Posted in Gaming, Review

The Last of Us Part 2

So I finally finished my first playthrough of the much anticipated sequel to The Last of Us, PlayStations most highly rated exclusive title. While the game is stellar in some ways I was ultimately left unsatisfied with my experience.

Warning: SPOILERS. It lets me talk openly about this game.

Story

The Last of Us Part 2 carries on 4 years after the events of the first film, in which Joel and Ellie have found a permanent settlement in Jackson. They have joined Joel’s brother Tommy to help be part of a thriving environment contributing their own skills.

The story takes some bold decisions and takes them early. Joel is killed. Brutally and in front of Ellie screaming for mercy.

This fills Ellie with hatred and a thirst for revenge that Tommy is reluctant to at first. After all, everything was almost perfect in Jackson. Ellie manages to convince him and Dina that they should go after Abby, Joel’s killer and sets up the plot.

This story is all about revenge. In some ways it uses the characters from The Last of Us to tell this. For the first 10-15 hours you play as Ellie tracking down the location of Abby and her band of friends from a group called ‘WLF’.

During this part I was generally satisfied with where the story was going. Ellie’s need for revenge had no mercy but this led to her making decisions that you wouldn’t always agree with. In some ways I started to dislike Ellie as a person, where I previously held a lot of admiration.

I started to fall out of love with the game.

In a climatic turn of events, Abby actually finds Ellie and it all goes to shit. This character I started to dislike I was now worried for, maybe not for her death but for what this event might do to her after so many bad decisions.

Then the story stops. Why? So we get to see the last 3 days from Abby’s perspective. For me this is where I started to fall out of love with the game.

I think, like most people, I had no desire to understand the character of Abby. Unfortunately Naughty Dog don’t do anything with her character to change my mind.

Abby is one of those characters that’s just dislikeable. Her reputation is for killing ‘Scars’ a faction of believers that they should start again and are somewhat primitive in some ways.

Scars – a new faction of silent enemies.

She has her friend cheat on his pregnant partner with her and everyone around her starts to die.

This goes on for 10-15 hours and by the end of it, I just didn’t care. Then to top it all off I play as Abby in a fight against Ellie, almost killing her and Dina. She actually says ‘good’ when learning Dina is pregnant with a knife to her throat.

However after these events I felt some content. We see that Ellie and Dina have settled down with a family and have moved on. I would have been happy for it to end here. Ellie had seen the consequences of her actions and knew that revenge would only lead to despair or worse.

The last section of the game sees Ellie go back to find Abby as she cannot live with Joel’s death. This ends up destroying everything around her and she loses everything, her life with Dina, relationship with Tommy and herself in so many ways.

Combat

The combat in this game is very good in the most part. Like the original game I’m given the choice of stealth, all guns blazing or a blend of both. The skill trees are okay, but I’m not sure I liked them as they lacked choice and the weapons are good.

There are some new enemies that are silent, so your listening mechanic is kinda pointless at times and you can only fight in reaction to your environment.

There’s too many fist fights that are boss battles and a knock back mechanic that is frustrating as its totally random (I got knocked back by arrows, pistol bullets and sniper rounds).

The game is still satisfying to play though. It probably has the best combat for a survival horror game it really is that good.

Environment

This is where the game is at its best. The environments were and are amazing. They feel real, alive and dangerous. I found myself constantly saying ‘makes sense’ when finding bits and areas.

The game looks, probably, the best of any game out currently.

I was just in constant awe of how this game looks and feels technically. I just wish I hadn’t played what for me was the best section of the game as Abby.

You fight through a hotel and eventually a hospital against infected and it’s just amazing. I kept thinking, as Ellie I would be so engrossed right now, but part of me just wanted it over.

In Summary

My initial reaction after finishing the game was ‘what’s the point?’

I really felt that this story didn’t enhance on what we had from the first game. Ellie became unlikable, Abby is unlikable and Joel is barely anywhere to be seen. We have some flash backs that just break your heart as you eventually learn at the end of the game Ellie hadn’t forgiven Joel, but wanted to.

