By in large, I find that the video game media grabs hold of an idea or an opinion, and runs with it hard and directly to the consumers, essentially forcing their own opinions onto the masses. When enough people with authoritative voices in the industry keep saying the same thing, all while dismissing any counter-arguments from other sources or outlets, it's easy for the masses to be heavily influenced.
The hype for The Last of Us was unreal before it was released. It was touted for months before it was on store shelves as the Game of the Year front runner, and was promised to be a game of the generation. Everything about it people were excited for, as it was going to be the gold standard for how video games are made going forward. And yes, I bought in to the hype myself, and couldn't wait to experience the game first hand.
Everything I heard about it before hand only validated all the hype. It was receiving perfect scores left and right, and every prediction about it before it was released was being confirmed. Every single person in the video game media agreed, it seemed, that this game was a masterpiece from top to bottom, and when game developers in future generations would make games, they could turn to The Last of Us as a guide or an example of how to make a game. Long story short, everyone unanimously agreed this game was an all-time classic.
Well, hate to break it to you, dear readers, but I can't share that same sentiment.
Yes, the game is absolutely beautiful. It is one of the most gorgeous games I have ever played or seen, but in a dilapidated, apocalyptic kind of way, of course. The characters are phenomenal and the story telling is excellent. Even in the first 15 minutes of the game, it's hard not to find at least one tear running down your cheek. The world that Naughty Dog created is bleak, depressing, quiet and lonesome. It's emotional and powerful, scary and intense. Everything about it on paper proves why it is worthy of the "masterpiece" label. Unfortunately, it all seems like the perfect game until you actually play the game.
The game play of this game sucks. I'm sorry to anyone who thinks differently, but I found the game constantly frustrating and irritating. The combat system is below average, and it feels like they made the game, especially the violent encounters with the monsters and the humans, hard for the sake of being hard. Even when dropping the game down to easy, I still found the combat unfairly difficult, and the actual "rules" of the world impossible to live by. They expect you to play a certain way, but constantly force you to play in ways you aren't ready for, expecting or prepared for in-game.
I understand this world is supposed to be unforgiving and relentless, and they did a great job of recreating that feeling. But this is also a video game, and I should be able to actually enjoy playing the game. In fact, the best parts about the game were the parts where I was just watching, or even when I was in control but merely walking around peacefully and without fear, sightseeing the crumbling world around me. When I had to stop enjoying the world and actually participate in it, all I wanted to do was just go back to what I was doing before.
The way I look at it, a perfect game is one that makes me want to keep playing, makes me enjoy holding the controller even if it is emotionally draining. The fact that I would rather watch the cut-scenes of The Last of Us on YouTube to experience the story as opposed to playing it out myself, makes me wonder just how good of a game it is. Trust me, I see all the great things this game has to offer, but I think it's a disservice to not acknowledge the flaws of it. Praising a game for it's accomplishments is wonderful, but dismissing the shortcomings, especially when it comes to how the actual game is played, isn't fair to all other games that get it right.
I have been holding off writing about this game for a long time now, because I wanted to beat it first. Well, I am still stuck in an area that because of an autosave mishap, I can't seem to get past. I'm about 50% through the game, as I have been for a while now. I want to beat this game, but I don't know if I can table my frustrations long enough to push through the remaining hours of this game. It's exhausting just thinking about it, and while I gave it a shot this time around, I didn't get anything encouraging accomplished. I want to know how the story plays out, but I just don't want to play the game in order to get there.
Does this sound like a masterpiece of a game to you? Everyone else thinks so. I guess I'm just crazy, right?