Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

June 26, 2013

RE: The Last of Us

I think I’ve been playing this game the wrong way. 

Warning: Minor spoilers for the first few hours of the game.  Nothing too extensive, though -- and it’s stuff you could intuit just by looking at the box art. 

That has to be the only explanation.  I’ve been doing it wrong.  It has to be.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  I mean, I know myself fairly well.  I know that compared to other people, I do things…well, everything at a slower pace.  Speed is not my forte, and it never will be; I’ve even gone out of my way to sacrifice speed and mobility in games for a chance at better magic, or defense, or power.  It’s an expendable stat, if you ask me.

But I guess it’s coming back to bite me.  Ignoring the fact that it’s led to several (dozen) losses in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 -- sometimes known by its nicknames “Which Way Do I Block?” and “Oh My God Get Back Here And Stop Moving Around So Much” -- it means that sequences that can take some people a short, reasonable amount of time force me to spend double or triple the time, and yet experience less.  As you can imagine, this has led to my pace in The Last of Us being particularly…leisurely.

And that’s where the problems start popping up.  I only started playing the game a few days ago (this past Wednesday, IIRC), and I’ve just gotten past the prologue.  Or at least, the section of the game I’m calling the prologue.  And as it stands, there’s one question that’s been on my mind for a while.

“Soooooo…when does this game start getting good?”

I’m not trying to hate on this game.  I’m not.  It’d be easy for me to do so, because it’s gritty, and it’s a triple-A game, and it’s in a post-apocalyptic world, and it has zombies du jour, but dammit I’m trying to like this game.  I really am.  I’m trying to give it a fair shake, and see if it’s really worthy of so many TENOUTTATENS, universal praise, hype, and all of the feels the gaming community can muster.  I’ll readily accept that this is Game of the Year material…that is, as soon as I find the Game of the Year material.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Last of Us is still a good game; you can definitely, definitely, definitely do a hell of a lot worse than a title like this.  That said, I expected a game with such a high pedigree (and word of mouth) to drag me by the neck on a thrill ride and emotional rollercoaster from the outset.  Thus far, “drag” is the best word you can use for this situation.  How much the game drags may vary from player to player -- my brother seemed genuinely surprised by my lack of progress -- and there are glimmers of brighter days ahead -- again, my brother says that once I reach some mythical “Bill’s house” the story “starts to pick up” -- but for now, all I can do is report my findings and my opinions.  Take this all with a grain of salt.  And by grain I mean bowl.

All right.  Here is the immediate problem I have with the “prologue.”  Look at the box art:

See that?  Two characters, Joel and Ellie.  Those are our leads, presumably.  (I’m betting that one or both of them will die/get infected by game’s end, but let’s leave plot predictions out of this for now.)  Even if you’re like me and haven’t followed the game’s development or details very closely, you know that it’s going to be a game about Joel and Ellie fighting off zombies as they go from place to place.  Fair enough. I can live with that -- and I outright welcome it.  The issue that I have with the prologue is that I’m just now getting to the “Joel and Ellie” part of the equation after…what, eight hours?  It’s hard to say how much time I’ve put into the game at the moment, but I can tell you right now that when I first sat down with the game I played it for two hours.  And two hours might give you maybe three enemy skirmishes. 

To be fair, it doesn’t take that long for Joel and Ellie to meet and start traveling together…well, relatively speaking.  But the game goes through immense strides to delay pretty much everything promised and expected of it.  And to me, it just feels like everything before Joel and Ellie’s excellent adventure is a fat load of wasted time.

The first moments of the game, while not awful in their own right, are eerily revealing about both what I’m talking about and what I expect for the rest of the game.  It doesn’t throw you in the midst of the action, and it doesn’t even have you in the middle of the touted post-apocalypse.  Instead, it starts off with Joel and his daughter Sarah late one night.  She stays up late (or at least tries to) so she can give her dad a watch for his birthday.  The two of them toss a few jokes back and forth, she falls asleep on the couch, Joel carts her off to bed in his arms, and you know damn well she tripped every death flag in the book.

