Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Why I Gave The Last Of Us A Bad Review

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Last of Us

You'd think that the explanation on someone's opinion of a game would be in the review of that game itself, but I've been getting a lot of flak for my review of TLOU and people don't seem to get why I gave a game with one of the best stories in gaming a mere 5.5/10.

The gameplay is an aspect of the game that almost everyone has admitted isn't the best. So, if other reviewers can admit that TLOU had Okay-ish gameplay yet still give it a big score, why can't I?

Well I'll give you my explanation in the form of comparisons.

Take Spec Ops: The Line. Great story. Amazing story in fact. Actually, it has one of the best stories in gaming in my opinion. It's similar to That Last Of Us too in that it ends on a moral mind-fuck.

However the gameplay was NAF. Well, the gameplay itself was OK. I guess. It wasn't broken. Just like it wasn't broken in TLOU. But playing the game was such a drag and SO boring that there is no way, if I reviewed it now, that I could give it higher than a 6. I probably would give it a 6/10 actually. And yes, I know that score is higher than what I gave TLOU, but the gameplay in Spec Ops wasn't wonky and annoying to use like it was The Last Of Us. So that's ONE plus I guess.

The similarities between The Last Of Us and Spec Ops: The Line is undeniable. Both have a stunning, 9+/10 story, but both have shitty gameplay with shitty pacing.

There are only two aspects to The Last Of Us' gameplay and those are the shooting and the general gunplay and the 'platforming' and 'scavenging/exploring'. Both were below par.

Look at Uncharted. Decent gunplay. Not bad. Bit wonky and irritating to use, right? But the gameplay still ruled because gunplay was only a small part of the bigger picture. The AWESOME platforming and puzzle solving made up for the other issues it had.

Strip away the climbing and brain teasing puzzles, though, and you have, uh, 'OK' shooting to keep you entertained. That would suck. But that is EXACTLY what TLOU is.

It takes away the GOOD elements of Uncharted's gameplay and keeps the mediocre part. And it was boring. Boring as hell. A drag.

Naughty Dog tried to include a little bit of platforming, I guess, but why? It was really bad. I know I made fun of it in my review, but seriously, it was really poor. Why bother making us run around trying to find this thing and get to this section when it's not fun? There were no awesome climbing sections. It was as simple as: get up here; walk here; climb this ladder and you're there. Or maybe even just: pick up this bit of wood; walk as slow as a snail for 10 seconds; place the wood; walk across it.

All these bits did was prolong the story and make it last 10 seconds longer. So, basically, pointless.

Personally I did not find the scavenging fun at all. Or the so called 'exploring'. Thing is the environments were just too regulated and linear to be able to enjoy any form of looking around.

Now I know what you're thinking: shit platforming aside, Naughty Dog's shooting mechanics might not be perfect, but there are tons of highly rated third-person shooters out there. So why does having 90% of the gameplay revolve around shooting make the game bad and not fun?

Let's look at Gears Of War. I love that series. All three of those games are brilliant. Oh, what, there are four? Four Gears Of War games? Uh, no, I don't think so. Unless you're referring the unmentionable Gears game that was released this year that was RUBBISH.

Ahem, anyway.

Gears Of War is a great example of a near perfect third-person shooter series. It was all shooting, so why did it not suck like TLOU?

Well first and foremost the gunplay was fun. It felt good. It played well. Nothing wrong there.
Second of all it was made to be a third-person shooter. The Last Of Us felt like Uncharted, with its dodgy shooting, but without the other gameplay elements. It didn't feel like it was made to be a dedicated shooter.

Gears games have amazing environments and a story that while not amazing, allows you to feel the intensity of battle. Feel the war that is upon you. Everything about GoW was made to be a shooter. That's what it was. It was fun because it did right everything that it needed to do right. Its pacing was almost always near perfect and it was never dull or boring.

The Last Of Us had zero innovation. It was just a typical shooter. It didn't do anything new. And what it did do it didn't even do that well. The gameplay can be compared to Spec Ops because they're both generic and stereotypical. Gears Of War did something new with the whole 'Humans Vs Locust' thing. It had the perfect cover system. The gameplay we all wanted. It was just brilliant. Pure brilliance.

