Right now if you frequent any social media then you probably see your wall inundated with people taking “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. While it was intended to be something to drive donations to another cause, it has quickly entered the phase of “I’d better do it because everyone else is doing it” and not “I want to donate to a good cause”.
I have a feeling that in the video game world, The Last of Us is in that phase too. Not because it is an actual good game, but because everyone else is buying it. I’m sure you’ve heard the hypefuss about it too. Metacritic says that all the smart people in the game industry are telling me that this is a total masterpiece of gaming. Whatever this site is makes the claim of one of the best story-led games of all time. Empire, making those always idiotic Top # lists, puts The Last of Us at the #1 game of ALL TIME.
So that is a lofty bit of praise for a game. I also think that ALL TIME doesn’t mean what they think it means. If you want a game that is about moving cutscenes along and hand holding you every step of the way then fine. But don’t insult me that it is superior in every way to other actual games out there that handle their subject matter much better than The Last of Us does. It wants to be a movie with some elements in it we can call a game. And it will be a movie I hear, which if we are to believe reviewers, all one needs to do is edit all of the cutscenes and release that into theaters. It will instantly best anything Hitchcock or Spielberg or any other director you can think of ever put up on the screen. Hollywood will be saved!
I’m not here to hate on a game just because it is popular. I don’t begrudge people or companies for being successful. But I just don’t see what it is in this game that has people throwing their brains out with the bathwater. A lot of games have decent or good stories, some get an emotional response out of the player, which is part of what I read makes TLoU so incredibly great. The problem is that TLoU is Zombie Rehash story #3562. World War Z (the book, NOT the movie) was an interesting twist on the zombie story. In video games, ZombiU is the only thing I have played in the past few years that really handled the subject in an interesting way (it was not perfect – from a story perspective there is a lot left up in the air by the time you finish it so I give it more points on a basis for being a game than I do it being interactive fiction).
But there are *a lot* of zombie games, movies and stories out there. There are so many of them that the stories are blurring into the same thing causing a bit of a haze to appear when the subject pops up. The Last of Us is an unlicensed version of The Walking Dead. My best guess is that TWD fans are the ones giving this a boost but even then it catapulting to the top of the lists is really just absurd. This means it will be at the top of lists done by every other mindless listicle creator for quite a long time, much like E.T. is always the #1 Worst Game Ever on every equivalent list since Copy & Paste passes for List Based Journalism. Good times.
(You want a game to tell you a story, there are adventure games for that then. Or movies. If you want games then this is an example of Zork: The Grand Inquisitor. Be warned, it requires some thinking)
I don’t have to do a whole lot of writing or work in regards to what it is about The Last of Us that sours me on it, as it has been done for me. Thank you Zigfried, I will also have to give you kudos on the next weekly game night. Here are a few quotes but click on that to find out more about why TLoU isn’t worthy of all this praise:
My character was alone in a house at night, unable to interact with any of the colorful trinkets and appliances strewn about . . . aside from the scant few that had a TRIANGLE cue plastered on top of them, that is. It felt like I was wandering around a setpiece full of plastic props. Early on, I joked that Duke Nukem Forever was more interactive because you could actually raise the toilet seat in that game. Little did I realize it wasn’t a joke!
It gets better but this is what people want to “play” these days which can depress you if you think too much about it:
Whenever I saw a ladder, a big TRIANGLE was displayed on the screen to remind me how to pick ladders up. If a desk drawer could be opened, a TRIANGLE was plastered on top of it. Moveable objects were marked with — you guessed it — an onscreen TRIANGLE.
Triangles must equal game now. But maybe it is tense, where the zombies will eat your flesh at any second? No?
Zombies pounded on the barricaded door. I set the controller down and left the game running (not paused) and drove 30 minutes away for a really good burger. After an enjoyable meal, I spent 30 minutes driving back. The door was still holding.
I’m not sure how that is supposed to equal the Best Game of All Eternity. Resident Evil 4 was more intense than that and I didn’t find that game particularly frightening. I really suggest you read Zigfried’s take on it as it gives an honest assessment of the game and not the “I have to give this 11 stars out of 10 because that is what everyone else is doing” tripe. Unfortunately that seems to be what reviewers are doing, because everyone else out there likes the latest innovation on Dragon’s Lair. I also imagine they are the first in line to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads because they see everyone else doing it too. Maybe Lemmings is going to be the next big remake, it does seem ripe for it.