Sunday, November 29, 2015

[REVIEW] The Last of Us Remastered (PS4)

The Last of Us Remastered
Played on: Playstation 4
Genre: Action-adventure, survival horror
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

There are often times when I can't, for the life of me, understand why everyone in the western part of our world drools over a particular game. I believe there's no better example for this than The Last of Us, a title that got tens all around and was praised for its supposedly incredible storyline. Even though I had experienced several sections of the game on a friend's PS3, the PS4 was my first chance to try it for real, and I walked away sorely unimpressed.

First of all, I admit to getting kind of worried whenever a title gets praised more for its story than its actual gameplay. It's the latter that will always matter the most in a game for me, and in this regard The Last of Us is passable at best, extremely forgettable at worst. It consists of a series of linear, quick-time-event-heavy, cover-based shooting stages that get repetitive really fast, with only mild incentives for any kind of exploration.

Even though the game does feature a lot of actual cutscenes, its gameplay sections are made in such a way that main character Joel is always talking and interacting with other people somehow. I admit I can see how some people would enjoy this playable-movie vibe, but it's definitely not my thing. Often I would just get annoyed when a cutscene would end, just because I knew it meant I'd have to start actually playing. This made me start holding the opinion that The Last of Us would be better suited as, you know, an actual movie rather than a game.

Speaking of which: yeah, there's a cool story here, with some well-written emotional gut-punches. But unlike what I've read around the web, it's absolutely nowhere near the level of the true storytelling masterpieces of our time, from A Song of Ice and Fire to Breaking Bad to The Sopranos (and yes, I've seen comparisons to all of those). Maybe that's because the script just feels like a known quantity in the time we live in: it has a post-apocalyptic setting (check), a hardened man getting to terms with his own emotions (check), zombie-thingies (check), dialogue sections filled with wise cracks that aren't all that fresh (check). It was just too 'been there, done that' for me, even with the emotional turns, and as a result I never really felt the father-daughter relationship between the main characters as apparently most people have.

It may be one of those cases in which a game is just not for me, especially because I fully admit I've never been that interested in post-apocalyptic settings and its tropes. Still, just trying to analyse The Last of Us from a detached standpoint, I fail to see why it's had such an extremely enthusiastic reception. I wouldn't say it's a flat-out bad game, but there are numerous realistic-style titles with more fluid and satisfying gameplay, there are numerous non-games with better stories, and it is my honest opinion that this is not one of those cases in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I think this is the kind of game that everyone should at least try, if only just to see what the fuss is all about. If your gaming tastes are anywhere close to mine, however, you'll probably get entertained for a while, then start seriously considering just searching for a cutscene compilation on Youtube instead.

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