This left me rethinking her motives the whole time. It seemed that she didn’t need revenge at the cost of everything because in some ways Joel had taken her meaning away from her. What she had as a result of realising her truth was a life she could make for herself (and did).

Ellie and Dina

I would have liked to see Ellie maybe not kill Abby but save her from the infection (we’re told she gets bitten) as mercy and taking Lev (Abby’s equivalent to Joel’s Ellie), back to Jackson.

The idea that revenge brings peace is one I can’t get behind. I also love a happy ending and this game doesn’t give it. Its such a poor ending.

As a result the game ends up feeling detached from its characters of the first one and becomes a commentary of the world as a whole. It looks the best of probably any game currently out, plays amazingly but ultimately poor story decisions, terrible pacing, and a lack of interesting characters leaves an unsatisfying game.

Posted in Review, Television

Le Casa de Papel (Money Heist) Review

The Spanish Crime Drama has been an international success and for good reason. This captivating telling of multiple bank heists is TV done right.

An iconic look known all over the world from this show.

First off, if you haven’t watch La Casa de Papel it advertises itself in parts. This is actually seasons. I was told initially it was 2 parts and was like, great a few hours and I’m sorted. Then I realise part 1 is 13 episodes…

Mind you, finding out there was like 21 episodes to watch at the time was great, as I was already hooked.

There’s something about this show that draws you in. Whether its the characters, the back stories, the planning or the actual heist, something keeps you.

That’s how this show is told, everything at the same time. We see the heist of the Royal Mint at the same time we see the planning. It runs in a parallel. Amongst all of this we’re learning about these characters that we initially only know as cities they have chosen as their names.

The exception is the Professor (Alvaro Morte). He orchestrates the whole thing, together with Berlin (Mint Heist) and Palermo (Royal Bank Heist). With each heist they use the same cast of misfits.

The first we meet is Tokio (Ursula Corbero). My favourite character of them all. She is the narrator of the whole thing, keeping you in check with what is going on. She’s feirce, vulnerable, a badass and generally a leader throughout it all. In many ways the whole show is her story, or at least from her perspective.

Tokio .

She forms a relationship with the Professor who she calls her guardian angel. Together they work with Rio, Denver, Moscu, Nairobi, Helsinki and some others here and there. Each with a distinctly different role but the same aim.

As the seasons play out so do the heists. These are expertly clever and almost believable. The immersion for this show is brilliant. It’s only when we get to part 2 that things seem to get a bit dramatic but that’s also the charm.

The relationships during the heist are brilliant. It’s stressful, tense and exciting all at the same time. While they’re in the heist the idea is to become heroes of Spain.

This is where the show is clever in it’s telling of the story. The police are naturally never in charge during the heist, however it may seem. Raquel (Itziar Ituno), the head of the police lets call her, and the Professor seemingly play a chess match the whole time, but it’s like the Professor has seen the match already.

All the while you’re rooting for the guys in the masks all while they’re committing the biggest crime Spain has seen. The masks have become a symbol that is iconic within the show as much as it is outside of the show. Moreover during the heist you’re rooting for the smaller stories. Those relationships and events that are happening throughout the season between these characters.

It’s stressful, tense and exciting all at the same time.

One rule of the heist is to not talk about the heist, okay its not, it’s actually not to form any personal relationships, hence the nicknames. That was always an unlikely rule to be kept and it’s for the better.

Seasons 3 and 4 really build on this and provide heart warming and heart breaking moments as the events play out. I’m still not sure I’m over a certain event.

Neither season is packing loads of action or missing any details. They’re both well balanced in terms of characters and story.

The show isn’t without its draw backs. Each heist is over 2 parts that can feel a bit drawn out, especially the second heist as it’s yet to be concluded. There’s naturally some characters we wish weren’t in it but it wouldn’t be a good show without them.

When the action does get a little bit out of hand it does break the immersion a little bit and you remember this isn’t actually real life.

Overall, I believe this is a must watch. I know some people may not like foreign TV but this is worth getting used to. Either dubbing or subtitles are worth using. The dubbing is well voice acted.

It’s easily a top 5 Netflix show for me. Maybe I’ll do that list soon? Check out my Instagram to see that!

