Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Last Of Us Part II: The Story That Could Be

So incase you live under a rock or could careless about the latest video game news, Naughty Dog's 2013 MASSIVE hit game "The Last Of Us" is getting a sequel. This is news to me as I thought I wasn't going to happen and this is news to everyone else since they were waiting for it. However, while I'm excited for the sequel in a small dose (after all I refuse to purchase a PS4 for one game) my apprehension in regards to "The Last Of Us part II" is the return of Joel & Ellie as main characters. Why? Here's why.

Let me start off by saying that "The Last Of Us" is not my style of game. If given the option I'd have probably opted to watch Let's Plays on Youtube rather than purchase the game myself but low and behold it came bundled with my PS3 and I'm not one to say "No." to a free game. While "The Last Of Us" isn't my style of gaming, I greatly enjoyed it and often return to it to re-play certain areas. So I'm not hating on it.

Now here's where things get hairy. In my opinion "The Last Of Us" is complete story. Joel chose to sacrifice a potential cure for humanity for Ellie and then lied about it to Ellie. The End. We watched the story of a broken man who was living for survival's sake finally discover something outside of himself to live for. After all they'd gone through, Joel was willing to accept Ellie into his heart as a person he genuinely cared for. They returned to Tommy's and that was it. The sequel teases the idea that some personal tragedy has befallen Ellie and she along with Joel plans to seek vengeance against those who committed said tragedy. While this is interesting, will it address the lie Joel told Ellie at the end of part one? I doubt it, since there aren't any witnesses and that idea leaves me a touch confused as to why a sequel has been announced with these characters again at the helm.

"The Last Of Us" is a unique game in which they've created a world full of vast possibilities, returning the scope to Ellie and Joel limits those possibilities and while we'll get a different story, we'll get more of the same and that's not what a sequel should do. So allow me to explain how I would do a sequel to "The Last Of Us". Allow me to introduce you to Alex, Reid and Dagny. One of the things I loved about "The Last Of Us" is that it didn't feel like an isolated story, there was a whole world of survivors out there and if you read the flavor text or notes found in the game, you'll see very quickly that some made it out okay and others did not. Why not explore those aspects?

In my sequel we'd have 3 characters, Alex a.k.a Alexis a hunter, gatherer girl who lost her brother to The Infection, Reid a librarian who serves as the group's doctor, a contrast between Joel's rugged outdoorsman and Dagny, an Ex-Soldier who witnessed the unfair distributions of rations and decided to defect. In this sequel instead of having traveling, The Main 3 would have a home base, a little community akin to Tommy's community. After all, if Tommy did it, it wouldn't be that hard to believe it could happen somewhere else. Dagny is one of the leaders and he has a somewhat big brother relationship with Reid. Being a former soldier, Dagny is very direct about his objectives and is methodical in his planning. Reid, being a former librarian is very adamant about re-building society, law & order and getting things back to normal, he'll also serve as the moral compass of the group and the voice of reason, something that was absent in the previous game.

Reid would also have a crush on Alex to which Dagny ribs about (this will play into the story eventually). Alex is largely a hot-head. Before the virus she was typical girly-girl but after losing her brother who was a soldier she decided to find her inner strength and protect those she cares deeply about to honor his memory. Her ultimate issue is that she feels she has a fear of losing people she loves, therefore she's always willing to sacrifice herself to save others, she's always the first to charge into situations and the first to go on any mission because she feels that if she dies, she won't have the unfortunately reality of witnessing anyone else die.

The Home base would consist of 4 Chiefs, Dagny being one of them and 3 others: Abel & Jillian, an older married couple. Abel was a former city councilman and Jillian was a school teacher and Herman a former police officer. The Home base is important because in the previous game Joel and Ellie had to keep moving, but if you think of the game from Tommy's perspective, the only time he'd have to move is when they needed food or to hunt. This would change the mechanic of the game from dealing with Clickers to hunting and accumulating rations of food. Also having a place the characters can call home will the give the player a sense of community and hopefulness and a need to protect that community after witnessing a glimmer of hope that MAYBE society can be rebuilt if people worked together.

If David has taught us anything, it's that there are probably more people out there like him. My villain, Vincent would be the main villain, a Negan type villain who seeks to raid The Main 3's home. Vincent much like Joel and everyone else probably hasn't ran into too many people willing to share, let alone friendly people with big hearts. Hell, even Bill wasn't entirely buddy buddy with Joel, so Vincent after experiencing so many people looking out for #1 decides he needs to be more like them. Vincent is one of those "I gotta do right by my people." Type Villains, a villain who is the hero on his side of the coin. Someone you can't entirely call reprehensible without indicting the other characters. Vincent much like David will be leading a large group of people, fed up, angry people who need things but can't get them.

I mean, hell, how does someone like Joel who was just an every day average father go from wanting to be a singer to admit-tingly killing innocent people (he's said he's been in raids on both sides and not all of the raided were bad people). So Vincent would explore the breakdown of the goodness of humanity and the slow transformation into those people who used a tank to mercilessly gun down "tourists". Alex, Reid and Dagny represent the haves, Vincent represents the have-nots, and it's not unreasonable that one day the have-nots would grow to envy the haves. Ultimately, this new game would represent society and how it can be created and destroyed by simple choices that have lasting ramifications. This was something explored in the first game but on a more personal note with Joel & Ellie, this one will be on a much larger note.

Much like "Grand Theft Auto" between able to switch between characters during their respective missions would be pretty awesome as one person would be able to unlock doors for another person in case they get stuck. This mechanic would also make mission more desperate as you have to save all of the characters or the mission fails or perform certain actions the exact time those actions needs to be performed. Maybe Dagny's proficient in stealth & close quarters combat, maybe Reid is skilled in navigation and technology, maybe Alex is skilled in long ranged weapons. It's an equal distribution of skills that makes every member of the team relevant.

Building the world of "The Last Of Us" should be the main focus on any further sequels, and considering the world of "The Last Of Us" you could make more legit sequels out this than you can the "Call Of Duty" franchise! And not only sequels but legit prequels that develop the origins of The Fireflies "The Last Of Us: Fireflies" or "The Last Of Us: Day Zero" covering the 1st couple of years before the outbreak, or "The Last Of Us: Chronicles", didn't Sam & Henry say they were apart of much bigger group? Why not explore Ish's group? What was the falling out between Bill and his partner about? How'd Tess meet Joel? What was the falling out between Joel & Tommy? How'd Tommy meet Maria? The possibilities are actual endless! I hope Neil takes these into consideration because he's created a world much too big for just Joel & Ellie.

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