Post-pandemic, this exhausting, sometimes excruciating update still hits home | Games

meI’ve been playing The Last of Us Part 1 this week, a PlayStation 5 remake of Naughty Dog’s historical horror classic, first released in 2013. (If you haven’t played it, or the 2020 sequel: I’ll be talking about them in some detail, so it’s best to skip this section if you want to avoid spoilers). There have been many justified complaints about whether a nine-year-old game, which has already been remastered for PlayStation 4, can justifiably be sold again. for £70; for most gamers, no graphics upgrade might be worth it that much.

People have praised Naughty Dog’s dedication and attention to detail in this new version. It really does look and feel like a modern game. Personally, playing it again has made me think about how the world (and my own life) has changed in the last decade. I wasn’t a parent when I first played those amazingly horrific opening scenes, where Joel’s young daughter dies in the early hours of the fungal and zombie pandemic ravaging the world. Now, it’s hard to bear. And having experienced a real pandemic, the whole montage hits differently.

The first time around, I identified powerfully with Ellie, the traumatized but sincere and wryly hilarious teenager who shares this adventure with Joel. (I had forgotten how much fun this game can be, but Ashley Johnson plays Ellie so brilliantly and with such superb sarcasm.) and most of the time I wished I could play Ellie instead of her. This time, I related a little more to Joel, as a father figure in this story. He’s not a good man; we know this long before the end. But he cares, and he tries.

The Last of Us Part 2 was divisive. Released in 2020, its nasty story about retribution cycles did not please some gamers and critics, who thought it was an unnecessarily violent and dispiriting spectacle. I found it fascinating – it’s far from subtle, but I’ve never played a game that has gone this far in examining the violence people do to each other and humanizing the “enemy” and their motivations. In Part 2, Ellie and the rest of the cast grow harsher, more callous, more callous to each other’s humanity with each passing hour. Replaying Part 1 again, seeing Joel and Ellie find comfort in each other and grow closer through the horrors they witness, with the knowledge of what happens to these characters in the sequel is heartbreaking.

the last of us part 2
Divide… The Last of Us Part 2 Photography: PlayStation

Part 1 is in many ways a simpler story, a more conventional zombie movie about two people searching for a cure to restore humanity, but it’s still subversive, especially the ending, which frustrated a lot of people at the time because it was Not the result they wanted. When, at the end of his post-apocalyptic road trip, Joel learns that Ellie will have to die to provide that cure, he goes on a murderous rampage through a hospital full of doctors to retrieve her and bring her back to a devastated world. , is an act of extreme but tragically relatable selfishness. Many of us like to think that we could sacrifice ourselves or someone we love for the greater good, if it really came to that. But Joel can’t; his better nature died with his daughter, years before.

Ten years ago, putting players through a story without meeting their expectations, or giving them the chance to change it in some way, was pretty new. It is shocking to be in the shoes of a character with whose actions we do not agree, more than when we are watching an antihero in a movie or television series, because we are carrying out these actions. There were times in the final scenes of Part 1, and many more times during Part 2, when I could barely bear to go through with what I was being asked to do. But I wanted to see what the game had to say at the end.

It was also unusual at the time for a game to feature a female character so prominently; in fact, in the Left Behind expansion, Ellie took over the lead role and kept it for the sequel. It’s unfortunate that this seemed quietly revolutionary in 2013, but it really was. It was the first time she had played a teenager, the first time a character’s life experiences mirrored some of my own. This game really made a difference and raised the bar for the entire medium. Redoing it once again, and charging so much for it, is an indulgence on the part of its developer, but it’s hard to envy them.

what to play

Cheerful... Splatoon 3.
Cheerful… Splatoon 3. Photography: Nintendo Switch

This Friday, Nintendo’s family shooter Splatoon 3 is a joy. I felt like I’d seen it all before, having developed a brief but intense obsession with Splatoon 2 over a summer vacation five years ago. But this iteration has a full and interesting single-player puzzle shooter experience that goes along with the usual ink-splatter multiplayer mode, in which teams compete to cover levels in colored ink using such inspired weapons as paint rollers. , umbrella and my favourite. just a bucket. I’m being cautious because reviews don’t come out until tomorrow, but I’ve played enough to know it’s worth it. Like the rest of this series, it is also irresistibly elegant.

Available in: nintendo switch
Average game time: 10+ hours

what to read

  • As the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger makes its way through various regulatory authorities around the world, it has revealed some interesting details. Legal filings in Brazil show that Microsoft has accused Sony of paying developers for “blocking rights” to keep games off Xbox’s Game Pass service. In the UK, regulators are asking big questions about the acquisition: “We are concerned that Microsoft could use its control over popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft after the merger to hurt rivals, including recent rivals and futures in multiple games. subscription services and games in the cloud”. One assumes that is rather the point. However, for gamers, preserving the choices we have about how to play seems increasingly important. Microsoft has committed to releasing Call of Duty on both Game Pass and PlayStation on the same day for several more years, but surely that deal won’t last forever.

  • Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford is auctioning off his famous and noisy used t-shirts for… well, it’s not entirely clear. Supposedly for charity, but Gearbox doesn’t say which charity. Still, if you want to own a t-shirt that a video game CEO once sweated, this is your chance.

  • Sega’s retro miniature Mega Drive Mini 2 console is available to pre-order at £104.99, and the game list is packed with Sega goodies, both beloved and obscure, from the Mega Drive and Sega CD. Outrun! Shining Force II! Ecco the dolphin! He was deeply committed to Nintendo at this point in gaming history, but objectively this is a stellar lineup.

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question block

A timely question Lucas Pestille: What other game that has already had a remaster could you justify remaking and selling for £70?

Spicy, Lucas! The question of value in video games is very subjective: I have bought some of the Zelda games at least three times at full price, but the games are very expensive and the remakes have to work hard to justify their price. The really worthwhile ones are the ones whose technological limitations held them back at the time. shadow of the colossusfor example, it was remastered with average results and then remade with incredible results. the souls of the devil is another good example: the PlayStation 5 remake is so much better than the PS3 original, given all the money and time the original developer never had. resident evil remakes also rule. I’d love to see a proper modern reinvention of Silent Hilleither The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (Skyrim has been released quite a bit). Or the Metroid Prime Trilogy – though hopefully we’d get all three for £70.

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