What Are You Playing?

ohh man Final Fantasy VII Remake is god like iv only played ff7 crisiscore before remake it was awesome now playing ff7 modded on pc its great
 
I finished Tenchu: Stealth Assassins earlier this week. Wow. I can't believe I almost didn't play this game. It was awesome! I didn't really enjoy the supernatural turn it took halfway through, but I loved the gameplay. I can't wait to go back and play through it with Ayame once I'm all caught up with my list in about ten or twenty years, haha.

Next up is Spyro the Dragon!
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Tenchu! Out of all the genres that have gone by the wayside the stealth genre is the one I miss the most.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Tenchu! Out of all the genres that have gone by the wayside the stealth genre is the one I miss the most.
I feel like between the whole Dishonored series, Hitman still being made, and Last of Us 2 out next week, I feel like there have been plenty of stealth focused games in recent years. And check out Mark of the Ninja for a masterclass in them.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Speaking of sneaking and the remaining of ourselves...

The Last of Us Part II - Glad I avoided those spoilers, but I don't think the story is having the impact they intended, and of course it starts out kind of unfocused and messy, but after passing the much teased inciting incident I'm now on mission. The game looks truly gorgeous, like I'm admiring the fucking grass here (it's really making me think this DeS remake would have been fine on PS4 =). Overall, I'm a bit underwhelmed though because aside from the novelty of this being the much-hyped and purportedly epic follow up to one of the biggest PlayStation games... it's just more of the same so far. I'm figuring out how to get into/out of places, taking really unnecessary detours ("instead of just climbing over this gate let's open it by finding gas for a generator through this clicker nest a mile away"), sneaking around, fighting when called for, repeat. If anything, the passage of time makes it feel a little clunkier than I remember its forebear, and the listen system is certainly less useful because enemies are more obfuscated so you really just see a blob. Anyway, it's still beautiful and fun and a SERIOUS gaming experience, but I think I might rather still be playing...

Mortal Kombat 11 - Was killing it as Shang Tsung yesterday, hitting all my kombos (sorry) and krushing blows (so sorry). Getting on near 200 hours and the game continues to be a treat. It was making me wonder last night what they're going to do when the visual quality, especially the animation and face capture, make these games photo-realistic, in a way the face cature already make it as close to the photo-capture of the originals as feasible, because I'm already thinking, "Whoa, I'm seeing the inside of this characters bifurcated face and it looks like the Bodies Exhibition." So, it's a question of if these games, and violent games in general, are going to need to be reclassified as AO or basically that's only reserved for porn.
 
Fallout 2 was amazing. It was, without a doubt, one of the best games I've played so far. These were some of my favorite moments: Harold and the tree in his head named Bob; trying to move Bessie out of the way and watching her tip over; falling back into the trap above the Slag's hideout and watching the guards laugh at you; the cannon-fodder known as Myron; encountering the bridge guardian from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, and the Guardian of Forever from Star Trek; stealing the Advanced Power Armor from Navarro and mowing through every living thing from then on; and overdosing POTUS with Super Stimpaks in order to steal his passkey and turn the tables on Frank Horrigan at the end. Whew! Can't wait to replay that one, one day.

Parasite Eve was okay. I enjoyed SquareSoft's cinematic presentation, but the game felt like a remake of the novel, and it was way, way to linear. That being said, the CG cut-scenes still hold up, and I loved the ability to customize your gear by cannibalizing the other stuff you picked up along the way. At the end of the day, I liked the book better.

Right now, I'm playing Crash Bandicoot: Warped. It's pretty good so far. I'm loving the underwater levels, but I could do without the motorcycle racing.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Fallout 2 was amazing. It was, without a doubt, one of the best games I've played so far.


Speaking of the greatest games of all time...

The Last of Us Part II: ...This isn't one of them! But, since my initial impression the game, or I, found its groove; that addictive cycle of sneaking, taking down a group of enemies, and moving on to the next until, before you know it, it's 4am. It may be more of the same, but the same is still pretty good for the most part. Too many consecutive infected sequences and I do start to get exhausted with it, particularly because watching your flashlight spin around in the dark for too long isn't exactly fun for the eyes.

The story has also kept its focus better since the choppy prologue, though one could argue a strictly traditional structure might have been more effective for the sake of emotional continuity and motivation, but the way they've approached it does spread the wealth throughout. Though, depending on you define "the wealth," it begs the question why that wasn't more of a focus of the game anyway, as was, arguably falsely, advertised; which, at least partially explains why it's getting review bombed (the core reason being people are dumb, of course).

The new characters are fine, Ellie kind of sucks but maybe that's just because she's anti-social since I like her better during the segments she's on her own. I wonder why anyone besides Joel likes her socially as she's moody during the best of times and has nothing interesting to say! Joel likewise has nothing interesting to say, and Dina is probably the best character in the game, so of course she's underused, but I'm guessing she's also the other reason it's getting bombed.

Anyway, I'm enjoying it, and it has real potential to explore some dark shit, but my guess is that will end up being superficial and tepid. We'll see how far they actually go with that before pulling back and going, "Boy, that sure was almost irredeemable; really makes you think!" Meanwhile, you've killed like hundreds of people anyway but, you know, as long as it's not during a cutscene showing their emotional anguish it's ok. =)
 
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Lawliet

Awkward Artist
This year’s been underwhelming with new releases, so I’ve been replaying older titles. The latest revisits include:

  • God of War 2018 – Played the story a second time through on NG+. Went for the missing trophies, which was a painful process as they were collectibles. 4 collectible trophies! When will developers realize that collectible trophies only test your internet lookup skills, and as such they are not an achievement? Still, the revisit was worth it. Game’s still fun and gorgeous. The Valkyries remain as revolting as ever with their cheapness, however.
  • Bloodborne – Probably the game I clocked most hours into out of all the games this gen. Still as fun and horrifying and atmospheric as ever. Cooping it with a friend who’s playing through it for the first time was a good excuse to jump back in.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – Been itching to replay it since I finished it last year. What a glorious game, with its brutal intensity and that PTSD-inducing final boss! No game makes the heart race quite like this one. Definitely one of my favorites.
And then The Last of Us Part II came out and boy I got a lot to say about this one. My feelings on this game are about as mixed and messy as the game itself, but here goes:

First, the positives. This game is a technical and visual triumph. I’m playing it on a regular old PS4 and it looks stunning. The folks who described it as “next-gen” weren’t exaggerating. Everything, from character movements to facial animations to the environmental detail shows painstaking effort. This game will make it hard to go back to other titles from a visual fidelity standpoint.

The game itself is a joy to play. The animations, combat, environment, stealth, and the dynamic nature of the game makes it seem as if you’re in a scripted scenario sometimes. Everything from the first game was refined in this one. The only downside is that you’ll be pretty much doing the same thing over and over with variations being few and far in-between. This is a 25-30 hour game, and the gameplay it has is simply not designed to sustain itself for that long a time. It does get tiring repeating the same pattern of sneaking/fighting your way through humans/infected after a while.

The game’s at its best when the two above points work together. Some of the scenarios they crafted are truly memorable or even terrifying (if you’re playing at hard+ difficulty). I found myself enjoying the little side-stories most, those snapshots of other survivor’s lives you find in the world through letters and notes.

Aaaand that’s it. The game pretty much falls apart in its other aspects. Namely, the plot. This is a traditionally linear game, with its story developments occurring mainly through cutscenes connected by gameplay segments that serve to simply take you from point A to point B. You could take all the gameplay segments and insert them into another game with another plot, and they would still make sense. Plot makes or breaks a game like that, and unfortunately this plot snaps this game on its knees. It’s terrible. Feels like a piece of bad fan-fiction at times. It’s Game of Thrones Season 8 level (which makes it hilarious when you see a character reading a book by David Benioff in one of the cutscenes).

It falls apart right at the beginning. I knew the spoilers going in, but the plot points are even worse than the spoilers indicated. Joel’s death was very badly handled. I mean, you got this guy who’s been surviving an apocalypse for 25 years and he just lets himself walk into an ambush, needlessly revealing his real name to the folks who want to kill him. It doesn’t help that his brother, another hardened survivor, has to share in the stupidity, even offering a group of strangers to come to his settlement. Like, have they learned absolutely nothing from their experiences over two and half decades? The writers had to break Joel’s character in order to off him, and that’s not even touching on this scene’s numerous other problems.

