Unfortunately I have to postpone the Character Study to tomorrow. Worked at work all night and worked on homework all morning. I am exhausted and need sleep.
The Last of Us takes a different route from most modern games. Instead of pushing the player through the environments, the emphasis is placed more on being slow and steady in your decisions. There is no pausing when the player decides to stop what they’re doing and craft items. This leads the player to either try to craft everything before a fight or have to find a secluded spot to work in peace. It is possible to get through almost every situation without needing different items but this would take a high level of patience from the player. At the start of the game I found myself wanting to play each encounter perfectly, yet as I progressed I developed an urge to progress in the story. This urge counterbalanced the gameplay because each time I tried to rush a situation I would find myself dying.
The actual gunplay in The Last of Us leaves much to be desired, but I believe this was intentional. Your firearms are the most effective weapons in the game if they can be used correctly, yet the lack of an auto-lock on system or anything else that most modern shooters have spoiled us with makes guns more difficult to use. By the end of the game I had gotten used to how to use them but at the start I was thrown for a loop. Add to this the scarcity of ammo at the start of the game and the mentality to conserve ammo was inscribed in my brain.
The Last of Us also incorporates several different melee weapons. There are two types; single hit kills and multi hit kills. Weapons like hatchets and machetes will give you a certain amount of instant kills while weapons like bats and pipes will give you a certain amount of strikes. My biggest complaint with these, even if I understand why it was done, was how something like a metal pipe really didn’t last all that long. I understand that Joel was using these weapons as hard as he could and wasn’t trying to conserve their durability yet it would seem like metal would last longer.
The upgrade mechanics in The Last of Us are also very well done. As the player progresses through the game they will discover supplement pills. These pills can be saved up and used on certain upgrades such as max health points and crafting speed. The main problem with this was that some upgrades had much more value to my game then others. Because I tended to craft items outside of battle, the upgrade to crafting speed seemed useless. However, the shiv upgrades, which allowed shivs to be more useful against attacking clickers, became my main go to when upgrading Joel.
The weapons in The Last of Us can also be upgraded using “spare parts” found in the world. These parts are universal and are not restricted to being used for specific weapons. Also, there are tiers of upgrades that require a certain amount of upgrade kits to be found. This means that if the player wants to fully upgrade a weapon then they will need to thoroughly explore because both the spare parts and repair kits can be missed.
I was not able to fully upgrade more than a few of my weapons in my single playthrough. I assume that this is part of how Naughty Dog is trying to get players to participate in a New Game + playthrough. This is understandable and I do intend to eventually play through the game again to get better upgrades and to find more of the collectables.
Before I played the game I was concerned about how gameplay would be affected by having another character always following me around. Like most people, I have an extreme dislike for escort missions. I always feel like they are a cheap way for a game to introduce stress into a situation and they can become quite annoying to play due to character A.I. leaving much to be desired.
Ellie never presents any of these problems. Ellie, or any other character that’s with Joel, are actually making you escort them in a gameplay sense. Ellie can be captured and need to be rescued but this only happens in extreme situations. Most often, Ellie stays in cover and lets Joel do all the work. After one point in the game Ellie can also provide some support in combat as well. This system can break the immersion at times because if the enemies have yet to detect you then they will not detect Ellie, even if she’s right in front of them. I know that some people are a little upset at how this can break the immersion but Naughty Dog had to do one or the other. I would rather have Ellie break the immersion than to have a 16 hour-long escort mission.
One of the game’s more peaceful moments, highlighting that these people are still human no matter the acts that they’ve had to commit in order to survive.
The varied cast of characters is what makes The Last of Us more than a game. Troy Baker, previously known for voice acting Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite, and Ashley Johnson voice Joel and Ellie, respectably. Joel is both a complex character and a simple one, all at the same time. Ellie is someone who was robbed of an innocence that she never really had. They are two completely different people who are thrust into a situation that requires them to confront their demons.
