The Last of Us EP24: Not The Monkeys!

By Shamus
on Nov 21, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I want you to imagine crossing Colorado on horseback. Now imagine a situation where you have to go THROUGH a building and can’t go around it. I can’t accept it. That’s Loony Tunes. I mean, other people cross the country, right? This university isn’t the sole choke point between east and west. Having Joel and Ellie run out of food or water and forcing them to scavenge would have made for a FAR better excuse for this than having them enter a zombie den and be unwilling to go around.

And while I’m re-writing the game, here is how I would have handled the raider fight in the last episode:

Joel would ask why Tommy’s people had been so threatening at the main gate where they first met. Tommy would reply that he was worried about a group of hunters who moved close sometime last spring. They came knocking,wanting to join up. But there were just too many of them and it seemed like a bad idea to welcome all these heavily armed men into their community. Things have been touchy since then. Tommy’s hunters have crossed paths with them and a couple of fights have broken out. Tommy figures that’s all gonna come to a head sooner or later. There’s not enough around here for both groups, and the other group doesn’t seem inclined to move on.

This would accomplish several things:

  1. This would stop the raiders from feeling like videogame monsters. They would have some kind of history and place in the world. They’re idiots, but at least they’re some kind of comprehensible idiots.
  2. This also explains where (some) food comes from – hunting.
  3. It foreshadows the attack so it doesn’t feel quite so contrived.
  4. You might also be able to piggyback some character-building on this by mentioning that Tommy was in favor of letting the outsiders join but his wife was against it. (This would show that Tommy is trusting, his wife isn’t, and that she has a lot of say in how things are run, possibly more than Tommy.)

It’s not perfect, but I think it would smooth over my major gripes with that section.

You could probably fit all this exposition into 30 seconds. I’ll admit that’s a lot. Exposition is expensive in the sense that it gets very tedious very quickly, and there’s only so much the audience will endure before they get restless, zone out, or just skip the cutscene. That scene is already pretty long, and each moment is more taxing to the player’s patience than the one before. It’s entirely possible another 30 seconds spent talking about raiders in the middle of the power plant intro would have been too much.

If the producer had vetoed my 30 seconds of dialog, I would have just replaced Tommy’s line right before the fight. As it stands, it kind of sounds like he’s saying, “Oh, raiders. Yeah, that happens.” I’d replace it with something like, “Looks like those crazy assholes have finally gotten up the nerve to come over the wall at us. Knew this was coming.” That’s only a couple of extra seconds, and it would make it feel like this fight was a storm that had been brewing for a long time instead of another round of Call of Dude-shoot.

Another thing that would have helped would be to make some kind of major changes to Pittsburgh. That part of the game was so long and we killed so many pointlessly suicidal / homicidal dudes that it really made it feel like we were trapped on Planet Mook. If Pittsburgh had been shorter, the raiders had been better justified, and most of them were replaced with zombie-fighting, then it wouldn’t feel like we were meeting vast armies of mooks everywhere we went.

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20201252 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Stalevar says:

    Postapocalyptic game that acknowledges a role of theater? Like Metro? Teatralnaya – the entire station that does nothing but theater.

  2. Spammy says:

    Mary McGlynn is also a phenomenal singer. I have five favorite songs from the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories soundtrack and four of them are the ones that she sings.

    Kind of funny story with the Fleshbloatpounds. So my friend played through the game, then I played through it on a weekend I was staying over at his place (and got him to play the first season of Telltale’s TWD). He was generally always annoyed when I was able to either stealth or run past a Fleshbloatpound that he had to fight and had trouble with, including the one by the door there and the ones before the St. Joelshootsabunchofdudes hospital.

    • Otters34 says:

      Mz. McGlynn’s work is great, and always good to hear her voice when tip-toeing down bloody hallways listening for crackles of static. It’s a shame that the more she sings, the worse the game is. It’s a depressing trend.

    • JackTheStripper says:

      “Also a phenomenal singer”, meaning that she’s a good voice actress? No, I cannot disagree more.

      Delivering one-liners as side characters is fine, but nothing there stands out. And in one of the few times where she actually had to act and voice a central character, in the HD version of Silent Hill 2, she botched the whole thing. I’m partial to her singing in that I do enjoy some of her songs in the SH series, but her voice acting leaves much to be desired.

  3. Piflik says:

    On the bright side, the university features the most gorgeous shot I saw in this game (iirc). It is a dark narrow corridor, with red walls, and a singular square window in the middle of th end wall. Simple, and simply stunning (at least to me…ymmv)

  4. Re: Mike Rowe.

    What is it about his performances for Ford commercials that make him come off as a smarmy git with a superiority complex that inspires me to fantasize about punching him in the face? I don’t normally have that reaction to spokespeople, but man, is he irritating when shilling for Ford.