And then there’s Abby. Yikes. Her introduction couldn’t have been worse. Her killing Joel makes it pretty much impossible to like her later on, despite how obviously hard the writers work to “redeem” her later on. It doesn’t help that she kills Joel right after he saves her life, without a hint of conflict about what she’s doing. What they should have done is introduce her early, have us spend some time playing as the character, and then make her confront Joel later in the story. At least then, she might have a shot at being a sympathetic character. Her first impression removed all chance of that happening, however.

You will also be forced to switch to playing as Abby nearly half-way through the game. It’s bad enough to play as a character you don’t like, but all the momentum you’ve built so far falls apart as you start with a new character. Like, you’ll have to go through upgrading equipment and finding weapons all over again and so on. And the story was promising to get to somewhat of a good part at that point.

The best parts of the plot are the flashback sequences with Joel and Ellie, which just goes to show how their relationship is the soul of this story. This should have been another game about them. Taking Joel out right at the start was a terrible choice, in my opinion.

There’s so much more to say about this awful plot, but it suffices to say that we got just another cliché revenge tale instead of an epic, heartfelt sequel worthy of the original.


And then there’s the heavy handed moralizing. Almost every enemy you kill will have their name yelled out by a companion when you blow their heads off. I get where the developers were going with this, but it’s neither subtle nor natural. It feels like you’re being lectured. It doesn’t help when enemies start spewing out the same names again (I killed 3 or 4 Chris’s in one session). This whole thing just unnecessarily calls attention to itself, instead of feeling natural to the game. It's immersion breaking. I find myself often thinking of Naughty Dog instead of feeling like a part of that world when playing.

The groups you go against are not particularly great either. The first game had more variety and memorable groups (QZ police, hunters, cannibals, military, etc). This one pits you against two, the WLF, who’re just a bunch of people with guns, and the Seraphites, who are simply portrayed as a deranged cult. The latter are worse, since they’re basically the former but dress differently and whistle. They talk to each other like a bunch of lunatics too, with their script sounding like dialogue from a weird historical drama. I mean, who talks like that? A lot of these guys are supposed to have been around before the apocalypse, and yet they don’t speak like regular people. Such wasted potential.

I believe I’m one chapter away from the ending, but I doubt the game will perform much to lift itself above what it’s showed so far. This is looking like it’s going to be a 6/10 (or a 7 max) for me.

TL;DR this is not a great game by any means. A shame, really. Oh well, back to replaying older titles I suppose. Unless Ghost of Tsushima breaks this streak of disappointing titles, I hope!
 
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Dar_Klink

Last Guardian when? - CyberKlink 20XX before dying
I've recently played through Castlevania 1, 3, Super IV, and Rondo of Blood

I did Alucard's path on 3(is that how it works? I never saw the other dudes) and am on the Dracula fight in Rondo.

Great stuff although I suck enough that I needed the save state function for 1/3/Super. In Rondo I did use Maria for a lot of it but decided to finish with Richter and might go back through to try as just him now that I'm used to the earlier stiffer controls.

I feel like if I could mix Rondo of Blood and Super's style it'd be perfect. I'm trying out Bloodlines as well right now which feels a bit weird but is cool.

I'm gonna try SotC once I've gone through all the "classicvania" style ones that I want to try.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
And then The Last of Us Part II came out and boy I got a lot to say about this one. My feelings on this game are about as mixed and messy as the game itself
I pretty much agree with all your points and was going to make some myself, particularly how derivative it is of an already repetitive game and genre (there's almost no notable difference from the first game), and how the disjointed narrative frustratingly kills the momentum, both in pace of story and gameplay, whenever it builds it up. "Hey, you're going to hate the game for a few hours while we switch gears, no biggie, right?" At least in Death Stranding or RDR2 if I get bored of the plot I can go do whatever in those worlds for a while and come back, here you're locked in to whatever they want you to do. The jumping around is also just ridiculous at times; flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, years earlier, then months, days, etc. It'll honestly make you laugh (this is what killed Uncharted 4 for me). Also, many of those flashes are just overblown interactive cutscenes I loathe, like Left Behind. Naughty Dog is truly under the impression mundane small talk = real world depth. On that note, I will disagree about the flashbacks paralleling Joel's relationship with Ellie then and now being the best part. It's mostly boring, by the book material and what should be the biggest payoff of the game kinda just comes and goes and is barely followed up on, and not very coherently. There was a lot of interesting stuff they could have explored with those two, but they didn't. As a matter of fact, they introduced or foreshadowed possibilities with way more potential that they end up not even touching.

I believe I’m one chapter away from the ending, but I doubt the game will perform much to lift itself above what it’s showed so far. This is looking like it’s going to be a 6/10 (or a 7 max) for me.
Yeah, it ain't going to help (I wouldn't rule out a 5 or less from you =). It also feels very abrupt after all that comes before, leaving several threads hanging, more interesting ones than the plot we got like I said, and as if it's still unfinished or they're keeping their powder dry for DLC. BUT...

TL;DR this is not a great game by any means. A shame, really.
Despite its flaws and how much better it could have been, I actually don't think it's that bad, or bad at all really, just a relative disappointment. Otherwise, the gameplay is fun, the visuals are A++, and the story IS ambitious and does pull off some interesting tricks I haven't seen before (YMMV with the "antagonist"), it's just all they had to sacrifice to achieve it probably wasn't worth the trade-off emotionally (another way it's a mess). Anyway, I just finished it and am still thinking about it, but yeah, it was alright, still impressive, but it doesn't top the original in any way but graphically, and the ending leaves me with more questions than answers, and not in a good way. What's funny is I found the original to be refreshingly harsh, pragmatic and nihilistic save for the end, and was ironically even more twisted for it (love DESTROYS all =), whereas this one is all empty emotion and sentiment, even when everybody's arbitrarily killing each other, or sometimes more strangely, not. I don't think that's the takeaway I was supposed to have, or even know what it was supposed to be, because it's a contrived and muddled murder/revenge tale no normal person can relate to or resonate with, whereas the core of the original is primordial and intrinsically applies to anyone that was born; the parent/child relationship.

For one example of missed plot opportunities: Abby's search for the reformed Fireflies and the collision course with Ellie coinciding. Is nobody interested in a potential cure anymore (I know the writers sure don't care about the infected when there's lazy melodrama to be had)? All that would have been more interesting and higher stakes than these two's schizophrenic personal conflict that neither seems interested in ultimately fulfilling despite killing approximately 10,000 people along the way. Also, not mutually exclusive, it would have just made things more complicated and interesting for both characters and their intersecting themes.

Oh yeah, and for all the hamfistsd efforts at gender wokeness in this game (did you know slurs are bad? Murder too BTW, especially for revenge, but it is ok to get your people wiped out if they won't let you get a boy's cut though, not even an acknowledgement that didn't go well =), they picked a real bad time to have like two black characters, both villains in bit parts, one that you torture, plus a cameo from a speechless mini-boss that's basically a caricature of a scary black man out of a Klan pamphlet. Off the top of my head I can think of four better and more important African American characters from the first game. Oh, and there's also tons of lynching and a casual slavery plot point concerning... white slaves! Between that and all the guns, militias, and demographics this game is inadvertently portraying a white supremacist's ideal future. Come on Problem Internet, give me the takes!


Mortal Kombat 11 - Still chugging along, but tiring of the grind and obligation to play online as part of it. Don't get me wrong, the benefits of that grind have far outweighed the negatives and gotten me to play a ton more than I likely would have (200 hours compared to 20 for MKX), it's just even that's wearing thin.


It's time to move on, or back, to some VR stuff now that my slate is clear of this traditional AAA fare. I already picked up Skyrim VR for $18 on Steam earlier this week, and have a bunch of others in my cart just waiting for me to pull the trigger. I also need to snag some of Aaz's must-play recommendations from the Oculus store.
 
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Aazealh

Administrator
Staff member
I've recently played through Castlevania 1, 3, Super IV, and Rondo of Blood

I did Alucard's path on 3(is that how it works? I never saw the other dudes) and am on the Dracula fight in Rondo.

Great stuff although I suck enough that I needed the save state function for 1/3/Super. In Rondo I did use Maria for a lot of it but decided to finish with Richter and might go back through to try as just him now that I'm used to the earlier stiffer controls.

I feel like if I could mix Rondo of Blood and Super's style it'd be perfect. I'm trying out Bloodlines as well right now which feels a bit weird but is cool.

