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Review: The Last of Us: Remastered

The Last of Us: Remastered
Naughty Dog

Over 200 Game of the Year Awards

ESRB: M 17+
Platform: PS4

Play Time: 25:55:19
(Play Time is based on the combined lengths of my livestreams for this game.)

What I Knew Before Playing The Last of Us

I had purchased The Last of Us back in July 2013 when it had been released for the Playstation 3. I had no sooner loaded up the game, however, when my roommate snagged it to play.

I did my best to avoid getting spoiled about what was happening in the game, then when my PS3 died on me I did my best to continue to avoid spoilers.

In October 2019, The Last of Us: Remastered was the free game for the month for PS Plus members. Having been gifted a one year membership to PS Plus by a good friend of mine, I was in the perfect position to at long last get to play a game I had wanted to play for years.

Unfortunately, my internet is two aluminum cans connected by a bit of yarn the cat chewed up. Add to that my allowing my roommate to take priority on downloading games and… it took forever for me to finally get The Last of Us downloaded to play it.

It was worth the wait!

0220 02 02 2020

I finally got The Last of Us downloaded on February 2, 2020 and began playing it at 2:00 PM Alaska time. (Actually it was about 20 minutes after when I started to play, so technically I began playing The Last of Us at 02:20 PM on 02/02/2020.)

First Impression

The visuals of the game were outstanding. I had not expected to play as Sara, Joel’s daughter who appears to be around 13 or 14 at the time the game begins. The control seemed a bit sluggish to me, until I realized that was intentional – I was trying to move around a half asleep kid stumbling through her house in search of her dad. As I wandered the house I could see that it was lacking in the touches that a woman would have given it, it was all either young teen girl or grown man style of decor. Easy to notice that Joel was a single dad doing his best to give his daughter a good life.

All hell breaks loose not long after Sara finds her dad and there is a chance to watch from the back seat of a fast moving SUV as the world outside goes to hell in a burning handbasket.

Heartbreaking

SPOILER!!!!! Skip to the next heading if you do not want to be spoiled about the start of the game.

I had not been prepared for the game to just flat rip my heart out at the beginning. In writing there is a rule that the first character that the reader encounters is the one they will get attatched to, because this character becomes their introduction to the world and the story.

In The Last of Us this is used to what I consider to be outtanding levels of storytelling. By starting us out with the tired little girl in search of her father, they are giving us a connection to Sara that could not be achieved had we started out playing as Joel. Had we began the game as Joel then we would have seen his daughter as being “just another non player character” and had nowhere near the level of empathy attained by having walked in her shoes for the start of the story.

Instead, they start us out as Sara and let us see the world through her eyes as her father and uncle race to escape the city with her in the back seat moving around, watching people being left behind, seeing the homes of families she knew in flames… her world is being ripped apart and we, the player, are right there with her.

Then… the car is crashed and Sara’s leg is injured and we skip from her to her frantic father, carring his injured daughter (who we now have a strong emotional connection to) through the streets in a desperate search for a way out. A path to safety.

For a moment we think we have found it. We have found a soldier, who Joel pleads with for help, only to have things take a horrible turn when the soldier opens fire on Joel and Sara. We feel it deep down as we watch Joel hold his little girl, who had been shot and lays dying in his arms. It is a moment that shapes Joel’s character and our perpective for the rest of the game. The world is a harsh place and there is only pain and heartache in allowing anyone to get close.

When tasked with protecting another young girl 20 years later, Joel wants no part of it and I can fully sympathyze with him, I undertand how he dose not want to have another young girl, a girl that is the same age his daughter had been, die in his arms. It is masterful storytelling that left me feeling Joel’s loss as much as possible.

Add to all of that the discovery along the way of children that have died and the placement of the name Sara in a few locations along the journey (most heartbreakingly as the name of a child next to a handprint on the wall of a safe house that Joel passes through), and the pulls on the heartstrings are akin to a well played harp.

End of Spoiler

The Journey

The story of The Last of Us is a journey that starts out as a mision to escort a girl, 14-year-old Ellie, to the edge of the city. It becomes a journey across country and as the story progresses we watch Joel and Ellie go through a lot of changes.

