Finally finished The Last of Us

I started playing The Last of Us back on the PS3 but it never really hooked me. The Last of Us Remastered was one of the first purchases I made when I first picked up a PS4 Pro, however I again played for an hour or so and fell off. With all of the hype (and controversy) surrounding the release of The Last of Us 2, I decided to dive back in, and I’m glad I did!

Even when I played it on the PS3 I thought the game looked great, but on a PS4 Pro it’s one of the better looking games I’ve played. The environments are incredible, and littered with small things that can spark conversation between the characters. I would wander into a room to find Ellie playing darts which made her character feel more like a real person, and not just a tag a long character. These moments and the detailed environments also improve the pacing of the game. There are many intense moments that will increase your heart rate, so it’s nice to have moments to calm down despite the darkness of the world. The bright lighting and signs of normalcy interspersed throughout the world really distinguish The Last of Us from other post apocalyptic game worlds. Ellie asking Joel about life before the outbreak humanize the experience, it’s not all violence and darkness (though there’s plenty of each for sure).

The variety of environments and encounters make the world of The Last of Us feel more real. It’s not filled with the same textures, which makes the game feel like an actual world rather than an assortment of levels that make for good combat zones. That said, the areas in which combat take place allow for a variety of ways to make it through them. You can try to sneak by without engaging anyone, you can sneak around and shiv people silently, or you can go in guns blazing. Each approach feels great, though at times ammo can be scarce. I played on easy, so the guns blazing approach worked well for me, but there were still times I found myself needing to scrounge around for ammo, and toward the end of the game I found myself worried I might run out. Luckily, I never did which kept the game from getting frustrating.

The story of The Last of Us kept me engaged throughout. I always wanted to see what would happen next, though sometimes I had to force myself to step away to gather my thoughts. There’s a lot to take in, and it can weigh on you emotionally, which is something not a lot of games can do successfully. I feel like the weight of the story is similar to the Life is Strange series, as those are probably the only other games that made me want to step away from the game to unpack my emotions.

In the end, I think I’m going to take a bit of a breather before working through the Left Behind DLC, and ultimately firing up The Last of Us 2. If you haven’t had a chance to play The Last of Us, I highly recommend it, even if you play on easy it’s worth having the experience.


First night of Destiny 2

I played Destiny on the Xbox One and often had mixed feelings about it. That was until I completed my first raid, with the help of some strangers found through the Destiny app. It was a crazy experience that lasted hours but was never frustrating, and at that point I was hooked. A week later I did the next raid with another group and had just as much fun. Unfortunately, I ultimately fell away from Destiny. It became too time consuming to try to arrange groups through an external app, and I really wished there was some sort of in game matchmaking for raids, though I often wondered how many people would actually communicate (I’ve never heard a single voice during strike matchmaking). As for the “singleplayer” content, or story missions, I often found them frustrating to complete solo, and again there was no matchmaking to easily create groups. I could try using the LFG features on Xbox to group up for story missions, but it was a royal pain.

I think the difficulty of finding groups partially led to my decision to play Destiny 2 on the PS4. That and the idea that it should look better (it’d be in some form of 4K at least) and run smoother on the PS4 Pro. The Sony exclusive content would just be a bonus.

Last night I started playing Destiny 2 on PS4 and enjoyed the opening hours. I played through a few missions and public events before calling it quits at level 6 at around 2AM. So far I’ve enjoyed it, but I still wish there was an easier way to group up for story missions. I died seven or eight times during the early missions and it started to become frustrating. Maybe I’m just terrible at the game, but playing as a group with the ability to revive would have certainly made the process more enjoyable. It seems the only way to group up for story missions is again by posting a LFG message in the app and hoping it doesn’t take half an hour for a few other people to express interest. I’ll try to find a group for some story missions later today and see how it goes.

