game. The complex themes that permeate Joel and Ellie's relationships, and the clever use of parallelism with Ellie and Joel's daughter (Note how, when Joel is running with his daughter in his arms at the beginning of the game she is killed by a man with a gun, and it appears that Ellie will die as well at the end of the game when he is running with her in his arms. however, he decides to not let history repeat itself and let Ellie live. That's a really cool comparison that Naughty Dog made us draw between the two scenes.) That being said, it's not the first, in my opinion. Just the best!

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