Here's another comparison. The final one.

Metro: Last Light was released this year and it was a great game. I gave it a 7.8 score due to its poor boss battles and awful pacing towards the end along with some of the story issues. But in the end the game packed a hell of a punch. It was a survival horror set in post-apoclypitic Russia.

The game world was amazing and while it wasn't really that open, it made sense for it not to be. The underground sections were set in metro tunnels, which are naturally enclosed spaces. Not much room for exploration there, right?

But when you went above ground, the world felt scary and intimidating. Like anything could happen at any moment and you could wind up dead. In fact, all it would take is for your gas-mask to break and you're done for.

Where do you go? What do you need to do again? Putting your weapons away in order to get out your compass and objective list isn't something you ever WANTED to do, as it would leave you exposed, but it's something you NEEDED to do. Otherwise you'd be lost there forever.

The gameplay was also really fun. As papery as it sometimes felt, the stealth and the shooting were always a pleasure and there were tons of weapons to use. In fact, what weapons do you use? A shotty? Along with an AK-47? Or maybe a silenced pistol of some kind? It all depended on what you need them for, but that was hard to tell when the world of Metro: Last Light was so hard to predict.

The gameplay was also original and realistic, whith the inclusion of the gas-mask, the compass and objective list, the lighter, the electrical charger etc. There was a lot of uniqueness there.

Last Light felt better in so many ways. Sure the story wasn't anywhere near as good as The Last of Us', but the game had heart and the gameplay was fun. It was just a good, all round, game. I never felt bored playing it. Not once.

But I felt bored of The Last Of Us' gameplay on more than one occasion and, ultimately, the game may have reached new heights where the story is concerned, but if it's not fun, what's the point of it? Games aren't movies. The word 'game' and the word 'movie' having nothing in common. They mean different things. So why do developers think making a game more like a movie is better? In the case of TLOU, it just made it less fun. Maybe if they'd appreciated that people would actually have to PLAY IT and thus had improved the GAMING experience, it would have been a far better game and so received a far better review and score from me.

So that's why I gave The Last Of Us a 5.5.

What did you think of the game? Did you like it? Do you agree/disagree with me? Say what you think in the comments!


  1. Apparently you are the only person in the world that did not try stealthing through the game instead of only shooting to actually see how dead wrong you are about the gameplay being boring. This game (perhaps along with Bioshock Infinite) changes everything in the industry; it sets the bar so high that totally irrelevant reviews like yours will be quickly forgotten.

    1. I never said I didn't stealth. I said the gameplay was boring. I think it's pretty insane to suggest that either this game or BioShock Infinite set the bar for how gameplay should be. That is, I take it, what you're saying?! But anyway, opinion is opinion. And obviously my review is irrelevant to the industry. Typically any review is. Obviously it's not irrelevant to YOU though, is it, as you felt the need to read this article AND comment angrily :-)

