on Jan 9, 2015
Apologies to the people of Germany. The end credits music has blocked this video in your country. I realize this must be really irritating, but at least this has put an end to music piracy in your country. So you have that going for you.
And so it ends. Is it weird that our most positive season of Spoiler Warning is about a console exclusive that less than half of us have played? It feels weird to me.
And now I’m playing through it myself. There are a lot of little details you don’t get to see in our play-through, or by watching the cutscenes online. When you’re playing on your own you’re probably going at a slower pace, taking in the sights, and maybe even re-starting from checkpoints if things go sideways. Playing like this, I’m seeing little bits of dialog and little animations. Ellie in particular is good at looking busy without dropping into “blank-faced NPC idle” mode.
Since this is probably the last time we’re going to talk about the game, and since I’m finally getting around to playing it myself, I feel like I should say something about the gameplay. But I really hate to end on a down note. I dunno. It’s up to you. Stop here and bask in the happy ending of seeing a game successfully melting our blackened hearts, or read on and listen to me repeat gripes Josh and Chris covered weeks ago. This is it. Turn back now and leave with happy thoughts. I don’t mind. Thanks for watching.
Really. You don’t need to read the rest. It’s the rants of a whole season, distilled into a single post, written mostly while still angry. That can’t be good. Go in peace, and knowing that we really do love The Last of Us.
Yeah, I knew you couldn’t resist the urge to read a rant. So let’s do this…
I’ll just put all my cards on the table now: This gameplay is just awful. Not just bland, but really, really irritating. I’m angry whenever I’m not in stealth. Everything feels wrong and awkward and fussy. The weapon sway. The long recovery time when you get hit. They way foes can easily juggle you. The sheer difficulty of lining up headshots (which is relatively easy on other games) due to recoil, weapons sway, and rapid enemy movement. It feels like trying to type a text message “STOP PUNCHING ME IN THE ARM” to a guy who keeps punching you in the arm. Only he won’t stop until you send him a message with no typos. The biggest reward of successful combat is that you get to stop doing it and get back to the parts of the game that aren’t horrible. The worse the combat is, the more to try to stick to stealth, which means you’re not really practiced at combat, which makes everything worse, etc.
If you say, “That’s what the designers intended. You’re not supposed to fight everything.” Well… mission accomplished? They made a shooter that is completely miserable to play as a shooter and a stealth game where failure means you have to play a miserable shooter. At this point I’d gladly trade the fire button with a button to quickly re-load the last checkpoint, because this shooting is a worse punishment than a game over screen.
I just ragequit the game a couple of minutes ago. I’m doing a subway sectionJust after we part ways with Tess, back in episode 8 of this play-through. where I’m starving for bullets, fighting waves of soldiers, and they never drop weapons or bullets. That’s just childish horseshit. I’m out of bullets, and I’ve been carefully stealthing my way through large parts of the game, choking dudes out without raising any alarms and meticulously scavenging everything. I should be swimming in bullets, but I’ve actually run empty once. Which means it adjusts bullet drops to punish you for using stealth. (And thereby reward you for blasting through like a moron.) Stealth is time consuming, and the reward for putting in the time and effort to do things right is that when I make a mistake and break stealth, I should have plenty of bullets to solve this problem and get back to stealth funtime.
I have no idea what they’re going for here. I guess they’re bending the fabric of time and space to avoid me having too many bullets, because that would be too empowering. But if they don’t want me to feel empowered, then why am I killing hundreds and hundreds of men?
Earlier lots of people said that having your melee weapons break and bricks shatter is a required part of the gameplay. Now that I’ve tried it myself, I’m just not seeing it. It feels dumb and arbitrary. I guess you’re supposed to enjoy the mad dash to scramble through your bag and get other gear? But in a game this story-heavy, I’d rather have the immersion and convenience rather than the busywork.
I think I should quit now. I’d probably lose my mind completely if I tried to play through Pittsburgh.
Like I’ve been saying all season: This game succeeds where dozens of others have failed miserably. It’s interesting, smart, charming, heartfelt, gorgeous, well-acted, and also etcetera. This game is nearly perfect in every way, except the shooting is intolerable.
Too bad it’s a shooter.
 Just after we part ways with Tess, back in episode 8 of this play-through.