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BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

BUT SATAN'S BOY
I COULD NEVER BE!



Pork Pro

a new study bible! posted:

I dig what you are saying. I have been thinking all day about how to express why I am upset by this game, and part of my specific trouble is that I think there's a meta-commentary to be made regarding the specific decisions that ND made with both characters, where they live, and how they fit into their respective societies. That's why I mentioned that it matters whether ND favors a specific character.

This is separate from my story criticism, but also once you get into meta poo poo it all becomes blended. Apologies.

No apologies necessary. I think your posts are vaild and welcome itt

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Dewgy
Nov 10, 2005

bok bok bok





College Slice

JBP posted:

They cut up their faces in ritual ceremony.

I'd ave called em face choppers

Well if we’re naming groups based off what happens to their faces I’m just gonna refer to all the enemies in this game as “chunks”.

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


For the record a new study bible!, this isn't directly aimed at you, or suggesting that you encompass everything I'm going to talk about in this post. But your posts did get me thinking about something I have noticed a lot of in the past week, which is that this game/series seems to be a nightmare for people who are expecting to be told who to root for or are looking for black and white answers.

You can trace this back to the ending of the first game. Probably the most argued about ending in a video game ever. Most people seem to fall in two camps. Camp 1 thinks Joel is a selfish/awful person who was the real badguy. Camp 2 thinks Joel did nothing wrong and was 100% the good guy. The beauty of the ending is that both/neither of these things are true, and ultimately both Joel and the Fireflies were doing what they thought was right for their own reasons, and unfortunately those reasons clashed. it's really impossible to say anyone was 100% right or wrong in the end. Now we have TLOU 2, which is pretty much a 30 hour long version of the ending of TLOU 1 and it's driving people nuts. Ultimately the game is about humanizing characters on both sides of a conflict. It's not about who is right and wrong and there is no one to root for. It's not about the organizations people affiliate with or even the actions they take, it's about the motivations behind the actions, and how those motivations affect the player perception of the story. People want easy answers though, so they project either what they want or don't want on to the game depending on their angle. Unfortunately for them, it's a game with a whole lot of questions that don't have right or wrong answers, and the sooner someone can accept that the more they should be able to appreciate the story.

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

BUT SATAN'S BOY
I COULD NEVER BE!



Pork Pro

a new study bible! posted:

I also think it's kind of hosed up that Naughty Dog chose to have the slang term for the Seraphites be "scars," considering that Lev is the most significant Seraphite and is trans. I think if you applied a similar treatment to other marginalized groups it would be less accepted. I know that Lev hasn't had any surgeries or whatever, but it seems to walk the line of what is appropriate IMO.

As weird up as this sounds, I think it's an indirect reference to hosed up biblical poo poo turning extra cultish in the aftermath of a mystical figure, like the way that female anatomy is sometimes referred to in a biblical context as a 'cut, gash, wound', whathaveyou. I think what the Seraphite followers did after the seraphite leader was martyred was they took the vaginal 'wound' idea and iconography that had manifested within their tribal structure as a symbol of rebirth/renewal against civilization's corruption of nature...and they made it even more central to their identities by cutting their faces, literally incorporating how their enemies spoke of them into their appearance.

And there are many references in notes and comments made by Lev that the original teachings of the Seraphite elder had been warped into a new form of religious cult since her death, where they were previously kind of a radical leftist Kaczynski-esque critique of the industrial civilization of the old world they became a reactionary fertility cult. I dunno, maybe this post is off the mark; I do think that ND is aware of the relative positions of various political ideologies, but I don't think that's where their chief storytelling interest lies.

