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I finally played some of the most popular PlayStation exclusives. Part 1: The Last Of Us and The Last Of Us 2

As a pc gamer, I'm especially patient when it comes to consoles and I pretty much skipped the 7th and 8th generations (I only borrowed a friend's PS3 once just to play Metal Gear Solid 4 and Peace Walker HD). But since I now have a fiber connection, I decided to give streaming a try and made a PSNow account to experience a few exclusives that passed me by over the years.

The Last Of Us – 8/10

This game was everything I wished for: an outstanding adventure with great characters and solid themes of loss and survival all the way through. Joel and Ellie’s relationship growing throughout the story was among the best and most emotional I’ve experienced in gaming, and the Left Behind dlc was a real treat that managed to really flesh out Ellie’s past.

Not being used to aiming with a controller I decided to play it on medium and that was probably a good choice considering how many mandatory gunfights there are, but that also meant that the stealth sections were a bit easy. Still, this isn’t a game I’d play for a challenge anyway, at least not on the first playthrough.

I only have a few nitpicks with the game: a few too many forced gunfights and unnecessary points of no return, also the ai is a bit wonky and can be immersion breaking (Ellie pushed me into a clicker once). Unfortunately the remaster wasn't available in my country so I had to make do with the PS3 version and its 30fps cap that made for a bit of eye fatigue.

Overall, though, an awesome game that lived up to its reputation.

The Last Of Us Part 2 – 9.5/10

Let me start by singing the praise of Naughty Dog for the utterly insane amount of customizability and accessibility options available in this game. They really set a new bar here. I especially appreciated the presence of gyro aiming, the best alternative to a mouse imho, and fov adjustment, which made the experience far more enjoyable on a desk monitor.

The gameplay has been overhauled and between the beautifully detailed environments and amazing animations, not to mention the music and sound design, this game is a real treat for all senses. I got crazy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. vibes from it. I’d say it is overall an improvement across the board from its predecessor, lagging behind in just one thing: pacing. The core narrative suffers a bit from long stretches of exploration which do, admittedly, add a lot in terms of environmental storytelling, but it still feels like the plot has been put on hold for too long at times.

Which brings me to the pièce de résistance of TLOU2: the narrative. Naughty Dog has taken some mighty bold decisions with this game and boy oh boy did it pay off! This is one seriously harrowing and dark story that will make you question all of your actions and preconceived notions about what’s good or evil, and realize that sometimes the distinction is only a matter of perspective, a line that gets blurrier and blurrier with each step you take in this cycle of revenge. The only way to break the cycle is to decide to stop hating, to stop fighting, to stop seeking retribution. But the masses will never stop, only individuals can decide to do so, and if they do the masses will see them as the enemy and turn against them. And even if you make the choice of walking away from it, you better hope you're strong enough to not fall back into it. Because the cycle of hate is relentless and in time it swallows everything.

The theme of "hate breeds hate" and its ever destructive power, is pervasive throughout the story, there are no heroes here. Only pain. And the game will make sure you feel that in your f-ing bones. I'd say that TLOU2 with its masterful storytelling has topped some of my favourite gaming narratives of all time, and especially has topped Spec Ops: The Line at its own game.

PS Now – 6/10

I'd say the experience with PS Now was…mixed, and game streaming definitely has potential, but it’s painfully clear we're still in the early days. The visual compression varied from poor to utterly catastrophic at times (dark and foggy/dusty areas were the worst), with stutters, occasional crashes (like during the TLOU2 ending cutscenes of all places, ffs!) and noticeable lag.

Just to be clear, I was playing on a 5GHz Wi-fi, which is considered good enough for streaming games, and a wired Ethernet connection would've been better and may very well have solved some of these issues, but the thing is I had a go at the free version of GeForce Now as well to draw a comparison under the same network conditions and the visual compression was miles better, whilst being smoother as well as less laggy.

These issues, plus the terrible pc app that doesn’t even have a search function and the inconsistent catalogue across different countries, makes PS Now hard to recommend (on PC I mean, can't speak for the service on console), doubly so for competitive gaming. But considering how much better GeForce Now was (which, to be fair, is more expensive and doesn’t even include any games, you have to buy them separately), I’d say there’s potential there if Sony is willing to improve the service.

Next on my list are God Of War and a Red Dead Redemption. I was planning on trying Bloodborne as well, but with the lag I've been experiencing I'm not sure if that's a good idea.


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