Joel begins as the game as a man being taunted by events more than two decades old. He has moved on in life but not in spirit, always being followed by memories that do nothing but torture him. Joel is anything but a kind and gentle man; he is a man of violence that is just trying to do what’s right for him. He understands that he lives in a world that is vastly different from what he was raised in and he has changed with it. I can only imagine what his previous self would think of how he turned out and what his reaction would be.
Ellie never saw the world before the infection. She has lived her entire life in a world of pain and hardship. There are many times while exploring that Ellie asks Joel about how things used to be and things that we would take for granted often surprise her. When coming upon a crashed boat, Ellie asks Joel about whether everyone had a boat. She literally has no idea whether boats where a commodity that was really common or really rare. The world before the infection is completely unknown to her. This fact has caused her to be raised into a young girl that’s completely different from what we expect her to be. Ellie will often curse malevolently when violent events are committed. Ellie never lived in a world where this kind of language was looked down upon; it’s just a way of life.
There are more than just Joel and Ellie when it comes to characters. Naughty Dog places several different characters into the game that actually truly give the game more depth. Issues such as homosexuality are dealt with in a series matter. When one of the characters reveals his sexual alignment, it’s not even questioned by the characters. In a world that these people live in this sort of thing is completely meaningless. To make a big deal over such things could endanger lives. Naughty Dog implements many different parts of the game that make the characters much more believable.
More intricate art of a clicker.
The Last of Us takes place in a post apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by an outbreak of zombie like creatures. This type of situation for a video game is nothing new, yet Naughty Dog takes the approach of basing their infection off of an already existing fungus. The cordyceps of South America, which usually only effect small bugs, makes a transition over to humans. The main story of The Last of Us concerns the journey that Joel and Ellie must take across a broken country in order to achieve a goal that could change everything. Over this journey they take a deeper look into themselves and what their real goals and ambitions are.
The world that The Last of Us takes place in has been completely affected by the infection and the infected comes in many forms. First of all, there are several stages of the infection. At the onset of the infection the individual gets a typical mindless rage and is called a “runner.” After that the fungus will begin to grow out of the eyes and face of the individual. This causes them to lose their eyesight and only be able to navigate through use of echolocation and are now called a “clicker.” If the clicker is able to stay alive long enough they turn into what’s called a “bloater.” After this point, the individual will eventually die. When this happens the fungus will begin to grow out of them and spread spores into the environment.
When I first came upon one of these corpses I had to actually take a step back. Naughty Dog pulls no punches when it comes to more graphic material in The Last of Us. From the graphicness of blowing off someone’s head with a shotgun or beating up someone in a life or death fistfight, the violence in The Last of Us is vicious. This is done not to elicit praise from mindless 13 year olds or to receive hate from concerned old people but to add to the storytelling.
Joel and Ellie live in a violent and dangerous world. There are not many bright spots in these people’s lives, and thus the fighting in The Last of Us is more life or death instead of jovial attacking without any feedback. This reveals Joel as the violent man that he truly is; the man that this world has made him become.
Over the course of the game the player truly sees the characters change and realize themselves. I would never think of spoiling in ending but I will only say that it blew me away. I was expecting a certain outcome that almost every game goes after yet it takes a left turn and does something unique. This is one of those games that deserve a sequel, yet it shouldn’t have one. The story is compact and is sewn up really well.
To confuse Ellie as an innocent young girl is to ignore the depth in her character.
I cannot recommend this game enough. When The Last of Us was first announced all the way up to its release I was not very excited due to the fact that I never had a PS3. Since I finally had a job and some income I actually went out and bought a PS3 just so I could play this game (and other PS3 exclusives).
I do have a major caveat with The Last of Us; this is not a game for anyone who lacks maturity. This game has more than earned its M rating due to the deep issues it confronts and the violence it presents. However, if you are someone who appreciates how storytelling in games can move someone and tell a story truly worth being involved in, then you have to check this game out.
BioShock Infinite was great, yet The Last of Us was amazing. However, I cannot say that The Last of Us beats out BioShock when it comes to Game of the Year because they are really different games. Both BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us are more than worth playing. If I was to recommend a game to someone who I didn’t think had the maturity then I would recommend BioShock Infinite over The Last of Us, yet if they can handle the violence and the more depressing and dark issues, then I would go above and beyond to recommend The Last of Us.
