I’ve had very little game-playing time in the last week or so.
This is actually a good thing, as far as The Last of Us is concerned; its relentlessly grim atmosphere can start to feel suffocating after a while. I’m not sure how far I am into it, actually, because my time with it has been so stuttered; if you’ve already played the game, then you’ll know where I am when I tell you that I just recently picked up the bow and arrow for the first time, and am in that booby-trapped town, trying to help this guy find auto parts so that he can build us a car.
It’s weird how I can binge-watch a show like Hannibal and have a really great time (even if I end up having trouble sleeping), but that I can’t play TLoU for more than 30 minutes at a time without feeling restless and agitated. Of course, I’m also having trouble enjoying TLoU. It’s an incredibly well-crafted experience; it’s probably the best-looking game on the PS3 (which is no mean feat; how Naughty Dog managed to top its own Uncharted 2/3 is beyond me). But aside from the oppressive atmosphere and the overwhelming sadness that pervades every inch of this apocalyptic wasteland, it also suffers from the same kinda-shitty combat that plagued the Uncharted games. To be fair, the body count thus far is much, much lower than in Uncharted, and the stakes feel much higher – the violence actually means something this time around. But it still feels awkward, and I die an awful lot (even on Normal), and one-hit kills stop being devastating after you’ve been one-hit killed 20 times in a row. I feel compelled to push on, as it’s one of the last truly significant games of this generation, but I can’t honestly say I ever look forward to playing it.
I suppose I’ve also reached my saturation point with zombies. In the mid-’00s, I was getting tired of killing Nazis; now it’s zombies. They’re a very convenient enemy – you don’t feel bad killing them, you won’t offend anybody by making them the bad guys, and it’s easy enough (if you want) to drape your own morality tale over whatever metaphor you want the zombies to represent. I get it. And zombies are still a hot commodity right now, and if there’s anything you can do to get a new IP off the ground, zombies have a proven, successful track record. But how many more goddamned zombies are we going to have to kill before the industry feels comfortable inventing something new?
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The having-no-time thing is a bit of a drag, though, with respect to Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Ordinarily I’d appreciate the slow pace and the do-what-you-want gameplay, but because my time is so limited, I feel this weird sort of pressure to try and finish all the town maintenance stuff I need to do as quickly as possible. Now, to be fair, it’s not the game’s fault; it doesn’t necessarily punish you for not staying on top of things all the time (though it does mean there’s more weeds that need to be picked up, and sometimes you’ll end up missing on certain special events). I fully acknowledge that my previous addictions to stupid timer-based town-maintenance shit like Farmville have informed my approach to AC:NL. Still, though, it is what it is, and my weirdness about not having any time is making the game less fun to experience. Which is a drag, because it’s clearly something that everyone else on my twitter feed is madly in love with.