  5. Cyranor says:

    While the University of Eastern Colorado is fictional it appears to be based on University of Colorado Boulder. Same brick and red roofed buildings and similar courtyards.

    • CrazyYarick says:

      With the Ram mascot and the green, gold banner at the beginning it looks like CSU(Colorado State University). Although why the hell did they base it in CSU? CU(University of Colorado), the Airforce Academy, and Colorado School of Mines are essentially built into or right next to a mountain! They could have had super nice, giant towering mountains in the skybox/background! That would probably be the most Colorado thing you could possibly do.
      If you are the fireflies though why the hell are you building your super special lab/base of operations at a university? Especially when you have: military bases, NORAD, several high to maximum security prisons, and hell almost any place else to build your base. Any where you build would probably be close enough to a medical or research facility so you can scavenge your supplies from there. Why an open plan campus? Why bother building the barricades? There are literally hundreds of places that have already built those for you. It’s kinda silly.

      • Cyranor says:

        I’m from Fort Collins Colorado and can tell you its not CSU, they borrowed the mascot from CSU but looks like they used the campus for University of Colorado Boulder for the building inspiration. Also CU Boulder is much closer to the mountains than CSU is which is what is shown in the game

        • CrazyYarick says:

          I don’t know the look of the CSU campus but the mountain size and proportions look like that of Fort Collins rather than Boulder. I live in Longmont and that’s about what they look like out my front window. Overall though I think that the point is moot since it is a fantasy college. So it is based somewhere in the north east of Colorado. I think the bigger question should be whether the grass would look like that after 20 years of no care or irrigation. Colorado is a fairly dry state.

  6. Chris says:

    Fictional college may be based off CSU though loosely.

  7. tmtvl says:

    You’re welcome, Ruts.

  8. Mersadeon says:

    I love looking at universities. For some reason, university architecture is fascinating to me.

    My own University is just a grey mess of concrete – almost everything is in one gigantic building, and all auditoriums are positioned so you can walk in from the main hall. The main hall looks like a gigantic train station, but instead of going to the platforms you go into so called “teeth” of the building, one tooth per department.

  9. ehlijen says:

    The trees aren’t rustling in the wind. They’re alive and trying to shoo you away :p

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,joel finally does something right.Well I respect that.Congratulations joel,I no longer think you are a dick.From now on,Ill see you as just a douche.Thats a big improvement.

  11. Thomas says:

    I don’t get Shamus’ comment about having to go through a building in Colorado and the Uni being the choke point between East and West? I think maybe Shamus was taking the other guys explanations to mean something different

    You’re looking for the Fireflies inside this university, because this was their last base of operations. The building is a building in that university. You’re going through the building because inside the campus some parts of the campus have been boarded off to fortify against zombies.

    They’re trying to get from one part of a university campus to another part of the university campus. Not trying to get across two points in Colorado.

    I think maybe you and Josh were talking at cross purposes a bit?

    • Tizzy says:

      I agree. I don’t think there is too much to read ito here. The campus was fortified by students and others after the initial outbreak. The Fireflies reinforced some of that after moving in, and made sure that their secret lab could not be accessed easily. This defensive setup might even have been a key reason for choosing to settle here in particular: they have to worry about zombies, raiders, and possibly whatever authorities they are rebelling against.

    • Shamus says:

      Oh!

      Ok, now it makes sense. I was thinking we just needed to get around the University. I missed the detail that we thought the fireflies were based here.

  12. Thomas says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen the flamethrower fired. I assumed that flamethrower ammunition would be super scarce, so I saved it for the last level. And then I was going through the game and I stealthed through two big levels and figured ‘the big fight scene is coming up soon’. And then the credits rolled.

    And I’d never fired the flamethrower -_-

    • MichaelGC says:

      Impressive to see the varsity Synchronised Dying-to-Flame team in action, there. (A difficult sport to master – practice sessions are a bit of a nightmare, and even when you win there’s a particular additional challenge when it comes to defending the title.)

      • Tulgey Logger says:

        I noticed that too. That kind of coordination is pretty impressive.

        On the other hand, I can’t imagine that spraying zombies with fire would even remotely ever be a good idea. Real people are sensitive to pain and fear and so are relatively easy to subdue with a flamethrower. Zombies? It seems like you would just be making them more dangerous for the short period of time in which their bodies could still function, because they’re not just zombies now: they’re burning zombies.

        • Alex says:

          At least you acknowledge that the zombie will die. There’s a certain type of person who seems to think that the only way to incapacitate a zombie is to destroy the brain, and that cutting tendons, crushing bones or cooking muscle are ineffective methods of rendering zombies harmless. These people are stupid.

