So the blog has been pretty neglected over the last few weeks, as it always is when I attempt to get back into the relaxed style of university life but this week I have an extra special number of reviews planned beginning with this ridiculously late review of the game that kept from writing for a number of weeks. The highly anticipated GTA V was probably the most excited I have ever been for a game release, especially after it was pushed back from an early summer release to mid-September. The excitement was so unbearable that attending the midnight release was unavoidable, being naive I thought the midnight release would be a pretty relaxed thing with a few people milling about the game shop and picking up their copy. What we were greeted with was a queue that literally spread down half the high street meaning we had about a two and a half hour wait ahead of us. While the wait was painful it all became well worth it when we returned home for the first night/morning gaming binge that would quickly become a regular occurrence.
Pretty much since Vice City the Grand Theft Auto series has been my favourite of all the gaming franchises and one of the great things about it is that every time a new game is released in the series it really has been improved upon in almost every aspect. After the sublime GTA IV Rockstar really did have their work cut out for them this time but they’ve pulled it off yet again. This time round the main campaign consists of three main characters all of which have their own missions and joint ones. You’re free to switch between any character at any time. Setting wise, we find ourselves back in San Andreas albeit an updated, bigger version with the addition of Blaine County which is one of the games greatest features as it means that as well as roaming round the city causing havoc you can also head for the mountains and take the chase off-road. This GTA is by far the most cinematic yet with the sun soaked sky beating down on your epic crime adventure while it’s story may not be as good as The Last of Us, for sheer fun GTA V gives a challenge for being the new greatest game of all time. Then there’s the addition of the new, updated GTA Online which for me, is the funnest online multiplayer mode any money can buy, you can free roam, perform missions, races, death matches, parachute jumps and pretty much do anything you can think of all with the helpful and addictive element of online competition.
Overall GTA V is perhaps the most complete gaming package that has ever been created, if you were ever told there was only one game you could play there wouldn’t be a better choice than this.
I’m slightly behind the rest of the gaming world in writing my review for Last of Us and I spent a while deciding whether it was worth reviewing as so much has already been said about it. But as I work through my second play through of the campaign I don’t how I couldn’t write something up about this game and why it completely deserves all the praise that it’s had. Set in a post-apocalyptic environment you play as Joel, whose own daughter was killed in the initial chaos, the main story begins 20 years on from this and Joel and his partner Tess are asked to smuggle a young girl, Ellie, across the state and get here to the elusive Firefly group as she is believed to be immune to the zombie infection and could therefore be the key to finding a cure.
The Last of Us marks the biggest step up in game story-telling since the likes of Heavy Rain, its plot unfolds like a film and the fact that you play through only adds to emotional impact. Where in the past games have failed to find a healthy balance between story and gameplay The Last of Us gets it pitch perfect. While the aforementioned Heavy Rain delivered an immersive, well-told story I would argue that it was more an interactive motion picture whereas TLOU is without doubt a video game. It takes well-known elements and conventions from games and does them better than ever before, with innovative level types which require a range of different methods to work your way through and offer a difficult challenge without being painfully hard. It perfectly brings you a familiar feel of gaming that you will have been used to for a long time, meaning it’s easy to pick up, great fun to play, and doesn’t take anything away from the games excellent story. The graphics are absolutely stunning as well, with vibrant colours bursting out when you walk through deserted cities, ridiculously detailed human features and smooth well-designed action animations that really prove how good the PS3 can be while leaving you wondering how the hell the PS4 is going to top this! The multiplayer mode is fairly basic but offers an additional way to play the game and explore the expertly designed environments with enough challenges and unlocks to keep you entertained enough to play through its own campaign-type quests.
What TLOU marks is the beginning of gaming on a large scale being an art form. It shows the world how video games can tell a story effectively and emotively in the same way films and tv shows do and still contains the features that got you into gaming in the first place. When the critics say this is the best game of all time they’re not wrong and with the PS4 and Xbox One Just around the corner this a fine way to say farewell to a fantastic console. (With GTA V yet to come as well the farewell celebrations to this generation of consoles is only going to get bigger).