I recently read an article entitled “Why The Last of Us Sucks.” While I don’t agree with the use of the word “sucks,” because it’s a media buzzword in video game journalism to attract views, a lot of what he says rings true for me, and why I ended up abandoning my playthrough of The Last of Us about midway through. However, it was a comment that someone left on the article that really helped me pin down exactly why I stopped…
“Plus, let’s be honest, this game isn’t fun. It’s not supposed to be. When you leave a combat encounter you don’t feel like you just saved a busload of orphans or singlehandedly rescued democracy. You feel pretty shitty, and you should because this world is brutal and awful. It’s exhausting.”
My slightly current-gen gaming-jaded and misanthropic friend pointed out the comment, and had his own addendum to it.
“The moment you have to sit back and say “My game is not fun,” it doesn’t matter what you append to the rest of your sentence. You broke the one rule, the one purpose of a video game, no matter what the industry says.”
I haven’t been able to put my finger on it since I stopped a few weeks ago, but this is why I never felt like I triumphed over an encounter, and instead was always cussing in exasperation for having to do the encounter in the first place, wasting my supplies and generally just being a hassle.
Very mild, almost baby-friendly hot sauce-like spoiler below…
It’s even worse when they tell you to be scarce with your ammo, and then FORCE you into a room with a token “bull-rushing brute” zombie that just soaks up your bullets, and forces you to constantly move around to avoid its insta-kill, while also trying to shoot out a handful of weak spots on an ALWAYS moving enemy. It’s made even worse when the aiming mechanics try that “real-life sway” making it hard to aim and easy to waste those highly-coveted bullets. Of course, then they also toss in the grunt zombies every now and then to rush in on you in small waves, making matters worse. Was it intense? Sure, but not in a way that actually made me feel triumphant of my win. It would have been more intense for the encounter to have been about keeping the brute distracted while my cohorts constructed our escape, instead of forcing me to waste precious ammo on something that could kill me in one hit. Oh, and could also obstruct my field of view with a cloud of spores (there goes that perfect vantage point you had!). At least then actively trying to kill it could make you proud, because it’s something you did, not something you had to do. When I finally finished that encounter, I wasn’t proud of my accomplishment. I was bloodied and low on supplies. I just cussed out in exasperation.
I had more enjoyable and more intense moments playing Bleed than I did with The Last of Us.
Then there’s the fact that I’m not allowed to hold enough ammunition that makes me feel “comfortable” with using my firearms, or hold a lot of supplies for crafting, and yet my backpack can literally hold the world in it. If you’re going to make me feel like a wasteland wanderer with nothin’ left but his bones, you can’t cherry-pick maximum capacity. It makes players annoyed as hell knowing they can’t hold another 9mm round in their backpack, but it sure as hell can hold up to six long-barreled firearms, and a lead pipe. Oh yeah, that’s another thing…a lead pipe should not completely break after hitting a human skull eight times – it’s lead, it can take it. That’s a huge disconnect for anyone trying to immerse themselves in the realism the game makes you feel.
Speaking of immersion, it’s nice from a gameplay perspective to know that all of Ellie’s running around won’t alert enemies, making her the cause of undue encounters. However, it can really break the immersion the game sets up for you, because while Ellie is this precious soul that must be protected in the harsh and deadly world, she could very well not even be there. At least Elizabeth threw stuff at my face every now and then.
It’s especially awkward when Ellie’s AI gets jiggered, and she’s running back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Of course, glitches like that cause a disconnect with the player in pretty much any game they happen in.
The Last of Us has incredible presentation, some of the best of this generation, but I don’t like the gameplay enough. I care about the characters and the story being told, but it’s one of the only games I’ve ever played where the actual gameplay turned me off so much that I’d rather watch someone else with a better mastery of the game play it so I can just enjoy the story. Naughty Dog and all involved did a great job with the game, unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into it.
For you all wondering about the next preview for Sit-0, it should be up shortly. I’ve had a hell of a time just trying to find a new job to support myself with, while also babysitting my impishly clever nieces. I like getting paid to sit on babies. I’m about…85% done with the next preview, so just a little bit longer. Once again, I also feel stupid for having a lot of random things to say, but not bothering to say them here because I felt it would be odd to talk about those things, instead of putting up the next preview. Maybe I need to be more like George RR Martin…