  2. I don't hate you Michael. You just don't like the game that much and to be truthful, for me the game does get boring if I play for a long period of time. I'm still playing it as a matter of fact and I too am playing stealthy. I love to concept of having to not waste your ammo. Even now my ammo is pretty good. I only use it when I'm up against the Infected. Humans, I just stealth kill those bastards. The only real problem that I hate about the gameplay, is the fact that melee weapons break. Okay, I can understand the 2x4 and bat breaking, they made out of wood, but as for pipes and MAINLY machetes, it makes no goddamn sense to me. Bring a machete, sharpen that fucker when it gets dull and reuse. Shit, the characters is this game, Joel specifically, clearly never read or watched 'The Walking Dead,' or in respect, any other post-apocalyptic story ever created. The one reason I like Ellie, she brings a knife with her. The hell with this Shiv making crap. AND OMFG I know the creators didn't want to over power Joel in having him just use a knife and saying, "Fuck making Shivs." I get it, I'm just saying I want a knife that I can resharpen with a rock, or anything I can sharpen it with. Shivs should just be used to open doors in my opinion. With that said, I love this game. The multiplayer is fun too. I only have the melee complaint and I'm being honest. I love the story! Joel and Ellie kick ass, I still miss Tess tough. Can't lie, I like her more than Ellie. I'm happy I got this game, but like you, Michael, I respectfully have to say it is not the greatest game ever created. It's the best on PS3, I like it more than BioShock, but not everyone likes the SAME THINGS. I still like games from NES, SNES, N64, Playstation, Playstation 2, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, even some PC games, more than I like 'The Last of Us.' Respect every game developer: From the past, present and those still to come, because there are many games, like 'The Last of Us,' that also are in Gaming History as Award-Winning Achievers. Never forget, Nintendo saved the gaming industry after it collapsed back in 1983. I will always love my favorite games Nintendo gave me more, but that's because it was part of my childhood and I had a FAR BETTER time playing games before the Dawn of Online Gaming! I'm done now. I'm just giving you support, because people get to goddamn butt hurt now-a-days if you don't like what they like. The Last of Us will always be in my collection. I am not getting rid of this game. It is WORTH KEEPING. Thank you for reading if you do.
    PS: I'm using Anonymous because I don't like always having to log in just to leave a reply.

  3. Finally, a reviewer who understands GAMES are not MOVIES. How anyone could play a game with weak, uninspired gameplay & cutscenes every 1-2 minutes say it was a revolutionary game is beyond me.

    Cutscenes & scripted events are supposed to support the story, not be the story. I'm tired of hearing people make the statement that TLOU has revolutionized gaming.

    I will never accept the trend of modern games trying to be movies. The king of movies Hollywood itself only rarely produces an intelligent memorable movie. What makes you think gaming companies could even hope to come close to the level of quality hollywood rarely produces on that rare occasion? Never gonna happen.

    1. lololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololoollololololololololololololololololollololololool

      they said most people think that the last of us had flaws in gameplay
      I dont


      and... you'll just call me a butthurt fanboy hermit


  4. "Games aren't movies."

    Thank you!

    The game was shit. It was a good story, but a shit game. There's not really anything else to be said about it. And the story was only good by game standards, so if this was actually a movie it wouldn't be very good either. I hate to sound like the "I don't like what's popular" guy, but when a game gets this much praise from people that don't know anything about video games it's not a good sign.

  5. I expressed pretty much the same point of view when reviewing this game on Amazon. The hype was amazing and probably added to my huge disappointment: I would have considered this a barely average game if it hadn't been hailed as the pinnacle of gaming experience, but being as it is I found it even lamer.

    "The Last of Us" dresses up the most commonplace shooters elements in a stunning audiovisual presentation, but totally lacks anything I could describe as innovative or ground-breaking. It's a technically impressive take on a trite genre. I struggled to the end (and I got there setting the lowest difficulty level, because I really didn't care for wasting hours going through selfsame hordes of bandits or infected..) hoping at least the finale would have been worthwile, but nope: I put away the disc without feeling I'd have missed anything if I hadn't played it at all and with no intention of ever picking it up again.

    If the gaming world is really at a point where this product is universally acclaimed and even greeted as a step ahead from anything seen so far, I'm not so keep on seeing what's up next.

  6. I have to agree with you 100%. I was debating whether or not to buy this game and the staff at the local Game Stop told me it was a very good game so of course, being the gullible person I am, bought it for 60 dollars. Two hours in and it lead me no where. The story was indeed heart breaking, but that's it. It was too linear and all the ladder fetching and plank grabbing was a ginormous waste of time. It was the same thing over and over again. Shoot, throw, hide, climb etc. Now what? I honestly can not finish it. I know people will hate on me for not finishing it, but why the hell would I continue playing something that has me bored in the first hour.

    1. so did you think uncharted gave you choices? and a lot of places you can free roam?

  7. This review is god awful, go kill yourself.

    1. you wouldn't know a good game if one was shoved straight up your ass

    2. how would anyone?....... unless your eyes are in your asshole

  8. I don't usually post on blog sites, but I felt I should throw my opinion out there on this one.

    I just finished playing TLOU, and I loved the game. I personally do think has set a new standard for adventure games. I do acknowledge that the game has flaws, and could have been much better. However, there was much in this game in terms of detail to scenery, actions of your character, and design to the story that you don't see in many, if any, other video games.

