All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Down the Road - Last of Us

When I was in Uni I always wanted to create a games review website called '3 weeks later'. it would be your average run of the mill games review site but with one big difference; I'd do the review 3 weeks later after all the hype died down.
Grand Theft Auto 4, amazing game when you first play it, but 3 weeks later? it's pretty good, but I want to kill my cousin, and the fact I'm still getting tutorials is jarring and makes me feel like I'm still not out of the opening. You see what I mean, how would I review the game 3 weeks later with the benefit of time?
However I don't have the time to be sure that I'll have a review ready exactly 3 weeks later so if I want to do it I have to change the title (or be okay with people being confused). Thus 'Down the Road' is born.
So with the sequel coming out in a couple of months I'm going to start with;
Image result for last of us
Specifically the Remastered version.
I played the Last of us when it first came out in June 2013, and I liked it, but I found the controls a pain, especially in combat and eventually just sort of stopped playing. I remember getting about 1/3 of the way through and just picking something else up and not going back.
I also remember going back once more when it was remastered and not getting into it, not even getting as far as I had, but I'd always heard how amazing it was, and I've spent the last couple years watching Critical role (one of the cast of which plays Ellie) so recently (7 years late) I finally went back to try and complete it and boy was I in for a ride.

So first of all lets address the issue I had when I first played it; the controls.
The controls, even now, are garbage. Especially the combat controls. Aiming was awful, trying to hit things without wasting a ton of ammo on flailing shots felt awful, and trying to do anything in that scene where you're hung upside down and there's zombies running in is like trying to hit a bulls eye while throwing your darts with your ass.
That said, by about halfway through the game I started getting better at it. I don't know if this was because I'd bought the right upgrades, or because I'd just gotten used to the controls, but I started being able to shoot straight, which felt fantastic. It didn't make up for the shoddy early game controls, but now I was past them I could enjoy the game, potentially how I was always meant to enjoy the game.
There's also a part of me that wonders if the bad controls were intentional because you're not playing a soldier, your just playing some guy and you're not meant to be good at shooting, but even if that's the case it's bad game design. If a dev studio did that on a free to play game they'd be out of the running before it reached launch.

So the controls were garbage and it took about half the game to make them usable, and it's about then that something strange starts to happen.
It's about then that you start to care. Ellie's always been this tough no nonsense kid that you root for, but Joel's always been kind of an ass hole, and then suddenly, a little by little you can see the humanity coming back into Joel and while he's not great at saying it, you can see how much he cares about her.
The story and the twists of this game are the only thing that matter about it by the end. The things you experience with them, the stuff that happens, good and bad... it's very possibly the best story game I've ever played. At least one grounded in the real world. I love me some sci-fi/fantasy.
It's hard to express how good the game is without spoiling things, but it really was great.

The best advice for anyone wanting to play this again and having a tough time with the controls is this; Stealth is your friend.
At the beginning when I couldn't shoot for shit I spent the majority of my time sat in one spot silently watching everyone and slowly picking targets off one at a time and never firing a shot. If you can't shoot, then don't be seen.

Overall I loved this game, hard to get into, but once I did I devoured it. played it every night until I completed it.

Does it hold up to the 95% it has on metacritic? probably not, I can't give a game that has such bad early game controls a score that high, but is it worth it for the story? without a doubt. If this was a movie or a TV-show I would have binge watched it five times by now.

Hope that was an interesting read. I'll see if there are any more of these that I could do in the future.

 - James

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