Despite my constant commentary about how I planned to sell “The Kid” to the first group of Gypsies I found, it was rather heartwarming to see things like how Ellie would tuck herelf in between Joel and whatever cover he was crouched behind when enemies were near.

Later on she was more independent, even leaning against walls at some points as she pouted like the 14-year-old girl she was, but those only added to the feeling of “this is a great, well thought out, character.”

There were also plenty of awww moments with Joel and Ellie, such as her questioning a movie poster she had seen a lot during their journey and Joel telling her it was a teen movie, not a horror movie – then declining to talk about what had caused him to watch a teen movie.

Combat

I love sniping, stealth tactics, and close quarters combat (CQC) in games, and The Last of Us did not dissapoint me on any of it.

I played the game on Hard difficulty and found the combat to be very well balanced. I had some points where I died a lot, but I learned and adjusted what I was doing and found ways to beat my enemies. In the end, for every fight, I was left feeling highly satisfied and like I had achieved a victory.

The ability to craft shivs and take on my enemies with stealth kills or use a shiv to get a last moment kill before an enemy could finish me off was something that I just loved. It hit my love of thieves and stealth combat perfectly.

When sniping there was just enough gun sway to make it a bit of a challenge, but not so much that I was frustrated by it.

Overall I liked the combat in The Last of Us and would play the game again just to enjoy the combat aspects.

My Complaints

It really was hard for me to find any faults with The Last of Us, but it did have one thing that I did not care for. I would sneak into a room, staying low and using stealth to try and surprise any enemies that might be lurking in the area. Then Ellie would move ahead of me and go to the area’s exit point to wait for Joel, effectively ruining the tension and supense for that room.

I would have much preferred for Ellie to have stayed behind Joel whenever he was crouched. Allowing me to be unsure if an area was secure until I had cleared it myself.

What I Would Like to Have Seen Included

There is not much that I can say I would have included in The Last of Us, but one thing I would like to have had was more of The Last of Us.

There are transitions between areas in the game where Joel and Ellie just kind of skip long portions of their travel time and arrive at the next story area. I know why it was not an option, but I would have liked the option to travel more slowly between story areas.

It would have been kind of nice to be able to choose “Exploration or Fast Travel”, with the exploration option having me needing to scavenge for a mode of transportation, find gas if needed, seek out safe places for Joel and Ellie to rest, and have more time to play the game and fight through random encounters with clickers and various other dangers.

There would have had to be a reduction of items that could be found during the exploration travel, so as not to offset the game’s balance. But other items such as fuel and collectibles specific to the exploration areas could be added to provide things other than weapon parts and other main story resources to be found during the journey.

My Overall Impression

My overall impression of The Last of Us is that it was a solid and enjoyable game that I look forward to playing many times in the years to come. It hit the heartstrings in all the right places and I am thrilled to have been able to share the journey with others via a livestream.

A Clip From My Live Gameplay at Twitch

This clip shows my intro sequence, then a bit of my gameplay leading up to a surprise raid by some fellow Twitch members looking to make what had been a rather bad day for me a little brighter with a mass showing of support and love. I have included a bit more of the gameplay after the raid excitement to give people a bit more idea on my play style, wrapping things up with my outro sequence (which was thrown off a bit by my still being overwhelmed by the support shown by the awesome raiders that had come to surprise me).

Looking Forward

Overall I loved every moment of playing The Last of Us and can not wait to get to play The Last of Us II when it comes out in May.

I am sure that Joel will probably play only the most minor of roles in the second game, and for that I am very sad. I love Joel and personally prefer to play a male protagonist, but I am sure that I will have a wonderful experience playing Ellie and hope that I will be left feeling content and pleased with how things turn out for Joel in The Last of Us Part II.

Take care and have fun in whatever game you play.

Remembering Rexxy, my poor lost pet velociraptor

Rexxy has been a bit of a joke for a while now, the poor pet velociraptor that I fondly recall when people ask me how old I am. It started somewhere in my mid to late 30’s, when I would encounter people half my age online that reacted with astonishment at meeting someone so much older than them.

