No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

The Last of Us / Borderlands

Finished The Last of Us, which got almost as much pre-release hype as the Blair Witch Project. I think Somethingawful correctly said that this hype amounted to the Citizen Kane of Citizen Kane comparisons. Fortunately, I was not disappointed, because it is a really really really really good game. But like TBWP, it doesn't live up to the hype (nothing could!).

Great story, great acting, great art/design/graphics. But nothing terribly revolutionary in the story, gameplay, or feel. Sure, it's a perfect swish from the free-throw line, but how impressed can one get at that? Actually, I think the most impressively new thing is what you *don't* see. There are minimal 'HUD' elements on the screen, making the game more immersive. Sure you got your hitpoint thingy and weapon icon, but they're pretty unobtrusive. But no compass and map. This is sometimes annoying when it's not entirely clear where to go next, but fortunately(?) you are stuck on rails. There's only one way out, and you'll find it eventually. Your companions can sometimes help with that. If you wander by the exit (but miss it) they'll stay nearby and scornfully (I presume) watch you wander around hunting for more bullets.

Being stuck on the linear rails is a bit of a drag, because the game largely boils down to:
kill all the enemies in this area
watch a movie

But, as I say, it's at least a great story/movie to be watching in little dribs and drabs that you earn by killing things. Of course some of the story happens in gameplay as well. Without spoiling much, you're mostly leading a teen girl around, protecting her from enemies. She slowly learns survival skills from you, and ultimately becomes a psychotic killing machine just like you (okay, a bit of an exaggeration). But it is a bit of a shock the first time you see her launch herself onto some guy's shoulders and stab the shit out of him. I will say this, the enemies are not tin targets that drop down in a shooting gallery. A lot of the combat is pretty gritty and up close and personal. It feels real, and often unpleasant.

I played a little bit of the online multiplayer... enough to get my ass handed to me by 12-year-olds a few times. There seems to be an interesting 'campaign' element to this as well, as success in the multiplayer games translates into food that allows you to increase your little band of imaginary hangers-on in the game lobby. But I've barely scratched the surface there.

I also played quite a bit of Borderlands, based on Smaug's & Prime's recommendations. I enjoyed it, but it starts to get tedious/monotonous, as you carry out 'missions' that seem mainly designed to send you back and forth long distances across the maps so that monsters can fight you. The another annoying thing is: what is the point of leveling up, if the monsters all level up with you? ARgh! I love the elements of humor all over the place, and enjoyed the game, but it was not super-special. A solid B to Last of Us's solid A.
Tags: game, gamedesign

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