…… Son of a bitch… When I made my BioShock Infinite review I honestly thought that we had reached the bar. That there would be plenty of good games and even great games to come out for the remainder of 2013, but nothing could compete with BioShock Infinite. It seemed like one of those moments where the stars aligned and one of the few perfect games had been created with the right characters, the right setting, the right graphics, the right gameplay… The right EVERYTHING! Little did I know that this lie in my future. The Last of Us coming out in the same year as BioShock Infinite is like Ocarina of Time coming out the same year as Super Mario Brothers. Two games that completely and utterly shape the way games are played and made and they come out within a few months of one another.
Both of these games are easily in my Top 10 of Greatest Video Games of All Time and the two greatest of this generation. Yes I will put my personal stamp right now on those two claims. The 1 and 2 spot in the Greatest Games from the era of the PS3/Wii/XBox360 is BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us. (I look forward to the friendly debates I will get from that one). They are both in my opinion perfect games in their own respective rights and can reach a multitude of gamers, not just limiting themselves to one small fanatic niche market AND both games have struck a chord with casual gamers, hardcore gamers, and critics alike all of which are raving about this game (myself obviously included).
So really at the end of the day I and several others have found ourselves asking the big question… Which of these two games is better? They are both phenomenal games and if they had come out a year a part from one another they would have beaten the living dogshit out of the competition. But now two heavyweights step into the ring and only one can walk out the victor. So who is it going to be? Well I have already reviewed BioShock Infinite so let’s take a look at The Last of Us and just see which of these two is the superior title.
The Gameplay is Challenging But Not Frustrating
Whenever any developer creates a game they always walk a fine line between challenging and mind numbingly dull gameplay. If a game is too easy people will begin to lose interest as they can breeze through it with little to no effort. A good example of this would be my review on Resident Evil Survivor. The game was so easy that I was practically falling asleep while going through the rail shooter. However on the opposite end of the spectrum if you make a game too challenging than people become frustrated and either break their controllers in a rage or completely rage quit on a game all together. This is a big complaint that I hear about a personal favorite of mine, Catherine. I hear from several naysayers that they find the game so difficult even on the easier settings that they just gave up and have not played since then.
The Last of Us walks that fine line to perfection, finding the sweet spot between challenging, but not too challenging that people want to quit. There are many areas, especially the scenes where it benefits to be stealthy you will be sweating bullets creeping from cover to cover and avoiding all peripheral vision to keep yourself in the shadows. It is suspenseful and the game pulls no punches for the player who can easily get screwed by the one infected or enemy survivalist that you just didn’t see… But this isn’t something that you are looking at and saying “SON OF A BITCH! Another one of these levels?! COME ON!” Any time I played the game I reveled in the opportunity to take on another one of these locations and yes! I did fail a few of them multiple times before I could advanced. But that is part of the fun. Seeing where you made your mistake and reevaluating your strategy to fit the room. I grew a little agitated at some levels that took more than one play through but I never once faulted the game for making a level that was too challenging or unfair to the player.
Combat is VERY Realistic
I have never seen a game where I could actually ‘feel’ like I was in an actual fight or gun play. The combat is so realistic and so life like that it will pull you into the game. While yes… Joel can take more punishment then your given ‘baddies’ but this isn’t like he is taking 40/50 shots per combat and walking away completely fine. Each time a player connects with a gunshot it feels like it is damaging, it seems like Joel is severely wounded by a gun shot to a random area. Though there is ‘some’ suspension of disbelief, that is an area that I think we all have to chalk up to too much nitpick. This game more than any other game since Bushido Blade has made me feel like each strike against my player could be a death sentence.
Hand to hand combat though is what feels even more realistic. I am so happy that this game is not filled with over the top ‘karate’ like kicks and punches. The hand to hand combat feels like a real brawl from a character who learned how to brawl from the rough life that the world has forced upon him. It is very brutal, it is very in your face, and it is very VERY good.
