The Last of Us

Video games have always been a part of my life. Most of my youth was spent playing Tecmo Super Bowl, Joe Montana’s Football, or Madden. My college career introduced me to Warcraft 3, Civilization 3, and Counter-Strike. After college, I started to understand the power of Zelda, which was not fully appreciated as a child. Once I had kids, I played many Lego games and whatever else my children wanted to play. But now that they are older, I can play what I want again.

I remembered a friend telling me that they played The Last of Us Part 2, one of the best games they had ever played. When I saw that there would be a Last of Us TV show on HBO, I decided I should try to finish the first game before seeing the show. I purchased a remastered copy for the PS4 over a year ago planning to play it… someday.

Since it is wintertime, I do most of my running on the treadmill. This is when I usually fulfill my video game streak. Unfortunately, since this is a PlayStation-only game and it’s hard for me to run with a single controller, I sat on the couch and took turns playing with my son.

The first thing you learn about the game is how story-driven it is. I usually ignore most of the story in games. Instead, I want to solve the puzzles and kill the bad guys.

However, I quickly learned that was not the point here. These were not the Blizzard-esque cut scenes that were beautiful but ultimately empty. I was to be Joel and feel what he felt. You see the world changing before you and start understanding these characters’ situations. I struggled with some stealth elements as it had been a while since I had played Tenchu while listening to Linkin Park. My oldest also wanted to see who he could shoot and what the reaction would be.

The game does a great job of balancing the story with tutorials and gameplay. You get excited to receive more weapon options but also realize that you will face more challenges.

After the first game, you understand how imperfect life is. You may not like the characters’ decisions, but you know why they did what they did and that, ultimately, you may do the same.

I was glad I finished the first game before the HBO series began. After watching the first episode, I thought it was a fantastic show, but I believed I could never feel what the game made me think. However, controlling the characters makes you feel genuinely experience the same things they are.

That was until episode three of the show. Where the show was able to do things the game could not.

Watching the show take a side character from the game and give them an entire episode to show their life arc was terrific. You want to truly understand what it feels like to live in this apocalyptic world. How much a person can change and define life’s purpose was inspiring. As many cutscenes as the game had, nothing this impressive could have existed until now.

I hope that more people take the time to experience the games and show. I eagerly await the third installment of the game and hope the show will continue to produce great episodes for years to come.

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