- Tense Combat Situations
- Believable Characters
- Unique Story Elements
- Very Mature Violence Level Not For Everyone
It takes real skill to take a story that’s been told countless times and turn it into something timeless. The Last of Us, is able to transcend from a simple premise into something far more meaningful. The Last of Us is undoubtedly the most mature game I have ever played yet it has impacted my thinking much more than the majority of other games do. While some games are intended to pick up and not think about serious issues for a while and just have fun, The Last of Us is more concerned with making you think about what it means to be human. The Last of Us is on the fast track for Game of the Year, we’ll just have to see what the second half of games looks like.
I have died. The cause of my death has become unknown to me since my reawakening. I remember nothing from my life before my death. All I can remember is the stench of this cell. The only sounds to entertain me have been the mindless moans of past occupants who have gone hollow and each outburst reiterates the fear that I have in my heart. What purpose do I have in death but to decay?
Suddenly the roof above me opens up. A new victim has arrived. Unlike me this poor soul has already passed. Maybe he has something of use…
I find on this poor soul’s body a key, but what is it for? The door to my cell opens to my new inquiry.
I make my way down a hallway. There is only one direction to go and only one task I can achieve. I put the other husks around me to death, for that is the only mercy that I can give them. Their minds are gone and they’ll know no peace. I find a ladder to a courtyard above.
A bonfire; a sign of hope.
Giant doors are before me. It takes all my strength to move them. Broken pots are all around me and the air is overwhelming me with an eerie sense of danger. Before I can reach the other end of the room a giant demon jumps down onto the floor with me. This beast is several times my size and at least ten times my size. I have no hope against such a beast.
I run for a door to the side of the room. Escape is overcome by a need for evasion.
A new bonfire awaits me. I take a moment to rest and overcome my fear. I continue on.
I find a cracked round shield. Finally I can protect myself to some extent. This gives me a little hope. I move on. In front of me are more hollows, yet these ones are trying to kill me. My efforts to dispatch them first goes from an action of mercy to an action of survival. I find a hand axe as well, gifting me with some real offensive potential.
A hollow tries to roll a boulder down some stairs at me, yet he misses thanks to my reflexes and luck. The boulder opens a hole in a wall that reveals a dying knight. I have a suspicion that this knight is the same one who gave me the key earlier.
The knight speaks,
“Oh, you… You’re no Hollow, eh? Thank goodness… I’m done for, I’m afraid. I’ll die soon, then lose my sanity. I wish to ask something of you. You and I, we’re both Undead… Hear me out, will you?”
I answer him that I would listen to him. He continues.
“Regrettably, I have failed in my mission. But perhaps you can keep the torch lit. There is an old saying in my family… ‘Thou who art Undead, art chosen. In thine exodus from the Undead Asylum, maketh pilgrimage to the land of Ancient Lords. When thou ringeth the Bell of Awakening, the fate of the Undead thou shalt know.’ Well, now you know… And I can die with hope in my heart… Oh, one more thing, here, take this, an Estus Flask, an Undead favourite. Oh, and this (key). Now I must bid farewell, I would hate to harm you after death…So, go now… And thank you…”
I continue on my journey to escape. I open a locked door with the key he gave me and make my way onto a balcony above the ground floor. I stumble upon a pyromancy hand, I must have been a pyromancer in my previous life. I lean out over the floor where I was earlier and I can see the demon below me. I take a leap of faith because the only way out is through this beast.
Through an effective mix of a plunging attack and fireballs, the demon falls easily.
On the other side of the asylum lies a sheer cliff. A giant raven comes to me and lifts me skyward. After a journey of a length of time which seems impossible to determine, we arrive at our destination.
