The 3 ways The Last of Us breaks the rules

The Last of Us is awesome, but I’m sure you already knew that. If you haven’t had the chance to play it, I’m sure that someone has told you to go pick it up immediately. Not to wait a week or two, but to buy it now and take a couple of days off work.

The single player portion was reviewed by Will and it can be seen here: The Last of Us: Review!

The multiplayer portion was reviewed by Mark and it can be seen here: The Last of Us: Multiplayer Review

However, what sets this game apart? The graphics are awesome, the game play is pretty cool and the AI is average. That sounds a lot like most video games. What sets this game apart is the character development, the dialogue and the bold direction taken with the game’s ending.

From the first second of the game to the amazing ending, this game creates a strong connection between the player and the characters they are following. From the moment you are able to control Joel, you feel entirely invested in his story and find yourself itching to dive further into it. It’s an area that the people at Naughty Dog have really excelled at over the last few years with two completely different characters. Nathan Drake and Joel couldn’t be any more different, but they are developed in such a way that you get behind them and you feel for them. They make decisions that are always realistic and there will even been moments where you are frustrated with their actions and you will have no control over it. Like when Drake is dating anyone who isn’t Elena or when Joel wants to drop off Ellie on his brother, but we stick with them because they are like us. They make mistakes, they are emotional and they are genuine. Quite simply, they are real.

They seem more real than some of the people we see on CNN. This game offers more character development and depth than any other zombie movie I’ve ever seen. In this game, they relied less on the strength of the action sequences, like in Uncharted, and more on the strength of the characters they created. Just as I excitedly spoke to my friends about the amazing scene in Uncharted 3 where Drake falls out of the cargo plane, I also called each of them after I finished the game to ask if they killed the doctors at the end. The game showed us what Joel and Ellie were capable of, but also asked that question of the gamer and it really shined because of it.

By my standards, the best part of the game is the dialogue. As my colleague Will mentioned in his review of the game, Ellie steals the show every time she is on the screen. The script was superb and that was accentuated by the high quality of the voice acting. You find yourself hanging on every single word and not wanting to miss a second. I can remember purposely moving very slowly sometimes to make sure that I wouldn’t miss any moment where I could trigger a conversation between Joel and Ellie. There were some memorable scenes in this game, that ranged from absolutely hilarious, like when Ellie found a porno to extremely dark and moving, like when Ellie went back for Joel and declared that they stick together. Once more, Naughty Dog showed a different side to their abilities by moving away from the quick witted Nathan Drake and writing for a hardened older man and foul-mouthed young teenage girl.

The part that I applaud Naughty Dog the most for is the way they ended the game. Too many games write their ending so that they can make a sequel for it the year after, but not with this game. Instead of going the route of the bloated Assassin’s Creed series and making ridiculous endings that allow for 80 different sequels, they left it open-ended. Enough for the player to be salivating for more, but not feeling that it was made that way so they would be forced to purchase a sequel in a year. We have no idea what happened to the characters after that or whether or not there was anyone left at the plant, but we know where they stand with each other. Once more, it asks questions of the player as to whether or not they would’ve lied to Ellie as well. It leaves the game open to a sequel or open to the imagination of the gamer.

It was a bold choice that I’m sure was not well received by every gamer, but at least they took a direction based on their creative intents, rather than hoping to make a sequel. That is why I will always applaud Mass Effect 3‘s ending, more than Assassin’s Creed 3‘s ending because at least BioWare had the balls to actually end their money-making trilogy rather than promising a conclusion, but then just dragging it out more to make more money. We should all applaud Naughty Dog and their achievements with this fantastic game that I will find myself playing for quite some time.

It would appear I have some lingering issues with the Assassin’s Creed franchise but don’t let that take away from the general purpose of this article. The Last of Us is a once in a generation type game. They should be celebrated for their boldness and creativity. What did you think of the ending for The Last of Us?

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