BeanpolePeckerwood fucked around with this message at 01:54 on Jun 30, 2020

morallyobjected
Nov 3, 2012


I don't think this game goes out of its way to paint Ellie as a bad person. she clearly has regrets about some of the things she's done (especially after Mel and Owen) and sure she's caught up in the revenge thing but she saw her dad get his face smashed in with a golf club so I'm not gonna hold that against her. while in Seattle, she doesn't kill anyone until Mel/Owen (or maybe Nora, if you want to count that) who isn't trying to kill her first (the WLF and the Scars both fire the first shots). she certainly made some morally debatable choices but I don't think we're meant to see her as some unredeemable monster as opposed to someone who clearly has PTSD/depression and is dealing with things the only way she knows how.

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

BUT SATAN'S BOY
I COULD NEVER BE!



Pork Pro

veni veni veni posted:

For the record a new study bible!, this isn't directly aimed at you, or suggesting that you encompass everything I'm going to talk about in this post. But your posts did get me thinking about something I have noticed a lot of in the past week, which is that this game/series seems to be a nightmare for people who are expecting to be told who to root for or are looking for black and white answers.

You can trace this back to the ending of the first game. Probably the most argued about ending in a video game ever. Most people seem to fall in two camps. Camp 1 thinks Joel is a selfish/awful person who was the real badguy. Camp 2 thinks Joel did nothing wrong and was 100% the good guy. The beauty of the ending is that both/neither of these things are true, and ultimately both Joel and the Fireflies were doing what they thought was right for their own reasons, and unfortunately those reasons clashed. it's really impossible to say anyone was 100% right or wrong in the end. Now we have TLOU 2, which is pretty much a 30 hour long version of the ending of TLOU 1 and it's driving people nuts. Ultimately the game is about humanizing characters on both sides of a conflict. It's not about who is right and wrong and there is no one to root for. It's not about the organizations people affiliate with or even the actions they take, it's about the motivations behind the actions, and how those motivations affect the player perception of the story. People want easy answers though, so they project either what they want or don't want on to the game depending on their angle. Unfortunately for them, it's a game with a whole lot of questions that don't have right or wrong answers, and the sooner someone can accept that the more they should be able to appreciate the story.

This is a real good post.

JBP
Feb 16, 2017

I will outlast the Chinese government's buying of fat lady avatars with the true grit of the greatest generation

On the scars I'd liked to have learned a bit more about their leadership post Messiah and how they reformed into a violent group. Obviously due to WLF being monstrous but they've developed new rituals and customs very quickly. Maybe I missed a bunch of notes or something because I get more focused on moving forward than collecting stuff.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



veni veni veni posted:

For the record a new study bible!, this isn't directly aimed at you, or suggesting that you encompass everything I'm going to talk about in this post. But your posts did get me thinking about something I have noticed a lot of in the past week, which is that this game/series seems to be a nightmare for people who are expecting to be told who to root for or are looking for black and white answers.

You can trace this back to the ending of the first game. Probably the most argued about ending in a video game ever. Most people seem to fall in two camps. Camp 1 thinks Joel is a selfish/awful person who was the real badguy. Camp 2 thinks Joel did nothing wrong and was 100% the good guy. The beauty of the ending is that both/neither of these things are true, and ultimately both Joel and the Fireflies were doing what they thought was right for their own reasons, and unfortunately those reasons clashed. it's really impossible to say anyone was 100% right or wrong in the end. Now we have TLOU 2, which is pretty much a 30 hour long version of the ending of TLOU 1 and it's driving people nuts. Ultimately the game is about humanizing characters on both sides of a conflict. It's not about who is right and wrong and there is no one to root for. It's not about the organizations people affiliate with or even the actions they take, it's about the motivations behind the actions, and how those motivations affect the player perception of the story. People want easy answers though, so they project either what they want or don't want on to the game depending on their angle. Unfortunately for them, it's a game with a whole lot of questions that don't have right or wrong answers, and the sooner someone can accept that the more they should be able to appreciate the story.