I’ve known the game is about Joel and Ellie for at least a year.  I know that Joel is going to play surrogate father to Ellie, not biological father to this new girl.  Why not get to that as quickly as possible?  Why give us a character whose sole purpose in the game is to A) die, B) inject some tragedy into Joel’s life and backstory, C) wring out sympathy from the player, and D) die?  It just comes off as unnecessary -- doubly so because we don’t really get to learn about Joel, his daughter, or his brother (who joins in on the fun a bit later).  The takeaway from the sequence is supposed to be…what, Joel loves his daughter and is sad when she dies?  Game of the Year!

It’s easy for me to leverage complaints, but even so I can see why they’d take this route -- and in some respects, I actually like what they did.  When you actually get to start playing, you’re not doing so as Joel, but the young Sarah (young in this case being tweenage, give or take).  You walk around their house the night the zombie apocalypse begins in earnest; Sarah looks around for her dad at a slow and cautious pace, taking note of less-than-calming news reports and explosions in the distance.  The most that the player can do when a zombified neighbor -- technically not a zombie, but let’s not kid ourselves here, Last of Us -- breaks in and tries to go on the attack is cower behind Joel as he gives him a taste of hot lead.  Then, when Sarah and Joel climb into Uncle Tommy’s truck to try and find sanctuary, the player (as Sarah) can’t do much more besides shift around in the backseat looking at how, yes, shit’s goin’ down.

This sequence, if you ask me, does a few things right and a few things wrong.  What I like is the perspective and establishment offered here; it’ll be a long while before the player even has a gun, let alone uses it.  As such, there’s a sense of helplessness and confusion exacerbated by playing as Sarah and -- in one literal instance -- clinging to her father’s leg.  It really hammers in that the world is being forced to change, and it all starts with one climactic night.  That said, Naughty Dog really shows its hand when it comes to the game’s design philosophy; there’s trying to tell a story, and there’s making a barely-interactive movie.   The opening sequence has virtually no gameplay to speak of besides walking around, looking at stuff, and watching cutscenes.  Even when you take control of Joel after Not-Ellie-Yet gets her leg broken in a car crash, the most you can do is walk exactly where and when Tommy tells you along a set path.  And before you ask, yes, if you stray too far off the path -- as in a few steps out of line -- you die instantly.  Nice to see you’re borrowing from the Call of Duty school of thought, Naughty Dog.  Game of the Year!

There’s not really much to say or nitpick from the opening sequence, when all’s said and done.  It’s there and gone before long, doing its job in the way it sees fit.  It introduces two characters, shows us glimpses of the world before (and as) it breaks down, and offers a bit of notable, if forced, emotional torque.  It’s not the greatest opening ever, but it works.

But it could have been stronger.  Like I said, we don’t really learn much about Joel in this sequence -- so my thinking is, why not remove him entirely?  Why not make the girl we play as some random girl in the same area?  Surely she has a father and mother as well, and as such we can learn about the troubles the world’s about to face through a fresh lens.  Or alternatively, why not just give us some random girl and no other family members?  Put her in the middle of the city (or somewhere near it), and have her experience the action first-hand after a few moments of quiet and calm.  Like she’s home alone, goes out to investigate a noise, and then shit gets real. 

Or if showing Joel is an absolute necessity, give him and his daughter more time to develop than just a few minutes of screen time before the chaos starts.  Set it 24 hours before the chaos starts.  Let them explore the city together.  Or show Joel on the job, running through his daily routine while thinking about his daughter and wondering what (if anything) she did for his birthday.  If they’re going to have a sequence like this, they needed to do more with it.  What we’ve got is good, but it could have easily been great…especially considering that there’s a twenty-year flash forward that makes all those events only vaguely connected to the current plot.

So the actual game starts out with Joel -- who’s now in his fifties, at a bare minimum -- undertaking a mission to get his group’s weapons back from a traitor, Robert.  So he’s off on a seemingly-simple trek through the transformed world, ready to brave whatever no-goodniks come his way.  Thing is, he’s not alone; he’ll have his lady friend Tess coming along to give him support.  Aaaaaaaaaaaand here’s where the problems start popping up -- even more problems than before. 

This is what Tess looks like.

This is the box art.

