The Last of Us: recap

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Amid all the perfect scores, I can’t help but feel like the gaming industry, as well as the gamers, have failed themselves by calling this such a success. When we give something a perfect score, what is that really saying? It really depends on your point of view. Does it mean it’s something that couldn’t possibly be improved upon? Or does it mean it was perfect enough? Or is it just a gut feeling? Whatever your reasons, I know I certainly don’t want to just rest in the wading pool calling The Last of Us a perfect game, and call it a day.

For me, when I reviewed it and gave it a perfect score, it was the gut-feeling approach. I felt so wonderful about this game, and was so happy to have had that couple weeks following its story. I literally loved it. But let me explain the difference between then and now…

Then, there was a feeling in the back of my mind that things weren’t totally alright. Now I understand it, and it brought me to this conclusion: There are two types of ratings; one is an immediate reaction encompassing all the passion and excitement one feels with something fresh, and the other is a reaction to its legacy (or an all-time rating). The perfect score I gave the last of us several posts back was the first type – not at all the second type.

Now that I’ve had plenty of time to think about this game (even after playing half of the story over again), I can rightfully bestow a rating of the second type upon it.

My rating for 2013′s The Last of Us for PS3 is…

★★★★

Clearly I still favor the game. I’m aware that it’s great and it was an amazing experience. But its loss of an entire star between then and now, I will explain…

There are things wrong with the game believe it or not. Those things did not hurt the impact it was able to make on my playing experience, but some do hurt the impact it makes on my overall view of games from all times. Here’s a few examples:

– The script, while being generally better than average and even resembling an independent film at times, I still have many issues with. The emphasis on violence, and Joel and Tess’s easy willingness to kill thugs, was bothersome. The game’s value of human life is displayed to be minimal. But the character’s willingness to kill doesn’t hurt the way I feel for them as much as their attitude towards it. There’s such a hardcore nature about the scenes with Robert, like this is Goodfellas or something. You guys aren’t mob hitmen, so why are you acting like it? And I’m suppose to still care for you? The violence should have been limited to moments of extreme necessity in this story.

– The artificial intelligence is not very good – to the point it becomes a detriment. It’s hard to feel like you are really deep down in the gritty situation when things keep happening that remind you it’s a video game. Like, Ellie can sprint around as much as she wants without the Zombies noticing her, but if Joel so much as crunches a Frito, the enemies are immediately alerted to his presence. It’s like this for anyone that follows you, not just Ellie.

– The environments are beautiful, well-made, ambient, and interesting, but there is a huge lack of freedom, for each map feels incredibly linear. That’s not a big problem; the game still feels explorative, but it could have been so expansive and that much more involving if they were more free-roam style.

I still love the game, but I don’t want Naughty Dog to assume they are bringing video games to their full potential, because obviously they aren’t. The Last of Us was incredibly refined and awe inspiring, but it was seriously lacking certain elements that could have made it a 5/5 in the category of perfect enough. The story is subjective, and the opinions range. I personally thought it was fine, and if it stayed the same, it still could have been a perfect game… And understand, I know the difference between perfect and perfect enough. No game is perfect, because they can always be improved upon, but many are perfect enough. I liked so much about The Last of Us, and it was still a 5/5 first playthrough. But all-time, it was not perfect enough for me.

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