At first it was just a bot of tongue in cheek humor at my old age compared to others in whichever community I was a part of – usually gaming. Someone would react with surprise at encountering an older gamer and rather than joke about canes and walkers, I joked about what life was like when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth. This eventually lead to the introduction of a pet velociraptor who “ran away when the meteor hit.”

The story grew slowly as the years passed, with me searching for my poor lost pet but never finding it. Feigning tears as I asked people to please let me know if they saw my missing pet, to send it home… and then…

At the start of 2020, as I was writing out some information for my Twitch streaming, I had this sudden extrordinary addition to the story. My missing pet suddenly had a name!

Rexxy.

I had not even planned to give the velociraptor a name, the joke had gone on for years without any mention of names or even a gender, but now… the missing pet velociraptor had a name. And I was now warning people to be careful if they asked about the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, because it makes me sad thinking about poor Rexxy.

I have decided that Rexxy is to be immortilized in 3D, so once I finish my current projects I will be creating a 3D model of what Rexxy would have looked like, and I will also create an emoticon for Rexxy for my Twitch channel. It just seems like a very personalized sort of emoticon that needs to be a part of my presence.

So, it is official, Rexxy, the long lost pet velociraptor, shall join the ranks of Phantasy (the wyvern that has long been the puppet mascot for Phantascene) and the unnamed black unicorn on the cliff (that has been the symbol of my business for 40+ years).

I’ll be sharing more information on my efforts to create a 3D model of Rexxy when I can get started on that project. For now… if you see a lost looking velociraptor, please, let me know. I miss Rexxy so much and can not stand the thought of the poor scared fellow out there somewhere all alone.

A New Approach to Livestreaming on Twitch

No Resolutions, just Determination:

I did not make “resolutions” this year. They always seem to fail due to some innate “No one ever keeps them…” stigma they have. Instead, I have made determinations.

I am determined that, this year, I will pursue my dream of doing what I love for a living. I will find ways to combine writing, video creation, 3D modeling, and video games into something that can help me pay the bills.

Advanced Website Content:

As part of my new year determination to do things I enjoy for a living, I have began creating livestreams over at Twitch. This has lead me to take another look at my website and begin to adjust it so that it serves to better compliment my livestreams.

One example of these adjustments are new game guides. Begining with a Guide to Days Gone, I am creating guidebooks on my website that cover not only the content of the game, but also delve deeper into the world and science of the game. The goal is to create a guide that not only includes information that can help people who are either playing the game or wondering if they would enjoy playing it, but also includes factual information with links to trusted resources.

More than just playing games:

The same kind of informative content is being worked into my livestreams. Striving to create more than just gameplay videos or casual chats, I am working to weave information that relates to the content of the stream into each stream.

Topics covered vary from mundane conversations about travel in the real world to an area where a game is set, to the real world science behind things in game.

Is the game about zombies? Topics could include anything from the CDC’s real world Zombie Prepaedness Plan to what real world diseases might lead to a situation such as the one encountered in the game.

Is the game a science fiction game that has spaceships leaping from system to system? I love to talk about space and faster than light travel.

Whatever the game’s environment or science, there is a good chance my eclectic interests can find things to research and discuss.

Viewer Participation or Lurking:

Viewers are welcomed to participate in the discussions; either by requesting specific topics that they would like me to research for upcoming streams, or by sharing their own knowledge of topics with me and their fellow viewers in the chat.

Not everyone wants to chat, however, and I understand that. I am working to create a stream that allows viwers to settle back and listen to informative discourses on subjects that relate to their interests. (Or at least relate to a game that they are interested in.)

Lurkers, those people who enter a forum or chat room and remain anonymous, never speaking up, are the lifeblood of a community like Twitch or a website like this one. I support lurking, or using a stream to generate background noise while working.

It’s About Having Fun Playing Games:

Bottom line, it is all about having fun and playing the games that we love.

Do I want to be able to become a Twitch star that makes a lot of money? Well, it would be nice to be able to pay the bills, maybe get myself a good quality internet connection, maybe a new computer. I am a simple person, however, who lives a simple life, and as long as I can find some way for my combined efforts to pay the bills (or even a few of the bills), then I am going to be happy.

So, come along with me through worlds of fantasy and science fiction. There is much for us to discuss and action and adventure await us!

