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The Last of Us

Updated: Oct 4, 2019


Hello.  My name is Ellie.  I'm the first bad ass npc ally EVER!
An image of trust up close. Less so down range.

As someone who started rolling his eyes whenever the next zombie apocalypse whatever came up I have to say this game took me completely by surprise. It grabbed me in the opening scene and refused to let go even as the credits were rolling. Now I play games at the highest difficulty the first time. Sometimes this is frustrating. Sometimes it reveals bugs so bad I quit the game entirely. When I played The Last of Us through the first time it suffered from many of the issues that have plagued sneaking games since the dawn of . . . well, sneaking games. Enemies would sometimes see me through walls. Combat was a little kludgy. But the story was so on point I had to know how it turned out. So, when I couldn't take it anymore I lowered the difficulty and blew through what is probably the best story of any video game, ever. Ever.

EVER.

And yes, I'm aware (now) that the term 'zombie apocalypse' is not quite accurate, as the monsters in this game are not reanimated. Personally going to the trouble of finding something in the real world that could cause this only added to the realism of the game for me. And it didn't stop there. It did a masterful job of painting the picture of humanity on the edge of a precipice, and asking the question 'whose the more monstrous; the monsters, or the people who act like them?'.

Unlike most games the character growth isn't rushed, and the character interaction is fantastic. I personally waited every time an optional conversation presented itself. The graphics were spot on for the time, but personally I feel this game deserves a remaster with every new console.

Its biggest flaws were in the sneaking system (most have been fixed at this point) and the melee cancel ability of the infected. In multiple instances Joel would be mid-swing (all the way to the point where he was almost certainly feeling that gladiatorial anticipation of the crunching feeling of success being transmitted up his arm) when an infected got into its range, at which point his arms would be at his sides while he started getting eaten. I'm sure he was wondering how he'd come to this impasse; I certainly was.

Most of this you've heard before. This game is one of the highest rated games in history after all. But where I differ from most is in the ending. Everyone I've talked to says they can understand Joel's decision to save Ellie, but that they don't agree with it. They feel that Joel cheated humanity from its cure. Personally, I doubt the hacks the Fireflies were using were ever going to make a cure anyways. Think about it; these 'doctors' have Ellie for, at most, a couple of hours and their all hell bent to cut her head open. Two hours. How much could you have possibly learned at this point? There's a plethora of tests that could be run before we get to euthanizing the patient. If their go to response is to crack her head like a caveman with a coconut I highly doubt their chances of success.

Now, you may have found the surgeon's recorder which mentions past subjects. While unlikely, his comments about 'past subjects' might suggest their have been other such individuals (mayhap Joel wasn't lying through his teeth to Ellie later on after all) with some form of immunity. While this could explain skipping those tests (which any borderline competent doctor would still make) it does not raise my hopes for success. At some point you're just killing immune people out of frustration.

And lets not forget that immunities are often passed from mother to child, meaning that if Ellie had kids they'd probably be immune. While it may seem a more heinous crime, wouldn't it make more sense to turn these people into breeders than to exterminate the immunity Joseph Mengele style in a vain attempt to immortalize the Fireflies?

Because that's what this is really about. Throughout the game you come to the inescapable conclusion that the Fireflies are dying out. Everywhere they fail to incite rebellion on the military they are killed or scattered. And if they succeed their reward is inevitable betrayal by the people they liberated; hence all the firefly medallions you find strategically placed near dead bodies.

Just like the hunters, cannibals, and infected, the Fireflies are just another monster in the game to be overcome on the main characters' journey to reach the last of us: Tommy's settlement. Yes, they do reach it once before but that's before they see it for what it is; the last bastion of civilization: The Last Of Us.

This game earns a 95%; just writing this post makes me want to play it again. This is of course an exercise in masochism as I've sworn to myself to hold off until a month or so before the sequel is released; at that point some friends of mine and I are planning to stream a race of our play-throughs on YouTube.


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