The Last of Us

The Mona Lisa of the modern gaming generation. It really is an amazing piece of artwork and has one of the most gripping and emotional narrative I have ever come across in a game. Released in 2013 by Sony Computer Entertainment and developed by a company we all love, Naughty Dog, they really know how to knock our socks off and they did so with this game. Honestly, I cannot find any faults with this game and you probably wont find many gamers who will. The game is set in a post apocalyptic world where a strain of fungus (Cordyceps) has mutated into controlling human hosts when infected. The fungus itself is based on a real life fungus whose spores infect insects and grow into their brains killing the host but reanimating it for a short period of time to spread more spores into more hosts. In the game the mutated fungus turns its hosts into cannibalistic creatures who will stop at nothing to infect you or kill you, they are referred to as “Clickers” owing to the clicking sound they make after the fungus completely disfigures the hosts head into this:

Concept art of a Clicker 

468px-Clicker

They really are indescribable and are quite terrifying once you come across one of them.

The narrative starts during the day one outbreak, you follow Joel and his experience with the outbreak. The opening sequence is extremely emotional so I wont spoil it for you, but lets say it is definitely full of “feels”. You do get to play a part in the opening sequence and you control his daughter and then Joel himself in this part of the game. It really gives you a great depiction on how modern society would deal with a viral/fungal outbreak. Once you have finished the highly emotional opening sequence it fast forwards twenty years and society has barely survived, the world has been reclaimed by nature and humanity has been reduced to small settlements as the fungus has claimed majority of the worlds population. Joel and the rest of the surviving inhabitants of a small settlement he is now part of has to scavenge to survive barely able to keep the growing epidemic at bay. The scavenging becomes a major aspect of game as you make use of the surrounding resources to explore and fight off any enemies. The remaining survivors have retreated into quarantine zones which are heavily policed. Joel becomes a smuggler with Tess in the Boston quarantine zone and eventually comes across the infamous “Fireflies” a rebel militia group who are opposed to policed quarantined zones. Enter Ellie a rebellious teenager who is apparently immune to the infection. She immediately becomes humanity’s only chance at creating a cure and the survival of the human race. The story-line focuses on Joel and Ellie’s relationship and the quest to bring her to a facility where she can be used to develop a cure for the infection. Their relationship becomes a massive focal point of the game as you really grow attached them both, their struggles and the impending feeling that not all is what it seems in regards to this facility. As the player you want nothing more than to help both these deep intriguing characters to live happily ever after in this harsh now unforgiving world that they have been thrown into.

The graphics and audio are exceptional as expected for a top end game and really makes you feel part of their ongoing struggle. Despite the horrifying Clickers and monsters, the overgrown scenery and detail is beautiful, you really feel like you are there. Here is an example of the graphics to expect:

An artistic design of a location in the post-apocalyptic United States:

The_Last_of_Us_visuals

Audio in the game adds to the immersion and gives you a feeling of playing an interactive film with brilliant actors and a quality screenplay/script. It adds to the suspense, terror and even awe in many of the numerous different environments and situations you find yourself in.

The gameplay is really impressive, you play in third person controlling either Joel or Ellie depending on the situation. Just like any survival horror or RPG you rely on scavenging and crafting to make weapons and health kits to help you progress. Depending on the difficulty you chose at the beginning of the game determines how often you come across resources making it a real challenge for the most seasoned of gamer. During the game both Joel and Ellie work together (including some friendly NPCs you come across) to overcome obstacles and combat making their teamwork invaluable to completing the game even indirectly adding to the relationship between the player and the two protagonists as you increasingly understand how hard life is now and the only way forward is to work together. There are a fair selection of weapons both craftable and obtainable giving you many methods to avoid detection and to protect yourself from any enemy. The mostly destructible environment assists in protecting you and even becomes integral in formulating strategies to take on the most hardiest of enemies.

