Favourite developer? My The Last of Us appraisal

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#1 Posted by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

The Last of us… what is to be said.

It’s already well documented just how good it is. So I won’t sing their praises. I’d take on the topic of what Naught dog has been able to achieve this gen & how their games are unrivalled.

Naught dog is by far & away my favourite & perhaps best developer of this gen simply owing to the deliverance of their single player orientated offerings. I’m confident in saying that.

They provide the type of experience where when the game is over…you are actually saddened it’s finished. Emotions run high consistently throughout their games in a way which no other game has been able to match. They actually immerse you into the game with their unique mix of story/ smart & witty yet realistic dialogue/ real world & character interactions. Even the musical scores rival that of some of the best movies out there… sometimes playing softly in the background but then deciding when to let your ears sink into the backdrop noise of the environment around you. Genius. Oh & did I mention the graphics, boy the graphics! These titles make you sit up straight & pay attention unlike other time-passing games which I’m too often found guilty of just playing through them for the sake of completing them. No, these have real sentimental value. Tomb raider falls just short of these attributes with its marginally inferior execution of the above (easy to fix once they hire a good creative director/ improve facial animations).

Sure you get your reliable shooter/ racer/ fighter you can play often & not tire from them… But when 10 years pass, you will remember your Riddick’s & Uncharted’s above all… just like watching those classic Disney movies which aren’t forgotten.

But there’s still one game to rule them all.

Enter: GTA 5 (9.8/10 for me)

I’ve always felt that whilst Rockstar approach their games with a different directive of building a vast/ open/ fun & lively world tied in with the good story & some witty dialogue to boot… in doing so they forfeit the intricate relationship/ nostalgia/ magic, special something… whatever you want to call it… the developer may be trying to conjure up. I don’t want to say they lack the magic but they certainly lack that intricate human level experience in which you can become so involved with.

Looking at naughty dog & the last of us, when all things settle, the grand & epic scale of things truly outshine the minor bugs. Don’t expect a fun & enjoyable experience. Would you go watch a horror film expecting this? No. A constant stream of tension & unease wears you down to what it must feel like in such a world. Just the right abrasive atmosphere is achieved. You will be heavy & weary from enduring the emotional ordeal of what these two characters you’ve so closely been involved with. It’s just the tone applicable where more mature themes are highlighted. & it’s here where you look to your moral compass to find yourself. You’ll be trying to justify whether acts in the game are validated or a necessary means for survival. Naught dog asks this of you.

To have a heart in my view would warrant the last of us a minimum 9.5/10. Critically speaking of course you can go lower. AI at best is 8/10 & gameplay 8.5… but the game is so much more than that. Thinking now, the same could be said for GTA5.

Games like this make me ask why we even need a new generation of console yet.

#2 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8191 posts) -

@ vpacalypse

and the downsides of TLOU ?

I know its an appraisal but the game still has flaws, unless you pretend not to notice them.

#3 Edited by cooolio (421 posts) -

My only gripes with the last are the human ai and the fact that some sections that seemed like they should have offered stealth did not. Interaction with objects beyond optional conversations. would have been cool too. For the most part, the mechanics are simple but they are refined to suit the game's environment and themes.

Would I praise Naughty Dog this generation? For TLOU, but not uncharted. I can see how Uncharted would be exciting for others, but it was not for me. I think what really ruined it for me was playing TLOU before playing 2 and 3. I think the slow pace of TLOU and character interactions gave me the different experience i was looking for that Uncharted probably could not have. Maybe it is because i want more than just action.

Now with GTA 5...... I was disappointed. It was bigger and it had activities, but they did not really seem like anything new. I think that maybe the nature of the story affected how side activities were structured. I mean, having missions like taking down a drug kingpin or infiltrating a prison would not suit the nature of the story or its atmosphere. GTA is famous for giving you a world to go crazy in, but i just feel like more tools should be added to construct your own fun. I was expecting to have new mechanics like human shields, and the stealth was slack to me. The heists did not offer as much choice as i thought. The world is detailed but lacks interaction with everything that lies in the world. That is how i see it anyway. Overall, i think that it did fans justice by giving you a big sandbox, but lacked any real significant evolution in the franchise.

