The Last Of Us: Why You Can't Trust The Video Game Review Industry

The Last Of Us To say that I was eagerly waiting for The Last Of Us would be somewhat of an understatement, ever since its announcement over a year and a half a go I've been waiting for it with baited breath. Whilst survival games aren't exactly my cup of tea and any sort of horror leaves me huddles under my blanket reciting passages of the bible, I couldn't wait to try this new addition to the genre out. The trailer made it look spectacular and the promises that Naughty Dog made had me wondering whether I'd ever love another game as much. There was one problem though as the release date got closer, people were talking about it a tad too much. I've been burnt before and after zealously waiting for other games I'd be disappointed by close to all of them purely because the media and fans hyped the game up and placed it on a pedestal it could never hope to achieve. Before I get into the meat of this article, let me state one thing as we merely savour the smell of the introduction. The Last Of Us wasn't an inherently bad game, but it was nowhere near as good as everyone seems to be claiming it is. I'd have to say it's a mediocre game with the only truly outstanding part being the soundtrack. Seriously, I've had this bad boy playing on repeat for the past few days so hats off to Gustavo Santaolalla. Actually, now that I think about it Ellie's voice actress was pretty good as well, so put your hats back on and take them off again for Ashley Johnson. In an earlier article this year I expressed concern that The Last Of Us was going to be a disappointment due to over-hyping and it saddens me to see that I was right, it's not the fact that it was just an average game but the fact that Naughty Dog and the media were telling us how many new and innovative features we were going to see that there was no way the game could ever live up to it. It was ridiculous really when you look back on it, everything they showed in the trailers and demo were things we'd already seen before, in many other games but none more so than in I Am Alive. A few hours into the game I had to check whether both games had possibly been made by the same developer or perhaps had the same team, yet I was amazed to see it was two completely different companies. In fact, the best way to explain The Last Of Us is that it's a longer less dusty version of I Am Alive with added zombie DLC. A disaster that threatens humanity and causes an apocalypse? Check. A man who loses his family and ends up looking after a little girl? Check. travelling through the decaying ruins of a city whilst fighting off raiders? Check. Hell even the whole pointing your gun at an enemy and having them beg you not to kill them was in I Am Alive. I'm astounded after reading some of the reviews that the major review site give them game and wonder whether I hallucinated I Am Alive or whether I was playing a completely different game to everyone. The Last Of Us With other games that I've found to be bad or average I can usually place my finger on a few specific things that have caused me to give it a low score, but with this one it's rather difficult. Everything just seems rather mediocre (apart from the music of course). The game-play isn't new or innovative in any sense, it's something I've seen in countless other games. Peeking out of cover to fire your weapon? Mass Effect. Crafting equipment and improving your weapons? Tomb Raider. Using scenery items to cross over buildings and navigate the terrain? Uncharted (Sure it's the same developer, but you can't use the same idea if it's not the same series and then call it innovative). Using your senses to locate enemies? Eagle vision in AC and Wolf Scent in Twilight Princess. Hell, even the parts where Ellie can squeeze through small gaps or jump over fences to open gates for you has been in games as old as The Sands of Time. I can get that Naughty Dog are probably thinking that since it all worked well with other games it will work with theirs, and it does, by one do people like IGN then claim that the game-play is breathtaking and innovative? It seems to be the norm these days that it doesn't matter if an idea is original or not as long as it's packaged in something sparkly and shiny. This brings up a rather interesting aspect that Ubisoft pulled off really well with I Am Alive and Naughty Dog failed to grasp. There's been a terrible epidemic and people have been forced out of their jobs and homes or been turned into infected monsters right? Now as the game takes places 20 years after this incident you can assume that there's not going to be anyone producing Crunchy Nut, McVities biscuits or ammo for guns right? Joel is able to scavenge pieces of cloth, bottles of alcohol and knives to fashion medical kits and improvised bombs yet there's always ammo hanging around. It's not just the ammo, by the time you complete the game you've somehow ended up with an assortment of 10 guns. I Am Alive actually made you believe that an apocalypse happened and guns/ammo were a rarity. In fact I think there were only about twenty bullets in the entire game to the point that you'd use your weapon to make people stop moving before closing in with the melee. The Last Of Us doesn't even bother trying to make it feel somewhat realistic, it would shove you into a room with 10 clickers and try to make you sneak around them; but why bother? I had three nail bombs, some Molotov cocktails and enough ammo to gun down a small army. Survival games are supposed to make you try and think of alternate ways of getting round an enemy rather than claim to do so but also supplying you with a machine-gun and flame-thrower. The Last Of Us All the major review companies have latched onto the relationship that is formed between Ellie and Joel claiming that it's one of the highlights of the game and harp on about how amazing it is to see a game that develops relationships between multiple characters rather than just the main one. I find myself flabbergasted by this, this is what gives a game a perfect store? This is what causes people to sing the praises of this game from the rooftops? "Oh it's so amazing that Joel and Ellie form this father-daughter bond by the end of the game" as if it's a surprise to everyone. I don't know about you, but it seems rather obvious that if you have one guy protecting a little girl who reminds him of his now deceased daughter, he's probably going to get attached to her. It's not even a new concept, the fact they got attached or the way the relationships evolves throughout the course of the game. The first game that comes to mind is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The characters are at first wary of each other and aren't to fond of one another, yet as the game progresses the barriers drop and they gradually get closer. Why is that we're suddenly giving points to a game for a concept that's been around for years? In fact, whilst we're on the topic of over-used and clichéd story ideas how exactly was the opening shocking and brilliantly portrayed? I gather that the vast majority of people who bought and played The Last Of Us saw that Ellie was in fact a brunette and that she was alone with Joel. The beginning of the game shows us a young blonde girl sitting on the sofa with Joel so it is rather obvious that she's not going to be there for long and whilst it was rather surprising she was killed by a soldier rather than a infected person it was hardly ground-breaking story telling. You see this is the exact problem with The Last Of Us and the reason why I've given up completely on using any major review site to sway my thoughts on a game. Just looking through the reviews on sites such as Metacritic and IGN the average score works out to be around 8/10. Now I don't know about you but when I see a review of 8/10 I imagine that this is a pretty good game, in fact I'd class it as very good rather than average. It's simple mathematics really, 0-1 is very bad 5-6 is average and 9-10 is amazing. It seems that the review sites don't get this though, especially when they rant about how terrible a game is (which is once in a blue moon) and then give it a score of 6/10. This is exactly what has happened with The Last Of Us; a game that should have received an average score has been given 10/10 all over the place. It seems that the 10/10 score, which should be reserved to perhaps one game a year, is being handed out to every game that's being released these days. At the end of the day I know these companies want to keep the developers happy by giving them positive reviews so that they get the games before release, but surely there must be a compromise between bending over backwards for the developer and ensuring that people get an unbiased view of the game. With close to every major release receiving 8/10+ scores is there any point in reading reviews from the major sites and deciding whether to purchase the game or not? Should we perhaps stick to smaller sites or user-submitted reviews that are based purely on the person's opinion rather than views which are warped by the need to please the developer?
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