I'm gonna try SotC once I've gone through all the "classicvania" style ones that I want to try.
Why the fuck aren't you playing Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest? It's a great game and you definitely should play it. It's different but not in a bad way.
Also there are several paths in Castlevania 3 but you can encounter more than one character in a single playthrough.
 

Dar_Klink

Last Guardian when? - CyberKlink 20XX before dying
Why the fuck aren't you playing Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest? It's a great game and you definitely should play it. It's different but not in a bad way.
Also there are several paths in Castlevania 3 but you can encounter more than one character in a single playthrough.
I'll probably play it now, I was just craving the style of 1/3 a bit more, I also have heard the English translation messes up some of the actual hints that help complete the game although I could just look up online what to do. I'm surprised there hasn't been a re-release of it with a better translation over the years and getting rid of the slow transition times.

For 3 I'll probably go back through to try out Grant and Sypha/get their endings. For now I've been spending the time going back to rescue the other maidens in Rondo of Blood that I missed and get the full ending as well as playing more of the levels as Richter.

I've recently bought a ton of games including Xenoblade Switch, Outer Wilds on Steam, and a ton of random Humble Bundle stuff that I need to play. On top of that I wanna try out Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC now that I have a pretty good system to run it. Also been wondering if I should drop some money on VR stuff... Aaz and Griff are good marketers! All this on top of needing to finish Death Stranding still.

I love DS, especially the progression of your ability to move around faster/carry more cargo, but my GF and I got into a weird place where we were both at the same point in the game, were living in one room together where there's no way to avoid spoilers, and both working from home/not leaving much so neither of us got a chance to finish the game. We're in a better place now where we can more easily play it out of eye/earshot of each other but it's been a few months and it's hard to jump right back in.
 

Aazealh

Administrator
Staff member
I'll probably play it now, I was just craving the style of 1/3 a bit more, I also have heard the English translation messes up some of the actual hints that help complete the game although I could just look up online what to do. I'm surprised there hasn't been a re-release of it with a better translation over the years and getting rid of the slow transition times.
The English translation isn't great for sure, but to be fair the game is kinda difficult to figure out anyway. There's this one infamous moment that you'll probably need to get help with, but the rest is mostly down to perseverence.

Also been wondering if I should drop some money on VR stuff... Aaz and Griff are good marketers! All this on top of needing to finish Death Stranding still.
If you've got $399 to spend, I think it's worth it. Would allow you and your lady to play the same game in the same room without spoiling each other too. :iva: That said, you would need some space to move around for many of the games. It's recommended to have at least 6.5 feet x 6.5 feet of empty space for maximum enjoyment.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Also been wondering if I should drop some money on VR stuff... Aaz and Griff are good marketers!
Speaking of which... I'm BACK BABY!

Half-Life Alyx - Just dropping in to get back in the swing, had some nice shots on explosive cannisters to take out multiple enemies, etc. But since I've already beaten this one I needed to use my time elsewhere...

Vader Immortal - Wrapped up Episode I with a series of lightsaber battles against droids alongside the dark lord of the Sith himself. Vader in VR is still very imposing, but I'm basically his student now... while he needs me. I should reiterate the production values here are top notch, but it can't match up with something like Alyx in the gameplay department. Episode II is ready to go.

Gorn - Not exactly what I was expecting... the grab movement is weird as hell, but I preferred it to their other options. I'll return to this later.

Serious Sam 3 VR - My controllers didn't seem to work, this may have been a bad purchase at $5. Make sure to test your games as soon as you buy, folks. I was hoping this would be a nice high octane FPS but gotta get working first.

No Man's Sky - The most "open" game I've tried in VR, all the mechanics will take some getting used to but you can't argue with exploring virtual planets and solar systems.

Skyrim VR - This is like my 3rd or 4th attempt at getting into Skyrim, which worked okay but I think I need some mods to really make this one what it should be in VR. Only played the opening segment before bed because it was like 5am.

That's it for now, in addition to the second part of Vader Immortal I'd also like to pick up on sale: Fallout 4, Virtual Rick-ality, DOOM VFR, Arkham VR, Star Trek: Bridge Crew (maybe I can play with Aaz and my dad like real nerds =), The Mage's Tale, and BONEWORKS (this one looks potentially special). There's a few other VR staples I'd like to check out, like Budget Cuts, Job Simulator, or something different like Moss, but they don't inherently interest me. I'd also like to check out In Death, which is supposed to be kind of a VR Souls-like built around archery. Of course I also want to get Asgard's Wrath, Lone Echo, and Stormland for Oculus, I just need some more time with the Revive app, which allows you to play your Oculus games in Steam VR, to make sure it'll all work.

All this on top of needing to finish Death Stranding still.

I love DS, especially the progression of your ability to move around faster/carry more cargo
Yeah, it's got a lot of fun mechanics. I'd also like to point out that for a game that was reductively, and anti-intellectually frankly, hit for its purportedly boring premise, unlike something like The Last of Us where you're essentially stuck on rails doing what they want you to do at all times (more INFECTED chores to clear), you're free to do all sorts of different side-missions and activities if you become bored with the main objective (RDR2 has the same advantage, and DS has the most focused plot of the bunch anyway despite that freedom to ignore it at your leisure). Build a motorcycle, build a home base with custom music, build a freeway across the map with other players!

That said, you would need some space to move around for many of the games. It's recommended to have at least 6.5 feet x 6.5 feet of empty space for maximum enjoyment.
I have a bit more than that but wish I had way more; bumped my hand into the back of my new computer chair a couple times last night despite it being pushed under the desk as far as can be, but I'm also standing closer to the PC so the cord is less of a factor. I just need to empty the room completely and rig an overhead cable.
 
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Aazealh

Administrator
Staff member
That's it for now, in addition to the second part of Vader Immortal I'd also like to pick up on sale: Fallout 4, Virtual Rick-ality, DOOM VFR, Arkham VR, Star Trek: Bridge Crew (maybe I can play with Aaz and my dad like real nerds =), The Mage's Tale, and BONEWORKS (this one looks potentially special). There's a few other VR staples I'd like to check out, like Budget Cuts, Job Simulator, or something different like Moss, but they don't inherently interest me. I'd also like to check out In Death, which is supposed to be kind of a VR Souls-like built around archery.
Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners should also be on your list, and relatively high. I forgot if Virtual Virtual Reality is on Steam but it's also pretty neat and a change from shooters. Then there's stuff like The Room VR, which is more of a detective story. Arkham VR is short and while it's well done, it was an early VR experience so keep that in mind. Don't pay more than $5 for it. Doom VFR I'd also skip also you get it for cheap.

Of course I also ewant ot get Asgard's Wrath, Lone Echo, and Stormland for Oculus, I just need some more time with the Revive app, which allows you to play Oculus your games in Steam VR, to make sure it'll all work.
Yeah those three are really great, and there's a bunch of other nice ones if you get it working. For example they've released a new game today called Phantom: Covert Ops and it's pretty cool so far.

I wish I had way more, bumped my hand into the back of my new computer chair a couple times last night despite it being pushing under the desk as far as can be, but I'm also standing closer to the PC so the cord is less of a factor.
Haha, the dream is an empty garage! I have about 200 sq ft of space myself, which is pretty luxurious, but it could always be more...
 

Lawliet

Awkward Artist
I pretty much agree with all your points and was going to make some myself, particularly how derivative it is of an already repetitive game and genre (there's almost no notable difference from the first game), and how the disjointed narrative frustratingly kills the momentum, both in pace of story and gameplay, whenever it builds it up. "Hey, you're going to hate the game for a few hours while we switch gears, no biggie, right?" At least in Death Stranding or RDR2 if I get bored of the plot I can go do whatever in those worlds for a while and come back, here you're locked in to whatever they want you to do. The jumping around is also just ridiculous at times; flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, years earlier, then months, days, etc. It'll honestly make you laugh (this is what killed Uncharted 4 for me). Also, many of those flashes are just overblown interactive cutscenes I loathe, like Left Behind. Naughty Dog is truly under the impression mundane small talk = real world depth. On that note, I will disagree about the flashbacks paralleling Joel's relationship with Ellie then and now being the best part. It's mostly boring, by the book material and what should be the biggest payoff of the game kinda just comes and goes and is barely followed up on, and not very coherently. There was a lot of interesting stuff they could have explored with those two, but they didn't. As a matter of fact, they introduced or foreshadowed possibilities with way more potential that they end up not even touching.
True, they went overboard with some of these flashbacks. But I did think some of them were pretty nice, like Ellie’s birthday trip to the museum, or later her fight with the bloater with Joel helping out..

