Follow @Mr_McCrackelz

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Last of Us Review: Grave of the Fireflies.

 This isn't gonna be easy.

We never realize how lucky we are until its too late. People assume the most routine and mundane things in life will be there forever because that's how people work. We know its possible to loose everything, but we can't believe it. That kind of thing happens to other people, farmers in the Midwest, the poor in New Orleans, not to me.

Never before has a survival game been more about surviving. Not in the sense of how many nail bombs and bullets you have on hand, but the barbaric acts you'd be reduced to just to make it to the end of another day. This is technically a game, but its also every bit a linear story. Doubters would call it a $60 movie, but they can go sit in a corner and think about how much they hate themselves. This is an experience that you may think you've seen before, but not like

Not like this.

The Last of Us is the story of Joel. A bitter, fifty-something, smuggler getting by in a walled off quarantine zone in Boston Massachusetts. As the zone begins to rot out from the inside, he strikes up a deal with a political movement known as the Fireflies. They want to unify what's left of the United States and somehow a 14 year old girl is their answer. So off you go into the west, an act that's less of a journey, and more of a death march. Just when you think Joel's soul can't be wrung out any further, something comes along and just kicks him in the gut, most times literally.

My hat must come off for Troy Baker as Joel. He's a sympathetic man with a violent temper who you root for no matter what, even when you probably shouldn't. I was personally worried the similar roles of Bioshock's Booker and Joel would be practically interchangeable, but no. I had to sometimes remind myself that was the same actor. That in itself is amazing to me because I played the ever living heck out of that game and I am particularly good at picking out voices.

I have never had a larger disconnect between the character I wanted to be playing and the character I was actually playing. There is a part of this game where I had only one option to move forward, and it disgusted me. But it was the only thing the character of Joel would do, I did not want to be Joel. I thought about putting down the controller and walking away. I have never been made to feel that way before.

The acting is something to see.

Ashley Johnson as Ellie, she...she makes acting sound way too easy. It's hard to describe Ellie, not because of spoilers, but because her best work as the character is so subtle I can't do it justice in print. And youtube isn't much better. Simply put, you not only believe every syllable that comes out of her mouth, but anticipate them like a bird in a skinner box. "Ellie's talking again!" I'd scream in my head after a particularly nasty encounter, "It's about time she warmed/broke my heart. It's been almost an hour since she did that last." When the video game acting awards go out Johnson is going to sweep them, I would stake my life on her getting a BAFTA. You should run out and play this game solely because of her performance.

As for the actual game play, I'm slightly less god struck, but only slightly. The first ten minutes of the game are unreal. They are the finest I've ever seen in my 23 years, I didn't just try to choke back tears, I failed to. It's the 2 hours after that which bothered me. The tutorial stretch of this game is a nightmare in comparison, its just so painfully dull. There are those little master craftsman touches sprinkled across the quarantine zone that only Naughty Dog could have sprinkled, but too much of that place felt like a re-run of far less interesting games, like Gears of War (there, I said it). But once you finally meet Ellie, things start looking up dramatically.Because it isn't long after that, the clickers make their introduction, and the training wheels come flying off. Naughty Dog throws you in the deep end and you'd better learn to swim.

So you didn't like the tutorial, don't get all huffy-puffy about it.

It isn't too much longer after that, W. Earl Brown makes a meaty cameo. I have a long standing rule that if you give me a Deadwood alum, I will roll over and let you rub my belly. I'll do it man, don't push me! All my issues with the game play vanished after that, the only remaining problem I had was with myself. I would have loved to tear through the campaign as fast as I could, but I just...couldn't. This game takes a lot out of you, and daddy needed some levity. There's a hopelessness to the atmosphere that never lifts and I just can't marinate in it for too long. If you can, go nuts, there's an achievement for every new game + difficulty you beat. Though I don't see me beating hard mode for a good long while.

If you find yourself struggling like I did, know that it's worth it. You may have heard the ending is stupid, but let me tell you those people are stupid. Not only is this the kind of game that saves it's best for last, it gets exponentially better as it goes along. Just make it through Pittsburgh, I promise it gets so much better after that. Not that it wasn't awesome before, it simply becomes more so. 

The emotional depths this game reaches is staggering and that's coming from a guy who called TellTale's: The Walking Dead the best game of last year. I'm not choosing one over the other here, do not think that. I'm not ready to choose yet. But when this game strives for high drama, it hits the bulls eye. When it wants you to see what it takes to truly kill a man, your stomach will turn. When it wants your heart to melt like butter in a'll swear you smell bacon. 

This is something  you will share with your friends and family.

This is among the greatest ever made.
Take a bow.


No comments :

Post a Comment