Covenant – None
Level – 4
Souls – 278
Vitality – 11 Attunement – 12 Endurance – 11 Strength – 14 Dexterity – 9 Resistance – 12 Intelligence – 10 Faith – 8
Humanity – 0
Right Hand – Hand Axe, Pyromancy Hand
Left Hand – Cracked Round Shield
Armor – Tattered Cloth Set
Stay awhile and listen…
As far as I can remember it was a normal spring day. I was around the age of 10 and lived in a meager but adequate single wide trailer. My cousin and his family also lived with us, and even though I’m sure our parents loathed living in such a small space we had a great time.
We spent lots of our days working on and building forts in the woods. We where preparing for the imminent invasion of “them”. We didn’t know who they where but we knew that we had to be prepared.
My cousin and I decided to head out to my brother’s fort to hang out for a bit. My brothers fort was a little farther than the rest of the forts and thus we had to travel through some thicker forest. We trudged through the thorns and outright nastiness that the forest can have here in east Texas and made our way into more of a clearing. This wasn’t where it was actually clear, there was just no thorns. The woods opened up a bit to a small ravine that separated the fort from us. The elevation dropped maybe 10 feet over 10 yards on either side of this ravines and large rocks where scattered around.
As we came into this area we saw some shape behind one of the rocks. For a second we looked at it in complete mystery. We where shocked when the shape stood up. I only got a few seconds at most to look but I distinctly remember a long arm and side of a bipedal body. I never got a look at the face before this thing ran off.
The speed that this thing ran in hard to describe. I saw it take steps in a run but by the time I looked where it had went it was gone already.
My cousin and I looked at each other in the face. I distinctly remember his face being as white as piece of copy paper. I can only assume that I looked similar. We simultaneously screamed the only thing that our mind could come with to explain what we had just seen, “bear!”
We turned and ran. Those thick woods that I talked about before that gave us trouble? Yeah, we tore through those like they weren’t even there. We where terrified.
What was it that we had seen? There’s no real way to know. I know that it wasn’t a bear because bears can not run on two legs. Could it have been someone in a suit trying to scare us? Yeah, I guess that’s possible. If you accept that then I have to ask you what percentage of chance you deem as “possible” because it would have to be a lot lower than mine.
Did we see a Sasquatch? Personally, I would subscribe to that idea. My theory is that we came upon a juvenile that was either investigating us or investigating other parts of civilization because it didn’t know any better; it had yet to learn to stay away. We scared it and it scared us. The reason I think it was a juvenile was that, after going back to the site, this thing was only about 5 feet tall.
If you have any better ideas about what this was and have a good argument to support it then bring it up in the comments section below.
And by the way, thanks to everyone who reads what I write. I know that a lot of this is garbage but I do intend on trying my best to put more time into this. The reason that my review for The Last of Us hasn’t been posted is that I’d like to write a quality review and not just something I spit out. If you helped me at all reach the 1,000 view milestone then pat yourself on the back.
To the next 1,000!
What use is a blog if not for shameless self promotion?
A little over a year ago I participated in the production of my college’s honor’s department film on Morris Sheppard, the father of the American prohibition against alcohol. Not many people outside of this part of the world know who Sheppard was, and even most people who live here have forgotten the most influential person to come from here. This was the reason that we decided to make our film about him.
I helped with the research that we did with original documents at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as had the role of producer, camera operator, and editor. I also acted in a few scenes as well but my scenes are pretty bad.
This was the only time I’ve really done something like this so I know it’s unprofessional. We entered our film into some state history competitions but ultimately didn’t win. I feel like the film platform wasn’t as accepted as a standard research paper.
So yeah, give this a watch if you have time. We did dramatize a bit but for our resources that was necessary to tell the story. All in all, I hope this film teaches a little unknown history to people who thought that they knew it all.
I want to apologize for the lack of posting over the last few days. I made myself post today because I had to stick to schedule. I should of posted yesterday but I was still getting over the weekend.
Here’s the story.
So I get off of work on Friday morning and was exciting to go visit my cousin. He’s in nursing school and we almost never get to hang out so I was really looking forward to it. I loaded up my PS3 (brought The Last of Us) and made the 40 minute drive or so to his place of residence.