          • Ivan says:

            It depends on which kind of zombie you are dealing with and how much voodoo magic it takes to get them to run. But yeah, there are plenty of ways to subdue a “realistic” zombie, the reanimated dead though? Yeah it’s completely up to the author exactly how unstoppable they will be.

            RE: TLoU though, I would still bet on the flamethrower being that effective even if the zombies don’t feel pain or fear. That amount of fire would probably destroy their eyes pretty fast, effectively blinding them, and if they inhaled any of it, they could severely damage their lungs. I think that would put them down pretty quickly, if not render them fairly non-threatening on account of being blind and easy to avoid.

            • Grudgeal says:

              Without active lysosyme production (i.e. your tears) your eyes are basically a big ‘come eat me!’ buffet for bacteria, so most zombies would probably go blind in a matter of days.

              This, of course, assumes the zombies operate under such specific rules that they are somehow dependent on their eyes to see while being so metabolically dysfunctional that their tear ducts or eyelids do not work any more. Which, when you think about it, is a very oddly specific and rather paradoxical way for them to work. I thought TLoU zombies were all blind to begin with.

              • Tizzy says:

                The recently infected (whatever they’re called in their nomenclature) are not blind. The older ones are the clickers, and they are blind and they click for echolocation. (Some blind people IRL use this with a surprising degree of success, so why not?)

                I am not sure that the games specifies the typical length of time that separates the two stages. The game throws a lot of both at the players (for gameplay reasons), which suggests that most cases you meet are recent infections. Either way you cut it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The infection should not be able to maintain shambling corpses mobile for years, but if all these cases are really recent, where did the fungus find this many people to infect?

                Which brings me to some of Shamus’s complaints about raiders: sure they don’t make sense, but replacing them with zombies wouldn’t help realism either.

        • diogenes says:

          Don’t light zombies on fire. You’d just be giving them firearms.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Not all zombies are immune to pain.Remember headcrab zombies?

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,Im pretty sure that ellie knows how to swim,she is just lying because she doesnt want to be submerged in the swamp water you regularly keep stumbling upon.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rutskarn,how long have you been sitting on that spore joke?

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,that note at 20:26 proves that you survived the apocalypse,but sadly your wife was zombified.

  16. Kunedog says:

    Reign of Fire acknowledges the role of theater, but AFAIK it’s only used for bedtime stories for the kids.

  17. Tizzy says:

    So Mumbles likes to eat lean. does she? Doesn’t matter, I’d still be terrified of meeting he in a dark alley…

  18. Brad says:

    You asked if Troy Baker sang, Shamus? I give you TLoU’s alternate ending. Obvious spoilers for those who haven’t played through the game.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8XN7eoZr0Y

  19. Mr Compassionate says:

    I like the idea of the bandits coming uo to the gate and proposing the idea ‘Hey we are a bunch of hunters, we wanna join up with you guys!’ which is of course a trap and they actually want to turn on the guards and take over the plant. I agree that that would definitely make them feel less like video game monsters and show that they have been trying different angles on this place before Joel and Ellie turned up. It’s a fortified installation, it would make sense for them to try deception and diplomacy before attacking head-on because even if they DO outnumber the dam group and WILL be able to overrun them that is no reason to waste personnel and ammo on the idiocy we see in the actual game.

    I mean really, how did they even get in?

  20. Grudgeal says:

    My sympathies really lie with Ellie in this. I never understood how all those ‘down’ rules in handegg work either.

    In football, the ball is round, the game lasts 90 minutes, and everything else is pure theory. Much easier all around.

  21. krellen says:

    The one great regret of my life is that the one time I was on the Diecast to talk about System Shock 2, I completely forgot to say anything about the monkeys.

  22. qosiejfr oiq qp says:

    Babies must sleep. Babies must rest. Wise is the one that does not waken them.

  23. Wolf says:

    On the one hand I find the idea of arriving in Pittsburgh shortly after the violent uprising intrigueing. What with the faction tensions as excuse for man shoots (and maybe even female shoots!) and the looming panic as the survivors realize that their foodsource has been destroyed in the infighting.

    On the other hand meeting any friendly groups in Pittsburgh would make Joel and Ellies voyage less lonely, which I feel would not work. So we would have to contrive reasons for every group other than Henry and Sam to fight us to the death…

  24. guvnorium says:

    My university is like Rutskarn’s- the north campus where my classes are is designed as a wind tunnel, with what was the administration building upwind of most all the other (original) buildings. The old dorms are also far enough away from campus that there could be some sort of line of, say, National Guardsmen positioned in between there and campus.

  25. Galad says:

    It’s been a rocky few months, but I’ll get around soon enough to supporting both Shamus and Ruts :)

    Also, finally got around to watching the second half of this season so I can read the experienced points on the ending.

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