    It's the little things in this game that set it aside from the rest. The interactivity with the world around you is crazy. I'm not talking about the ladders and planks (But I do LOVE the fact that even Elle pointed out how repetitive it was ["I know... I know... get on the f**king plank"]), but I mean how you can interact with the people and things around you. I loved to stop and listen to random NPCs having conversations, or messing around with your allies to hinder what they are trying to do. Not to mention how realistic of a world they build.

    I do agree with you however about the gun play mechanics, and the repetitiveness of the obstacles. However, after playing this game, I feel like the target audience is people who prefer over-the-top out-of-this-world storyline, and not so much for the shooter audience.

    Which brings me to the point of why I think this game sets a new standard. Could you imagine a game with this type of narrative and interactivity, with an equally great fighting system, and an open world map?

    Well that's what it's going to take to make us forget about The Last of Us. They may not have got the gameplay down to a 10/10, but they got the storyline and scenery down to a 15/10, and now that that's happened, we as gamers are going to expect that or better for the next 10/10.

    TL;DR- The reason this game is so great, is because of the impact it's going to have on what we can expect for story on future games.

    1. Are you fucking kidding me?

      "Not to mention how realistic of a world they build." The whole point of Michael's criticism is that it's NOT realistic. You're confined to narrow tunnels and the AI constantly shits on the immersion.

  9. "Which brings me to the point of why I think this game sets a new standard. Could you imagine a game with this type of narrative and interactivity, with an equally great fighting system, and an open world map?"

    gta 4 (even though I think that was overrated just like this game)

  10. You're absolutely right. Playing this game was like walking around in a museum. Really pretty environments with a simplistic repetitive game play built over the top of it.

    The only way I could get through it was by playing it an hour or an hour and a half tops at a time, and concentrating on how beautiful everything looked.

  11. I physically cannot play it any more, it disappointed me to no end. I cannot believe this is so high up on metacritic. A score of 95!? No chance. It's so linear it's actually unbelievable, it's way too slow, it's boring and repetitive...the list goes on. The graphics are good but not amazing, the layout of the map just sucks ultimate balls. Definitely not game of the year and never would be, something would always beat this. Yes it has a good storyline but I want to play the damn game. Ridiculous long, boring cut-scenes really don't help. I just can't love this game in any way, shame.

  12. Nearly finished this game, and i think it was very boring to samey all the way through i thinks this review is fair and does not deserve the 9/10 i saw, they should have been more infected and more open world to explore, there was something missing from this game. i only got this far in the game is because it was a present and it cost them £35

  13. I've been playing it for about 3 hours now and I feel the far. Waaay too much cinematograpy.

    Maybe it'll get better for my taste but it nowhere matches the hype.

  14. So glad you wrote this. I got about six hours through the game and gave up. I thought "Is it me? Or is this game really tedious?" The part in the train station had me so angry. It was not intuitive at all. I had no idea how to get on the ladder, with that one clicker guy in the way. I didn't know what I was supposed to do, or where to go. And the tool-making stuff, so mind-numbing. Kills the pacing. I want to play a video game, not perform chores. I have a life, a busy job, children. I just couldn't get into this game. And I LOVE Naughty Dog. I LOVE Uncharted games. This one is a big miss for me. Yes, I know the story is good. But if I want just a good story I'll watch a movie. Video games need a balance. Way too much praise put upon this game.

  15. I agree with most of your opinions, Michael, except I strongly disagree this game had a "good story." I felt the story matched the gameplay: bland, predictable, boring, and completely done-to-death. It's like, rather than think up interesting plot points, Naughty Dog went down a checklist and marked off every cliched plot point you'd expect from the synopsis:

    - Joel's daughter dies at the beginning to give him motivation to save Ellie
    - Somebody joins you and betrays you
    - Somebody tries to rape Ellie (rape is the easiest and dirtiest way to immediately add "emotional depth" and "poignancy" to an otherwise creatively bankrupt story)
    - Ellie ends up saving Joel
    - Joel protects Ellie against all logic

    At no point was I even remotely surprised by anything in this game. Contrast that to Telltale Game's Walking Dead. A main character is abruptly shot to death right in front of you, all of a sudden you have to chop some dude's leg off to save him from a bear trap, and the creepy homeless guy you meet on the train turns out to be a genuinely great guy. Also, that game doesn't resort to having a badman try to rape the girl at any point. The Walking Dead is like this game except classier, more mature, and not blandified as much as possible to sell copies.

