Posts Tagged ‘the last of us’

Guacamelee! is the best VIDEO GAME I’ve played so far this year. And yes, I’ve played The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite. Let me explain. I grew up with the Sega Genesis and SNES. Most games on these two systems were, almost exclusively, 2D platformers. You know, the Mario’s, Donkey Kong’s, Sonic’s, Castlevania’s and Metroid’s of the world. Not only does Guacamelee! harken back to Castlevania and Super Metroid explicitly, but it may do some things better than both of them. Guacamelee! is everything a video game was and should be.

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GOTY 2013?

Presentation

Guacamelee! is gorgeous. This game takes place in Mexico. The art-style and soundtrack certainly reflect this. From a vibrant color palette to mariachi-like music, the aesthetics in Guacamelee! are astounding. The game is littered with chickens, pinatas, coins, barrels, chupacabras, armadillos, chests and the living dead.

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Come here big skeleton. Those green fists are so…

Story

Guacamelee! is NOT about story. And this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, there is no voice acting in the game. But, I feel like voice acting wouldn’t be welcomed. Was there voice acting in Castlevania or Super Metroid? Nope! Guacamelee! is old school. You play as Juan, an everyday agave farmer. Less than five minutes into the game, the Lord of the Living Dead, Carlos Calaca, kidnaps your love interest. Juan’s love interest is El Presidente’s daughter. Hmmm, where have I seen the rich/famous girl falling for the working class guy… Anyways, Calaca kills Juan five minutes into Guacamelee!. Juan then inherits a mask that has special powers. Juan is reborn as a luchador and sets off to rescue El Presidente’s daughter. Guacamelee! doesn’t take itself seriously when it comes to story. If you’re looking hard enough, there are some hilarious text boxes while in conversation, and some amazing easter eggs. These include a boss saying “Trololololololol,” Grumpy Cat posters, and even the character from 2012’s GOTY, Journey, laying dead on the side of a mountain. Let’s face it: Guacamelee! hits it out of the park with gameplay, not story!

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It’s a Journey, I suppose

Gameplay

Gameplay is king when it comes to video games. Plain and simple. Guacamelee! pays a lot of homage to the classics. It is indeed a Metroidvania game. “Metroidvania” is a genre that acknowledges how games like the original Castlevania and Metroid were played. Essentially, 2D platformers that existed in an open world (unlike Mario games). You learn skills and moves as you progress through the game, but to unlock all of the secrets and gather all of the collectibles you must double-back to unlock certain areas with new skills/abilities that you’ve learned. It’s an addictive and rewarding gameplay choice, that old school gamers will remember very well.

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Platforms and PORTALS?!

Since you play as a luchador, hand-to-hand combat is at the crux of gameplay. This hand-to-hand combat is very deep and only gets deeper and richer as the game progresses and you learn new moves. Simply mashing the square-button will work for the first hour. After that, if you haven’t learned and experimented with more powerful combos, you will die and die often. Guacamelee! is a hard game. There’s no way around that. If you’re more of a “new school” gamer and grew up with first-person shooters, Guacamelee! is not the game for you. It’s not easy and it’s mostly up to you, the player, to figure out what works and what doesn’t, when beating up baddies. With that being said, there is a luchador dojo that you can enter and practice/learn combos in.

As you move through the game, you learn new special moves that are color-coded. For example, your uppercut punch is red and your body slam (the frog slam) is green. Why the colors? You will come across enemies with have, let’s say, red blobs surrounding them. This a shield that can’t be broken unless you hit them with the special move that corresponds to that color. Then you can relentlessly combo them into oblivion. You will come across areas that are blocked by colored blocks. Again, if the block is red, you have to uppercut it in order to break it. Now you know how secret areas are marked.

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Soooo many enemies!

Now, special moves are not only for combat and unlocking secret areas. They are crucial in platforming, as well. The uppercut can get you into hard to reach places about you. The “Goat Fly” can get you across gaps that are far too wide for a double jump. It’s literally brilliant what Drinkbox Studios developed here. At times, Guacamelee! feels like a fighting game. There is a trophy for a 300 hit combo! At other times, it feels like a classic Mario game. Then it feels like a Metroid game, as you unlock secret areas with new abilities. It’s brilliant, brilliant fun.

Remember when I mentioned that your character, Juan, dies at the very beginning of the game? Well this means he’s dead. So he now exists in the world of the living dead. Not only does this netherworld fit into the whole Mexican theme, but it makes for completely original and stunning platforming. Some enemies and ledges/platforms only in exist in the real world or in the world of the living dead. Once you learn the ability to switch between the two worlds, at will, things get interesting. Near the end of the game, I experienced the most challenging yet rewarding platforming that I have ever played. I died time and time again. But, this level (and you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get to it) was so expertly designed and was really a stroke of genius, that I felt very accomplished when I finally completed it. Some reviews of Guacamelee! say that the flipping between both worlds wasn’t used enough. I’m not sure if these people played the same game I did. You do it all the time and it is married to both combat and platforming alike.