I can agree that I would have liked this story to take a more defined position. Back in the day, I thought that TLOU was the best game I had ever played specifically because of the ending, but I never really considered it to be very ambiguous. I just always kind of assumed that Ellie immediately sniffed out Joel's bullshit but also recognized that going back was impossible. I appreciated that the game didn't need to say it. I think that this game lacks a lot of that subtlety, but I also haven't replayed TLOU, so maybe I'm just remembering it differently.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



On a positive note, I really loved Abby's character design. Her model was great. and seeing her braidless, starved, and sunburned at the end of the game was probably the strongest image in the entire game for me. It resonated even more than Joel's corpse.

Happy_Misanthrope
Aug 3, 2007

"I wanted to kill you, go to your funeral, and anyone who showed up to mourn you, I wanted to kill them too."

veni veni veni posted:

People want easy answers though,
The thing which bugs me the most about the TLOU2 story isn't that it's 'complex', it's that it so desperately wants to be considered as such.

I ultimately think it's a trite story that's not particularly well told, tonally out of sync with the mechanics required to actually play the game, and uses PTSD as a narrative parachute for character motivations that strain credulity at the time, but the game just needs to keep the action going.

univbee
Jun 3, 2004





Happy_Misanthrope posted:

The thing which bugs me the most about the TLOU2 story isn't that it's 'complex', it's that it so desperately wants to be considered as such.

I ultimately think it's a trite story that's not particularly well told, tonally out of sync with the mechanics required to actually play the game, and uses PTSD as a narrative parachute for character motivations that strain credulity at the time, but the game just needs to keep the action going.

Yeah all of this.

One weird problem the game narrative has involves conflicting game objectives, and in a way the goddamn Mortal Kombat 11 DLC of all things handles better. In 2LOU between chapters you are switching control between two player characters having a massive blood feud with each-other. When they inevitably square off the fight outcome is forced because the storyline can only go one way and that doesn’t involve the character you’re controlling failing even though that would actually solve a lot of things. You do not have a say in which character you are controlling which is especially dumb given the game was really looking like it was building to a narrative choice and then it doesn’t give you one. It’s textbook “game wants to be a movie”

Also gameplay wise the game doesn’t end where it should. Like imagine a TV show that makes a solid season but then decides they’re short an episode and slaps something rough together that borders on being like the start of a new season. It’s kind of a wet fart and actually lessens the impact of what the game had built up to just before.

the final setpiece has you playing as Ellie against just a bunch of mooks that are part of a faction you were only just introduced to and you don’t even have to kill most of them, just go through the door at the end. Then Abby almost literally falls into your lap and you have a fight using QTE’s, which pales in comparison to earlier when you’re playing as Abby fighting Ellie and it’s a proper multi-phase boss battle that the game had been building to for a while and felt “final”.

The story could have ended with a few tweaks without that last area, and the characters more or less in the same place they actually wind up.


I enjoyed my time with the game fine, but the storyline almost entirely felt like cheap emotional manipulation which is only well executed once with the museum. It’s graphically impressive and the gameplay upgrades over the first game are very nice, but I wouldn’t call this a 10/10 or even a 9/10.

univbee fucked around with this message at 04:13 on Jun 30, 2020

BOAT SHOWBOAT
Oct 11, 2007

who do you carry the torch for, my young man?

Arguing about numbers out of ten is a degenerate act that impedes fruitful discussion of art or media. It makes sense as a tactic to get clicks for media outlets but is pointless to discuss.

chinigz
Nov 12, 2016


univbee posted:


One weird problem the game narrative has involves conflicting game objectives, and in a way the goddamn Mortal Kombat 11 DLC of all things handles better. In 2LOU between chapters you are switching control between two player characters having a massive blood feud with each-other. When they inevitably square off the fight outcome is forced because the storyline can only go one way and that doesn’t involve the character you’re controlling failing even though that would actually solve a lot of things. You do not have a say in which character you are controlling which is especially dumb given the game was really looking like it was building to a narrative choice and then it doesn’t give you one. It’s textbook “game wants to be a movie”