Do you see Tess on the box art?  No?  No Tess?  That’s right, no Tess.  No Tess on the box art.  Joel’s on the box, Ellie’s on the box, no Tess on the box.  The death flag is flying at full-mast from the moment you meet this woman.  That wouldn’t be so bad if she offered up something in exchange for her presence, but she comes off as such a third wheel -- even before she and Joel meet up with Ellie -- that she ends up subtracting from the story AND the game with her presence alone.

Inevitable comparisons are going to come up between this game and BioShock Infinite, which isn’t so bad in its own right…EXCEPT that if you asked me to compare the two, then at the moment I have to give higher honors to Infinite.  Like it or not, both games are decidedly linear, but Infinite has the advantage in world-rendering independent of aesthetics; if nothing else, that game managed to create the illusion of a massive, living, breathing world.  Like I said before, there may be a set path for you to follow for the next mission, but Infinite allows you to diverge from that path for at least a little while.  You’re overtly awarded with money, power-ups, and audio logs for your exploration, but that’s just incentivizing the player to do something that comes naturally.  The reward doesn’t come from grabbing knickknacks (though that helps and is greatly appreciated), but from having the option, and the freedom to have a look around at your pace and leisure.  You receive information, and audiovisual treats, from almost any given direction in any given room.  There’s structure, but it’s a malleable one that lets you help define your experience.

That element is missing in The Last of Us -- and even if it appears at a later date (which begs the question why they’d wait so long to give us the good stuff from the outset), Infinite did it almost immediately from the get-go.  Part of the problem stems from the presence of Tess; too often she expresses the notion that you’re following her, and you have to move at your pace.  So even if there are areas diverting from the main path, there’s an unmistakable pressure, a sense that “No, wait, I have to get moving, I have to follow Tess.”  She’s a barrier between the player and the world, making certain intimate interactions impossible.

But then again, the world -- for the moment, at least -- doesn’t really feel like one worth exploring.  Everything looks good, sure, and there are lots of intricacies, yeah, thank GOD that the palette is (on average) as far away from gray and brown as you can get.  But compared to the sensory excitement of Infinite, The Last of Us is lacking.  There are only so many times you can show off a dilapidated building before it becomes boring -- and that’s doubly the case when exploring the nooks and crannies doesn’t give you anything worth looking at besides more trash and rubble.  Events and conversations will trigger to give something to look at or listen to, but damned if they don’t feel as mechanical and obvious as it gets.  Tess will herd you through one area to the next (or you’ll do the same for her for…some reason), and even when you break the leash and start looking around, there’s very little to show for it in terms of physical and emotional rewards…to say nothing of the fact that sometimes, there’s not even another path for you to explore.  And I kid you not, there’s a moment in this game where you’re led into an area littered with chest-high walls straight out of Gears of War, and Joel says “Here we go” in exasperation.  Game of the Year!

There’s also some real silliness going on in the world if you think about it.  There’s an area full of spores that’s apparently lethal (or turns you into a zombie, maybe; same difference) if you breathe it in, so Joel and Tess put on gas masks and trot about inside rooms completely riddled with airborne spores.  Now here’s my question: why don’t they avoid that area entirely?  If the game can lead us from one area to the next, then why would it lead us to this inherently-lethal area with no realized alternatives when there are clearly others that can be taken?  I’m only asking this because, if the spore clouds are so thick and so full of contagions, then I would think that coming into contact with them period is a terrible idea.  That’s especially the case when you remember that, outside of their gas masks, Joel and Tess aren’t putting on any additional protection. 

That means that Joel’s arms -- and his skin, no less -- is getting direct exposure to these spores.  Tess gets it even worse, because her v-neck shirt might as well not have sleeves.  Even if we assume that these spores can’t necessarily be absorbed by the skin, these people are now covered head-to-toe in what has to be an insane (if residual) amount of spores.  So with that in mind, does that mean that every time these people take in a breath, they’re also taking in millions upon millions of spores into their body?  By the same token, when -- if ever -- are they going to stop and try to wash the spores off their body?  I’m just saying, it doesn’t exactly seem like the proper protocol to use when infection and zombification are still REAL threats in this post-apocalyptic world.