  16. Well, it's a good thing you guys aren't game developers :)

    1. It's actually a bad thing, if they were developers, they could've made the game better.
      Oh, and you're a fucking asshole for not even pointing out WHY, instead, you're just being an asshole.

    2. you being a throbbing dick…calm your tits

  17. Thank god I didnt buy it. Completed it in under 2 days, would never play it again. It starts off ok, then you end up racing through it to get somewhere cool, which never happens. I thought the characters sucked the controls sucked the boosting, pallets, ladders were frustrating and pointless time wasting. Not enough weapons until you reach near the end of the game and by then your still to scared to use any weapons except your pistol just in case something actually happens but doesnt. I finished with a full flame thrower assault rifle and various other weapons. What was the whole brick and bottle thing? And slowly sneak around everywhere in stealth to make the game last longer pffft. It wasn't fun, also picking up items and crafting was just another brain numbing time wasting event that gave me the shits. I want a game that is exciting, has good controls, good characters tlou failed.Totally agree with micheals review but i would give it a 4 only because the graphics were good and the zombies were kinda fun for ten minutes. Whats with the horse too? Thank god it was killed i hated it and couldnt wait for it to F@#% off. Anyone that actually liked this game and thinks its worth keeping should stick to collecting stamps. Boring lame overhyped piece of shit.

  18. Giving The Last of Us a low score because of the gameplay, its like giving a bad score to Minecraf for the graphics, or to Limbo for the lack of soundtrack. Is like giving a low score for Braid for not being an open world with a lot of choices. Is like giving a low score to To The Moon because it is made on a RPG-maker, which has a gameplay that its literally more than 10 years old. Or giving a low score to Dark Souls for being too hard...

    The Last of Us is a story, a unique and memorable one. Everything else is secondary. Its prestige lies on its characters and on the drama. Its quite like the movie Signs, from Mel Gibson. At the end, you discover that the movie was never about aliens.... it was about human relationships in stress situations.

    The Last of Us is not about a zombie infection. It is not about innovative gameplay, or action. If in your analysis you gave the same importance to the gameplay as the story... you didn't get it.

  19. If I want a good story I would buy a movie. Tlou is a game, so the game play does matter. Yes I did get the story. That does'nt mean it was any good, I am ledgend was a great movie and had a much better story so if I wanted a story I would choose that. Tlou is a game, on a gaming console, to be played with game controllers, not a movie. This is the type of game you play once and forget about, thats just rude. I still play mario, wheres the value in tlou? To pay that much dosh for a game you play once, when you could buy 8 good movies on bluray and get your "storys" is just straight dumb. I think the above commenter thinks he is some type of god that has a better understanding than us mere peasants. You dont though, in my analysis your just brain damaged, thats what makes you so special.

  20. Thank you for this review. I really thought I was doing something wrong in this game or had missed something. I have a toddler son and a stressful job and my time on the PS3 is very small, so I want to enjoy it. I honestly felt my heart sink in this game when i got to a new area and realised I was going to have to sneak around on ultra slow for about an hour just to get to the other end. I wanted so much to love this game. I have played the tomb raider series from the beginning and loved uncharted and adventures like The Thing - all of which made me think I was an "adventure gamer". I was told this was like being in the Walking dead - one of my favourite shows. But in reality it frustrated me and bored me senseless. Making shivs out of bits of crap that took ages to find (how many drawers with nothing in them in vast rooms of nothingness?) and then using them up on one kill. Going back to the beginning of a stealth sequence if you made one mistake after 15 minutes of mincing about because you were suddenly set upon by a zillion zombies. I know that's what some people loved, and fair play to them, but I was just left feeling like I cant be bothered. Compare this to the latest Tomb Raider - which had puzzles and fantastic scenery and things to explore - even though in the end it was still linear. It felt like a proper adventure - like you were achieving something. They just don't compare. I made it to the underground (and getting past that bloke in front of the gates) and now after reading this I'm giving it back. This game honestly feels like going to work - it's actually a chore!

