The Last of Us has real heart, but not much else


#1609

Or just watch a Let’s Play, like I did.


#1610

Hope you keep going. The difficulty is all over the place, and I learned to really enjoy that. There’s something very post-apocalyptic about a game where the next encounter could be cake or it could be the hardest thing in the game. I feel the same way about the Uncharted games (I only played through half of 3 as well), but The Last of Us finally felt like the game Naughty Dog was meant to make all along. They might not be good at plucky Indiana-Jones-style adventures, but they’re really good at post-apocalyptic adventures.


#1611

I don’t like that playing Joel and Ellie you kill people by the dozens. It’s a sad state about video games and mass murder. It really is… The Last of Us.


#1612

Still jumping in when I have time, but haven’t had much lately. So I’m still very early in the game.

I just went through a frustrating sequence where I was hanging upside down while things rushed at us, so suddenly gunplay I’d been mostly avoiding was mandatory (unless I missed some super clever solution) and I had no idea if I was doing it right. I’d shot a few people, but I’d never killed a clicker with a pistol, so when a head shot and a body shot still didn’t take one down, I wasted a few more attempts looking for another option. Then several more attempts going back to just shooting at it, before I got lucky with enough shots landing and my reloads timed safely to drop it.

And it’s just like, ugh, whatever. Some of the sneaking/strangling action that was equally frustrating the first time has gotten better as I’ve better understood the rules of stealth and the enemy behavior. I’m sure with time I’ll better understand the gunplay, and whatever else it throws at me, but in the moment it was just another case where I wish this game had a “skip gameplay” button instead of a normal game that lets you skip cutscenes.

But then later Ellie starts making a weird sound, Joel asks if she’s alright, and she explains she’s trying to learn to whistle. And okay, yeah, I want to keep playing the game for more stuff like that. Not even the heavy emotional beats, just the little things.


#1613

Bungie and Naughty Dog should team up. Not that an actual collaboration would necessarily yield good results, but like, in theory. Thinking back on the excellent gameplay of Halo and opaque, obscured, or absent story-telling, they seem strong where Naughty Dog is weakest, and vice versa. Can you imagine if we could combine them? That would be an amazing game, in my imagination.


#1614

I agree with you on Bungie and Naughty Dog. But only about the Uncharted series. I still think The Last of Us’ frustratingly hard at times gameplay really fits this game well by the end. As does the scrounging gameplay. Maybe it’s the fact that I played this on the PS4 controller, but I didn’t have nearly as much trouble with it as I did during the PS3 Naughty Dog era. And remember, Tom wrote this review based on the PS3 game, not the PS4 remake. I haven’t played the PS3 version, but I imagine it must have been a lot more frustrating than the PS4 version thanks to the controller. Can you imagine if you were playing this on the PS3?


#1615

My first play through was on the PS3 with an Xbox 360 wired controller, whatever that says about the experience. I definitely liked the controls better on the PS4 later on!


#1616

I’m working my way through this on easy but it still feels hard. Most encounters I have to reload a bunch of times just get through. I’m still early in the game. I just finished the part where you have to sneak through the subway stop, shiv the clicker at the end, and then climb the ladder.

I’m digging the story, but this one feels like it’s going to be a frustrating slog through the gameplay.


#1617

Early on those encounters are super intimidating, even on easy. As you get deeper you’ll have a lot more options and you’ll grow more accustomed to handling clickers. On easy you’ll also end up with a good amount of resources.

EDIT: that said, the game is often somewhat grueling, and that’s by design.


#1618

Hey Mark, don’t feel bad. I found this game ridiculously difficult, even on Easy. There’s this one section where you’re hanging upside down shooting enemies that I spent a couple of frustrating hours on and right before I was going to give up and call a buddy to come over and help me I finally succeeded. After that though, there’s really only one more crazy hard part.


#1619

I’m not sure that’s good design for such a narrative-based, sentiment intensive game. It’s certainly always been the barrier I’ve run into in the game that eventually wears me down and causes me to abandon it.


#1620

I’m not sure either, but it worked really well on me. Because the game was so hard and so grueling and unpredictable, it made me feel harrowed in the game along with the characters. It made the resources and scavenging feel more important to me, like they really were a matter of life and death, not just crafting currency as a game mechanic. Early on, having a shiv on hand for a clicker attack is life and death.


#1621

So, on easy at least, I got through the upside down part in 2 tries. Thank god it didn’t count ammo.


#1622

Congrats! That was the high water mark for difficulty for me, besides another section I can’t discuss without major spoilers.


#1623

I’m assuming the upside down part is in Bill’s Town?


#1624

Hahah, yes, they only hang you upside down once in the game. :)


#1625

Exactly. That’s the unique aspect of games as a storytelling medium. You don’t just see the struggle, you experience the struggle. Trying to sneak pass clickers is really stressful. There are times when it feels like the journey will never end. At times you are left feeling helpless, desperate or terribly lonely. Even toying with human enemies can fill you with a disturbing sense of catharsis. The game is masterfully composed to elicit just those kinds of emotional reactions, all of which are important to the core themes of the narrative.


#1626

Got past the bloater. Not a fun fight. Totally sucked into the story.


#1627

I don’t know if I’ll ever own a Playstation, but I wanted to see this, so (a year or so ago) I watched a youtube video of every Last of Us cutscenes, stitched together into a movie. A … nearly four hour (!) … movie!

And you know what? It was a damn good movie. I’d pay to see that in a theater.

I know @tomchick makes the point sometimes (Last of Us, Firewatch) if you’re really great at story, but maybe not so awesome at the game part, stop trying to shoehorn the damn game in there and just roll with the story. People make billions telling stories! There’s no rule that every great story has to also be a game!


#1628

That’s a pretty cool idea! Although I will say that a significant part of the storytelling was the dialogue that would play during the gameplay. For instance, Ellie would tell Joel a dumb joke. Stuff like that. Naughty Dog has also done bits like that in the Uncharted games. At one point, if Nathan Drake jumps into a swimming pool, he makes a “Marco!” “Polo!” crack. Little dialogue touches like that are nice, and they help bring the characters to life when you’re just doing the obligatory moving from point A to point B.

I don’t know if that’s included in the above collection of cutscenes, but it should be.

-Tom