But yes, there was too much wasted potential here, which makes the plot choices all the more frustrating.

Yeah, it ain't going to help (I wouldn't rule out a 5 or less from you =). It also feels very abrupt after all that comes before, leaving several threads hanging, more interesting ones than the plot we got like I said, and as if it's still unfinished or they're keeping their powder dry for DLC. BUT...
I’m still going to have to wait to see how that turns out. Didn’t get the chance to play the game today. Hopefully my next session will conclude it. I just want it to be over at this point. Not a reaction a developer wants to elicit, that’s for sure.

Would they actually go for a DLC at this point? Especially when we consider the massive backlash they’re getting. I think I’ll just give it a pass if it gets made. I doubt any DLC they come up with can fix this train wreck of a plot.

Despite its flaws and how much better it could have been, I actually don't think it's that bad, or bad at all really, just a relative disappointment. Otherwise, the gameplay is fun, the visuals are A++, and the story IS ambitious and does pull off some interesting tricks I haven't seen before (YMMV with the "antagonist"), it's just all they had to sacrifice to achieve it probably wasn't worth the trade-off emotionally (another way it's a mess). Anyway, I just finished it and am still thinking about it, but yeah, it was alright, still impressive, but it doesn't top the original in any way but graphically, and the ending leaves me with more questions than answers, and not in a good way. What's funny is I found the original to be refreshingly harsh, pragmatic and nihilistic save for the end, and was ironically even more twisted for it (love DESTROYS all =), whereas this one is all empty emotion and sentiment, even when everybody's arbitrarily killing each other, or sometimes more strangely, not. I don't think that's the takeaway I was supposed to have, or even know what it was supposed to be, because it's a contrived and muddled murder/revenge tale no normal person can relate to or resonate with, whereas the core of the original is primordial and intrinsically applies to anyone that was born; the parent/child relationship.
Oh, for sure. I didn’t mean to imply the game as a whole was terrible. It’s just not a great game, one that is worthy of its predecessor, and certainly not the masterpiece gaming publications would have you believe it is.

And I agree with your comparison to the first one. This one is pretty much soulless. I don’t understand why ND wanted to lecture anyone about how “the cycle of revenge” and all that nonsense. I think it would have served them better to have the game center about a theme of something like forgiveness for example. As in, have Joel and Ellie leave their town for one reason or another (like in Fallout 1, when you leave to fetch a water chip for your vault), and during their journey they would deal with the fact that he lied to her about what happened in TLOU1, with Ellie eventually forgiving him. To continue this theme, have Abby go on her own journey, encountering Joel and Ellie at some point, and have her go through some conflict about getting revenge or maybe forgiving the guy since, as we already know, he saves her life. I don’t know if this would make a good game, but I think anything’s better than what we got at this point.

For one example of missed plot opportunities: Abby's search for the reformed Fireflies and the collision course with Ellie coinciding. Is nobody interested in a potential cure anymore (I know the writers sure don't care about the infected when there's lazy melodrama to be had)? All that would have been more interesting and higher stakes than these two's schizophrenic personal conflict that neither seems interested in ultimately fulfilling despite killing approximately 10,000 people along the way. Also, not mutually exclusive, it would have just made things more complicated and interesting for both characters and their intersecting themes.
You know, this part about the cure/vaccine is what I thought to be one of the strangest parts of the story, in both 1 and 2. I mean, I don’t find it believable that the fireflies, in a post-apocalypse with limited resources and one human subject, could engineer a vaccine for a disease that ended civilization. Do these writers not know how hard and complex it is to create a vaccine for far less potent diseases? This is also not touching on other problems, like how will the fireflies have the capability to mass produce the thing, to distribute it, etc. Maybe I’m thinking too much into this, but I would have had no problem with 1 and 2 having a story that had nothing to do with vaccines or cures and so on, at least not the way they went about it.

Oh yeah, and for all the hamfistsd efforts at gender wokeness in this game (did you know slurs are bad? Murder too BTW, especially for revenge, but it is ok to get your people wiped out if they won't let you get a boy's cut though, not even an acknowledgement that didn't go well =), they picked a real bad time to have like two black characters, both villains in bit parts, one that you torture, plus a cameo from a speechless mini-boss that's basically a caricature of a scary black man out of a Klan pamphlet. Off the top of my head I can think of four better and more important African American characters from the first game. Oh, and there's also tons of lynching and a casual slavery plot point concerning... white slaves! Between that and all the guns, militias, and demographics this game is inadvertently portraying a white supremacist's ideal future. Come on Problem Internet, give me the takes!
Yeah, that was another thing ND had to shove down our throats.

One of the cringiest scenes in the game was when you walk into the siblings’ house and Yara finds out that her mom died when Lev accidentally made her fall and crack her skull open. What does Yara do? Does she freak out? No. She just rationalizes Lev’s behavior (“it was self-defense. You did nothing wrong.”) You kidding me? Your mom’s head just split in two and you’re being this chill about it? Sure, she had an initial “reaction”, but she recovered rather fast. It doesn’t help that they just leave their mother’s body as it is and walk out of the house and behave more or less the same way they always have since you met them. That scene was just…That entire chapter was wholly unnecessary.

Just like the moralizing, the forced inclusivity also calls attention to itself and breaks immersion. Every group of enemies you encounter is more or less evenly diversified, even groups of infected. ND might as well hold up a sign or popup in the game telling us how inclusive they are. Once I picked up a note talking about WLF deserters, with the author identifying them not just by their names but by their ethnicities too. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I felt it to be another one of those “notifications” by ND reminding us of how inclusive they are. No subtlety whatsoever. They could have just been natural about it, but no, we had to be reminded at every opportunity.

Oh well, going to finish the game soon, and I doubt the ending will change what I feel about it much, in one direction or the other. I think this will be an overall decent game at best, one that has major defects as opposed to simple blemishes. We’ll see.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners should also be on your list, and relatively high.
Oh yeah, it's on my wishlist, I just didn't mention because it's relatively expensive compared to some of the games on sale now, but if it's truly the best of the remaining Steam lot I'll take quality over quantity.

Yeah those three are really great, and there's a bunch of other nice ones if you get it working. For example they've released a new game today called Phantom: Covert Ops and it's pretty cool so far.
On my Oculus wishlist already after you first told me about it. I also bit the bullet and signed up for their social shit so I can now theoretically friend you and my dad if you have the capability.

Haha, the dream is an empty garage! I have about 200 sq ft of space myself, which is pretty luxurious, but it could always be more...
Nice! My dream also includes an air conditioner though...

True, they went overboard with some of these flashbacks. But I did think some of them were pretty nice
The Ellie and Joel flashbacks weren't the big problem, I think they actually needed at least one more of those, it was just how many flashbacks or time and perspective changes we had to endure. The way they did it from the very beginning is distractingly disjointed and kills momentum and enthusiasm (how many times do you want to "just get through" a segment?).

Would they actually go for a DLC at this point? Especially when we consider the massive backlash they’re getting. I think I’ll just give it a pass if it gets made. I doubt any DLC they come up with can fix this train wreck of a plot.
Well, I feel like it's almost necessary, which isn't great. We'll talk more after you wrap it up, but I can think of at least three or four different concepts that follow with either Ellie, Joel or even Abby depending on the timeframe.

Oh, for sure. I didn’t mean to imply the game as a whole was terrible. It’s just not a great game, one that is worthy of its predecessor, and certainly not the masterpiece gaming publications would have you believe it is.
Yeah, it's inherently flawed, has incredibly high quality production values, but creatively somehow less than the sum of its parts. I mean, it's not really a mystery though: the plot simply isn't that good outside of the devices, or gimmicks, its employing.

I think it would have served them better to have the game center about a theme of something like forgiveness for example. As in, have Joel and Ellie leave their town for one reason or another (like in Fallout 1, when you leave to fetch a water chip for your vault), and during their journey they would deal with the fact that he lied to her about what happened in TLOU1, with Ellie eventually forgiving him.
That somehow got short shrift despite it being one of the thematic pillars of the game. Like, you never really hear them talk it out. There's a TON Joel would have to say about it and vice versa with Ellie, but the dialogue just wasn't written apparently. I mean, I get that these two are repressed, but Jesus they spend four years together afterward and can't just SAY how they feel about each other, good and bad? It doesn't come off as subtle and nuanced so much as superficial. Like, write a killer scene. Same thing with Ellie and Dina, and Abby too, really (all these characters never end up saying shit to each other despite their connections!). In the original what wasn't said in the end was significant because it was this dark shadow cast over everything, here it just strikes me as inept.