I really want Rockstar to do something besides open world. Not something that is like another max payne, but something that offers new gameplay and ideas. Hopefully The Agent will offer something new.

#4 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8191 posts) -

@ cooolio

My only hope of ever seeing another LA Noire game is if Rockstar makes and everybody knows they just don't have the talent to that. In LA Noire you can literally see which parts where rockstar's ideas and which were Team Bondi's. Also kudos to you for being so precise and honest, it rarely happens these days.

#5 Edited by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

@ vpacalypse

and the downsides of TLOU ?

I know its an appraisal but the game still has flaws, unless you pretend not to notice them.

Sure, AI at best is 8/10 & gameplay 8.5.

The gameplay suited the type of game it was… though I still feel it could have been more precise with its shooting mechanics. I’m not entirely sure if it was the effect they were intending to achieve (to purposely give him a shaky hand, & at times miss the shot when you aim in the hope of creating more realism in the battle). But I felt it work to its full potential.

AI was really rather average & on par with other games. It offered the variety in the sense you could differentiate between clickers, runners & humans in the way they interpreted your cues... but here’s the problem… not the actions of your companions. Should they talk, walk, rattle an object… The enemy will be immune to this information. & in a game which relies on realism… well it certainly goes against it. I’m not privy another other game which comes across & manages to solve this scenario either though.

Taken as a whole… I label it a game better than the sum of its parts… I think a masterpiece with imperfections best sums it up.

#6 Edited by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

@cooolio said:

My only gripes with the last are the human ai and the fact that some sections that seemed like they should have offered stealth did not. Interaction with objects beyond optional conversations. would have been cool too. For the most part, the mechanics are simple but they are refined to suit the game's environment and themes.

Would I praise Naughty Dog this generation? For TLOU, but not uncharted. I can see how Uncharted would be exciting for others, but it was not for me. I think what really ruined it for me was playing TLOU before playing 2 and 3. I think the slow pace of TLOU and character interactions gave me the different experience i was looking for that Uncharted probably could not have. Maybe it is because i want more than just action.

Now with GTA 5...... I was disappointed. It was bigger and it had activities, but they did not really seem like anything new. I think that maybe the nature of the story affected how side activities were structured. I mean, having missions like taking down a drug kingpin or infiltrating a prison would not suit the nature of the story or its atmosphere. GTA is famous for giving you a world to go crazy in, but i just feel like more tools should be added to construct your own fun. I was expecting to have new mechanics like human shields, and the stealth was slack to me. The heists did not offer as much choice as i thought. The world is detailed but lacks interaction with everything that lies in the world. That is how i see it anyway. Overall, i think that it did fans justice by giving you a big sandbox, but lacked any real significant evolution in the franchise.

I really want Rockstar to do something besides open world. Not something that is like another max payne, but something that offers new gameplay and ideas. Hopefully The Agent will offer something new.

Interesting take on uncharted. I suppose I was looking at the progression of the naughty dog games & the arc of how their games have advanced.

TLOU has a more rigid sense of tension & emotion tied to its tale. Uncharted can be seen as the light hearted titles which really strike home that sense of adventure. Some to a greater extent than others… but so be it.

For GTA… I sometimes felt the sense rockstar were forcing the characters together rather than allowing a natural flow for events to occur for some missions. Their greatest attribute truly is the great scale & detail of the world. A lack of interaction is to be expected with things of this magnitude but it does make things emotionally dull & less intimate somewhat in story mode. No less fun though I should say.

It's a great, immersive & reliable sandbox, some interesting personalites to boot & filled with familiar activities for it's audience to enjoy. But they didn't intergrate the aspect of all those activities available in the world so coherently with it's main the story. Maybe this is owing to it's simpler game mechanics where gameplay become less intimate anyway. I know it's open world but there's a level of discourse present where driving from A to B to a job on someone sometimes feel like a checklist chore in story mode at times. Maybe I just prefer more curated experience of a Naughty dog game.

The mission free open world is what the game is all about really so these are very minor issues all things considered. In context It is still a masterpiece unmatched in the world today.

The gameplay mechanics are a point to be highlighted. Whilst smooth & familiar, the time for innovation is now with their next release.

