In the last generation of consoles there was one game that, in my opinion, stood out from the rest. That game being The Last of Us. Even though it was a Sony exclusive the game created a lot of buzz with how good it was. The game has a 95 on metacritic. The score is based upon 98 different reviews for the game. What has gotten my attention in the last few weeks, is its sequel, The Last of Us: Part II. The latest trailer has not shy about using violence and gore in it. There are some opinions though that say the violence is too much. I do not think that is the case.
What those who have not played The Last of Us have to understand is that the game is excessively violent. On the metacritc review summary the game is described as, “Twenty years after a pandemic radically transformed known civilization, infected humans run amuck and survivors kill one another for sustenance and weapons – literally whatever they can get their hands on.” That should set up some expectation for the world we will be entering.
With the context of extreme violence already set up the trailer in question seems tame to me. There were scenes in the first game that made me cringe because of the amount of blood and gore, but the trailer did not seem to exhibit much in that realm.
The true controversy has been set up by an article from Polygon that has stated that the violence is too much and that game companies should stop using violence to sell their games. I respect a lot that Polygon has put out and I think that the staff is a great group of writers. What this writer is not grasping is that videogames are becoming hyper realistic. It is something that game companies have been going for, for a while now and it seems unrealistic to say otherwise. I agree that we need more information about the game and I think that the article was wrote without taking the game into context.
I would like to note, this game uses violence as a storytelling tool. There might be some slight spoilers ahead, you have been warned. In the first game there is a point in the game where the lead character, Joel, is impaled by a piece of rebar. The other main character, Ellie, takes it upon herself to nurse Joel back to health and care for him throughout the winter. In the ensuing parts of the game, the violence is taken to a new level of extremeness. The desperateness of the situation Ellie finds herself in make for some phenomenal storytelling. You, as the player, feel the hopelessness of the situation. When you are able to escape and subsequently kill your captor there is a sense of elation.
This sense of elation could not have been given to the player without excessive violence beforehand. The violence is not there just to be there, it is being used as a tool to set up the story. Now, I am in no way condoning this type of behavior in real life, but that leads me to my next point. This is a game. It is also a game meant exclusively for adults. It has an M rating for a reason. No child or teenager for that matter should ever be allowed to be exposed to such violence. It is not healthy for them.
What we, as a gaming community, must do is to be vigilant in monitoring what children see and consume. Violence has been used as a plot point in all mediums and I think games should have access to that medium. The Last of Us Part II is no different. But, we must monitor and make sure kids do not see it. I know it is hard, but I know we can all do it. Stay vigilant Millersville.
Here is the trailer, if you are interested.