You know, this part about the cure/vaccine is what I thought to be one of the strangest parts of the story, in both 1 and 2. I mean, I don’t find it believable that the fireflies, in a post-apocalypse with limited resources and one human subject, could engineer a vaccine for a disease that ended civilization. Do these writers not know how hard and complex it is to create a vaccine for far less potent diseases? This is also not touching on other problems, like how will the fireflies have the capability to mass produce the thing, to distribute it, etc. Maybe I’m thinking too much into this
Yes, you are thinking too much about it. =) But it's a plot point baked into the cake already that Ellie has the magical cure, but nobody seemingly cares anymore, or only one guy could do anything about it? It doesn't make much sense either way. Abby sure didn't seem to give a shit, which makes me want to know her specific thoughts on the subject now, because before she expressed willingness to sacrifice her own life for it and here's a chance to truly make things right and apparently it doesn't occur to her. I mean, I guess she's a stupid asshole, but you'd think after reforming herself this would be something worth unpacking. I mean, I don't need everything spelled out, I just find these topics and themes far more compelling than whatever the hell they were, or weren't, doing.

One of the cringiest scenes in the game was when you walk into the siblings’ house and Yara finds out that her mom died when Lev accidentally made her fall and crack her skull open. What does Yara do? Does she freak out? No. She just rationalizes Lev’s behavior (“it was self-defense. You did nothing wrong.”) You kidding me? Your mom’s head just split in two and you’re being this chill about it? Sure, she had an initial “reaction”, but she recovered rather fast. It doesn’t help that they just leave their mother’s body as it is and walk out of the house and behave more or less the same way they always have since you met them. That scene was just…That entire chapter was wholly unnecessary.
Agreed, Lev was like a low key villain at that point who destroys everybody's life that he knows because he has to have his way vis-à-vis his family, but it's all okay because he faced discrimination. I mean, how can he live with himself after what ultimately happens? His hands are as dirty as Ellie's and Abby's, if not dirtier (well, maybe not Ellie's, the game fails to address the extent of her sins as well, but at least it's clearly punishing her somewhat). It's a trope I hate in storytelling where someone goes rogue acting selfishly, stubbornly, irrationally or hysterically, puts everyone at risk or gets people killed, and then basically gets a pat on the head and a pass for it, "It's ok, you had to do what you thought was right even though it was obviously wrong, everyone knew it, you didn't listen to anybody, and people needlessly died because of it, as you were warned." Not a great message for all the selfish narcissists out there right now, "Do whatever you want, damn the consequences!" Now THAT'S too close to current reality.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I felt it to be another one of those “notifications” by ND reminding us of how inclusive they are. No subtlety whatsoever. They could have just been natural about it, but no, we had to be reminded at every opportunity.
It would mean more if it was just there, but it's clearly performative and they're trying to prove something about themselves and it comes off perfunctory at best and exploitative at worst (like all of a sudden two weeks ago Druckmann says the game is based on a lynching he saw as a kid... yikes). I think we're already past the idea of token inclusiveness mattering so much when you need the people behind the scenes to actually be lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender telling their own stories rather than it being window dressing for an off-brand Quentin Tarantino grindhouse yarn. I guess that's clearly not happening in AAA game development though, so kudos for at least trying to pave the way I guess. Don't know that it helped in the grand scheme, but hopefully it will at least be meaningful to the underrepresented groups it features.

Well, apparently not (lol):

Oh well, going to finish the game soon, and I doubt the ending will change what I feel about it much, in one direction or the other. I think this will be an overall decent game at best, one that has major defects as opposed to simple blemishes. We’ll see.
Yeah, I haven't fired it up again since the other day but we'll see where I eventually land on it. I may actually like Abby the best about it, but that might just be because she had the most cohesive arc while they kind of butchered Ellie's story.
 
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RaffoBaffo

Ex-Newser of the late Berserk Chronicles
Well, apparently not (lol):
So, one of he bigots of the CRAZY RELIGIOUS CULT is....deadamng, and so ND is shit because they make a clearly bad person do a bad thing.

I swear to God, this generation...

And I'm didn't even like TloU2, but, again, Jesus Christ the stipidity.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Damned if you don't, damned if you do.:shrug:


Vader Immortal: Episode II - Wasn't as good as the first episode, and was somehow even shorter, but felt like more of a gaming experience. Wielding the ancestral lightsaber was fun and so were force powers once I got used to them. Episode III tomorrow.

Super Hot VR - Whoa, now this was something else! Grabbing guns out of mid-air, dodging bullets, or stopping them by freezing is all very heady and exciting. I still haven't wrapped my head around, let alone mastered, the mechanics and had to quit because I was moving around so frantically that the floor rug started sliding around under my feet! Definitely looking forward to another session, I just want to make sure I don't go crashing through the window. :ganishka:
 
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Lawliet

Awkward Artist
The Ellie and Joel flashbacks weren't the big problem, I think they actually needed at least one more of those, it was just how many flashbacks or time and perspective changes we had to endure. The way they did it from the very beginning is distractingly disjointed and kills momentum and enthusiasm (how many times do you want to "just get through" a segment?).
Yeah. I played the game on hard, but some of these segments were so boring that I turned down the difficulty to the minimum just to get through them as quickly as possible (didn’t help much though, as Abby’s part still took around 10 hours to finish anyway).

Well, I feel like it's almost necessary, which isn't great. We'll talk more after you wrap it up, but I can think of at least three or four different concepts that follow with either Ellie, Joel or even Abby depending on the timeframe.
I finally wrapped it up, and you were right, the last chapter didn’t help. Actually it made it worse somewhat. I hated that ending.

So after Ellie goes through this entire journey, with a body-count that would make Joel blush, and she just…lets Abby go? It was so sudden and arbitrary. I get what they were going for, but it had no build-up to it whatsoever. She just has a flashback of Joel at the last moment (a moment, mind you, which came after she lost two fingers in a fight. This should drive anyone to a momentary insanity I would think.)

It was so strangely unfulfilling and empty. I’ve seen some folks defending it with the argument that you’re supposed to feel those things, like Ellie did. But I only felt that because of how badly done the ending was, not because I’m empathizing with Ellie.

Look, if you’re going to do a revenge tale properly, you only got two options: Have the character get revenge, or have them not get it but for a good reason. Don't make the character kill a whole lot of people (most of whom have nothing to do with your revenge, at all), just to let the object of your revenge just go at the end. If they wanted Ellie to forgive Abby for example, they could have done far better than that sudden, shoehorned Joel flashback. No closure or catharsis. It feels like you wasted your time instead. It’s like they wanted the whole “revenge doesn’t bring you peace” kind of feeling, but without the revenge itself. It’s contradictory and weird.


Safe to say this is one of my least favorite endings to a game. I haven’t felt like this since Mass Effect 3. Not a flattering comparison, to say the least.

I’m interested in how you think they could take a DLC from there, however.

Yeah, it's inherently flawed, has incredibly high quality production values, but creatively somehow less than the sum of its parts. I mean, it's not really a mystery though: the plot simply isn't that good outside of the devices, or gimmicks, its employing.
Yup. I think ND was more concerned with pushing certain ideas down players’ throats rather than doing anything creative at that point. And it shows.

That somehow got short shrift despite it being one of the thematic pillars of the game. Like, you never really hear them talk it out. There's a TON Joel would have to say about it and vice versa with Ellie, but the dialogue just wasn't written apparently. I mean, I get that these two are repressed, but Jesus they spend four years together afterward and can't just SAY how they feel about each other, good and bad? It doesn't come off as subtle and nuanced so much as superficial. Like, write a killer scene. Same thing with Ellie and Dina, and Abby too, really (all these characters never end up saying shit to each other despite their connections!). In the original what wasn't said in the end was significant because it was this dark shadow cast over everything, here it just strikes me as inept.
This. I was constantly irritated by how tight-lipped everyone was. Nobody ever stops to question their choices. In the ending, neither Ellie nor Abby mention what happened at the prologue. I mean, at least if Abby displayed some regret at torturing Joel to death, the ending may have been more tolerable or made a little more sense. But nope, none of that was there. Nor anything between Joel and Ellie save for some teases in the flashbacks. Apparently, an entire game with Joel and Ellie sorting out their problems with each other was too much to write.