Revising Website: please stand by

I am going to be working on some revisions to the website over the next few days. My plan is to revise things to better fit the livestreams that I am creating at Twitch and provide information of interest to gamers and streamers.

Most of the website is being overhauled, starting with the Games & Gaming category to provide more information and help with some of the games that I have enjoyed playing over the years.

I will still be sharing information on my writing, but it will take more of a backseat to the gaming and 3D modeling.

As for the3D modeling; I will be focusing a bit more on that once again, sharing what tips I am able to share. I will also be showcasing not only my own work, but the work of others that catches my attention.

In addition to that I am going to be working on doing some more reviews, not only of games, but of items of interest to gamers, 3D modelers, and writers. I admit, some of my reviews might be sponsored or contain affiliate links, but they will all be honest reviews that reflect my sincere feelings about the items that I review. My number one goal is to make sure that my readers and viewers will always be able to trust that I have done my research and given my honest opinion – even for sponsored content.

Lastly I am going to be working on my social media presence in places such as Discord, Twitter, and Facebook – intigrating it all into the plan I have to provide entertaining and informative videos and articles.

I have a lot of plans for the year ahead and I hope that you will come back from time to time to share in the journey.

Days Gone | Part 3 …. It’s 35 degrees F in here, -23 F outside (1.7 C & -30.5 C), so I’m streaming

Some days it seems like all a man does is scramble from one bad situation to another out in the shit. I recorded this stream in the darkest before dawn hours of 4am to 8am when it was -23 F outside and a chilling 32 degrees F in my house. Long night made better by Days Gone and a new friend to chat with while playing.

Watch live, join the conversations, and follow my livestream at https://www.twitch.tv/phantascene

Days Gone: Don’t mess with a man’s bike

A highlight from part two of my Days Gone playthrough showing my reaction to an enemy seeming to intentionally knock over Deacon’s motorcycle.

Warning: video contains some strong language. I was not having a good day.

Watch live and follow my livestream at https://www.twitch.tv/phantascene

Days Gone: Part Two – The Struggle to Survive

Days Gone – Part Two
Hard Mode playthrough

Warning: contains some strong language. (I was not having a good day.)

Part two of my Days Gone playthrough is shorter than the first part, an hour long video of what at first seems like my effort to demonstrate every grisly way to die in Days Gone.

Click the image to the right to buy Days Gone at Amazon.

Watch live at and follow my livestream at https://www.twitch.tv/phantascene

Starting Out: Days Gone Livestream on Twitch

Days Gone
Bend Studio
Part One – Hard Mode playthrough

I’m just relaxing and enjoying some game time while the weather outside is a frightful -24 F.

This is my second playthrough of Days Gone and covers the first 4 hours of play-time.

Also, I am sorry for the bad quality of the video, I have been assured that it is watchable, but I don’t have the best equipment to use for streaming, so it might have bad sections or issues.

Someday my equipment and internet will be better, hopefully I’ll be better at what I’m saying on mic by then as well.

Thank you for watching, I hope that you enjoyed getting a look at Days Gone with me. Take care and have fun in whatever game you’re playing.

Watch live and follow my livestreams at https://www.twitch.tv/phantascene

Days Gone was developed by SIE Bend Studio and is a Playstation exclusive title designed by Eric Jensen and using the Unreal Engine.

The game is set in Oregon, just after a viral outbreak reduced most of humanity to primitive-like “Freakers” that move in terrifying hoards at night, attacking and killing the few survivors who now huddle together in encampments or struggle to survive as drifters moving between the encampments.

Deacon St. John is a drifter and the main character of the story that follows the events of his life and includes flashbacks to his life before the viral outbreak.

Days Gone is well liked by those who enjoy exploration adventure games with intense combat scenarios and an in-depth story. It is less well recived by those who like to charge into a fight without proper preparation, since when taken on head-to-head the hoards can be a bit overwhelming and thus call for a more thought out approach to deal with them – especially early on in the game’s story.

Highly reccomended for those who enjoy stealth action adventure games with detailed story lines.

Days Gone: Knife Fight with a Reacher

I got into a knife fight with one of the more dangerous enemies in Days Gone. This was on normal difficulty, I can’t wait to try this fight again in Survival II difficulty.