#7 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8191 posts) -

@ vpacalypse

Come On surely you can do better than that. What about the dudes with guns that don't drop ammo when you kill'em and the duplicate weapons ? Does joel really need two shot guns and two long range weapons with scopes and two pistols, they were different but not different enough. And the zombies, in stealth they remind of those old games with preset predictable movements and in combat they attack flatout out with no strategy and they can't lose track of you like the humans, I know Zombies are so suppose to be brain dead but did they all have to be the exact same type of brain dead ? Left 4 Dead had better zombies (although the Horde was annoying). As with all great games its the little things that suck sometimes.

#8 Posted by contracts420 (1956 posts) -

I have to disagree with many of the complaints aimed at the A.I. The enemies often feel very dynamic in their reactions and have a more human touch. They can react to a single situation in very different ways depending on a number of factors. They communicate with each other in a way that few games even bother to achieve. I could however agree that the friendly A.I has a number of issues and brain farts from time to time. Sucks to see the exception being noticed more than the rule though.

The gunplay was great. I truly believe the handling was intentional to give the player a feeling that every shot counts. You are not meant to feel like a super soldier weapons specialist like other third person action games. Even when readying your weapon with L1 you can hear the tension as Joel gasps in anticipation. Every bullet had impact, something most third person shooters lack. You just feel like a guy who had to pick up a gun in a very scary situation.

#9 Edited by cooolio (421 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: I would have preferred limiting the amount of long weapons to one. Just to simply make you choose and limit you. Also, weapon upgrades kind of defeated the purpose of conserving ammo, but I would have looked past that if the AI balanced that out.

The infected satisfied me more then the human AI only because i was expecting more from the humans in terms of aggressiveness. However, that was only on my first play through. I have to play it again to observer them better. I would have also liked to see no scripted patrol paths.

I think that the reason why i loved it is because i was expecting a lot less. I was not expecting the optional conversations to immerse me like they did. However, like you mentioned in one of your threads, the story telling through interaction should have kept the same feel as the beginning.I thought that Beyond two souls would not be all that good to me because of its way of interaction, and while i do not like the prompts in combat, the beginning with the experiment part in the demo really gave you a lot of room to interact.

I see optional interaction as a way of expanding the narrative and encouraging exploration.

#10 Posted by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

@ vpacalypse

Come On surely you can do better than that. What about the dudes with guns that don't drop ammo when you kill'em and the duplicate weapons ? Does joel really need two shot guns and two long range weapons with scopes and two pistols, they were different but not different enough. And the zombies, in stealth they remind of those old games with preset predictable movements and in combat they attack flatout out with no strategy and they can't lose track of you like the humans, I know Zombies are so suppose to be brain dead but did they all have to be the exact same type of brain dead ? Left 4 Dead had better zombies (although the Horde was annoying). As with all great games its the little things that suck sometimes.

Hmm... I was fine with the wepons on offer actually. Joel accrues & customizes them over time which seems credible to me. I mean it's actually believable.

As for the people who are killed yet leave no ammo behind... I can see your frustations & it's not ideal. But I'm not sure of a way around this if I'm honest becuase I think naughty dog wanted to lend you a scarce amount of supplies. How else would they have acheived this? Lower how much inventory you can hold perhaps, but you'd just be picking up more ammo, more often to compensate. I mean naughty dog are probably aware of this & they could easily introduce a minor patch to fix this, but I don't think it's in the best intentions of creating a more desperate atmosphere which what the strives to do. But your point is noted.

I haven't played left 4 dead, but I wouldn't say the AI was all bad in tlou. I found the enemy AI to be average but sure, no scripted control paths like coolio says would have gone a long way in it's favour & I would have preferred it. At the best of times it was good, though more often or not it was once more average & predictable which is what took some of the shine away really. The AI mostly serves it's purpose (does the job without all the bells & whistles of something more advanced) & is good enough to progress the story forward anyway & the story is where real emphasis should be I feel...

AI, It's an issue which taints the score for sure. I'll say naughty dog need a good AI team in future.

#11 Posted by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

@cooolio said:

@Lulu_Lulu: I would have preferred limiting the amount of long weapons to one. Just to simply make you choose and limit you. Also, weapon upgrades kind of defeated the purpose of conserving ammo, but I would have looked past that if the AI balanced that out.