Yes, you are thinking too much about it. =) But it's a plot point baked into the cake already that Ellie has the magical cure, but nobody seemingly cares anymore, or only one guy could do anything about it? It doesn't make much sense either way. Abby sure didn't seem to give a shit, which makes me want to know her specific thoughts on the subject now, because before she expressed willingness to sacrifice her own life for it and here's a chance to truly make things right and apparently it doesn't occur to her. I mean, I guess she's a stupid asshole, but you'd think after reforming herself this would be something worth unpacking. I mean, I don't need everything spelled out, I just find these topics and themes far more compelling than whatever the hell they were, or weren't, doing.
To be honest, I don’t think even ND knew what it wanted to do with this game. So many potential themes are brought up, and just dropped. It’s like they changed the writing team a few times during the development.

Agreed, Lev was like a low key villain at that point who destroys everybody's life that he knows because he has to have his way vis-à-vis his family, but it's all okay because he faced discrimination. I mean, how can he live with himself after what ultimately happens? His hands are as dirty as Ellie's and Abby's, if not dirtier (well, maybe not Ellie's, the game fails to address the extent of her sins as well, but at least it's clearly punishing her somewhat). It's a trope I hate in storytelling where someone goes rogue acting selfishly, stubbornly, irrationally or hysterically, puts everyone at risk or gets people killed, and then basically gets a pat on the head and a pass for it, "It's ok, you had to do what you thought was right even though it was obviously wrong, everyone knew it, you didn't listen to anybody, and people needlessly died because of it, as you were warned." Not a great message for all the selfish narcissists out there right now, "Do whatever you want, damn the consequences!" Now THAT'S too close to current reality.
I feel like they just coddled Lev too much. Like I said, even in the scene when Yara finds her mom’s body, all she’s concerned with is pointing out that Lev is “innocent”.

Maybe they were trying to mirror Joel and Ellie from the first game in Lev and Abby here, but if they were trying to have Lev be another Ellie, it didn’t quite work out.

It would mean more if it was just there, but it's clearly performative and they're trying to prove something about themselves and it comes off perfunctory at best and exploitative at worst (like all of a sudden two weeks ago Druckmann says the game is based on a lynching he saw as a kid... yikes). I think we're already past the idea of token inclusiveness mattering so much when you need the people behind the scenes to actually be lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender telling their own stories rather than it being window dressing for an off-brand Quentin Tarantino grindhouse yarn. I guess that's clearly not happening in AAA game development though, so kudos for at least trying to pave the way I guess. Don't know that it helped in the grand scheme, but hopefully it will at least be meaningful to the underrepresented groups it features.
I don’t think ND was being genuine in any of this. It feels like pandering at best. Like you said, it’s performative. They’re doing it to get patted on the back for how inclusive they are, not for any real interest in representing anyone, in my opinion. Which is why…

Well, apparently not (lol):

..stuff like that happens.

I believe developers should move away from all the politics and just focus on telling good stories. If they’ve got ideas they want to share or groups to represent, they should do it in a way that’s naturally integrated into their work. Not just pandering or lecturing people on what they should think.

PS: I love how this article flat-out says that the TLOU2 controversy is "fueled by bigotry" towards certain groups. What a silly straw-man. People were pissed at the bad writing and execution, not because the game features certain groups, as far as I can tell.

Yeah, I haven't fired it up again since the other day but we'll see where I eventually land on it. I may actually like Abby the best about it, but that might just be because she had the most cohesive arc while they kind of butchered Ellie's story.
I deleted it when I was done, since I needed the space to reinstall another game. I may go for new-game+ at some point, though, on highest difficulty. The gameplay is worth a revisit, at least.

Overall this ended up a 6/10 for me. I don’t regret the buy, but I don’t plan on getting another one of those if they end up making one. I also wouldn’t recommend it to anyone reading this who might be interested in getting it. I’d suggest waiting for a sale. The game’s worth the experience, but not at what they’re selling it right now.
 
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Griffith

My posts are better.
Yeah. I played the game on hard, but some of these segments were so boring that I turned down the difficulty to the minimum just to get through them as quickly as possible (didn’t help much though, as Abby’s part still took around 10 hours to finish anyway).
Yeah, right at the moment you've been waiting for, they pull a switcheroo on you, and it takes a couple hours before you realize it ain't just another cutaway but you're in it for the long haul. To me the game never recovered that lost momentum, even when you return to that scene. Everything thereafter felt ragged and disjointed.

I finally wrapped it up, and you were right, the last chapter didn’t help. Actually it made it worse somewhat. I hated that ending.

So after Ellie goes through this entire journey, with a body-count that would make Joel blush, and she just…lets Abby go?
Even worse, she technically SAVED her life!

It was so sudden and arbitrary. I get what they were going for, but it had no build-up to it whatsoever. She just has a flashback of Joel at the last moment (a moment, mind you, which came after she lost two fingers in a fight. This should drive anyone to a momentary insanity I would think.)

It was so strangely unfulfilling and empty. I’ve seen some folks defending it with the argument that you’re supposed to feel those things, like Ellie did. But I only felt that because of how badly done the ending was, not because I’m empathizing with Ellie.

Look, if you’re going to do a revenge tale properly, you only got two options: Have the character get revenge, or have them not get it but for a good reason. Don't make the character kill a whole lot of people (most of whom have nothing to do with your revenge, at all), just to let the object of your revenge just go at the end. If they wanted Ellie to forgive Abby for example, they could have done far better than that sudden, shoehorned Joel flashback. No closure or catharsis. It feels like you wasted your time instead. It’s like they wanted the whole “revenge doesn’t bring you peace” kind of feeling, but without the revenge itself. It’s contradictory and weird.
Exactly, Ellie didn't even get the one key revelation, the plot point the entire game is built on, which could have justifiably changed everything: that Abby's father was the surgeon performing the procedure on Ellie that Joel killed.

I can't believe this never comes up, that Ellie never asks why and nobody offers or says much of anything. This isn't a case of "show, don't tell" for the audience, it isn't subtext, we basically have to fill that in for ourselves too, this is total lack of curiosity or intelligence on the part of the characters, and dramatic malpractice after setting up a 25 hour story built around this information and then just letting it fade away into the ether to make... no point? I guess forgive people for no good reason because secretly there probably is one you just don't know about. Naughty Dog Quality!

Safe to say this is one of my least favorite endings to a game. I haven’t felt like this since Mass Effect 3. Not a flattering comparison, to say the least.
Now that one I defended to the death; at least it said something, even if it wasn't that good. This one's like "choose your own head-canon," but of course it doesn't let you actually make a choice in the end. That would have been so much more meaningful given the content of the game, the themes and questions it raises and what your choice says about them and yourself. Oh well, wouldn't want that to spoil the integrity of all the nothing ND had to say.:shrug:

I’m interested in how you think they could take a DLC from there, however.
In order of desire/potential:

1. Ellie's post-revenge life, which is shit and further illustrates what this cost her. This on its own would be boring and unessesary (so they'll definitely do that =), so what I really want is due to this, her PTSD and lack of closure, she goes back to kill Abby AGAIN and learns the truth about Abby's father and you get to kill her, or decide not to. Basically the ME3 extended cut ending fix. Not going to happen though.

2. What becomes of Abby and Lev as they go to find the Fireflies. Possible if not likely. Bonus if finding Ellie/the cure comes into play somehow, even just as an idea Abby shares. I mean, these characters have no closure about ANYTHING, so hopefully they're setting up a sequel because they sure didn't tell a satisfyingly complete story. Maybe the real theme of the game is disappointment. Nailed it.

3. Some fan service where you play as Joel: Joel & Tommy in the bad old days where you really see what a fucker he was, boring Joel doing mundane shit in Jackson (they'd love this), or Joel & Ellie forced on an adventure together where she first forgives him, because are we really supposed to believe they hadn't spoken about it for like a year until the night before he died? If so, we definitely should have explored that further because no wonder she couldn't let his death go, she would have felt guilty about shunning him until it was too late, which remembering would only give her more reason to kill Abby.


I fully expect something worse than these three mediocre ideas.

To be honest, I don’t think even ND knew what it wanted to do with this game. So many potential themes are brought up, and just dropped. It’s like they changed the writing team a few times during the development.
They choked under the pressure, they wanted to make some dark, gritty BS about the human condition that transcends to the meaning of life and if that sounds vaguely grandiose but muddled that's because it is. They took so many years to do this and it feels like a half-baked idea they didn't fully flesh out.