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Luchador(s)

Unfortunately, Guacamelee! is far too short. It took me just over 5 hours to complete on my first playthrough. It is complete with boss battles, but there’s only four of them. Each one is unique, as is their level. There’s plenty of treasure chests and orbs to find after you beat the game. And then there’s hard mode. For what it’s worth, there’s local co-op available, too. So, replayability is not an issue. But, I could’ve played this game for 20+ hours. A five hour campaign moved too quickly for my taste. Keep in mind, at full price it’s $14.99 on the Playstation Store. I have PS+ so I got it for about $8. So, we’re not paying $60 for a five hour game…

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Guacamelee!

The Verdict

Guacamelee! is a cross-buy and cross-play PS3/Vita exclusive (that’s coming to Steam). It’s also downloadable, only. I played it on Vita all the way through and then tried it out on PS3. Both are awesome. I preferred Vita, as platformers are perfect portable games. Even though you can exchange your save data back and forth between the two versions, there is only one trophy list.

Games like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite push the gaming platform forward and challenge the groundwork of gaming, as they do. They are very unique and original experiences that shine in storytelling. Essentially, they blur the lines of what a video game is. They argue that games are now more like pieces of art. Guacamelee! is clearly a video game. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s an old school gamers’ game. It does everything right. Because of its charm and deeply rooted origins, we as gamers owe it to Indie developer, Drinkbox Studios, to bring up Guacamelee! in Game of The Year discussions later this year. I will say, Gucamelee! is easily the best downloadable title on PSN this year and is the best Indie game I’ve played this year, as well. Drinkbox Studios should be on everyone’s radar, if they weren’t already.

+Gorgeous Art-style

+Extraordinary Platforming

+Clever Humor

+Numerous Replayability Options

-What Story?

-Too Short In Length

Guacamelee!: 9.0/10

PI!

-Kyle

The Last of Us is arguably the most anticipated game of the year. It is probably the final huge release for the PS3 and is the perfect way for the PS3 to go out strong. You see, The Last of Us isn’t a normal gaming experience. It is an experience that will surely be remembered as one of the best games for years to come. It brings together some of the greatest graphics ever seen with fantastic gameplay and an amazingly well-written and superbly acted story. It is the epitomy of great presentation fitted with extremely satisfying gameplay that work in tandem with each other to bring you what I consider to be the greatest gaming experience of all time.

Presentation

The Last of Us, as I said, looks fantastic. It is, in fact, one of the best looking games ever made. There are little details everywhere that add to the dark and desolate setting of the post-apocalyptic United States. There are plants growing all over the world that make the empty world feel much emptier. The Clickers and Runners that roam the world are incredibly detailed and are terrifying. The clicking from the Clickers never fail to intensify the moment and make you much more afraid of your surroundings. The music in the game also adds a layer of fear and sadness to the game. The music always fits perfectly with the moment in the game, whether it be sad, terrifying, or funny. I found myself going back to listen to the game’s soundtrack over and over because of how much it adds to the story. The game also has fantastic voice acting. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson are the stars of the show as Joel and Ellie, to go along with an amazing supporting cast that each brings a unique personality to the story and never feels like a repetitive character. All of these characters are given a fantastic set of dialogue to work with that make you think about the real world and keep you thinking long after the game is over. Finally, the game runs virtually seamlessly. An occasional hitch in sound happens, but never removes you from the experience. The game always finds a new way to keep you in the experience in some way, whether it be a new character, a new setting, or a plot twist, there is always something there to keep the game fresh and exciting and it always makes you want to keep going.

Story

If there is one thing to say about The Last of Us, it is that its story is one of the most dark, sad, and emotional tales in all of gaming and entertainment as a whole. The game takes place twenty years after the outbreak of the fungus Cordyceps infects humans. The game takes you on a cross-country journey to deliver Ellie to a group called the Fireflies. The game is an emotional roller coaster. It goes from sadness to anger to humor and back again. All of these are included in the game perfectly without any sudden changes in tone or pacing. It always manages to stay as one tone for the right amount of time without becoming overwhelming. The game is overall a very dark and tenebrous game, however there are the moments of joke telling that make the game a little bit brighter in the time of darkness. There are also plot twists all over the place. The game rarely goes in the path you expect it to go and has a few jaw-dropping moments that I couldn’t stop thinking about days afterwards. As I said, you meet new characters fairly often and they all have their own personality and their own unique dialogue that fits them. They all have the same goal – survival-, yet they all have a different way of achieving it. This makes the game interesting and unique. Travelling with these characters as Joel and Ellie get to know them is a good time. Finally, the ending, without spoiling anything, makes you think about decisions in life. They make you think about morality and what “good” and “evil” actually are. The end will make an impact on the way you think about things and will stick with you for a significant amount of time.

