I hate snipers. I can only think of two scenarios in which I love snipers and both of them involve me being the sniper: either we’re both snipers and it’s one-on-one – which I almost always win – or I’m the only sniper and I’m picking people off. When I’m outnumbered by grunts on foot, the playing field is wide open, and there is a single sniper with a wide open view of almost the entire area… well, I just think that’s unfair. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m stuck in a kind of open neighborhood, strewn with abandoned cars and appliances, with a sniper a few clicks away from me and many grunts along the way. This means having to avoid the grunts if possible, find alternate routes through the houses, and get at the sniper. I’m used to being able to pick off the sniper somehow but that proved fruitless. Even though I found the guy and took him out, being on the other end wasn’t that simple. Grunts came pouring out of the woodwork and then I was swarmed with infected.
I think there’s something that I touched on in my First Impressions review that I need to reiterate: how successful I’ve been feels like it directly correlates to how resourceful I am. Whether it’s scouring the area for resources, checking for workbenches, even retrieving arrows after they were shot to kill enemies, it would seem that the more I did this, the more prepared I was for what was to come. When you’re faced with a building filled to the brim with infected and you’ve got squat for resources, your entire game plan has to change. I’ve found myself unable to find a play style to carry through the game thus far. I’ve had to adjust my game plan for every combat scenario and, while I think that kind of sucks because I’m methodical when it comes to stuff like that, I’m growing used to it and learning to appreciate it. I find myself often going “alright, there’s about five clickers and a bloater here… time to set a blade bomb, throw a brick, keep a Molotov out just in case, and watch the magic happen” when things are okay but things can turn panicky in a quick second once things don’t go as planned or you find out you planned wrong. Don’t try applying situations that worked to other situations, either; you’ll find yourself in a problem before you know it. There’s going to be a lot of trial and error, early on, that’s for sure.
In my earlier article about this game, too, you’ll see that I drew connections between this game, the movie I Am Legend and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. There’s a good reason for that – in all of these, there’s nothing really new here: all three present to you stuff you should have known and probably expected but the storytelling and presentation are so good that you’re surprised and shocked by it anyway. This is probably the best kind of experience – it’s one thing to be shocked when something happens that you didn’t expect, it’s another to be shocked by something that you expected but didn’t anticipate anyway… but in the case of The Last of Us, you’re shocked because you may have expected but it all happens so suddenly that you have no time to properly process what’s going on. That’s great writing, right there. It takes situations that aren’t all that likely but are realistic enough to be presented in a kind of “what-if” manner that really makes something like this hit a little closer to home than some fantastical tale of spaceships and overpowered heroes.
I’m about ten or eleven hours into the game, now and I think it’s time I give it a rest. I’ve had my triumphs, my shocks, my stresses, and I’ve come to yet another grinding halt that tells me nothing more than I should give it a break and attempt again when I’ve got a clear mind. I almost wanted to keep going to stay with the immersion – Joel and Ellie aren’t often getting breaks so why should I? Then I fast forward through a few more attempts and I realize I’m just playing a video game and put it down. Good gods. I’m beginning to wonder when I can see the home stretch without realizing things aren’t quite what they seem when I get there.