Graphics Show a Eye for Detail That is Missing From Most Titles
On par with Naughty Dog’s other titles the graphics are phenomenal. I almost feel like saying that there are phenomenal graphics in a video game this year is becoming redundant because just about every game I have reviewed has had awesome graphics. Remember Me, BioShock Infinite, and hell even Injustice: Gods Among Us has great graphics for a fighting game. But this one seems to take it just a little bit further. The city looks phenomenal and gritty and the characters I dare say look almost like they are live action in my opinion. The shadows though sometimes slightly unbelievable are also phenomenal and shades of John Carpenters’ The Thing you can almost ‘feel’ the weather around them. The waist deep water, the crippling chilling winter, just about everything. The games graphics makes you feel like you are they’re experiencing the hardships with the characters because of just how convincing the setting is and how the characters are portrayed through it.
The Story is Phenomenal
I have said it before and I will say it again. When it comes to video games for me I do tend to lean towards the story more than the gameplay. As long as the game has a good compelling story with rich and interesting characters, I can forgive a few wonky graphics or gameplay here or there… This story… This story is the stuff of fucking legends. Not only does this game make you feel instant connections with Joel, his daughter Sarah, and his brother Tommy but as the game plays through and you meet characters like Tess and Ellie it only takes a handful of scenes and lines to feel a connection to them. You want these characters to succeed, you want them to survive in this world, you are mortified when anything bad happens to them even if the character was only around for a hand full of moments.
The game is the ultimate wastelands story. The infected or ‘zombies’ if you will play a very little part in the narrative. What is really interesting is the aftermath. How people adapted and how humanity survives. How people reacted to the apocalypse and how they are carrying on. Sure there are still infected walking around but really everyone knows so much about them that dealing with them has become common knowledge. The idea of these things existence is no longer a big deal. That is just life and they are no different then the snake hiding in the tool shed or the bear in the forest. They are a way of life in this world.
(Minor spoilers in next paragraph)
It is even better that they do not feel the need to meander into other B Plots or feel the game with pointless characters or even make the infected a threat (though they do feel like one do not make any mistake). No, the real meat and potatoes of this game revolves around Joel and his relationship to Ellie. Everything revolves around Joel and Ellie and how they see each other and how Joel sees his own lost daughter in Ellie. I love that Joel does not immediately latch on to Ellie even in a subconscious way. It takes him the course of the game to slowly develop feelings for her and for her to develop feelings for him either on a daughter/father level or just a mutual friendship level.
It is, in my opinion, a perfect example of how humans actually interact with one another. There isn’t a moment where I thought that the relationship between Joel and Ellie was ‘forced’ or ‘unrealistic’ it is how I think a person in Joel’s situation would react to Ellie and eventually grow on her and same goes for Ellie on Joel.
The relationship between these two characters is one of if not the best ‘relationship’ I have ever seen in a video game and even in film as well.
To say this game is phenomenal is an understatement. It is a masterpiece and something that could only be created as this generation of consoles is transitioning into the next. The story is one of the best stories I have ever seen in any medium, the gameplay, the graphics, just about everything about this game is phenomenal. It easily earns the perfect score that I give it.
Final Score: 5/5
So… Who Wins? BioShock Infinite… Or The Last of Us?
Okay so… All of this comes back to this… Which game is better? BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us? At the end of the day gun to my head…… And just by one one millionth of a point… I am going to have to say BioShock Infinite is still the better title and JESUS I feel dirty actually typing that. Because I feel like I am taking away from a game that is already a masterpiece. I go with Infinite solely on the idea that I think that BioShock Infinite appeals to more gamers than The Last of Us and that is by all accounts the biggest nitpick I have ever made! But I am a man who sticks by his words and hates the concept of a tie… So there you have it. BioShock Infinite still has my vote for Game of the Year.
Like always I would like to thank you for reading and please if you enjoyed this review like and subscribe for more.