Multiplayer

I wasn’t a huge fan of Naughty Dog’s previous multiplayer experiences. Uncharted 2 and 3’s multiplayers seemed to lack the main part of what makes the overall experience a great package- the story. The Last of Us’ multiplayer brings in a reason to keep playing by bringing a pseudo-story in to the multiplayer. It lets you pick between the Hunters and the Fireflies both with a 12-week journey for survival. As you play through your matches, you collect parts and rations for your clan that you run in order to try to gain survivors and keep people healthy. This makes you want to keep playing the multiplayer to keep increasing your clan size and healing the sick of your clan. There are also malicious attacks of diseases and from the other group that you try to fight off with certain challenges to keep the multiplayer fresh and interesting. The multiplayer also brings in many of the aspects of the single player experience as central gameplay elements. It encourages stealth and crafting, both of which are main aspects of the single player campaign. Its has two modes: Supply Raid and Survivors. Supply Raid is a Team Deathmatch-esque game type with each team having a limited amount of spawns. Survivors makes each player have only one spawn. Each game type encourages teamwork. Nevertheless, multiplayer is overall a very fun experience. It has an innovative story mode that keeps you wanting to come back for more every time. It uses the fun and satisfying gameplay of the campaign to its advantage and encourages teamwork and other key elements of the story for victory and for the continued increase in clan size. I wasn’t sure about the multiplayer at first, but it really surprised me and I will definitely go back for much more.

Gameplay

The gameplay is one aspect of the game that truly shines over Naughty Dog’s past games. The Uncharted series was not well known because of its gameplay and, in fact, the gameplay was the most criticized part of Uncharted. However, Naughty Dog has made extreme refinements to the system that makes the gameplay much more satisfying and fun than any of their previous games. The shooting, to start, is extremely intense and well-done. Trying to shoot a clicker while it is sprinting at you is terrifying and when that clicker finally goes down, it is very satisfying. The Infected are, as I said, terrifying, and take a much different approach than human enemies. The game emphasizes stealth for both enemies, but it is much more prevalent with the Infected. The stealth in the game is masterful. It is extremely satisfying to go through an area of enemies without them seeing you and adds replay value to try and find the perfect way to go through. Even though the game is technically linear, there are many ways to go through any specific area. However, the fear you get during an encounter with Clickers is unmatched in any recent game. Finally, the game encourages crafting as part of the main gameplay aspects. Joel scours areas looking for supplies to make a new shiv or med kit. As supplies are extremely limited, crafting is a strategic experience and careful thought is necessary before crafting any specific item. The crafting is also done real-time, adding a sense of urgency to the act that helps with the overall tone of the game. The gameplay in The Last of Us is easily my favorite in a Naughty Dog game in a long time. The satisfying combat and masterful stealth make up gameplay that is fun and interesting. It is a part of the game that shouldn’t be overlooked as it absolutely helps the game’s overall feel of terror and urgency.

The Verdict

The Last of Us is a true gaming masterpiece. Its story is extremely well-written and provides twists and turns throughout the story to keep you engaged throughout until the very meaningful ending that will keep you thinking long after the game is finished. The stellar performances by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson as Joel and Ellie provide a true sense of realism in the game as their relationship becomes closer between themselves and the people they meet throughout the story. The game looks fantastic with small details everywhere around the world. It has a beautiful soundtrack that engages you in the moment, whether it be sad or thrilling. The multiplayer is an innovative experience with a story that will keep you coming back for more. Finally, the gameplay is the best Naughty Dog has made so far. It is satisfying and thrilling. These all play into the game’s overall terrifying and urgent tone that is made clear everywhere. This game is one of the best games I have ever played. It lets the PS3 go out with a bang into the new generation of consoles. It is a near perfect experience that every gamer should play, no matter what.

+ Fantastic Story

+ Superb Voice Acting

+ Beautiful Graphics

+ Fun and Engaging Multiplayer

+ Fantastic Gameplay

The Last of Us: 10/10

-Nooch

***SPOILERS***

Here’s our add-on to Episode 2 of Podcast Infinite. It’s a spoilercast for our favorite game of all time, The Last of Us. We discuss numerous plot points in detail. Our discussion starts with our thoughts and opinions on the game’s ending! We all read and answer a listener’s email pertaining to Ellie on the show! Give it a listen but please understand this is a SPOILERcast, so the whole episode spoils The Last of Us. Don’t listen if you haven’t beaten the game. Enjoy All-stars!

-Kyle