Reviewing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy as my first Uncharted game

Just a few moments ago I finished Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the recently released standalone Uncharted adventure by Naughty Dog. As someone who is relatively new to the Playstation platform (I fooled around with a PS3 but didn’t end up owning one very long) I’ve never played an Uncharted game. I dabbled in the first and third games via Playstation Now, but neither caught me. I especially didn’t like the first game as I died a lot by falling off of stuff within the first hour or so which frustrated me enough to get me to quit. Shortly after getting my PS4 Pro I ended up acquiring a copy of Uncharted 4 on sale, but never felt the urge to put it in. I had heard nothing but good things about the game, I just never had the time to give it a try.

When The Lost Legacy got announced I didn’t think much of it, but I happened to see the game at Redbox this week and decided to rent it. Early on I was amazed at how good the game looked presented in 4K with HDR. The lighting in the game is incredible and the character models look great.

I was also impressed by the quality voice acting, facial expressions and how the characters moved around inside the world. Everything looked and sounded so lifelike, it was easy to get lost in the world. As I continued on in the game I found myself repeatedly in awe of the landscapes presented to me. I guess this is something Naughty Dog is known for, as I’ve heard people say they grew fatigued at just how often Uncharted 4 would effectively nudge the player almost saying to them “hey, look how great everything looks!”. The Lost Legacy even addresses this at one point where a character says something to the effect of “I’m running out of things to say at these” which was kind of amusing.

I played the game on the easiest difficulty setting (don’t hate me) and never found it overly frustrating. Some puzzles were a bit of a pain, but the game seems to know just when the player is starting to get frustrated and uses NPC’s to offer hints when things slow down. In some instances the NPC will even step in and complete a step of the puzzle themselves which I enjoyed. The combat was not hard at all, and I never once died during a combat sequence. The only thing that killed me repeatedly throughout the game was the climbing and jumping. The climbing for the most part is intuitive, but for some reason at random times my character would just plunge off a cliff even as I knew exactly where I was trying to get to. At other times Nadine would get in my way and I would bounce off of her to my death. This was annoying, but luckily the game has a really smart checkpoint system. In fact, after some deaths the game automatically restarted me past whatever obstacle had killed me. I’m not sure if this is a result of playing on the easiest difficulty system, or if it’s like that across the game, but I truly enjoyed it.

The story for the most part was unremarkable, though it picked up in pace and weight as it approached its rather thrilling conclusion. Even as I wasn’t enthralled by the story, I was invested in the characters mostly because of the excellent voice acting and interactions throughout the game. I enjoyed listening to their conversations and looked forward to seeing Chloe and Nadine’s relationship progress.

I was able to finish the game in just over five hours, which is shorter than the average completion time most likely because of my difficulty selection and the fact that I breezed through many of the combat sections unscathed. The production value of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is superb, right down to the end credits (probably my favorite credits since Portal). I’m excited to check out Uncharted 4 after seeing this adventure through.

If I were into giving games numbered scores, I would probably rate Uncharted: The Lost Legacy a 5/5.

Two weeks with the PS4 Pro: Love it!

I’ve had the PS4 Pro for just over two weeks so far and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the system. First off, the Pro is my first experience with the PS4 platform, and the first time I’ve owned a PlayStation since the PS2. I’ve always been more of an Xbox gamer, however with the lineup of recent Playstation games I felt the time was right to see what Sony had to offer.

One of the immediate benefits of jumping into the PS4 ecosystem is access to a whole new world of video games. One of the first games I played on the system was Tales of Berseria, the first game in the series I have ever played, and the only other JRPG I’ve ever played outside of Final Fantasy. I was immediately hooked by the interesting characters and the incredibly satisfying combat system. The game also has a great visual style and some incredible music. Every time I launch it I just let it sit on the menu screen for awhile, enjoying the beautiful theme.

Horizon Zero Dawn has really justified my decision to purchase the Pro over the Slim. The game is visually stunning on a 4K TV with HDR, and it seems to perform better than most console games I’ve played in the past. The game isn’t all visuals though, it’s a blast to play as well. The different bows are incredibly satisfying to shoot and landing a well time shot to either down a foe or knock of a critical component never gets old. Aloy is one of my favorite video game characters to date, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has in store for her.

