I got old, my lifestyle changed, and now certain games aren’t for me.
Gone are the days that I could tolerate shoddy mechanics and gameplay in order to progress through a relatively interesting story (and “relatively interesting” is a very low bar in video games). I’ll probably never grab a game that prides itself on being big or long again, and even games over the 12+ hour mark are too much for me, unless they’re really well put together on all fronts.
The Last of Us is a third-person shooter with weak stealth and weak cover-based mechanics based in a post-apocalyptic world. It generally follows this pattern: corridor –> combat arena –> corridor –> combat arena –> ad nauseum. In other words, I found playing it to be a slog, even if the game starts with some well-produced (if utterly familiar) narrative about a zombie infestation. Worse, the game has poor checkpoints, which means that whenever I died, I had to start a whole boring section again from scratch.
If The Last of Us were survival horror like some of the other zombie games currently out there, I would have been more interested in it. Those sorts of mechanics, especially the balance between resource scarcity and consumption, I find compelling. Primarily The Last of Us plays out like a stealth game with poor mechanics, and the punishment for being caught (for which there’s no indicator) is all of the enemies rushing to your location all at once (with no game logic that makes sense for it (in fact there are game logic problems all the time, like what hearing-sensitive enemies can and can’t hear (yeah, I double-bracketed, deal with it))). And when the enemies rush you, you just yam on the X button (sorry, the fucking square button, I hate the Playstation controller) until you’ve punched them all, or until one of the invincible enemies kills you. Plus, at least half of the game isn’t horror at all, but rather you killing a bunch of humans for not very interesting reasons.
I suppose the combat arenas could have acted like combat puzzles, which are something I love, but compared to Dishonored or the newest Splinter Cell (where they finally got the formula right) or many other games with “emergent” moments, it’s pretty shitty and constrained. Moment to moment, I have no interest in spending my time playing games like this, but hey, maybe it’s your thing? People loved this game. What do I know?