I don’t write on here much about videogames these days … choosing to concentrate on movies as a whole. Yet sometimes games come along that make me sit back and my mouth fall open – their excellence too obvious to go un-spoken (or un-written) about. Two such games I’ll be reporting on are the PlayStation exclusive action / adventure The Last Of Us, and the hotly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V.
I have just come from a lengthy game of The Last Of Us, a sort of The Walking Dead inspired action game where you’re pitted as Joel, who has to escort Ellie, an immune teenage girl from one side of the states to the other so to take her to a science lab and possibly find a cure for a virus that has all but destroyed mankind. Developers Naughty Dog of the famed Uncharted series have truly delivered their masterpiece. First and foremost it looks stunning, with highly detailed, life-like environments and ultra-real character animated and human behaviour I haven’t seen done quite so well anywhere else. You get the feeling each character is alive, especially the full of personality Ellie, your computer-controlled partner for much of the game. Add to this gameplay that allows you to be strategic, upgrade your weapons and traverse each environment with an almost-open-world freedom – and this is a game that not only looks great, but plays great also. Combat in my opinion has often been Naughty Dog’s Achilles Heel, but this time its fun and clever, with a great use of various types of weaponry so you can plan your way through each encounter however you see fit. The story too is highly involving, very emotional and above all else – real. Story telling of this depth is rare in videogames, but here it’s on par, if not surpassing at times those you see in a blockbuster movie. Take note Hollywood. Essential.
Then we come to GTA V, a game I just can’t get enough of. The open-world of San Andreas / Los Santos is easily the biggest in the series and has so many areas to explore and secrets to find, that just driving around, causing chaos is a game in of itself. Now add to this a first in the series, three very individual characters to control, Michael a former mobster now in witness protection, Franklin a typical hood gangster, and then there’s Terry, a psychotic hillbilly nutjob. GTA has often been about its characters, its tongue-in-cheek humour and its satire of modern living- and that continues here, with the same funny, sarcastic radio DJs, the great, varied music, and above all else, a joyful disregard for taste and decency. GTA is the gaming world’s rebellious cousin, and he’s on top form here. Developer Rockstar have pulled out all the stops, with a vibrant never-looked-so-good game world, believable characters and situations, with plenty of nods to movies and TV shows. It’s the kind of game you keep in your collection and even if you don’t want to do any of the 60+ missions, this game offers more fun per minute than almost any other game out there (with this time, the whole world open to explore from the start). It’s adult humour and subjects aren’t for everyone however, and the frequent strong language and sexual or violent moments can get a bit much – but it’s to be expected in a series that has always pushed boundaries and caused controversy. Either way this is a must play.
Sitting back and looking at the above games, makes me wonder just what is the next generation going to bring us? These two games look amazing, with more effects and ideas going on than we’ve seen for a long time, a pinnacle of design and programming, and dare I say it, artistry, that trumping them next generation won’t be easy. We can’t possibly get the technical leap we had from say, PS2 to PS3, but with technical limitations further widened, developers have even more power at their disposal, and games of this style or even things we haven’t imagined yet, could just be around the corner. I remain on the fence as to whether its needed – our currently consoles still very capable of wowing us – but it’s certainly exciting times we live in as gamers.