Why I Left the Last of Us Behind

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…

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About jbsargent

Writer. Artist. All around charming lad.

Posted on July 26, 2013, in What's New? and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I ultimately dug the characters enough to play through to the end, but definitely had my share of frustrations with the stealth and combat. Part of it, though, was my own fault for not using all the stuff at my disposal. Smoke bombs and regular bombs are actually pretty incredible.

    I was so impressed with the story that I sat my gf down to play through it again, but she got so fed up with the gameplay that she ended up just deferring to me and I ended up playing through it again–still with much frustration.

    Still, that presentation!

    • I feel bad because it sounds like I’m doing a lot of whining about one particular event, but it was just sorta the cherry on that bad ol’ sundae for me – it was the epitome of why I stopped. I might try to come back to it some other time later, when I’m more inclined to deal with that stuff, but there’s such a disconnect between what can and can’t be heard by enemies that I was often too unwilling to try something. And of course “save you ammo, but shoot all these things.” I wonder if this is a game that I let all the praise and such get the better of me.

      I still do really want to see how everything plays out, because I suppose that’s the universally acclaimed element to the game, and I would like to experience that.

      I still need to look into Remember Me and Tomb Raider, though. Those were the other two big releases that caught my eye recently that I haven’t gotten a chance to take a run at.

  2. Damn, I’m currently playing through Last of Us, and I’m starting to feel exactly the way you described in this post. Many of the encounters feel more frustrating than genuinely challenging, and I also don’t like the automatic cover system, it makes doing stealth very difficult. I don’t know I might still finish it because something is still keeping me slightly motivated, but yeah, good post.

    • Motivation, of course, is a large factor in any game. Mine was just overshadowed a bit by all the frustration I didn’t quite feel like dealing with. Especially all the weird disconnects I felt with how my inventory is given to me.

      • Yeah, I think as I get older, I’m starting to have less tolerance for flawed game design mechanics. I honestly think if Last of Us just had more satisfying gunplay I wouldn’t dread the frequent enemy encounters so much. Also, how many times can the player be forced to watch the resident evil like death scenes of having their jaw ripped wide open, being beaten to death, or being bitten in the neck. I mean, if you’re going to make a game where the player is likely to die a lot, it would be nice to offer some variety in the death animations. Anyway, like I said above, only slightly motivated, if the game doesn’t start to feel better the next time I start to play, I’ll be joining you in that I didn’t finish Last of Us camp.

  3. I don’t think The Last of Us will age well. The problem is that, from a gameplay perspective, there’s no original spin on the formula to make it stand out from the oversaturated third-person shooter market. I just don’t see future gamers twenty years from now seeing why everyone ever thought so highly of it.

    I know it’s heresy, but I actually don’t think the story is all that great either, which isn’t good because the gameplay isn’t interesting enough to carry this game on its own (ironic, I know). The main problem with The Last of Us as a story is that it’s not written for video games; it’s written for a miniseries or a movie. Because of this, there are a lot of contradictions between the narrative of the cutscenes and implications derived from the gameplay. For instance, this game is called The Last of Us. Humans are implicitly nearing extinction if the game’s title and, indeed, the cutscenes, are anything to go by. What do you do the entire game? Kill humans. There’s no way that the humans in The Last of Us could have lasted for twenty years without driving each other to extinction. As a result, I would describe The Last of Us as unrealistically cynical.

    Trust me when I say that if you threw in the towel, there is no moment beyond the point you gave up that would have made suffering through the rest of it worth the effort.

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