I feel like they just coddled Lev too much. Like I said, even in the scene when Yara finds her mom’s body, all she’s concerned with is pointing out that Lev is “innocent”.
Like I said, I have no sympathy for the, "character needlessly runs towards danger and puts all their friends in it" trope. Ellie is partially guilty of this except it's a bit more like everyone is insisting on coming along on something she needs to do herself, or with Tommy if anybody.

Maybe they were trying to mirror Joel and Ellie from the first game in Lev and Abby here, but if they were trying to have Lev be another Ellie, it didn’t quite work out.
That potential was definitely there, especially in the end, but just another unplayed note sadly.

I believe developers should move away from all the politics and just focus on telling good stories. If they’ve got ideas they want to share or groups to represent, they should do it in a way that’s naturally integrated into their work. Not just pandering or lecturing people on what they should think.

PS: I love how this article flat-out says that the TLOU2 controversy is "fueled by bigotry" towards certain groups. What a silly straw-man. People were pissed at the bad writing and execution, not because the game features certain groups, as far as I can tell.
Well, none of these things are mutually exclusive, they can and should tell good politically relevant stories, some would argue any good story is political somehow ("everything is politics, especially the purportedly apolitical"), and there's definitely people hating it online just for its "woke" reputation as well as the plot being pretty questionable. It's basically getting it from all sides except the enthusiast gaming press that has financial interest in touting its bonafides as a transcendent gaming experience that shows how far the medium has come, blah blah blah. And to be fair, it's still good and that's at least arguably true in some regards.

Overall this ended up a 6/10 for me. I don’t regret the buy, but I don’t plan on getting another one of those if they end up making one. I also wouldn’t recommend it to anyone reading this who might be interested in getting it. I’d suggest waiting for a sale. The game’s worth the experience, but not at what they’re selling it right now.
A bit higher for me, a 7 or 8; it's still above most games out there, it just also has some frustrating aspects and doesn't live up to its predecessor or completely fulfill its own potential for the reasons I mentioned. If I replay it I'll see if it moves up minus expectations and if maybe I missed some things in my urgency to finish it that address some of my issues.
 
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I am very exhausted after finishing TLOU2. I am not happy with the ending and I'm not really sure what the moral of the story was. Despite the story being a letdown, I gave it a 4/5. The game play was really fun and the graphics were gorgeous. The amount of different settings and situations the game puts the player in is very impressive.
 

Lawliet

Awkward Artist
Yeah, right at the moment you've been waiting for, they pull a switcheroo on you, and it takes a couple hours before you realize it ain't just another cutaway but you're in it for the long haul. To me the game never recovered that lost momentum, even when you return to that scene. Everything thereafter felt ragged and disjointed.
This is simply one of the prime examples of how ND failed to structure the whole thing, the other being Abby’s introduction and what she does to Joel. Neil Druckmann could have benefited from an editor for his story drafts and/or some proper feedback.

A lot of what happens in this game is simply placed at the wrong parts, and may have worked if at least these moments were earned.

Even worse, she technically SAVED her life!
We could say the same of Abby in a sense. She lets Ellie live TWICE, even though she should have known that she will come for revenge later on. Actually, she also lets Tommy go despite knowing he was Joel’s brother (which was how she found Joel to begin with). Did it not occur to you that this will bite you in the ass later? I don’t get how these characters’ brains work.

Exactly, Ellie didn't even get the one key revelation, the plot point the entire game is built on, which could have justifiably changed everything: that Abby's father was the surgeon performing the procedure on Ellie that Joel killed.
I was expecting that to come-up, all the way to the end. Just like I was expecting Ellie to explain to Abby why Joel did what he did. Maybe have the two get some mutual understanding before they fight or whatever.

I can't believe this never comes up, that Ellie never asks why and nobody offers or says much of anything. This isn't a case of "show, don't tell" for the audience, it isn't subtext, we basically have to fill that in for ourselves too, this is total lack of curiosity or intelligence on the part of the characters, and dramatic malpractice after setting up a 25 hour story built around this information and then just letting it fade away into the ether to make... no point? I guess forgive people for no good reason because secretly there probably is one you just don't know about. Naughty Dog Quality!
To be fair, one could say that Ellie wouldn’t care why Abby killed Joel. She even says at the beginning of her journey that “Joel crossed a lot of people” and that “it doesn’t matter who they were” and so on. She also knew at some point that the group who killed Joel is connected to the fireflies from the hospital. This may, in part, explain why Ellie doesn’t question or care why Abby did it. But of course, this doesn’t make it dramatically satisfying in any way. Having Ellie discover the more personal aspect of Abby’s connection to the hospital event would have been a far better move for ND, and could have opened up the dramatic possibilities that they wasted.

Now that one I defended to the death; at least it said something, even if it wasn't that good. This one's like "choose your own head-canon," but of course it doesn't let you actually make a choice in the end. That would have been so much more meaningful given the content of the game, the themes and questions it raises and what your choice says about them and yourself. Oh well, wouldn't want that to spoil the integrity of all the nothing ND had to say.
I suppose. It has been 8 years since ME3 and I haven’t touched it again since, so maybe it isn’t as bad as I remember it. But I do recall feeling like the whole thing was a waste, with the choices you made and imported through saves not mattering in the end. Maybe it's time for a long overdue revisit?

And yes, I fully agree about letting you have a choice in the end. I was expecting (though with very little confidence) that ND will make you choose between two endings. But of course, that simply isn’t their style. Another example of wasted opportunity.

In order of desire/potential:

1. Ellie's post-revenge life, which is shit and further illustrates what this cost her. This on its own would be boring and unessesary (so they'll definitely do that =), so what I really want is due to this, her PTSD and lack of closure, she goes back to kill Abby AGAIN and learns the truth about Abby's father and you get to kill her, or decide not to. Basically the ME3 extended cut ending fix. Not going to happen though.
This is what should have happened already in the standard game, but yeah you’re probably right that they won’t do it. Even if they did, it would just feels like a patch rather than an organic continuation. Then again, this is ND, so I guess we can expect anything at this point.

2. What becomes of Abby and Lev as they go to find the Fireflies. Possible if not likely. Bonus if finding Ellie/the cure comes into play somehow, even just as an idea Abby shares. I mean, these characters have no closure about ANYTHING, so hopefully they're setting up a sequel because they sure didn't tell a satisfyingly complete story. Maybe the real theme of the game is disappointment. Nailed it.
I hope they won’t go for any DLC featuring Abby, as I think I’ve had about enough of her. If it helps set up a sequel that could at least repair some of the damage Part II did (God, I’m getting Disney Star Wars trilogy vibes here), then maybe. We’ll see.

3. Some fan service where you play as Joel: Joel & Tommy in the bad old days where you really see what a fucker he was, boring Joel doing mundane shit in Jackson (they'd love this), or Joel & Ellie forced on an adventure together where she first forgives him, because are we really supposed to believe they hadn't spoken about it for like a year until the night before he died? If so, we definitely should have explored that further because no wonder she couldn't let his death go, she would have felt guilty about shunning him until it was too late, which remembering would only give her more reason to kill Abby.
Now this I can get behind. The first option reminds me of an idea I had about an alternate storyline for Abby, where she was just one of the people Joel had hurt during his bad years (remember in the first game when he said “I’ve been on both sides”, when referring to ambushes). I’m curious to see how Joel was during these years.

The second option though, no thanks. But knowing ND, they’d most likely go for that one, as you said.

The third option is basically the true sequel that we never got. But if they were to offer it on a DLC, I could go for that, provided they execute it well. After their current performance though, I don’t particularly have much confidence in them.


They choked under the pressure, they wanted to make some dark, gritty BS about the human condition that transcends to the meaning of life and if that sounds vaguely grandiose but muddled that's because it is. They took so many years to do this and it feels like a half-baked idea they didn't fully flesh out.
That’s the trend with developers nowadays (particularly western devs), this obsession with being profound and this needless anxiety to compete with other mediums. It’s so pretentious, like they’re forgetting they’re making games at the end of the day (I’m not saying games can’t or shouldn’t aim for depth, just that not every game has to make me question my universe and so on).

