Design Impressions: The Last of Us
I don’t have a whole lot to say about The Last of Us, but i enjoyed playing it for the most part. It’s a pretty amazing interactive narrative experience, where gameplay usually takes a back seat to storytelling and spectacle – which is a fine choice if that’s what you’re into. Personally, i didn’t like the forced false choice at the end, but i’m sure it was meant to be controversial.
• Melee combat is simplistic, but smooth and visually polished.
○ The sheer number of environmental interactions is staggering, and transitions between contextual states are seamless.
• Having to pick up the same items and crafting materials every time you die is the worst part of extended battles, especially those involving caution and stealth.
○ Obviously you can’t just keep those new supplies after you die and reappear at a previous checkpoint, because it would alter the ensuing battle progression and potentially muck up ammo counts.
○ But why not make it easier to reclaim the stuff you’ve already discovered? If showing found item locations on the map is too much, even having a checklist would save time and avoid that weird feeling of being unsure whether you forgot something the third time through.
• Not knowing how much health the mega-zombies have makes it so much harder to plan strategy and ammo usage, especially after obtaining a new weapon.
○ It’s even worse when you have to clear an area of Clickers before taking on a dormant Bloater, because you have to redo it all every time you want to try a different approach.
• DLC is integrated seamlessly into menus, which looks nice but has some drawbacks.
○ The Left Behind mission is shown in the main menu from the very beginning. I thought it was an included bonus game mode, until i beat the main story and tried it. Then it made me log into PSN and took me directly to a $14.99 buy screen. That comes off as pretty sneaky.
○ The same is true for the Grounded difficulty setting. Nothing tells you that it’s paid DLC until you try to enable it. Not the best feeling.
Disclaimer #1: This is not a review of the game. These scattered notes are just my personal impressions as a player. Please don’t take them too seriously.
Disclaimer #2: I’m not trying to say i could do better by any means. If i point out a flaw, it’s usually because i think it’s interesting; not to criticize anyone involved. There are countless reasons why a feature might be imperfect, buggy, or incomplete. Game development is a chaotic human endeavor, and it’s very rarely easy to figure out why something went wrong. Anyway it’s a safe bet that the dev team thought of most ideas or solutions i might suggest, but they couldn’t be implemented due to some unfortunate constraint.