  21. No need for reason this game is shit and not worth playing, normally a story would make a bad game good but nope made a shit game even SHITTIER.

  22. I started playing this game a few days hour each day. After a couple of days I've started wondering when I was going to enjoy it. It was excruciating booooooooriiiing !!! I admit that I have purchased the game based on reviews on ign/gamespot/etc. But now I realized I've made a terrible mistake :(

  23. I personally just don't "get" the game. I play a few hours of it and I found the characters to be absolutely impersonal to me and I don't feel any kind of empathy or any kind of desire to get to know them. Maybe it's because I'm not a dad (and I don't plan to be)? I don't know. I have the same issues with Heavy Rain and Beyond. But TLOU's gameplay isn't interesting to me either. It's just another shealth-driven cover shooter.

    I do applaud ND's undeniably flawless production standards and impressive presentation which are witness to their relevance in the industry but TLOU just isn't for me.

  24. Some of the reasons that everyone has for hating this game, including the reviewer, is ridiculous. The gunplay is shaky because it is suppose to make aiming harder. Think about it, your in a world where it is survival of the fittest and the protagonist is 50 or a little over. Besides, you can even upgrade the weapon sway to the point where it is like it was not even there.

    Then you have complaints about getting ladders and planks. It is not like it is difficult or like it happens every single minute. Mr. Stein above complained about not knowing what to do when there was a clicker by a ladder. Is throwing something to distract it so hard?

    Some say that it is too long or that they were expecting Uncharted. This is not suppose to be heavy on platforming be full of guns and explosions. How can you call this a cliche story when Uncharted story is focused on finding a lost treasure and exploring tombs while fighting off criminals who want the same thing? It was the characters that mattered and the way the story was told.

    When it comes to the gameplay mechanics, at least say why you do not like them. I know some people who did not like it simply because the mechanics were not what they were used to. Are seriously going to complain about having to craft in the game? I know that most of the people on here did not explore everything. Did anyone notice the contextual melee combat? Did anyone notice how the characters reacted to certain parts of the environment? Did anyone initiate any of the optional conversations? Did anyone explore using the human shield or how you can deliver a wind up blow if you sprint into an enemy and press the melee button when you have a weapon?

    Overall, if you have do not mention all the things you explored in the game, how can you give valid reason for your criticism? How can you hate mechanics simply because they do not do things in the way that other TP games have as opposed to actually proving to be flawed? To the people who have commented and will comment, back up your criticism and claims.

  25. I've played TLOU and it was an okay game. I don't think it was the greatest game ever. More like something I would beat once, then maybe play the new game plus to get the rest of the upgrades, and then never think about again. My dislike for it probably wouldn't be so strong if it wasn't for all of the hype and overratedness. I just get annoyed for some reason that people won't shut up about how great and revolutionary it is when it's not. In a few months when some shiny new bauble will catch the attention of the general masses and this game will be completely forgotten about. The fact that my mother can beat it on survivor mode proves to me that this game isn't for people looking for challenging game play just an easy ride between cutscenes.

  26. Great review. Tlou bored me.

  27. All of the points you made were completely accurate. It's boring, cliched, and about as far from the bar-raising revolution of gaming the media made it out to be as possible. I've had people tell me I had awful taste in gaming because I called TLOU a boring, predictable fetch-quest with shoddy gunplay. Whatever, opinions are like assholes and all that jazz. Me, I personally thought GTA V was the greater title of the year, not even so much for the main game itself as for the elaborate, in-depth online gameplay. It was just pure fun, and did everything you'd expect from a GTA title - and then some.

  28. I think this game is pretty awesome. A soundtrack is one of the best i have ever heard.


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