Overall, I give this a 10/10, this game really is deserving of all the accolades and Game of Year awards, its impressive and gripping in every aspect. Once you have played this game you can understand why it is so critically acclaimed and deserving of high ratings. I cant fault it and I am extremely excited for its sequel.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

Dec

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Now, since it has been a while since I have blogged about games I will start with a game I am currently playing.

Horizon: Zero Dawn released on 1st March 2017 by Sony Entertainment and developed by Guerrilla Games. Already a critically acclaimed game by big reviewing companies such as IGN, giving it a 9.3/10 and Gamespot giving it a 9/10. They have a good reason to give it such good ratings as from my first impression from playing it that it ticks 99% of what I like in a game.

Lets start with the storyline, you start the game as it builds around the protagonist “Aloy”, can’t help but think its a weird play on words of Alloy, I won’t spoil the game but there are similarities between her name/personality and backstory that strikes me that she is indeed a mix and match of materials, in my eyes the onomatopoeia fits. You learn that she is an outcast for reasons unknown and your guardian Rost is also an outcast again for reasons unknown. Even as I am half way through the main story I still don’t know why. I NEED TO KNOW… please tell me.

You then learn that this is a post-modern world setting where the “old metal world” was reclaimed by nature and reset the balance between ecosystems in an attempt to reverse the damage humans had caused. Humanity has been reduced to tribalistic ways and some animals have been replaced with machines. Strange right? I found it very intriguing and it compelled me to try to find out. Already a great start for me, its gripped me from the beginning and it is not like most of the modern games of today it doesn’t tell you everything you want and need to know in the opening cutscene, the game pushes you to explore and figure out the story for yourself.

You end up discovering what seems like a facility of the old world complete with futuristic computers, technology and complete with the charred remains of some of the inhabitants of that particular civilisation. You notice what looks like a handsfree bluetooth headset but as its a game its a lot cooler and obviously has a lot more going for it than meets the eye. I won’t spoil it for you but its tech becomes vital to the whole game.

The graphics are what you would expect from a Triple A game of the gaming boom. The detail is impressive and in parts it shows the natural beauty of the reclaimed lands and even shows the detail in the old derelict builds of the past civilisation. No two areas are the same in detail and you will find yourself in awe of the amount of detail of your surroundings before being jumped by a vicious Sabertooth Machine making visceral work of your body before you know it and then turning your body to dust, then having to start back from your last save point, frustrated that you got lost in the graphics of the game. To be fair despite the fact it is aesthetically pleasing the detail in damage is very limited if there is any your body doesn’t show damage and your health bar is the only indicator of damage you have received. Finally, the constantly changing weather adds to the overall aesthetics of the game adding to the gameplay and some of the tactics you apply to your gaming experience.

The gameplay is complex and interesting, you learn very early on that you need to make use of all the resources you come across. As it is based on a world where money is redundant and everyone has been reduced to trade. You do have a currency but it doubles up as a usable material for ammo for your weapons among other objects you either pick up or loot from dead humans or destroyed machines. You fight in real time with primitive and futuristic weapons however skill modifiers can assist and mix up the combat system quite effectively. The only negative thing I have to say about the combat system is how it works with the camera, I’m not overly sure this is intentional but owing the viciousness of the machines and their power they tend to either rush over towards you to tear you limb from limb with erratic attacks or blast you to dust with fireballs/lasers or plasma balls. The camera cannot keep up with the erratic behaviour of hostile targets and you can find yourself spinning around aimlessly getting ripped apart as you try and locate an enemy to take it down. I tend to dodge roll until I see the enemy again so I can make decision of how I want to attack.

Overall, the game is very good and definitely worthy of all the accolades it has received being the beginning of a new franchise. Including its difficulty level which you can choose at the beginning of the game allowing the bravest of gamers to attempt a very masochistic experience. I would recommend this game to mostly anyone who is a fan of RPGs with an intriguing storyline concept.

Anyways, I’ll stop rambling. I hope you enjoyed the read!

Dec