So I’m one of those casual gamers that stopped playing at, like, Sega Genesis.
I dabbled here and there throughout PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube, and PlayStation 2. But I was a ramblin’ gamer. A video game nomad, only stopping at Guitar Hero, or Knights of the Old Republic, but never just getting a console early on and for the long haul.
Then I played a little bit of Uncharted with Agent Bobby (read his damn good GUARDicle about said game series here) and I was just absolutely blown away. It was the kind of game… nay, the kind of movie I love. Sharp writing, great voice acting, intense action, and extremely absorbing. I knew this was the type of game for me: The Interactive Movie.
So, yeah, I bought an Xbox 360 and oops, wouldn’t you know it, a simple google search would have told me that Uncharted is a strictly PlayStation 3 game series. Heh heh yep. I felt all kinds of stupid and never did I admit that embarrassingly short-sighted mistake until the very words I have written right here for you to discover.
But as a GUARDicle series titled “Late To The Game” implies, I have a lot to learn.
Side Nate Tangent: I for one don’t really go in for the whole Console Wars thing. I have enjoyed my Xbox 360, and played many an incredible game on it, which I will write about later, since I have discovered how many games I have never played, and should have played a heck of a long time ago.
Fast forward to now where I now own a 3rd Generation PlayStation 3. I call her “Ellie” in honor of the the first ever game I played on it. Namely, the highly addictive and cinematic “The Last of Us.” And holy crap is this game amazing.
The Last of Us is one in a long line of games I call “Interactive Movies.” The decisions you make don’t really change anything, and the story its telling is on a linear path that will end the way it wants whether you want it or not. And that’s what makes games like this so daring. You get to know the characters. Get to live in there skin. Quite literally, at that. The main characters are Joel and Ellie. And at different points of the game, you play as either character. And you also get to think as each character. That’s where The Last of Us gets you.
I went in there thinking I would only get to know Joel. He had a beard, I’m for that. He wore plaid, I am also for that. And then I started playing the game and I realized I could be just like Joel. That any of us could become Joel. When I played this game, I knew this guy so intimately it was surprising. The writing never spelled out things too much. It never had to. It just showed you what this man absolutely loved, then took it away, and quietly asked you what’s left behind? And that answer, in this world full of death, hunger, and fear is nothing less than bleak.
And out of nowhere, Ellie shows up and is seriously one of the best characters ever. She was funny, tough, and so very human it was heart breaking at times. Everything they went through was that much harder because I feared for them. Every time the world f**ked them over, I was angry for them. Every time they got a moment’s hope, I was happy for them. And out of that? I started getting determined. I would get fighting mad. The game became less about ME getting to the next level, but more about getting THEM out alive. “This time, its personal” was actually dead on.
And the ending. Oh, sweet fancy Moses, the ENDING. I got what I wanted. Not what I needed, but what I WANTED. How many endings can affect you that way? I was stunned by the mix of emotions I felt. I have played a lot of games, and the ending is tricky. And because of how hard it is, I can be very forgiving. But there was nothing to forgive or ignore about the finale of The Last of Us. It was perfect. I completely agreed with Joel. He had no choice. BUT HE DID. But when you KNOW Joel like I do, you know he had no choice. Its beautiful and absolutely horrible and amazing. All at once.
And I realized how awful I am. How selfish I am. And how far I would go for those I love. Its humbling.
The Last of Us humbled me. As a person and human being, let alone a gamer. I can’t recommend this game enough. And I mean this as a writer and a movie goer. Play this game, or just watch someone play. Whatever you have to do, you need to experience this in any way possible.