I have a big subjective disagreement with this because I hate hate hate choice in narrative video games. It always feels forced and fake and cheesy to me. Like at the end of GTAV where you choose which guy gets killed, bad game who care. Just make a ballsy decision and have the player deal with it, which TLOU2 does.

e: has the same feel as when people feel lectured by the dog killing QTE - like the game 'made them' kill the dog. Where as it feels to me you are playing a game about the person, not as the person.

chinigz fucked around with this message at 04:28 on Jun 30, 2020

BOAT SHOWBOAT
Oct 11, 2007

who do you carry the torch for, my young man?

chinigz posted:

I have a big subjective disagreement with this because I hate hate hate choice in narrative video games. It always feels forced and fake and cheesy to me. Like at the end of GTAV where you choose which guy gets killed, bad game who care. Just make a ballsy decision and have the player deal with it, which TLOU2 does.

Choices are great in games that are completely driven by it (Disco Elysium Disco Elysium Disco Elysium) such that the entirety of the game will be a varied experience throughout for each player, but are completely pointless when it's just "which ending scene plays such that you can look up the other one on YouTube"

chinigz
Nov 12, 2016


BOAT SHOWBOAT posted:

Choices are great in games that are completely driven by it (Disco Elysium Disco Elysium Disco Elysium) such that the entirety of the game will be a varied experience throughout for each player, but are completely pointless when it's just "which ending scene plays such that you can look up the other one on YouTube"

Maybe I have to try Disco Elysium because I have never felt it has been done well!

morallyobjected
Nov 3, 2012


ND games have never been about choice so going into one expecting there to be one is like playing a David Cage game and expecting there not to be some unnecessarily creepy shower scene

BOAT SHOWBOAT
Oct 11, 2007

who do you carry the torch for, my young man?

chinigz posted:

Maybe I have to try Disco Elysium because I have never felt it has been done well!

I really like it. I can't think of anything to compare it to. People say the Torment games but those games rely on pause and play combat and fantasy tropes (even if it's a more morally complex fantasy setting) that is very different to Disco. The writing, setting, and the way you decide what kind of character you are is so unique.

E: Disco has no traditional combat mechanics and it was a very good choice to leave it out

heckyeahpathy
Jul 25, 2013


Everybody is ragging on the (ending spoilers) Santa Barbara segment, but the fact that it's separate from the main arc and feels unnecessary is kind of the point! The game goes out of the way to show you what healing looks like, then Tommy takes it away. The plot arrives at the conclusion of the traditional hero's journey before Ellie does, so she sets out again. Feeling a little exhausted, or like it's tangential to the main story, makes the conclusion a lot richer for me

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




Since you can select individual encounters, it'd be neat if later they patch in the ability to play as NPCs, each with their own items and abilities. Playing as Lev could be really fun

RareAcumen
Dec 28, 2012






heckyeahpathy posted:

Everybody is ragging on the (ending spoilers) Santa Barbara segment, but the fact that it's separate from the main arc and feels unnecessary is kind of the point! The game goes out of the way to show you what healing looks like, then Tommy takes it away. The plot arrives at the conclusion of the traditional hero's journey before Ellie does, so she sets out again. Feeling a little exhausted, or like it's tangential to the main story, makes the conclusion a lot richer for me

I do wish that we had any idea who the Rattlers were before they just came out of nowhere though. But them being two states away from the main plot the entire game does make it more understandable though. Dina talked about another group in- I wanna say Mexico?- that we never saw so I'm not really holding a huge grudge over it or anything.

Dapper_Swindler
Feb 14, 2012

Shitposting 24/7 without regrets. my parents would be proud.


a new study bible! posted:

I dig what you are saying. I have been thinking all day about how to express why I am upset by this game, and part of my specific trouble is that I think there's a meta-commentary to be made regarding the specific decisions that ND made with both characters, where they live, and how they fit into their respective societies. That's why I mentioned that it matters whether ND favors a specific character.

This is separate from my story criticism, but also once you get into meta poo poo it all becomes blended. Apologies.


Authorial intent doesn't matter. I'd read your thesis.

i mean no offense but you can just not like it. there are plenty of things i didnt like because of the story or characters and such and i dont need to put a critical political lense of it to justify my dislike. like i dont like ozark the show because i find the characters to be too iredeably lovely and awful and i just want them to die. i am weird when it comes to how bad a character in media i consume is. i also have less tolerance for it in shows and movies than i do in games and books. anyway my point is people can just not like something. no offense.

Happy_Misanthrope
Aug 3, 2007

"I wanted to kill you, go to your funeral, and anyone who showed up to mourn you, I wanted to kill them too."

Say what you will about the E3 trailers being highly scripted (they were), but I was just playing Rise of the Tomb Raider (Endurance mode which I had no idea about and is a lot of fun) - it's still a pretty game but whoa what a noticeable drop the animation quality is in comparison, feels like a last-gen game now in that aspect.

Dapper_Swindler
Feb 14, 2012

Shitposting 24/7 without regrets. my parents would be proud.


a new study bible! posted:

I can agree that I would have liked this story to take a more defined position. Back in the day, I thought that TLOU was the best game I had ever played specifically because of the ending, but I never really considered it to be very ambiguous. I just always kind of assumed that Ellie immediately sniffed out Joel's bullshit but also recognized that going back was impossible. I appreciated that the game didn't need to say it. I think that this game lacks a lot of that subtlety, but I also haven't replayed TLOU, so maybe I'm just remembering it differently.

i agree with you there. i like part 2 alot but it doesnt have as much "unsaid" at times.

BOAT SHOWBOAT
Oct 11, 2007

who do you carry the torch for, my young man?

Happy_Misanthrope posted:

Say what you will about the E3 trailers being highly scripted (they were), but I was just playing Rise of the Tomb Raider (Endurance mode which I had no idea about and is a lot of fun) - it's still a pretty game but whoa what a noticeable drop the animation quality is in comparison, feels like a last-gen game now in that aspect.

Every game looks like a downgrade after this

RareAcumen
Dec 28, 2012






BOAT SHOWBOAT posted:

Every game looks like a downgrade after this

Except Wind Waker! Its stair stepping technology can't be beat even these days!

BOAT SHOWBOAT
Oct 11, 2007

who do you carry the torch for, my young man?

RareAcumen posted:

Except Wind Waker! Its stair stepping technology can't be beat even these days!

Yeah good point. I was also just looking at footage of Mirror's Edge and it's a beautiful game. Anything with a highly stylised or unique aesthetic ages great.

To be more precise, anything aiming for highly realistic or detailed environments or character models looks like a downgrade after this. (Except for maybe Red Dead Redemption 2? I haven't played it but it seems to look pretty drat good from footage I've seen)

bowmore
Oct 6, 2008




Lipstick Apathy

Ellie is a piece of poo poo and deserved everything she got

bowmore
Oct 6, 2008




Lipstick Apathy

BOAT SHOWBOAT posted:

"I let you live, and you WASTED it" is one of the all time great line reads.
Agreed. So good they put it in there twice.

BOAT SHOWBOAT
Oct 11, 2007

who do you carry the torch for, my young man?

https://youtu.be/pDLNb7lECR4 This podcast (Druckmann with Reggie Fils-Aime) is fantastic. Full spoilers for the story though.

He confirms Israel-Palestine was the catalyst inspiration for the story, specifically seeing Israelis be lynched when he was young and being angry and then getting older and seeing the event from a different perspective. (at about 10:30)

BOAT SHOWBOAT fucked around with this message at 06:51 on Jun 30, 2020

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


Happy_Misanthrope posted:

The thing which bugs me the most about the TLOU2 story isn't that it's 'complex', it's that it so desperately wants to be considered as such.

I ultimately think it's a trite story that's not particularly well told, tonally out of sync with the mechanics required to actually play the game, and uses PTSD as a narrative parachute for character motivations that strain credulity at the time, but the game just needs to keep the action going.

I you are going to call it "trite" and "desperately trying to be complex", how about adding some reasoning behind it? Some examples?

veni veni veni fucked around with this message at 07:22 on Jun 30, 2020

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


Also obviously it's not "complex" in some 4D chess mindfuck way, but it is absolutely emotionally complex. Saying it's not is being unfair to the game regardless of if you enjoyed the character's actions.

VideoGames
Aug 18, 2003



^burtle posted:

second half:

poor Abby, finally gets her man and he flips her around and goes in the back

This comes across as creepy, so please do not do this. Thank you.

Necrothatcher
Mar 26, 2005






Fun Shoe

I feel like a lot of the instinctive disgust at the plot of the game comes down to a lot of people just not being able/not wanting to process moral ambiguity in fiction. Maybe it's Star Wars/MCU poisoning or being raised during the Bush years in the US or something. The idea that you should try to empathise with people you want to hate just seems completely alien to a huge chunk of the gaming audience.

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


I also think there is an expectation from a lot of gamers that they should have some say in the matter in the what their avatar does. After all, they are controlling the moment to moment action, so why don't they get to do what they want in the big decisions? But that has never been what TLOU is about. There are a million games that will let you do that. Some of them are more memorable for it, but 99% will exit your brain the moment after you finish.

RareAcumen
Dec 28, 2012






I'm glad I went through the first time on moderate because boy is it hard to play this game when you're clapping the entire time. I clapped when I saw the character models, I clapped when I started moving the controller and the horse was a good video game horse that followed orders and didn't get spooked by a twig a rabbit snapped 20 yards away; fall and break its leg, I clapped when I got some hands on experience with the dangerously well-detailed violence, I clapped while the characters were talking and when they weren't. I dunno if there was a message I was supposed to take from this but it was very fun and my hands were sore afterwards.

Also, were Naughty Dog creating new and more spirit breaking levels of crunch to make this game? I thought Rockstar had the trophy for that to create RDR2 with their 80 hour weeks of crunch

Necrothatcher
Mar 26, 2005






Fun Shoe

I kinda also think the almost universal criticism of the game being hypocritical when it comes to violence is way off base.

TLOU2 isn't anti-violence at all - it consistently shows violence as an efficient and effective tool to achieve your goals and that in some circumstances you must meet force with force. It shows that watching those you hate suffer can feel really good.

It also says - rightly - that using that tool comes with a cost by showing the cycle of retribution that inevitably follows, the psychological impact of inflicting harm and the effects it has on the squishy human body.

Saying that its message is that "violence is bad" kinda shows you don't get it tbh.

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


Absolutely.

am0kgonzo
Jun 18, 2010


BOAT SHOWBOAT posted:

Yeah good point. I was also just looking at footage of Mirror's Edge and it's a beautiful game. Anything with a highly stylised or unique aesthetic ages great.

To be more precise, anything aiming for highly realistic or detailed environments or character models looks like a downgrade after this. (Except for maybe Red Dead Redemption 2? I haven't played it but it seems to look pretty drat good from footage I've seen)

rdr2 is about the same level, the characters look slightly worse, the gore isn't as detailed but other animations are better and everything to do with horseriding is much better imho

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

BUT SATAN'S BOY
I COULD NEVER BE!



Pork Pro

RareAcumen posted:

I clapped when I started moving the controller and the horse was a good video game horse that followed orders and didn't get spooked by a twig a rabbit snapped 20 yards away; fall and break its leg,

I feel like with 2LOU ND might be the first studio to make a horse mechanic that even approaches the level of quality of Agro from Shadow of the Colossus. It only took 15 years.

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stev
Jan 22, 2013

Please be excited.





There should've been more horse.

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