Well, none of these things are mutually exclusive, they can and should tell good politically relevant stories, some would argue any good story is political somehow ("everything is politics, especially the purportedly apolitical"), and there's definitely people hating it online just for its "woke" reputation as well as the plot being pretty questionable. It's basically getting it from all sides except the enthusiast gaming press that has financial interest in touting its bonafides as a transcendent gaming experience that shows how far the medium has come, blah blah blah. And to be fair, it's still good and that's at least arguably true in some regards.
I suppose it depends on how we define “political”. But at the end of the day, using a story simply as a means to push ideas or agenda is setting up for failure, I would say. There’s a difference between telling a good story with politically relevant ideas subtly woven in, and starting out with the politics and simply building the story around it as nothing more than the way to deliver these ideas (and in a way that is heavy-handed, no less). I was criticizing the latter approach, which a lot of writers today (mainly in Hollywood) are taking, without understanding the fact that people simply don’t like to be lectured. TLOU2, unfortunately, falls into the latter category.

A bit higher for me, a 7 or 8; it's still above most games out there, it just also has some frustrating aspects and doesn't live up to its predecessor or completely fulfill its own potential for the reasons I mentioned. If I replay it I'll see if it moves up minus expectations and if maybe I missed some things in my urgency to finish it that address some of my issues.
I’m glad to see you enjoyed it enough to give it a 7 or 8 (I was considering a 7 myself, until I got to the Haven part, with the ending itself cementing the score I gave it). I wouldn’t mind returning to it at some point, playing NG+ on hardest difficulty (should be quite the thrill), but I doubt it will move up in my eyes even with that playthrough. But who knows, the experience is still fresh in my head, so maybe returning to it after some time can make me appreciate it more.
 
I finished Crash Bandicoot: Warped and Half-Life, and I’m about to finish Super Mario 64.

I liked Warped, but not as much as Cortex Strikes Back. There was a big leap in quality of gameplay between Crash and Crash 2; not so much between the second and third games. I think the rushed development time had a lot to do with that. The game was still a lot of fun, though. I’ll go back to it one day to try and get a 100% completion.

I played Half-Life back when it first came out and was blown away. It really holds up, too. I stayed up way too late on some work nights last week, saying to myself, “just one more encounter, then I’ll go to bed.” I’m really, really looking forward to playing Half-Life 2. I hear it’s amazing.

Super Mario 64 was a life-changing event for me in 1996. My N64 arrived on Christmas Eve (my mom had a nervous breakdown about it potentially not arriving in time for Christmas), and Christmas Day was pure magic. My family’s jaws dropped when Mario’s face filled our old TV’s screen. I played it for the next three or four hours, basically until my eyes and head hurt so bad I couldn’t continue. This time around wasn’t as magical, but it sure was nostalgic. A lot of the game has held up extremely well, but some of it hasn’t. The gameplay is solid, though the controls feel a bit loose compared to modern 3D games. Nothing to complain about, though. I remember some of the textures looking pretty blurry on our old set, but they look downright terrible on my computer screen. That being said, some textures look really sharp, so it must have something to do with the way they’re mapped. I also remember the game being much harder, but I’m breezing through it right now. Still, it’s one of my favorites, and a real game changer back in the day.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
This is simply one of the prime examples of how ND failed to structure the whole thing, the other being Abby’s introduction and what she does to Joel. Neil Druckmann could have benefited from an editor for his story drafts and/or some proper feedback.
Frankly, it felt a bit rushed and underwhelming for how big the moment was supposed to be. It didn't help that we'd basically been mislead about what was going to happen so my sense of expectations and anticipation were completely off until it dawned on me what was really going on. In any case, it wasn't what it should have been.

A lot of what happens in this game is simply placed at the wrong parts, and may have worked if at least these moments were earned.
If I recall, the first game is pretty much linear from beginning to end save for the DLC and maybe one framing device with the cannibals (when you switch from Ellie back to Joel). I think a natural inertia and momentum, particularly in a video game as opposed to a novel or film, make a big difference. I mean, sometimes it's literally like you're starting over again, that's no fun, particularly in a game where they have you building up your characters, skills, and items.

We could say the same of Abby in a sense. She lets Ellie live TWICE, even though she should have known that she will come for revenge later on. Actually, she also lets Tommy go despite knowing he was Joel’s brother (which was how she found Joel to begin with). Did it not occur to you that this will bite you in the ass later? I don’t get how these characters’ brains work.
It's even worse for Ellie though because Abby would have literally died on her own if she hadn't of come! It's one thing not to get revenge for your surrogate father, but to essentially RESCUE his killer? That's certainly a feeling. To your point, I didn't even think Abby should have left without putting an oar to Ellie's skull in case she changed her mind again (otherwise you'd always be looking over your shoulder). In the revenge department these ladies are sure not the ones of Kill Bill. Kudos to Abby for actually getting her man, I guess, and she seemed to have had a genuine change of heart, whereas I just had no idea what Ellie's deal was and I suspect Naughty Dog doesn't either.

I was expecting that to come-up, all the way to the end. Just like I was expecting Ellie to explain to Abby why Joel did what he did. Maybe have the two get some mutual understanding before they fight or whatever.
Yeah, it makes no sense that it doesn't come up, but we don't even know if Ellie understands Joel's actions or the situation; they were assholes that were going to kill her without her consent, threatened Joel for wanting to see her etc, because we never get that scene either! It's so underwritten.

I suppose. It has been 8 years since ME3 and I haven’t touched it again since, so maybe it isn’t as bad as I remember it. But I do recall feeling like the whole thing was a waste, with the choices you made and imported through saves not mattering in the end. Maybe it's time for a long overdue revisit?
Well, they basically overhauled it to be more like a classic Fallout ending where it addresses how your actions affected everything and everyone along the way. You'd think that would have been a no-brainer in the first place. Not unlike this game, or GoT, I think the moment was supposed to be so big that they misread how to meet it and went for cinematic flair at the expense of the details and nuance we'd been immersing ourselves in for years. A lesson to stick with what got you there.

I hope they won’t go for any DLC featuring Abby, as I think I’ve had about enough of her. If it helps set up a sequel that could at least repair some of the damage Part II did (God, I’m getting Disney Star Wars trilogy vibes here), then maybe. We’ll see.
Like I said, I think I ended up liking her better than Ellie; better story, better arc, better person by the end and a more satisfying ending too. I get Abby's motivations and changes, Ellie is just sort of at odds with everything all the time.

The third option is basically the true sequel that we never got. But if they were to offer it on a DLC, I could go for that, provided they execute it well. After their current performance though, I don’t particularly have much confidence in them.
What wouldn't give me much hope is they apparently had so little left to say about those two, thus the game we got instead of something like the above.

That’s the trend with developers nowadays (particularly western devs), this obsession with being profound and this needless anxiety to compete with other mediums. It’s so pretentious, like they’re forgetting they’re making games at the end of the day (I’m not saying games can’t or shouldn’t aim for depth, just that not every game has to make me question my universe and so on).
Plus, a needlessly convoluted plot isn't the optimal way for an interactive medium to change your perspective on anything. Compare all this storytelling efforting to something as simple as the time reversal mechanic in Braid and it's no contest. The best games, even those with transcendent stories, blow your mind with the gameplay and how the medium marries itself to the story elements to enhances immersion, not some melodrama that could just be an HBO show.

But who knows, the experience is still fresh in my head, so maybe returning to it after some time can make me appreciate it more.
Yeah, I have to acknowledge I'm probably judging it against unfair expectations so maybe I'm not giving it credit for what it is and penalizing it for what it isn't. We'll see down the road with some perspective.

I’m really, really looking forward to playing Half-Life 2. I hear it’s amazing.
Wally was such a proselytizer of Half-life 2 he basically gifted me a copy to play! And it was/is amazing. Then you need to give Half-Life Alyx a whirl. :badbone: :ubik:{Look into my eyes)

Super Mario 64 was a life-changing event for me in 1996. My N64 arrived on Christmas Eve (my mom had a nervous breakdown about it potentially not arriving in time for Christmas), and Christmas Day was pure magic.


I also remember the game being much harder, but I’m breezing through it right now.
You've been practicing on it 3D beneficiaries for 24 years since. :guts:
 
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Wally was such a proselytizer of Half-life 2 he basically gifted me a copy to play! And it was/is amazing. Then you need to give Half-Life Alyx a whirl. :badbone: :ubik:{Look into my eyes)
He did the same thing for me with Mass Effect. He’s two for two, far as I’m concerned. :guts:

I used my inside voice, but yeah, pretty much. :ganishka:

You've been practicing on it 3D beneficiaries for 24 years since. :guts:
Exactly. God, I feel old.
 
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