It was a slick morning in northeast Texas as I arrived. I got out of my car and placed my beverage on its top. I opened my trunk and took our my PS3 and began the journey down the steps towards the front door. It was then that I realized that I forgot my drink, oh the horror! It was that one though and the mindless twitch in my feet that resulted from it that sent me sliding. My feet came out from under me and I was confronted by a choice. I could either catch myself or hold on to the PS3 box.
Turns out, I’m a true gamer.
I lay there with the breath knocked out of me for the first time in a very long time. After I could get up I made my way into the house. I positioned myself in the only position that was comfortable, laying down, and proceeded to wait for my cousin to arrive.
My cousin is a late sleeper and he didn’t arrive till about 1 pm. I ended up being awake for most of the day and that fracked up my sleep schedule. All through the weekend I dealt with a hurt back and trying to get back into the normal schedule that I had. It took me till yesterday to get everything back together, I even missed a day of work.
So that’s my lame story of why I’ve been off of my normal posting routine. Instead of trying to catch up, I’m just going to stick to normality from here on out. I’ll do my best to put the time into a review for The Last of Us that gives it justice and it should be out on Friday.
I should be getting to bed…
(So, as a disclaimer, if you haven’t played Red Dead Redemption then watch out for major spoilers.)
What does it take to find redemption? If one spends their entire lives committing acts that damn them to the fringes of society then what does it take for society to accept them? Can one ever truly atone for their sins? These are all questions that are asked of John Marston. It’s not the fact that Marston ever felt truly sorry for what he had done. He accepted his actions as the past and deemed to move on and start a new life. It was the “normal” world who had to decide whether Marston had earned his place among them.
John Marston spent the majority of his life in the gang of Butch van der Lin. John and his future wife, Abigail, joined this gang at a young age after running away from the orphanage that they lived at.Butch raised John almost as a father figure, teaching him to shoot, read, and in general how to take care of himself.
John ran in Butch’s gang and helped commit many crimes. John robbed and murdered during this point in his life, yet Butch always made it appear that they where doing a good work. They never purposefully attacked the weak and chose to feed upon the more affluent. They saw themselves as the Robin Hoods of the west.
After a robbery went bad and Marston was shot, Butch left him to die. Marston lived from this wound and decided that he and his wife should have a normal life. He wanted to start a ranch and teach his son how to live an honest life and not to live a life like he had. However, Marston could never escape his old life.
Edgar Ross, the head of the western division of the newly established Bureau of Investigation, blackmails Marston into his service. Martson’s family is captured and held with their lives as the payment for bringing down the gang of Butch van der Lin. Marston spends the majority of Red Dead Redemption tracking down the other members of the gang and eventually brings them all to justice, including Butch himself.
Marston gets his family back and there’s hope that his dream of a normal and honest life can be realized. Marston begins to teach his son to rise cattle and to hunt and to take care of himself. Yet, even when things seem brightest your shadow is always near.
Edgar Ross returns, alongside the US Army, in search of the last of the van der Lin gang; John Marston. John desperately tries to hold them off but eventually finds himself overrun. Marston makes his family escape and decides to confront Ross and try to reason with him. Instead of reason, Ross orders his execution.
Marston never could escape his old life, but did he find the redemption that he had been searching for? In my mind his redemption came in the from of his son, Jack. Witnessing the death of his father, whom he was beginning to come close to emotionally, Jack dedicates himself to get revenge. Eventually as an adult, after waiting till the time was right, Jack confronts Edgar Ross and challenges him to a duel. By this time Ross is old and slow and Jack shoots him down. The revenge was met.
John Marston’s redemption was found through his son’s revenge. John raised Jack to be an honest person, not someone who would murder Edgar in cold blood. John raised Jack to get revenge, but to do it through honor. Jack could of easily murdered Ross in his sleep but he decided to face his father’s murderer one on one.
This is the legacy of John Marston, a man who only wished to have a normal life. The normal world rejected his offer; John had nowhere to go. John had killed all of his old companions and was betrayed by the only agreement he had left. Yet, John still had his family and his family still had the lessons that John taught to them. That was the redemption of John Marston.
Oh yeah, John Marston exterminated the entire Sasquatch species so… there’s that.