So I like. Write here?
If you havenít heard about the recent game by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us, and yes, it has to be underlined because of the fact that people can threat the game as if it were a fucking novel. Really? No, not really, I just accidentally hit Ctrl + U anyway and †decided to do that over using Quotations or something. Whatever.
So anyway, Naughty Dogís new IP: The Last of Us, is the companyís take on the idea of Survival Horror. And while it stands to the idea that itís not so much horror, but more so revolved around the concept of survival. The Last of Us doesnít introduce anything new per say, but more so introduces concepts that are familiar to us. Whether it be cover based shooting, resource management, crafting, and so forth. Iíve read up that the story was meant to be emotional, and from what I can tell, the overall story in the Last of Us revolves around the character relations and development that Joel and Ellie undergo as the story unfolds.
Do you remember that one game that was really emotional that everyone cried at because a black man died and Clementine was like: ďNooooooĒ and stuff. It had to do with unlikable characters except for Clementine? The Walking Dead? That comic that was turned into a show into a video game, and then another video game? Yeah. Something like that. Everyone cried, and I laughed because Iím a sadistic fuck, and it was a great title that introduced a new style of storytelling in modern video games.
Okay not really, but it was far better than most of the other titles that have come out in the past few years. But other than that, why am I alluding to it? Because of the fact that The Last of Us is a well written game, following the likes of that of the Walking Dead. The Walking Dead was an excellent example of what character relations in video games actually should consist of. And The Last of Us is able to establish a development of character relationships, which is the best part about the story created. Towards the end, I may as well just have suffered depression.
Not really, because Iím not really affected by these things. But the dramatic irony thatís displayed towards the end is definitely something. It actually made me stop myself and actually think. Yes, an ending that made me think. And itís not towards the degree of thinking of: ďI-have-to-really-discover-what-the-fuck-The-Patriots-really-were Ē-Metal Gear style, where I had to read up the story just to discover what the fuck the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lou was(disclaimer, MGS is the best franchise ever.), and not to the point of Bioshock Infinite that went: ďHULLA-BALOO, EXISTENCE AND TIMELINES ASIDE, TIME TO GO WATCH DOCTOR WHOĒ (disclaimer, Bioshock Infinite still has one of the greatest endings of all time.). But the Last of Us displays a subtle ending that was definitely still worth thinking about.
But other than that, I wonít say that The Last of Us is the greatest game ever, because itís not. But it reaches a certain height of greatness thatís beyond other games.
But I donít want talk about how great it is, because everyone has already done that. I touched upon the idea that itís an amazing title, with an ending meant for thought, and a game that sticks out in the world of video game literature.
But Iíd rather talk about the actual gameplay, and the way that the gameplay actually creates a form of tension through itís organic gameplay.
Why is this so important that Iíd have to write a fucking essay about it? Probably because of the fact that games like Uncharted, Call of Duty, and Skyrim really have taken out tension through itís gameplay. And yes, while Uncharted and Skyrim is fun, it doesnít constitute the fact that itís gameplay is actually tense. Itís not difficult, is what Iím trying to say. And difficulty isnít necessarily needed to make a good game.
But The Last of Us is an important game and an important reminder for giving us tension through the organic gameplay that it provides.
I just put the title in my thing.
Anyway, what do †I mean by tension?
To start off, the health bar is an important thing. Modern games have implemented this regen health mechanic thatís apparently a staple in first and third person games. The problem with this is the fact that people are ultimately invincible. It takes the challenge out of the game and thatís the problem with the regen health that was created.
Counter Strike feels good when you shoot someone because of how Lit they actually get. You shoot a person, you scream into your mic saying: ďHUE HUE HUE HUE, HEY, THAT JACKASS WITH THE BANANA WAS SHOTĒ, and because of that, thereís a sense of progression made towards fighting someone. People donít recover health, therefore, damaging someone creates a form of progression and satisfaction, where in contrast, getting shot, getting damaged, and then carrying your team as the last one alive (EVERYONE IS JUDGING YOU) is incredibly tense, and thatís the thrill of CS.
In something like Half Life or Resistance 3, itís something incredibly tense because more often than not, youíre going through a certain stretch of the game on your last limb trying to survive attacks from enemies. Itís exciting to say the least because at that point, something like Health becomes scarce, and fighting your way through enemies calls for conservative measures. Something like Silent Hill 2 and Amnesia calls for tension because of the fact that theyíre horror games. Combat is klunky in Silent HIll 2, and Amnesia doesnít even have combat. Because of that, itís necessary for the game to create that form of organic tension to keep the player vigilant.
The Last of Us is a game that is tense. Where in my opinion itís not them most perfect game because of the fact that AI is still kind of dumb. How many bricks can you throw before they finally catch on? How many shivs do you have to go through because enemies really ought to check behind counters and whatnot? How many more days do I really have wait for my actual desktop to be repaired? I know that itís still AI, but there is still room for improvement.
But the Last of Us is an important game that was released this year overall due to the idea that it reintroduces gameplay that we all know and love, whilst creating a more tense atmosphere. Using the Sound System to listen for your enemies is helpful, but the game comes to a halt, and you canít use your items per say. (Because I was that one guy who perfected Metal Gear Solid 3 using nothing but the Thermal Goggles, the Sound System was always something) Therefore, if you were spotted, and you were fighting enemies, there could be other enemies trying to flank your position or trying to flush you out. Clickers could kill you instantly and it became rage inducing because sound was a thing. (once again, AI can be improve). Tension was built through having a health bar, having only a limited amount of Health kits available at a time, having to craft them in the heat of battle. Tension is created, by having that aimpunch in between taking damage from a gunshot to the other. Tension is created by having a limited amount of bullets (granted, after playing other games with a limit on ammo, 15 shotgun shells is fine for me.), a limited amount of shivs, and so forth and so forth. Tension is created by those moments where youíre bound to use what you have, for example, using a smoke bomb to pass your way through or past enemies.
The idea of the game thatís always heavily laid upon is always about stealth, and thatís the greatest part about the tension. By being outgunned and outmatched, by being able to be one shotted to death. The game works itís way by advising the player to be careful. Being caught is stressful, hoping that the enemy patrols donít fuck up your day is another thing, and by god, getting outmatched by clickers is terrifying. The gameplay works itself by having you vigilant (as stated before), demonstrating that there is tension built on the gameplay itself, not some stupid character drama bullshit displayed only in Quicktime event cutscene.
Tension works multiple ways. Increasing the depth and satisfaction of completing something, for example, going 1v2 in Counter Strike, where youíre pinned down fighting people who severely can outgun you. And the tension can either make you break under stress, thus losing the round, or it can allow to have a more enjoyable time as you do end up winning through some really bullshit way, for example accidental grenade kills, accidentally killing the person youíre not trying to kill but killing both of them anyway, lucky kill through the wall, and so forth and so forth.
Ultimately, tension isnít necessary for making a game good. But it can further enhance the way that a game is played, and allow for a string of nonlinearity, as people will begin to play the game differently, utilizing the mechanics laid out in the game that was made. The Last of Us is a reminder, of what tension and good writing really can do. Itís a game that was made to reinvigorate us in the idea that games can do more than just corridor shoot, but can always allow for greater gameplay through itís organic tension. The Last of Us is a title to be remembered, the first title in a while to make me go: Christ, that was stressful.
Oh, and then thereís something about solid gameplay and an Ellen Page simulator joke somewhere in there as well. Also something about laughing really hard at the first ten minutes of the game. Spoilers, your 13 year old daughter dies.
Jack Acacia out. read