“The Last of Us” [My Review] is, rightfully, being lauded as one of the best games of 2013. It provides mature gamers a tight, immersive gameplay experience framed in a smart and engaging story. It also handily demonstrates the high quality that can be wrung from seven year-old hardware. I enjoyed the game deeply but, as is often the case with something so close to perfection, small issues take on significantly more weight.
Reviewed on Playstation 3, Offical Website
Rated “M” for Mature.
20 years after a pandemic fungal infection has wiped out civilization and created a feral hunter-class of infected, humanity lives on the edge. Rigidly controlled but exquisitely vulnerable quarantine zones represent the last of organized government. People get along as best they can under constant threat from sickness, starvation and their fellow survivors.
I preordered the PS4, in an adrenaline rush, moments after Sony’s insanely effective E3 press conference. Like most people, apparently, I immediately unboxed it and posed it with a bunch of other systems.
If you care about video gaming at all you’re probably already familiar with the recent announcements by Microsoft and Sony. Despite that fact that both of these systems were introduced earlier I wanted to wait to until after the E3 Press Conferences to get a broader picture before I weighed in. With exciting shows from both companies on Monday the stories are likely as clear as they’re going to be until the actual launch. Before diving in however let me give you a little background on my current gen experience.
There are few studios that produce such uniformly excellent content as Naughty Dog. Producing exclusively for the Platform since the beginning their work has, in large part, defined each generation of PlayStation hardware. Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter and Nathan Drake are truly iconic characters. Never ones to over-stay their welcome the studio decided against a fourth “Uncharted” game and instead have moved into more serious territory with “The Last of Us”. They presented the first gameplay trailer at E3 and it’s absolutely stunning.
As I discussed in my comments on “Beyond: Two Souls” the most impressive games from E3 this year have not been those attempting to carve out new territory but rather those that have decided to polish existing genres. For all their undeniable genius Naughty Dog has never been known for truly orignal games. Rather they excel, more than any other studio, at perfecting existing paradigms. “Uncharted” was far from the first pop-and-shoot adventure game – but it was the best one.
French studio Quantic Dream, the highly regarded studio behind the under-appreciated classic “Indigo Prophecy” and 2010’s highly successful PS3 exclusive “Heavy Rain”, has announced their next game, “Beyond: Two Souls.” Surprisingly for a new announcement the trailer is substantial (over five minutes long) and offers a significant look into the tone being set by the game.
Quantic Dream has always approached their games firstly from a cinematic view-point and this one is no different. Ellen Page’s acting, seen clearly and meaningfully through the filter of the studio’s updated motion capture techniques, is clearly the focus of the trailer. However it’s also clear that this game will feature more action than many have come to expect from this team.
Rated E for Everyone; Reviewed on PS3
The debate as to whether video games can be “art” is worth no more time than any of the multitude of similar debates that raged in the past. Popular music, movies, comics, animation – essentially all new mediums – have been accused initially of lacking some quality that raises them to the level of “art”. The debate is worthless because the answer is always the same: yes, they can be art but most often aren’t.
(The fascination for me on this topic is that film critics often incite this ridiculous conversation. People who can see plainly that “The Seven Samurai” [IMDB] is art and “Mega Piranha” [IMDB] is not but are wholly unable to see that parallel in other fields. Baffling.)