“The Last Of Us II” is at a crucial impasse. The growing annomosity that has swelled between the developer and the “fans” has reached a critical stage, where some kind of mutual armistice seems unlikely. We’re at a point where critical reasoning and objective perspectives are being distorted by an isolated, though vocal contingent that have beset the online community with a profusion of abusive harassments, escalating a situation to what can only be described as a reckoning! The death threats directed towards actress Laura Bailey only deepens the lingering division. Though this behaviour doesn’t accurately reflect the opinions expressed by the majority, it does diminish them. Endorsing this kind of negligent bile simply because of the scripted actions of a fictional character she has portrayed in a computer game, is the equivalent of blaming “Downfalls” Bruno Ganz depiction of Hitler for the deaths of 6 million Jews. And if you think that’s an embellishment, then you probably shouldn’t check out some of the comments fluttering around on Twitter!
The active facilitation of blind hatred has become so repugnant that you truly have to question the mental stability of some of these cretins. Bereft of all rational instinct, these hostile views have only propegated the volitile nature of public discourse further. Constructive analysis of the games faults is something that has alluded much of the criticism in the wider gaming firmament. The censure directed to NaughtyDog and anyone associated with the game is frankly intolerable. Instigated by an obsessive culture that thrives on this kind of hostile behaviour. It is possible to dislike a game without conveying those opinions like J K Rowling degrading trans-advocates. Thoughts are fluid. Instinctive. Harmless. It’s only when we assign words to those thoughts that they become harmful. You have every right to be upset, just think about what you’re writing before you type!
Now I’m not a Druckmann apologist by any means. The controversy surrounding former creative director, and all around literary genius Amy Hennig and her sudden unexplained departure from the company, that may or may not have something to do with Druckmann has tarnished my perception of him. Sifting through his social media only re-enforce’s my judgment about his dubious character. He comes across as insincere. A myopic observation considering I only have random Tweets and unsubstantiated speculation to support my intuition. He seems like the kind of person that filters comments to reflect their own burgeoning narccism. Surrounding himself in a bubble of passive enablers that massage his ego. People that would assert that he was some kind of scholar. A pioneer that will be admired for his bold vision long after we’ve all reached the game over screen. Cultivating the illusion that he is impenetrable to criticism. “You didn’t enjoy the story?”. You’re sexist. “You didn’t like characters skulls being used as a golf ball?”. You’re transphobic. He is defended vehemently for its trailblazing furvour and challenging the established conventions in computer games. Personally I don’t think he is half as good as he hubris tells him he is.
To me there’s nothing worse than an entitled white guy, exerting his privilege and pretending that what they’ve written, however good, is the most important work ever committed to the English language. That killing a key figure from the last game is justified because of the character’s adaptable ethical standards. That he was willing to kill indiscriminately to preserve their own self interest. When really all it does is epitomises the banal concept that people that use violence as a means of resolution are no heroes. Personally I would never have accepted that anyone in this cruel world to be inherently good or evil. There were characters capable of good that were ultimately forced to do unspeakable acts to survive. Understanding of the morality that they are constantly forced to compromise.
Such inflammatory social debates leave little room for compromise. And unfortunately whatever constructive criticism that could be ascertained through an open, composed discussion has been undermined by the irrational resent of those who believe their opinions are right and their destructive words can’t be seen by others. But they can. I’ve always found it curious how people feel emboldened by the partial anonymity afforded by social media. To express themselves in a way that they never would to someone in person. That doing so online is in anyway an acceptable means of expression. That somehow civility is a prison that can only be sated by an outpouring of hate? I truly hope that isn’t true.
The PlayStation vs Xbox enmity is a curious maelstrom of gloating and absurdity. On the surface both companies are comparatively similar, at least sharing a more clearly defined rivalry than either does with Nintendo. Marketing their products to deliberately compete with the other has only intensified the friction between the eccentric, yet equally deluded fan base. The verbal altercations that go on between these “fans” is something you’d expect to see between toddlers arguing over which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is the best! It’s Donatello obviously, but that’s besides the point. The extent to which these articulated debates are often arbitrarily concluded would make even someone with the most robust tolerance to profanities and the graphic descriptions of one’s mother cringe. And though this rivalry is a direct result of the conflicting hubris of its fanbase, neither company has done much to placate this dissent.
