GOTY: A new contender has arrived!

Naughty Dog, you have done it again.

OK so my last blog I actually wrote for this game erased itself. (Yes yes, I copied it prior to posting, I even hit the save button at the top of the screen but that still managed to mess up… x_x … that being said, I am going to attempt to duplicate what I had written up about this masterpiece.) At any rate, I must stay that I am already giving this game praise, even though I am only an hour and a half into the actual game play.  The opening cinematic was enough for me to know that I was absolutely going to fall in love, and with each passing minute can honestly say that it keeps getting better.

Ever since this game was announced in 2011, I have been patiently waiting its arrival.  Spike Video Game awards was the place Naughty Dog had chosen to drop this bomb, showcasing a brand new IP for the already successful development company. Speculation was that ND was going to bring out some new material for their flagship title, Uncharted, but onlookers were surprised to see a brand spanking new title come to light.  The Last of Us, it was called. A man. A girl.  A post-apocalyptic United States, torn asunder by a fungal plague that wiped out many lives.  These two, called Joel and Ellie are voiced by Troy Baker (*faint*) and Ashley Johnson.  More speculations: Tons of people made a point to say that Ellie resembled actress Ellen Page, who was recently cast to star in Quantic Dream’s new title Beyond: Two Souls, and her design was since changed slightly to fend off these rumors.

Fast forward to present, the title has released, and something rare has occurred: the game has absolutely lived up to the hype.  The game design has very minor flaws, if you can even call them flaws.  The motion, all captured by the actors themselves and/or stunt persons, has no rival from what I have seen.  It has only improved upon the already fluid mo-cap from its sister-title, Uncharted.  Watch as the little girl gets out of her bed, stretches out, wipes her eyes and stumbles for a couple of steps as she regroups.  See Joel reach out for a wall to brace himself in cover.  As technology lunges forward, games are seemingly taking a leap beside it. 

The lack of music suits the atmosphere, immersing you in a realistic sense of emptiness.  The darkness instills fear; use your keen senses as Joel to find a way through the pitch black room instead of giving away your position with your flashlight. The music that is played throughout the game, however, is gorgeous.  I honestly don’t think that the composers get enough credit for game scoring/soundtracks.  The voice acting is superb (As said above, Troy Baker! *faint*), the environments are wonderful and everything seems so fluid.  

Naughty Dog did a phenomenal job at creating a very realistic and horrifying reality within this game.  Darwinism at its’ finest, survival of the fittest.  I’ve seen some pretty gritty games in my day, and the Last of Us deserves to be called one of them.  It is so balanced in capturing the true essence of gaming.  Emotional grasp, well written story (as I have heard), wonderful sounds – voices, music, effects all in one, beautiful to look at and smooth control.

Is this game worth the money you have to shell out for a Playstation 3? YES.
Only 4 games have made me actually say that.  Heavy Rain, God of War, Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted.  The Last of Us has now become a part of those ranks.  I’ve only struck a tip of the iceberg with this game, but I am hooked.  I am looking forward to seeing how far this rabbit hole twists and turns and essentially ends.  This has definitely joined Bioshock Infinite on my list of Game of the Year nominees so far.

E3! Day One

How I wish I could see thee.

This year has been a whirlwind for me, and unfortunately I was not the fortunate few who were able to attend this years expo.  I can, however, tune in to the streams and see new and exciting things that are due out this fall/winter for gaming.  So far, my impressions of the XBox One, PS4 and I suppose the ever ambitious WiiU) are that of the careful and skeptical consumer.  The reveals back in February and May for either console left me confused and somewhat curious, so I had kept my ears, eyes and mouth shut about the entire race.  Video-chat capabilities while in-game, gameplay recording, game sharing, DRM, pre-owned sell-back, game price-points…it’s all been a nightmare fighting through the fire and flame of angry consumers, and wondering what is going to come out and how much it’s going to cost us.  E3 has proven to be quite the battlegrounds for the Next Gen race.  Luckily for the viewers, most of the jibber-jabber was laid out on the table (for the most part) and the reveals today were for the stunning and captivating games that are going to be available on next generation hardware in the coming days. So much happened today, in day one, but I will highlight some of the key features that struck my fancy, so to speak.