Unless…oh my God, I just figured out the plot twist is.  Joel’s been a zombie all along! 

What?  I was right about Infinite’s ending, after all. 

You know, I think I’m on record saying that I don’t mind (and even prefer) a slow burn in games.  It doesn’t take much to impress me or get me invested, or make me want to get in deep with a long-yet-presumably-meaningful adventure.  If The Last of Us is intent on holding its story elements for later, then that’s fine; it’s a game, after all, and the gameplay should be able to compensate.  And yet…I can’t help but shake this feeling that the actual gameplay is underwhelming.

It’s not fundamentally broken or anything like that.  This being a third-person shooter, it’s not exactly an easy formula to botch -- but as a result, it’s not an easy formula to deviate from.  You know exactly what you’re getting into when you walk into an arena full of chest-high walls, and you’ll get exactly that -- and on multiple occasions, no less.  It’s almost as if the game forgets that it’s supposed to be a game instead of a movie or a virtual tour, and the developers regularly screamed, “Oh shit!  We have to give the player something to do!  Quick!  Slap down some gunmen here, here, and here!”  To the game’s credit, you can’t expect to hide behind a wall and regenerate all your health, adding a bit of tension and momentum to each fight.  Likewise, moving around strategically on the battlefield isn’t just possible, but recommended.  This is no simple shooting gallery.

On top of that, there is a HUGE emphasis on stealth in this game, which is something I can appreciate and approve of.  Tess makes it very clear that in some instances, a firefight is going to just leave you with stitches and holes, so you’ll have to sneak around an area and stealthily dispatch soldiers.  You can do this more easily if you make use of Joel’s special ability, listening mode, wherein the colors will dump out and our leading man will listen to the environment carefully for the presence of enemies.  If you can sneak up on them, Joel will leap out and strangle the life out of them -- or if you so desire, you can plant a shiv in their neck.  I liked the tactical use of stealth in Far Cry 3, and I like it here; that overt planning and strategizing, made possible by a slowed-down pace of combat, is something that I can’t help but enjoy…to some extent.

The problem with “stealth kills” or “executions” or whatever term they’re using is that if you can get into a groove, you can render yourself utterly invincible throughout the entire game.  (This isn’t just a Last of Us issue; I’d wager it can pop up in any stealth-allowing game, Far Cry 3 included.)  In my limited experience with Last of Us, there have been times where I’ve managed to avoid or outright erase firefights with stealth -- and bear in mind this is coming from someone who botched stealth sections in Metal Gear Rising.  Though to be fair, stealth is not exactly a high priority.  

You can mess up here, obviously, but there have been instances where I’ve been able to go from one goon to the next with only a split-second gap in between.  Instant kills take care of foes and fights, sure, but it cheapens the effect.  The intent behind a stealth game is that there’s supposed to be tension, and that you bide your time until the perfect moment to strike, weighing the risks and taking note of your surroundings.  There is -- or should be -- an inherent sense of vulnerability here, but it’s one that’s notably absent.  I should not feel like an invincible killing machine in a game that puts so much emphasis on survival, gameplay-wise and story-wise.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with the zombie enemies.  There are two types in the game: infected, which are your now-standard “fast zombies” that show extreme aggression on sight, and “clickers.”  The infected go down in almost the same way as regular soldiers, but with the added benefit of making more noise so you can track them more easily; if you can get to their backside, they’re done.  Clickers work a little bit differently (which is to be expected, given their faces are all…spore-y); they’re blind, but their hearing is incredibly powerful, so if you make too much noise they’ll rush at you.  If a clicker gets its hands on you, it’s an instant kill.  In my experience, it’s not entirely uncommon for infected and clickers to be mixed together in the same area, requiring some forethought when it comes to dispatching enemies.  Thankfully, you can grab things like bricks and bottles you find laying around, and throw them to make sounds that’ll lure enemies into the proper position.  Or you could just throw it at them.  Game of the Year!

