Recently I got some time to play some games and have been playing through the Last of Us. Now I bought a PS3 specifically to play this game. It won numerous game of the year awards. It’s been optioned for a movie. I could not get away from how great it was. “The story!” I was told. “The emotional connection!” I was told. From the trailers and review blurbs, it’s about a guy who has to escort a girl through post apocalyptic zombie wasteland. Okay I’m down with all of that. It also looked a lot like Uncharted being from Naughty Dog, and a 3rd person shooter with some light platforming so all in all this looked a full win propisition.
So I finally popped it into my Black Friday purchaded PS3 and started playing. And lo and behold…. I’ve been scammed! It’s not a 3rd person shooter, it’s a stealth game! No fun run and gun action wtih zombies. It’s all about moving slow and creeping around. Okay that was a little bait and switch, and normally I hate stealth games, but there have been a few I’ve really liked. (Beyond Good & Evil, Velvet Assassin) Those games have a generally smooth game play when you are caught or setting up the scene. But not Last of Us! See the problem with this game is the “Clicker” zombies. (or mutants, or plants, or whatever these things are SUPPOSED to be.)
They kill you in one hit unless you have a shiv. You HAVE to shoot them in the head to kill them. It’s ridiculous that one touch is death on these things and you have no dodge or quick move command. You move about as fast Leon in Resident Evil 4. Clickers outrun you. The other thing is your combat is pathetic. Your recticle moves around constantly like you are some ADD kid who chugged 4 expressos. I was told by defenders of this game that this was a “story” feature as the protagnist Joel is not some trained soldier or warrior. And that’s just BS. The guy has been a survivor mercenary running illegal goods for 20 years. He carries guns all the time and hangs out with other mercs. Though the course of the game I’ve killed HUNDREDS of people, soldiers, and zombies. I have to be a halfway decent shot and fighter to survive. So why is combat so crummy in this game?
Beyond the mediocre stealth gameplay there is just some decisions that leave my head scratching. What’s with the unecessary forging system in the game? What’s with the circular level design without a mini map? Areas with the cloud of spores and particularly the parts where you have to swim in flooded buildings are just mazes in similiar looking rooms looking for the one bland staircase you over looked to progress you to the next area. With such a linear storyline (and linear isn’t a bad thing) why isn’t the level design more straightforward? It’s like every area was designed as a spiral.
Last of Us isn’t a bad game. It does have a great story with well thought out characters. It has insanely high production value. The problem is it’s a GAME. Not a movie. The gameplay needs to match the story to make it the total package. I always say that making games are harder than making movies, and Last of Us is good example of that. Last of Us is a really good game, it’s just not the end all be all of gaming.