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Thoughts about The Last of Us

September 21st, 2013 No comments

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Spoiler Warning: This post discusses the game’s ending!!!

I finished The Last of Us a couple of months ago and I have to say the production values are way up there; this is excellent work in every department!

But I want to talk a little about the ending. You see, what happened while I was playing it is that I died (like I did many times during the course of the game), but the way that cut-scene was longer than the others and very well staged, I thought it was the REAL ending.

And I was floored. It totally worked for me. Joel was carrying an unconscious Ellie, desperately looking for a door that would lead them outside to freedom. But the armed guards were close behind them; I could hear their voices. The desperation of Joel was palpable, the tension so high. Until finally the guards caught up top to Joel and threw him to the ground. It was chaotic; Joel was thrashing, shouting through his tears for the guards not to take Ellie away. And then one of the guards put his gun to Joel’s head. The gunshot sound boomed and the screen went dark. It was over.

I was speechless. It was a perfect ending in my opinion; Joel stayed true to himself until the end. He wanted to save Ellie, but also to keep her for himself. For very understandable selfish reasons. It was a desperate gesture but it made sense. While the armed forces were too much for him; there was no doubt in my mind that they would manage to stop Joel and snatch Ellie. The odds were too much. Yes, the two protagonists had died, but humanity stood a chance, thanks to Ellie’s sacrifice. Dark. Tragic. Yet also hopeful.

But I guess it’s a little like Blade Runner’s “true” ending; it was probably too much to stomach for people and instead Joel makes it out and his (and Ellie’s) life goes on. Not the ending I would have chosen. Still, that’s one utterly brilliant game.

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Thoughts about Bioshock Infinite

September 21st, 2013 2 comments

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Spoiler Warning: This post talks about Bioshock Infinite and might contain spoilers.

So recently I finished playing “Bioshock Infinite”. My first thought was: my god, what passes for “deep storytelling” in video games nowadays.

In my opinion this scenario is a bungled mess of a story full of contrived, preposterous twists and an overly complicated narrative about unexplained motivations. I mean ANYBODY can write an absurdly knotty story full of confusingly interrelated parts. It doesn’t make it a good story.

That THIS is lauded as a potential game of the year and praised for its supposedly amazing storytelling is frankly beyond me. A friend of mine wisely noted that the threshold for writing in games is extremely low. And the writing level of Bioshock Infinite would pass for a mediocre novel. But slap it onto a video-game and suddenly gamers are gushing about a masterpiece.

I could try and pick up one by one all the pieces of the story that do not make sense or rather only make sense in the writers’ minds because they thought it up in the first place. I could point out the contradictory motivations, the lack of genuine emotion… But I won’t, because it would be a little akin to laughing at an Alzheimer patient because he can’t remember stuff.

I feel this problem will go on as long as gamers (and gaming journalists) mistake complexity for richness. I KNOW video games have long lived a very healthy life without anything resembling a satisfying story. But come on. The quality of writing really needs to improve. Or does it? Let’s be honest here; if good writing was a necessary component of games we wouldn’t have those kind of issues anymore. But still. I’m hoping for better days.

So in the end what’s left of Bioshock Infinite are some very nice visual moments and some pseudo-philosophical attempts at making you believe there is profundity at the core of its story.

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