Now, here’s the problem I have with this approach.  If you can kill human enemies with a stealth kill, and you can kill the infected with a stealth kill, and you can kill clickers with a stealth kill (albeit with a shiv), just what is supposed to be the next step up on the threat ladder?  The game tries to sell these monsters as guys you don’t want to mess with, and something that’ll fill you with fear and tension.  But I find it hard to be afraid of an enemy I can kill instantly, and is almost completely harmless unless I brush against it or make too much noise.  There have been times where I was looking right at a clicker, but because I wasn’t moving it walked right past; rather than being afraid, I just ended up getting annoyed by its slow, shambling movements…and its presence, before long.  

And remember, these are enemies that can only hurt you by getting in close range; even if you screw up badly, all you have to do is run to a different part of the area to put them back in a neutral state, or run to a new area to move on without a fight.  But if you’re like me, you’ll take the slow and methodical route, dispatching enemies with stealth (as you likely should)…and if you’re like me, you’ll end up getting annoyed at how much it all feels like busywork.  And if you’re also like me, you’ll botch the stealth and just punch one of the infected to death, scoring a cinematic kill in the process by dint of mashing the Square button until you reach a wall.  Um…can I get some actual enemies here, please?

I can’t help but wonder why Tess doesn’t help out and take down a few enemies.  She’ll shoot at a guy or two, and maybe have a punch-up with a baddie, but that’s after you get spotted.  Other than that, she pretty much doesn’t exist until it’s time for her next lines.  If my guess is correct, Ellie is going to be a more proactive partner in the future (again, considering the box art and some promotional materials), but that just makes the Tess problem all the more obvious.  Why is this character in this game?  I guess the assumption is that she’s there to help us get accustomed to the new world, but I don’t really need her for that, and she doesn’t tell us much anyway. 

She’s not much of a character, either; she’s not terrible, of course, but other than being tough, snarky, and prone to shooting first, there’s not all that much to her.  (In fact, it feels like her characterization slips over the course of her stay; she suddenly goes from practical and pragmatic to hoping for a miracle once she meets Ellie, who -- of course -- may hold the key to curing the world of he infection.)  She almost inexplicably takes on maternal instincts once Ellie joins the party, but even then Tess, Ellie, and Joel don’t get any additional development.  Especially Joel; cutscene after cutscene goes by with him barely getting a few words in, if that.  It’s worth noting, especially, that there are glitches that occur ONLY when Tess is around; if she’s trying to get somewhere and you’re in the way, Joel’s animation speed will suddenly quadruple to force him aside, which leads to some light speed ladder-climbing and squat-walking.  Game of the Year!  

Inevitably, Tess ends up biting it thanks to her getting attacked and infected when she and Ellie get separated from Joel late in the prologue.  It’s at this point where Tess practically begs Joel to take Ellie somewhere else -- to Tommy, if at all possible -- and decides to go out in a blaze of glory defending the pair from a sudden influx of soldiers…soldiers who didn’t have any reason to suspect that the three of them were even in the building, given that they had zero affiliation with the people said soldiers had already cleaned out earlier…and soldiers who don’t have any reason to suspect Joel and Ellie are even there, even with Tess’ noble sacrifice…and I can only wonder why the pair doesn’t just leave instead of fighting strangling their way out.  But questioning aside -- and I hope you’ll forgive me for my callousness -- regardless of whether or not Tess had an affecting death (it wasn’t) or how much of an impact on the story she had (she didn’t), her final farewell meant that the real game could actually begin.

At least it could after I had to stumble through a subway clouded in grime and spores and lovingly rendered in shades of brown.  Game of the Year!

So after clearing that area -- and everything beforehand, I think the game is finally starting to look up.  I think that pretty soon, I’m about to get to the good part.  The tension, the development, the marvel of a world torn asunder…I know that it’s in this game somewhere.  But here’s the thing: I shouldn’t have to feel the way that I do.  I shouldn’t have had to wait for “the good part.”  I shouldn’t have had to put in multiple sessions across multiple days and walk away with an impression no greater than “meh”.  I shouldn’t have to listen to Joel telling Ellie never to mention Tess again, as if the hours I’d put in already aren’t even worth a quarter of a damn.  I should be entranced and eager to play every time I sit down with the game, and it’s thanks to a strong opening -- gameplay-wise or story-wise -- that I should be able to enjoy what’s happened so far as well as look forward to what’s to come.  BioShock got it right.  Mass Effect got it right.  Fallout got it right, and that’s as post-apocalyptic as it gets.  So why is this “Game of the Year” dragging its ass so much?  Is it me?  Is it the game?  Am I too slow?  Is it too slow? 

