I purchased The Last Of Us (finally) and completed it about twenty minutes ago. Really feel like blowing off some steam, I mean wow. Going into it I didn't expect this level of writing from Naughty Dog. I outright despise the Uncharted games, but man does this title turn a 180 degrees from their prior work. (in a pleasant way)
I'm almost certainly going to go into a lengthy character consuming rant or review, but I will say gameplay wise it felt a hell of a lot like Resident Evil 4, except it allowed stealth, which is a vast improvement. Scavenging for gear, food and ammo left a lot to be desired and really made me crave an open ended game in this style and setting.
I'm still battling with the ending. It's made abundantly clear to the player that Joel suffers PTSD and his intentions are left ambiguous to let the player decide if he slowly descends into madness (as illustrated by him killing the surgeon and subsequently killing Marlene) and/or touches base on a very primitive human desire and condition; a loving father doing everything in his power to protect his -second- daughter. He knows losing her would give him no reason to continue *fighting* aka living especially when it's for a cause that isn't full proof and may be for nothing. (The vaccine wasn't a cure and wasn't guaranteed to work) Add on top of that the difficulty in distributing the vaccine were it to be viable and couple with the fact that there are still millions of infected humanoids in the world and it is really only a small step. WHo knows maybe nature will correct itself, if I was in Joel's shoes I would have done the EXACT same thing. I'd like to talk about his mental issues though,
There are three forms of PTSD (google it) and Joel clearly demonstrates one trait-
Avoiding: The person may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind him or her of the trauma. This can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
This is very much Joel. He refuses to talk about his watch, the deaths of Sarah, Tess, Sam/Henry, or what he did to survive.
Ellie even states that she wants to talk about the deaths before the dam and Joel says "No. How many times have we been over this. Things happen and we move on."
While that seems like a normal response to tragic events, the refusal to talk about a tragedy is not healthy. In a post apocalypse life, survival may require Joel to rely on basic instincts without time to mourn but 20 years is a long time to not "properly" deal with Sara's death and the things he did to protect Tommy.
I love that the ending is left open ended for the player to interpret Ellie's and Joel's final exchange. It was like, "Hey Joel, i'm giving you one more chance to be honest with me. What? Still going to lie? Okay..."
This is a prime example of what I mean about TLoU being ambiguous. They lay the scenes and dialog out to allow for personal opinions. If the conversations were "clear" then the game wouldn't be as effective in generating emotional responses. Just imagine...
"Swear to me. Swear that everything you said about the Fireflies is true."
"Ellie, I lied to you to protect your feelings because I see you as my own daughter now but you should forgive me because I saved and protected you. Help me live as if I never lost a daughter."
"I really don't like that Joel but you may be right. Now let me think about if I am going to leave because you betrayed me."
Look at Shakespeare's soliloquies. They aren't great because Hamlet stands up and says, "I am very mad they killed my dad. Now I will plot revenge!"
Just because Ridley Scott thinks Deckard is a replicant in Blade Runner doesn't mean everyone has to agree. A major part of art is audience interpretation. One guy thinks Van Gogh looks to childish, while another thinks it's the pinnacle of color. Both are valid.
In the end, I'm going to be optimistic with this one, here's how I interpret it.
-Ellie wants to "help"society
-Joel initially agrees to the mission both because of his hinted romantic relationship or atleast friendly bond with Tess and because he himself is blind to his actions, always hurling himself at whatever task he believes is required to survive, this being one (acquiring guns in the beginning)
-Over the journey Ellie develops an attachment to Joel and he responds with denial, still fighting his past with his daughter; he eventually erupts in the cabin after the horse sequence.
-She lost faith in him, knowing he was leaving her like everyone else in her life she loved. She was fighting an internal battle simultaneously and put up barriers to protect herself.
-Deep down they both are scarred and regret their actions, coming to an almost silent mutual agreement to let it go.
-When the Fireflies find them after the water event Ellie is unconscious and has no choice in the matter of her sacrifice for a vaccine. It's of my opinion she thought it was a simple "give some blood or whatever samples and go home the next day" kind of deal. She wasn't given any kind of choice by the scientists and Marlene. They wanted a cure and had no qualms with taking what they wanted by force, effectively playing the role of God.
-Joel when struck with her fate went into Denzel Washington *Man On Fire* mode. Become Rambo Achievement Unlocked.
-Ellie is never told about the Fireflies and Marlene's true intentions and in my opinion knows that Joel is lying to her about the events. She accepts and acknowledges with that final push that their bond is in cement. Some of theorized that this is her realizing she cannot trust Joel and will inevitably leave him and go on to become a mature, strong survivor and thus The Last Of Us 2. I disagree with this because the developers in an interview I searched minutes ago stated they had no intentions of bring back these characters "Their story is complete". Who knows, money talks and TLoU sold well.
So, yeah fantastic game. By the time the Fall section and beyond came around i was extremely connected with and cared for the two main protagonists. (although I find the supporting cast lacking, besides maybe Bill and Tess) I think the overarching plot is extremely flimsy, seeing as it remains constant throughout and adds no further dynamic, stagnating the pacing at times. (Get Ellie to X place) The enemy AI is mediocre at best. The upgrading system could use some tweaking and a few more enemy types would have been lovely. The screen transitions from one season to another broke up the progression and felt jarring. Two people who had been on the road for so long and had so much time to discuss and share you would think would be much closer and open then they are at some points. It didn't have great continuity. You know what I'm trying to say, I'm tired.
Overall 8/10 game. Ways to improve- Less linear, better AI, more fleshed out cutscenes, some waves of enemies felt unnecessary to the context of the world (kinda like oh hey we haven't had the player fight some dudes in a while throw some baddies here) weapon diversity was non-existent -I didn't even use the bow-, the shotgun and El Diablo were OP and stealth+melee was OP, my mind is going blank at the moment...
Anyway, if you want an in-depth review this isn't it. I enjoyed every second though and as a "mature" gamer it satisfied me completely. Would completely recommend to anyone who can enjoy a great post-apocalyptic story. I'm out.
Also I'm finding GTAV to be more or less overhyped, it's just more of the same and I'll probably drop it in a week and forget about it. Don't know why I expected more than bad dialogue and an open world to dick around in for a few hours.