Petty squabbling aside, the superficial conflict between Sony and Microsoft is ostensibly shrewd for both parties. Vying for the loyalty of consumers is an expensive business, one that is heavily reliant on hardware, exclusives and of course, the verbal jousting of the fans. Having a dedicated, unwavering support from a rabid group of lunatics with all the diplomatic tolerance of an unstable dictator is a beneficial commodity. In the wake of Microsoft heinously misjudged Xbox One launch, fans vindicated them. When Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked, crippling the digital service for several weeks, fans defended them. Where there are fans, there are apologists. Possessing that kind of consistent, almost blind impassioned endorsement is only further strengthend by the competitive nature of the two conflicting companies.
With both the Xbox series X and PS5 contesting for the economic fealty of its supporters, its interesting to note how temperate the relationship is between the two companies, despite the perennial competitiveness that remains. Their reticence in disclosing a price for their respective consoles suggests that an inherent rivalry remains steadfast, as they prepare for the other one to blink first. With neither side looking to capitulate on what could be the defining factor for many, the price. It’s understandable that neither wants to take the first bold, yet ultimately erroneous first step. Demonstrating that invariably you can’t really have one console without the other. There’s a mutual solidarity between them that many of us would rather ignore. Preferring to perpetuate the conflated opinions of those that enjoy a feud.
What I find most staggering though is that neither company considers Nintendo a rival? Strange.
Every game has it’s boundaries. Certain eccentricities that may prevent a player from fully exploring an environment. For instance a door that can’t be opened. A path blocked by seemingly innocuous and totally negotiable debris or an NPC stood in the middle of a road remonstrating the loss of an item or persons that will not step aside until you, a random stranger procure the missing trinket. In most cases these environmental concessions are logical impediments designed to moderate player momentum. That encourage you to engage with your surroundings. To really explore and embrace the vicarious pursuits of your character in a fully formed alternate world. The game doesn’t want you to rush things. It wants you to sample and sip, get a taste of its world. RPG’s are notorious for utilising banal abstractions as a means of corroling player impulse.
A great game however will give the impression of player autonomy, even though every decision is entirely predetermined. Skyrim for instance, despite its significant floors is a perfect example of a game that stimulates the prerogatives of its player. After escaping the games structurally confined opening, Skyrim emancipates the player, allowing us considerable latitude to embark on whatever journey we desire, without the manufactured limitations of its composed narrative. The Witcher 3 is another example of a game that conceals its innate scripted persuasions in an environment that feels organic. The objective is as always to save the world, but isn’t conceptually a time sensitive priority. You can amble from one errand to the next, lining your pockets with gold, or whatever a Witchers’s equivalent for a pocket is, some kind of pheasant lung I’d presume, without the guilt that you should be doing something more important.
Gaming is an inherently selfish hobby. It doesn’t lend itself well to an intimate pursuasions of the individual playing it. We each interact with these worlds in distinctly opposing ways that doesn’t always adhere to the limitations imposed by a games narrative. When there’s an emphasis on the severity of a particularly contentious, world altering cataclysm it kind of breaks the immersion of a fully functioning, open world map when it won’t let you explore the next area until you’ve completed some trivial errand. I’ve got a world to save here guys?! Finding a game that balances the fixed narrative with the spontaneous proclivities of the player without diminishing the formers regimented story arc into a benign, extraneous circumstance is a rare thing to find. And perhaps not entirely possible. Maintaining that engagement through the primary story as well as our own wandering curiosities is difficult to accomplish, but the duality I enjoy the most.
There’s a subtle, yet critical distinction between an open world and free roam. And it’s rather unfortunate that they don’t coincide as often as they should.