My 2020 New Year Resolution

My 2020 resolution is to get my YouTube and Twitch channels up and running without letting life in general knock down my plans yet again. It seems like every time I have tried over the years to get into creating videos or streaming something has caused me to set those plans aside.

When I was 10 I watched Star Wars in the theater and discovered that I wanted to be a camera operator, unfortunately we moved out of the Los Angeles area and to rural Washington and my dreams of film making were dashed by a child’s naieve misunderstanding that all movies were made in Hollywood.

Years later I bought a used 8mm camera at a yard sale and tried again, but moving around a lot at that time caused me to be unable to actually pursue my dreams. There were a lot of hit and miss efforts in those years, a lot of research into film making and reading of books either at the library or bought from bookstores. I even got a couple of my nephews involved in some test efforts at creating short films, but in the end things happened and, as before, I set my goals of having a career in film aside.

My next effort came with a VHS camera that I bought. VHS opened a lot of possibilities and I had some plans of starting up a movie studio in Alaska for creating films. I had visions of eventually having a film lot that competed with the great film lots of Hollywood… and then the Miller’s Reach fire burned down my parents’ house. All the props I had built and my business plan, scripts I had wrote out… it all burned away and I gave up once again on my plans. For a time.

After we had rebuilt I got back to my plans and refocused them.I had a subscription to a couple of videoography magazines and was working on what I needed to do to start into a career as a camera operator when I realized I could make money as an online advertising copywriter. I set aside film for writing and made a good living for a few years as a writer. This lead to creating advertisement videos, some of which can be found on my YouTube channel.

Around this time I attended the Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. Vlogging and Podcasting were just starting to become a thing and I was going to start up a vlog and podcast to go with the blogs I was running at the time. I also rediscovered the 3D suite Blender not long after and settled in to make better videos… but… before I could get more into creating videos, my mother passed away and I set it all aside once again to begin being a full-time care provider for my father.

Two years later, as I was finally about to get back to creating videos, my father passed away and I set the plans aside as I fought to save my home. Moving from my home into a small 1960’s camper set aside a lot of my plans and I spent years trying to recover. By the time I was ready to try creating videos once again… my lost income resulted in a loss of internet and it was rather hard to create and upload videos with no internet access.

Later on I tried again, but… cell phone hotspots are not exactly a good way to upload videos and my living situation made even making them a challenge.

Then I found Twitch, I could stream from my Playstation 4 to Twitch and I began to try to run a twitch channel. Again, cell phone wifi. Every video looked like I was playing Minecraft. I resolved to get better internt in October and, well… when that failed to happen I… gave up.

I actually gave up on a life-long dream of creating videos, of being a cinemetographer, of making a living creating video content. 40 years of study and learning, watching YouTube videos on how to succeed with creating YouTube videos, reading books and websites on creating online videos… it was all for nothing all of a sudden because I could not see a way to do the work with the connection I had.

Last night, on the last day of 2019, I was distracting myself from falling to end of year depression by playing Days Gone. I had defeated a hoard of freaks and was on my way back to the Lost Lake encampment when I saw what I had thought wasa swarmer- it turned out to be a Reacher, one of the game’s more dangerous enemies. I tried to equip my melee weapon to fend off some wolves that had joined the fray, but the selection did not work right and I ended up attacking with my knife… which I continued to use in the fight with the Reacher.

I saved the video of the battle and decided to try to upload it to YouTube. It took all night and then all day, six differnet trys and two hours of babysitting the computer to be sure nothing went wrong, but I finally got the five minute video to upload and it made me determined, once again, to see my dreams happen. I might not be able to upload long videos or to stream good quality livestreams of gameplay, but I can get a five minute video to upload. I might be able to get a ten minute one to upload, fifteen might be pushing my luck since I have to actually sit at the computer and do nothing other than babysit the uploads, but I can manage five to ten minute videos.

And if I can manage to get a few minutes of video at a time uploaded… well, maybe I can make 2020 the year that I actually get my dreams to come true and I can start creating videos for a living. I can become a cinematographer as I had dreamed of being back in 1977 after seeing Star Wars in the theaters. Start small, and trust that Ican do better later on.

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