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Thursday, January 16, 2014

#2 The Last of Us

You saw this one coming huh? Well too bad, it's the best game Naughty Dog's ever made, and one of the bravest AAA games period. Just think, how many games have you played that were a bald faced tragedy? Except a couple of silent hills and other horror titles, most story games have essentially "happy" endings. And while I wouldn't call the ending of The Last of Us "sad" it uh... it is something.

It's the little things that endear me the most to TLU. Ellie's jokes and guitar riffs. Joel's reminiscence on super models, coffee shops, and sexy werewolf movies. Like precious few games before it, TLU is deadly serious about being a character piece. It commits from the first cut scene until the last one 14 some-odd hours later. It certainly doesn't hurt that the game itself is a refreshingly intense stealth/survival mash up, either.

It's not the best I've played, it sure as hell doesn't have to be. But the quality of the game play mixed with the master class of acting and story telling, creates an experience critics will cite for at least 15 more years. What I mean is; if TLU was a movie, even if you hate apocalypse fiction, you'd still have to admit it was a pretty good movie. But like Gone Home, the act of playing through the game (searching for ammo, frantically slapping together a nail board, knifing a fungus zombie in the neck) builds a kind of connection to Joel and Ellie only interactivity can provide.

It becomes powerful stuff. Even when I met new characters and cynically pointed out that they were "gonna die" with a half chewed twizzler sticking out of my mouth, I still stood up and yelled when they finally bit it. That's the sign of great art. When you know what's coming, but you get taken for a ride anyway.

Just like I know Luke's never going to eat all those eggs, and just like I know Ralston's never gonna get through the last nerve on his arm, I know I'm going to love The Last of Us for as long as I love video games.

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