I consider myself to be a patient man. When my partner was expecting our first child, having been induced early to mitigate any potential complications that may have occurred if she had gone full term, I was a forbearing and compassionate confident over the commencing 3 days it took for our unicorn loving daughter to finally emerge. Whereas my other half was an irritating grump! Complaining incessantly about her collapsed lung and subsequent respiratory issues. Honestly, no patience! But the stifling anticipation I’ve endured waiting for any substantial information about the PS5 has been an agonising misery she will never truly understand. With the exception of the duel sense controller and the leaden hardware reveal, Sony have been unusually reticent to divulge any significant details. Months of speculation concerning hardware and the aesthetic of the console, the latter of which has received various artistic renditions from enthusiastic fans have been fun diversions. But it’s time to get real.
The world could do with some joy. Something to distract from the turmoil and apathy that has become a pervasive blight on society. Of course I realise that this is a Sony digital conference which has the potential to be as dry as an Egyptian cinnamon roll, with humour as bland as a Simply Red song covered by Coldplay. But I’m trying to remain optimistic about it all. Hoping that what we see tonight will justify the predicted inflated price. I don’t want to delve too deeply, forensically analysing every facet, but gleam a general sense of whether the PS5 is a day 1 purchase. Fingers crossed for “Knack 3”.
After the reveal……
Intial thoughts? Sony have done an admirable job. “Spiderman “not” 2, “Ratchet & Clank” and “Horizon Zero Dawn 2” are system sellers for me, personally. I’m always down for Resident Evil! “Stray” looks interesting. Cats with backpacks is a niche I didn’t realise I needed. “Bugsnax” looks weirdly charming and certainly a game I can introduce to my daughter, much like “Kena: Bridge of spirits” and “Sackboy”. The “coming of age dinosaurs” game is a little beyond me. “Gran Turismo 7” couldn’t be less interesting. And everything else is a little modest let’s say. Considering the launch titles the PS4 had, this is far more impressive. Lack of gameplay is a little disappointing and no price reveal is frustr. The console itself though is nice. Not amazing. Would look great in black! But how many games consoles have a collar?
What did you guys think? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
In the midst of a global pandemic it’s easy to become despondent by the cynical actions of our society. We resign ourselves to the misery perpetrated by the few to provoke the many and find little solace to assauge the crippling desolation. It’s a feeling so bereft of encouragement, one that is only exacerbated by the inequities of media coverage, that is so sensationalised for the purposes of entertainment rather than to inform a concerned public. The escalating tensions that beset the US only reinforces the absence of humanity in humanity. You find yourself questioning the century your currently living in, and wonder how things have regressed to such an abhorrent state. Its certainly apparant that this brand of systemic racism has always been there, disguised by the false smiles and feigned courtesies of the privileged who so graciously tolerate those without pale skin tones. Tempered of course by the discreet murmurings of intolerance, that has subsequently enabled individuals to be openly prejudice among friends and relatives. And additionally thanks to the bigoted dispersions of certain government officials. With more people than ever feeling emboldened to preach a similar philosophy who might have otherwised remained silent for fear of being judged “racist”.
I’m usually as politically neutral as they come, taking permanent residence on the diplomatic fence. I have opinions, sure, but feel neither inclined nor compelled to share them. But it’s impossible to remain impartial when such discrimination is still so dangerously pervasive. The demonstrations that have ensued across the US, that have now been replicated in other sympathetic cities are a rational retaliation to an issue that should no longer exist. Such irrational behaviour to someone’s differences should be regarded as historical anomalies, looked upon with disdain and an example to any civilised society of how NOT to behave. The brutal abuse suffered by George Floyd is something you might expect to see in blurry black and white footage from a 1950’s civil rights movement, not from one of the worlds most developed nations because of a counterfeit $20 Bill?!
A police officer thrusting his knee into a victims neck for any length of time is not enforcing the law; but abusing his power! The fact that he was black should be insignificant, but it isn’t. In this day and age we should be outraged that those with a duty to serve and protect civilians had viciously restrained and subsequently killed a person. But the salient point isn’t that someone was murdered, but that this incident never would have escalated to that point it did if the suspect were white. Never.