The infected satisfied me more then the human AI only because i was expecting more from the humans in terms of aggressiveness. However, that was only on my first play through. I have to play it again to observer them better. I would have also liked to see no scripted patrol paths.

I think that the reason why i loved it is because i was expecting a lot less. I was not expecting the optional conversations to immerse me like they did. However, like you mentioned in one of your threads, the story telling through interaction should have kept the same feel as the beginning.I thought that Beyond two souls would not be all that good to me because of its way of interaction, and while i do not like the prompts in combat, the beginning with the experiment part in the demo really gave you a lot of room to interact.

I see optional interaction as a way of expanding the narrative and encouraging exploration.

I really think It all started from Uncharted 2... the being mesmorized factor. You would get the same small talk (not sure if it was optional from memory, but was still nice nonetheless). it all added up to being indiana jones the game.

#12 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (8191 posts) -

@ cooolio

I didn't appreciate a single one of those upgrades. If they're gona add upgrade then they should give me something genuinely new and practical, gimping a the stats and making me grind to balance out the game again is some lazy @ss bullsh!t ! One of the reasons why I hate RPGs and why I put Batman on large pedestal.

Oh and you don't customize your weapons, with new game plus you can just max out each weapon.

#13 Posted by cooolio (421 posts) -

@vpacalypse: You are right. The whole idea for the relationship and interaction came from the section in Uncharted 2 with Tenzin and Drake.

#14 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8191 posts) -

@ cooolio

Tenzin was Totally Bad Ass ! ! !

#15 Posted by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu For some reason when your using the 'call someone out' feature...
A space inserts itself between the @ symbol & the name of the user. Like @ Lulu_Lulu instead of @Lulu_Lulu.

If there's a space in between, the other user isn't notified.

#16 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8191 posts) -

@vpacalypse

Doesn't work.

#17 Posted by Tqricardinho (340 posts) -

Don't want to be mainstream but it's got to be Naughty Dog.

#18 Edited by Pikminmaniac (8524 posts) -

I believe the two foremost developers right now are Retro Studios (Metroid Prime/Donkey Kong Country Returns) and Rocksteady (Batman Arkham series). Their attention to detail and quality gameplay/level design is unmatched in the industry.

Personally, I couldn't enjoy anything from Naughty Dog during their PS3 run. They just started making games that are the exact opposite of what I enjoy.

#19 Edited by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

I believe the two foremost developers right now are Retro Studios (Metroid Prime/Donkey Kong Country Returns) and Rocksteady (Batman Arkham series). Their attention to detail and quality gameplay/level design is unmatched in the industry.

Personally, I couldn't enjoy anything from Naughty Dog during their PS3 run. They just started making games that are the exact opposite of what I enjoy.

I loved arkham ayslum, thought arkham city was ok-good... just waiting to get my hands on arkham origins.

I haven't touched the other titles you mentioned actually but I'm sure they must be good.
If were talking favourite developer ever... there's a tonne more developers to name... ones I haven't even thought of I'm sure.

#20 Posted by Pikminmaniac (8524 posts) -

@Pikminmaniac said:

I believe the two foremost developers right now are Retro Studios (Metroid Prime/Donkey Kong Country Returns) and Rocksteady (Batman Arkham series). Their attention to detail and quality gameplay/level design is unmatched in the industry.

Personally, I couldn't enjoy anything from Naughty Dog during their PS3 run. They just started making games that are the exact opposite of what I enjoy.

I loved arkham ayslum, thought arkham city was ok-good... just waiting to get my hands on arkham origins.

I haven't touched the other titles you mentioned actually but I'm sure they must be good.

If were talking favourite developer ever... there's a tonne more developers to name... ones I haven't even thought of I'm sure.

I actually found that Arkham City was one of the most improved sequels last gen. It did absolutely everything better by a very large margin in my books. So much so that I can no longer bring myself to play the first any more. I still have to play the third though... It might feel strange not being developed by Rocksteady. I wonder what they've been working on since Arkham City.

#21 Posted by vpacalypse (545 posts) -

@Pikminmaniac Oh interesting, I thought going open world world played against the originals assets. It sort of had a creepy atmosphere about it at times & a better story I thought. It's funny because I think AC had the better gameplay but I don't remember that as much as the aforementioned. I like both though... & I didn't know the third had a different developer. But I'll be sure to check it out.