Stole my attention / 10

PlayStation 5 Showcase Summary

Last night (11/06) PlayStation had their first showcase for their next generation of games for their next console. I thought I’d summarise what was shown and my highlights.

The Console.

Firstly the console design was showcased right at the very end. It was probably what people were actually tuning in for as much as what games to expect. Fair to say, it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Personally I think it looks like a wireless router. While I like the white design they have adopted, I’m not so sure this works as well. In addition to the disk drive looking like an attachment, it’s just not as sleek as previous consoles.

Apparently it can be laid horizontally.

They also showed a bunch of themed accessories, I would assume for optional purchases including a headset, ‘media remote’ and a HD camera (I assume for those that want easy streaming?).

Regardless, I think the way it looks is possibly the least important part of the console overall, so lets move on.

First up, I know this is highly subjective but these are my personal standouts. First and foremost the one that has gotten everybody talking.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

At the time of writing this there is some confusion as to how this is being defined. Is it an expansion or stand alone title? Well from the looks of it, it’s both.

Miles Morales has his own story to tell and he’s telling it at the end of the year. It is a stand alone upgrade to Spider-Man but also expands on the current world they have built for Peter.

Looks to be set a couple years later. Morales has grown a bit!

Insomniac have promised some enhancements to performance and graphics as well as delivering a story for Miles. Personally I can’t wait. Spider-Man was excellent, maybe not the best but still very good, my full thoughts are here.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

This is the game that’s left me excited. It’s from Ember Studios and came out of nowhere to almost steal the show.

This game is gorgeous.

Kena is an action adventure game coming at the end of the year. While not too much is known, what we saw looked really promising. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Godfall

This is a game we’ve known about for a while. More was shown in the showcase and I’m pretty much fully sold. My only question is this, does it have enough to separate it from God of War?

Godfall promises great action combat, weapons and armour. Not much has been said about the story or the world it is set in.

It looks very God of War premise, you are out to take down the gods in a Monster Hunter style, you kill them and wear their armour and equip their weapons.

The upcoming ‘looter-slasher’ is on my to-do list for 2020.

Horizon II: Forbidden West

So, I need to confess. I have yet to play Horizon Zero Dawn (I will, promise) but that doesn’t mean this looks any worse. It was the final game in the showcase and probably the hardest hitting.

I was hoping for Uncharted 5 after playing Uncharted 4 recently, but I’ll settle for this as we have Last of Us 2 next week.

Horizon II carries on from the first game, whatever that might be (I kinda know tbh) with new monsters and what looks like a whole new world to explore as Aloy.

Although it’s not out for a while it still has many people excited. It looks phenomenal and will likely be the first game to show off the capabilities of the PlayStation 5 software.

Best of the Rest.

There were a lot more games shown. The full showcase can be found over on their blog.

Some other standout games were:

Resident Evil: VIIIage (Village). The next chapter in Capcom’s series promising an end to Chris’ story. Set in an eerie looking village that seems to be hosting all sorts including cults, worship and monsters. This will surely bring out a trademark Resident Evil scare.

Returnal. An odd looking Sci-Fi shooter. We didn’t see much other than a woman in a space suit in unfamiliar territory. Some gameplay was shown that displayed it as a third person shooter adventure game.

Project Athia. Square Enix showed of a new IP during the showcase. This picture seems to be what they’ve come up with so far. Knowing Square its probably stunning to look at and most likely a high quality game. Its unclear of much else at this stage.

Some really nice looking worlds being built. Project Athia is only one example.

Deathloop: Finally I’ll tell you about Deathloop. Its a shooter from Bethesda Softworks that pits you in a endless cycle of kill and be killed. Each time you start again in groundhog day fashion you learn more and more. The trouble is you’re against someone doing the same thing and they’re out to get you before you them. I was won over in the end.

Summary

To conclude there was so much to look forward to. I think this only about 15% of everything we saw. Rachet and Clank had their say. New Little Big Planet, Astro, Gran Turismo and more all shown off.

I think it sealed the fact I want a PlayStation going forward. I’m late to the PS4 party but it feels better than my Xbox and I wouldn’t be losing any IPs carrying on with PlayStation. I hope the rest of my friends follow!