Screw it.  Joel practically gave me a free pass to ignore everything that’s happened so far, and I just might take him up on his offer.  I might.  Even if the rest of the game blows me away, I shouldn’t have had to wait this long for it to happen (and I don’t think I need to remind anyone that the “it gets better” defense was used for a certain other game that will remain nameless).  And I shouldn’t have to ignore this sequence even if the rest of the game excels.  It’s not that hard to impress me -- but you have to at least try.

So.  Where does that leave me with the game?  Well, even with this “prologue” behind me, I have to admit I’m still interested in the game.  It had a rough start, but I can at least try to forgive it if the rest of the game is amazing.  And who knows?  This prologue may have been an extremely small percentage of the main game; I don’t know how long a simple playthrough will last, but if my guess is correct it’ll run the length of a very-short JRPG.  In which case, there’s plenty of time for the good stuff to show up.  Plenty.  So I’m guessing -- and outright assuming -- that I’m going to be in good hands.

So make no mistake -- just because I’m complaining about The Last of Us doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t rent/buy/play The Last of Us.  If anything, this post is a recommendation for you to try it for yourself; I’ve done my best to honestly report what I’ve experienced, but thanks to that pesky thing called human opinion there’s never going to be a one-to-one report on what’s gone down.  So don’t let this post scare you off if you haven’t taken the plunge -- and of course, feel free to disagree with me.  I welcome dissention.

That said, if there’s one thing you should learn, it’s this: The Last of Us is NOT a revelation.  It is NOT the perfect game.  It is NOT flawless.  No such game exists.  Not even the BioShock games.  It’s a sobering truth, I know, but it’s precisely that: the truth.  So if ever yon needed proof that you shouldn’t buy into hype, let this post be it.  Let me be the informant you need.

And that’ll do it for now.  Maybe the next time we cross paths, I’ll have better news for you.


  1. Jack Lewis BaillotJune 27, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    My brother has this game. I've been meaning to ask him about it as the story sounds kind of cool. But, not being a gamer myself, I have no idea what it is all about. (I usually die the first few minutes into a game anyways.)

  2. Don't feel too bad about dying in the first few minutes of a level. I've been playing games since before I could tie my shoes -- bless you, Velcro -- and it's still not uncommon for me to get slaughtered at the start every now and then. Not to mention that when it comes to the old Mario games, I'm destined for failure. So many bottomless pits...

    As for The Last of Us, from what I can gather the story (in a nutshell) is about a road trip across a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled America, with the leads being a grizzled survivalist and a teenage girl who may or may not hold the key to curing infections within her. There are some story beats that may sound familiar (and a LOT of gameplay beats that are as common as the air we breathe), but based on the praise it's gotten, the story is extremely well-executed.

    If you're interested, I'd recommend searching for a playthrough on YouTube; by now I'd assume that someone's not only beaten it, but uploaded every moment of the game. Considering that TLoU is trying its very hardest to be a movie, I'm guessing you can get the whole experience -- minus the frustration of playing the game -- by letting someone else do the legwork for you.

  3. So wait, the Last Of Us is about a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse, instead of being a story about a dad and a daughter (surrogate or not) ekeing out an existence in the post-apocalyptic earth?

    Holy shit, was I right thinking this game was gonna be a disappointment. It was going to be a WAY bigger challenge but had a lot more payoff if the designer DIDN'T go with the tired old OMG ZOMBIESSS!!!111! bullshit that pop culture's just brimming with.

    Good luck man, I'm not gonna bother with this game, like, at all. I'm just gonna stick to my own predictions about it and feed on my own denial.

  4. Now, to be fair -- and I can't stress this enough -- I don't think the game is bad. If you like (or alternatively, can stand) The Walking Dead, then you'll be in good hands...although at this stage I'd say "just watch it on YouTube", because the gameplay isn't exactly revolutionary, and occasionally frustrating. Also because TLoU wants so very desperately to be a movie.

