Published on June 30th, 2013 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor1
TRUTHrant: The Last of Us is Not a ‘Great’ Game
Oh boy, I’m going to make some people mad, I suppose. “Oh, look, Shawn Long is complaining about another game! What else is new?”
That sentiment is fine, because I’m not here to blindly bash something. However I can’t sit here and let other gaming journalists (including one of our own) praise this game and go crazy over it, because once you peel away the outer shell, you are left with nothing but missed opportunities and monotony. Yes, I am talking about Naughty Dog’s latest “masterpiece,” The Last of Us.
In one of my ‘Games That Could Have Been Great’ articles, I talked about a little “end of the world” title called I Am Alive. The Last of Us must have taken some inspiration from that game, because there are quite a few similarities: Both have a catastrophic event that leave the world a barren place, both are based on survival elements and both still manage to disappoint me because they were not done right.
While The Last of Us is a great leap from I Am Alive, it still manages to repeat one of the biggest mistakes that its spiritual predecessor suffered from. For starters, why the hell are we still stuck in a linear world? It is the apocalypse, the world has gone to crap and I’m still stuck on a damn predetermined path. Sure, The Last of Us manages to spread out a little more in certain areas, but for the most part you are wandering from point A to point B.
Imagine if you were in a vast world with tons of options to explore, places to hide and areas to search through. Instead of having just a small area to your advantage, you should have the freedom to really choose how to experience the game.
I understand that this is probably a pacing issue, but I don’t think anyone can honestly sit there and say that the game wouldn’t benefit more as an open world over a linear one. It’s not like the linear world of The Last of Us is huge, because it’s not. Yes, the environments are rich and visually appealing, but there is little to no interaction, which once again reminds me of I Am Alive. Beyond the game’s world, let’s talk about the monotony.
They should have included a mini-game in The Last of Us called “Dumpster, Crate, Ladder, Plank.” Why is this? Because if you are ever stuck in a situation and need to get up to an area you can’t reach or get across a body of water (of course your partner is a foul-mouthed little girl who can’t swim, but good lord can she shoot a gun better than any enemy), one of these four objects will be provided to assist you in advancing. Can I please have some more variety than these four objects? Also, why are they conveniently right next to the spot where I need to travel? I should be exploring for alternative options, not having things handed right to me.
My main beef with this game is that after two hours into it, you have seen everything gameplay wise that there is to experience. It just becomes boring to me. It rarely goes beyond the theme of “find supplies, craft stuff, fight some humans, find supplies, fight some zombies, find supplies, fight some clickers,” rinse and repeat. The story is pretty damn good and the cutscenes are amazingly beautiful, so they help hide some of the monotony by breaking up the pace of the game, but it doesn’t do enough.
Every area, while it may look different, feels the same: Somewhat exploratory, mostly cramped with limited interactivity. I can see how it helps with the atmosphere of the game, but it just feels way too restricted for an “end of the world” type of game. I’m not a Fallout fanboy by any stretch of the imagination, but, seriously, this game with an open world setting would have been amazing.
For all the great graphics, sound and story, the game somehow manages to fall flat on its face in the gameplay department. The tacked-on multiplayer is perfect example of how I feel about this game. Compare it to a model with no brain — beautiful, but shallow. The Last of Us is a good game no doubt, but great? Far from it.