I’ve also been enjoying Until Dawn, Yakuza 0 and The Last of Us Remastered on the system, however they’ve taken a back seat to Horizon and Zelda.

As someone who never really liked the feel of the PS3 controller, the Pro’s controller feels solid and I haven’t had any issue at all getting used to it. I’ve also been impressed with how snappy the system is compared to the clunkier Xbox One interface (though it’s gotten better recently). Flipping through menu items is quick and smooth, and it’s easy to switch between games and apps without much of a delay.

VR complications

The Pro is also a tempting platform to get VR for. I’ve been thinking about jumping into VR for awhile, and having a Pro has made that decision more complicated. I have a capable gaming desktop, however it is in a small room that wouldn’t be entirely practical for an Oculus set up. I could move the desktop to the living room any time I wanted to mess around with VR, but that would be a nuisance I’m sure. A PS VR would be easy to set up in the living room, but it’s a more limited platform. I was leaning pretty heavily toward a PS VR, at least until Oculus cut its price by $200. So I could spend $499 to get a complete PS VR set up, or just $100 more to get an Oculus. This is a complicated decision that I don’t think I’ll solve any time soon. Maybe I’m better off waiting for a more refined set of VR devices, but I’m also a very impatient man.

Too many platforms

Ultimately I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve spent with the PS4 Pro. The only downside is that it has complicated my decision making process when it comes to third party games. For example, I was previously almost certain I would get Mass Effect Andromeda on the Xbox One, since that’s where I played the previous games, but I had started debating about getting it on PC to put my 1060 to work. Now that I’ve seen just how great Horizon Zero Dawn looks in 4K, I’ve started considering getting Andromeda on the PS4 to take advantage of HDR and a higher resolution. I’ll probably be going back and forth right up to release night, before deciding which platform to get the game for.

Final thought

 The PS4 Pro is one heck of a system. Maybe it seems more impressive to me since it’s also my first experience with a PS4 in general, but I’d like to think that the Pro upgrades give it even more of an edge. The system is incredibly quiet, even while cranking out beautiful visuals in Horizon Zero Dawn, and again I’m in awe at how snappy everything feels. The load times even seem quicker than what I’m used to, but I haven’t played a game like Battlefield 1 or GTA V (which have annoyingly long loads on Xbox One) for reference (Battlefield 1 doesn’t seem to load much quicker on PC, but I’m not sure if that’s more of a server thing).

Enjoying Horizon Zero Dawn so far

Last night after work I played about an hour and a half of Horizon Zero Dawn, and I’m pretty impressed so far. It looks downright amazing on a PS4 Pro and a 4K HDR TV. I also really like how they try to make the tutorial into something that actually has a narrative, and is more interesting than following prompts on screen. Things really get fun once you’re given control over the adult Aloy, and I’m really enjoying the combat so far. The bow feels like it has real impact when you land a shot on a critical part, and everything just looks and sounds great during combat. It’s especially thrilling to get into a scuffle with several enemies as once, and the music during these instances works to amp up the adrenaline as enemies close in on you.

I’m looking forward to putting some more time into Horizon Zero Dawn as the week goes on, but I can already tell it’s going to be a great time. The last thing I’ll say is that the game has a real polish, and I’ve run into zero bugs or hiccups so far which is rare for games on their release days lately. I can’t wait to play more!

MLB The Show 16’s beginner mode is a tad too easy…

MLB The Show 16 too easy

I’ve been playing MLB The Show 16 on the PS4 Pro I picked up this weekend, and it’s felt great to be able to play baseball again (after too many years of hoping for an MLB game to return to Xbox). That said, I think I need to step it up from the beginner difficulty setting. I won my first game of the season 17-0 (with a little help from two created players with uber stats), and I hit six consecutive home runs in a single inning! Regardless I’ve been playing a blast, and just wanted to share! I hope to share my first impressions of the PS4 Pro after I spend some more time with it. Until then, enjoy the hilarity: