I spent the weekend traveling to, attending, and subsequently leaving a funeral, so opportunities to play The Last of Us were pretty thin on the ground. The most time I spent with a computer of any kind all weekend was fixing one, like every other nerd who visits their in-laws. Would you believe that the family machine in their office had fully three virus scanners running at once? They were scanning each others’ virus scans. It ran like there was a tiny person inside of it twiddling knobs here and there, and the entire computer was full of little stairs.
Gabriel tells me it is quite good, though. I’m obsessed with Cordyceps anyway, and (as an adjunct) the idea that insanity is infectious. That’s a pretty old idea, and I think it’s something that still informs the way we think about mental illness. Obviously, if someone is smashing their face against a window trying to get into your house, I’m not going to say you should stop to think about the stigma we associate with this kind of behavior, but still. Naughty Dog is a strange country, too, and a perfect choice to manage this kind of theme; a “bad” Naughty Dog game is only better than ninety percent of the medium. My favorite part of any Uncharted game involved Nathan Drake being nice to a bison. Coulda been a yak. I wanted more ways to interact with the horns, honestly, maybe braid some of that coarse fur. But it was a great moment.
The Last of Us has a sidekick in the Bioshock Infinite vein, one of the new Helpful Sidekicks that don’t break your stealth level and make you hate them. But the reason she’s not alerting guards isn’t because she’s incredibly stealthy, it’s that they aren’t set up to “know” of her. So she can do some incredibly crazy shit and it’s wholly legit while you need to contend with the raw lethality brought to bear by quasi-psychic fungoids.
It’s hard to imagine these reclaimed urban nightmares looking better than they do, but they can; they absolutely can. Their trick is slathering their world class technical expertise with eddies of human meaning. Like a lot of people, probably, I think of a Playstation as a Naughty Dog Machine, and I get real, real still when I think about what Amy Hennig has up her sleeve.