    That said, you've got it exactly right. This game may have generated HUGE amounts of hype, but the actual story isn't incredible enough to warrant it. Taken as is, it's almost kind of...bland. Good moments are in there, for sure, but -- this being a zombie story -- there are plenty of bad ones, too. Hype or no, it needed -- or rather NEEDS -- something genuinely new to set itself apart from the rest of the pack, and right now I'm not getting that. I can already think of several ways how they could have done that...buuuuuuuuuuut that's a post for another day.

    It's worth noting, though, that according to my brother, I've just hit the halfway point of the game...and the story's still spinning its wheels in place with Ellie and Joel's relationship. I would have figured that they'd have a stronger bond at this point, but it just seems like they're going back and forth, back and forth. It was fine at first, but at this stage in the game it's starting to piss me off.

    Jeez. Just thinking about how far I have left to go is NOT making me happy. But I'll keep on going. The ending is supposed to be something else, from what I've heard.

  5. Rhamy, I'm sorry man, but if the ending is so hyped, then it's gonna be a way bigger disappointment than the actual game form what I've gathered.

    Then again, the idea of everybody but the protagonists being dead would have been so much worse as an idea and not as endearing to audiences...

    But seriously, if from what I've read the game is about 50% of the world's population being dead instead of, say, ALMOST EVERYONE, there shouldn't have been so much loss as a theme. If anything, civilization would have (mostly) survived, albeit in a much smaller scale. Yes, most people would have been packed into some small, well-fortified settlements (and stayed the hell away from cities) but still things wouldn't have been as bleak as the game wants to make them seem.

    And speaking of the Walking Dead, how is that series going? Because I stopped watching round the time when I discovered the third season was just milking the Andrea-Drama bullshit and was trying to draw out the survivor war into a boring-ass saga.

  6. Whatever the popular opinion, my theory on the ending is that it's going to be the opposite of what happened with me and Bioshock Infinite. I thought Infinite was a great game, but its ending was full of problems (to say the least). So my guess is that -- for whatever reason -- TLoU is full of problems, but will have a great ending. Somehow. Someway. Because reasons.

    I don't know the exact count for the number/percentage of people still alive in TLoU, but the game treats the population as if there are only a handful of people left. Seriously, this game is EMPTY. There's more walking around in near-silence than there is combat, or even gameplay, in this game. That's probably an intentional design choice, but it doesn't really work as well as the devs would have hoped, at least to me. It's enough to make me think that this game could be half as long and still give off the same effect...if not a stronger one. Less is more. Buuuuuuuut I guess we'll just have to see how it goes.

    As for The Walking Dead, it's between seasons right now, so if you're looking to get caught up this is as good a time as any. If not, then I'll go ahead and give a rundown of what's happened.

    (Spoilers, obviously)

    If you're tired of Andrea, then I have some VERY good news for you: she ends up dying thanks to the Governor locking her up in a torture chamber with a recently-zombified Milton (who turned after he tried to help Andrea and kill the Gov...which went about as well as you'd expect). Woodbury as you might have known it doesn't exist anymore, thanks to the Gov going berserk when the people started disagreeing with him and he goes on a shooting spree. I THINK he's going off on his own with some supporters, so it's hard to say what'll happen to/with him next.

    As for Rick and the gang, Rick starts trying to get over his issues (presumably). He invites the Woodbury refugees to live in the prison with him and the rest, and I guess the new season will pick up from there. There's still plenty of plot points to follow through on with most of the characters; Glen and Maggie are married now. Merle is dead, so I'm guessing there's going to be some tension between Daryl and Rick. Carl is starting to take a darker turn (and he was already on his way toward becoming an unfeeling machine). Hershel's beard continues to be fabulous and reminiscent of Santa Claus.

    And I guess that's about everything. Granted there are issues abound -- many, many issues -- but for what it's worth, TWD is good enough to watch. (Isn't that just a ringing endorsement?) Hopefully next season will sort out a few problems -- because I honestly think there's a fantastic show in there somewhere. Somehow. Someway. Because reasons.