The first trailer I was able to see was for Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. Snake…on a HORSE? Sounds like new Samuel L. movie, but nay– it is the newest addition to the Metal Gear franchise.  Kojima is not shy when he brings out the big guns, and having roped in voice talent like Kiefer Sutherland has to be one of the biggest weapons in his arsenal. It’s no secret that Mr. Sutherland has some big shoes to fill, and many fans will miss our beloved David Hayter in the role of Snake.  But after watching the trailer and having my breath taken away by its artistic and fluid movement, crystal clarity in design and of course Sutherland’s debut voice work, it was enough for me to say, “it’s my game, and I want it now.”

The second WOW moment that had me drooling was Ubisoft’s press conference.  I am an Assassin’s Creed fan, that’s no secret.  I am looking forward to see what Ubi is going to do with the series going forward, but I am playing my bias card and wondering if they will ever top the story of Ezio Auditore.  With that being said, one of the most impressive games I have seen so far is Tom Clancy’s: The Division.  The smooth interlacing of drop-in-drop-out co-op, interactivity with others in PVP mode, the intriguing story about a pandemic that strikes on Black Friday (quite chilling if you think about it), the gorgeous scenery, the realistic atmosphere…it almost seemed flawless, and went well being featured side-by-side with the ultimately anticipated Watchdogs.  Watchdogs has had my attention since it was announced last E3 and has not missed a beat.  The connectivity tools may discourage some from purchasing this title, but the IP is so intricate and has unique and innovative features that merits the praise for its bold efforts. And of course, I have to make a shout out to one of my most anticipated games: South Park: The Stick of Truth. I’m ready

Killer Instinct and Kingdom Hearts 3 made my list of “the most shocking games” that made an appearance at the expo.  Killer Instinct piqued my attention mostly because it pokes at my sense of nostalgia; My brother and I used to play the hell out of that game on SNES. Good times.  Kingdom Hearts 3 surprised me, as it finally surfaced.  Every day when I was working at [Game retailer] I would be asked when this game would finally come out.  Square put out 358/2 and Birth by Sleep, which only got their hopes up and crushed gamers’ hearts all at once. They wanted Kingdom Hearts 3. Lo and behold, it is coming guys! Be patient!

MMOs usually aren’t my thing.  Not because I dislike them, but because I could never play them.  I either didn’t have the right video card, the funds for the monthly subscription, the time to sit down and check it out or my brother may have deleted my character to make room for one of his… {-_-}… Elder Scrolls Online has me wanting to build a PC just to play it! (well, that and Minecraft and DayZ.)  ESO will be coming to PC, PS4 and XBox One, but I’m pretty sure I want to play with max specs so PC is where I want to be.

Quantum Break, Dead Rising 3, Minecraft (XBO edition), Outlast, The Order 1886…You are all on my radar.  Amazing games are coming and I am happy to say that I am finally excited about next generation.  The content displayed really gives me the chills!

Aside from the games, I feel Microsoft finally told us what we want to hear.  They’re going to be rid of Microsoft points so their currency system may finally make some sense.  Day One bundles will be coming with some really cool exclusive content.  But out of the darkness came Sony and the Playstation 4…without its worries of DRM, Always-Online issues — and their full support of sharing game discs and sell-back.  Each moment, each comment stated was an obvious stab at Microsoft’s current angle with the new hardware.  The killing blow was their price point, $399.99 (USD), proving that Sony did have some tricks up its sleeve.  Cheers roared through the audience, praise, tears, cries, wails, happiness … the Playstation would finally be cheaper than an Xbox (priced at $499.99).

What a day. Remember, this is only the beginning.

See you tomorrow, Players!