#1 Edited by ToTheNines (646 posts) -

Just finished the last of us and had to write my thoughts down when I probably should be sleeping instead.

Soooo gameplay and visually aside, narratively speaking "the last of us" is a brave venture (got ballzzz). It's not that the narrative is super rich in hours and filled with depth. Much time is spent killing waves after waves of enemies while collecting supplies, and also many things are left vague as the story moves from one "unimportant" event to the next. I know by saying unimportant, I'm possibly pissing a few people off. I don't mean that these events aren't powerful on an emotional level, because they sure as hell effected me. What I mean is that most of them serve only as tools to progress the character development, but all this adds up to why the conclusion of the game is so powerful and brave.

You see Joel, quite possibly one of my favorite video game protagonists of all time, is not your regular hero, nor is he really a bad guy. I think most people will agree on that. As mentioned before most of his nature is left intentionally vague and becomes more and more apparent as the game moves forward, that he's not a selfless hero. I think it was pretty smart of the game to open the way it did, with him losing his daughter in that fashion cause you enter the game pretty much on his side, how can you not feel for the guy? But it dosen't take away from the fact that he will torture, lie and kill without a moments hesitation if he feels it is required and is also quite selfish.

Fast forward to the ending of the game. Many players seem to believe that Joel rescued Ellie out of pure love and that her tragic fate didn't seem fair to him. Maybe? Though I think his actions were based mostly on more selfish motivations though. It's pretty clear that Ellie has filled the void Sarah left him with and in my eyes he's developed a very unhealthy obsession with Ellie, he needs her now. Like Joel said the key to survival is that you keep finding something to fight for, something he's been struggling with up until that point, up until Ellie. It comes down to his survival here and now vs. that of possibly mankind. On a side note I also found the "You and Sarah would have been good friends" one way conversation very eerie, if not borderline creepy sounding, I wonder if I'm the only one?

To summarize.. Joel dosen't rescue Ellie because she is in need of him, he rescues her because he needs her. There is no betterment of his character, like you see in so many other similar protagonists. Joel is not here to save the world, but he has always longed for someone to care for since his loss, someone to fight for, so he has a reason to stay alive. Thats why I find the last of us so strikingly brave, cause Joel dosen't do what we would like him to. He dosen't allow the story to end on a happy note, the world is as tragic as it was when we first stepped into it, it's covered in so much grit and blood and it ends with a lie.

Thats my view on Joel and the ending. What is yours? Is he a hero yay or nay? Or is he just a human being caught in circumstances beyond his control?

Btw: Troy Bakers voicing Joel is amazing, you can hardly recognize him. To think it's the same guy playing Kanji is baffling.

#2 Posted by Raineko (433 posts) -

I don't think that only Joel needed Ellie, it was also the other way around (quote: "Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me, f****** except for you.").

In the prequel comics it also kinda looks like Ellie was already looking for a father figure.

But yeah, I don't think Joel is an "evil" character, but the things he is able to do are pretty much the reason why he has survived for 20 years.

#3 Posted by wemibelec90 (1552 posts) -

I do see him as a bad guy. He isn't evil, I agree, but the choices he makes and the things he does are still without question immoral and wrong. I feel bad for him, but I don't agree with several of his decisions and actions. Kudos to Naughty Dog for making a character that actually matches the things you do in the game as the player.

As for the voice acting, I don't really think baffling is the right word. Most professional voice actors have some kind of range, so I'm not surprised that Troy Baker doesn't have to sound like Kanji (although there were a few times I heard it creep in). I could easily see how someone would not have any clue it's the same guy--very well done.

#4 Posted by FilipHolm (667 posts) -

It's definitely got balls, they wrote a realistic and dark ending that wasn't necessarily happy or sad. That's one of the things I really liked about this game. It doesn't fuck around.

#5 Edited by ToTheNines (646 posts) -

@raineko said:

I don't think that only Joel needed Ellie, it was also the other way around (quote: "Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me, f****** except for you.").

In the prequel comics it also kinda looks like Ellie was already looking for a father figure.

Yeah, I weren't saying she hasn't developed an attachment to him, she clearly has. I was just arguing that the primary motivation for him rescuing her is based on him needing her.

As for the voice acting, I don't really think baffling is the right word. Most professional voice actors have some kind of range, so I'm not surprised that Troy Baker doesn't have to sound like Kanji (although there were a few times I heard it creep in). I could easily see how someone would not have any clue it's the same guy--very well done.

Yeah, I agree baffling is not the right word.. Just the first one that popped into my head and I got lazy and went with it :b I do think his range is pretty damn good and hadn't I known before hand that it was him, I might not have realized.

#6 Posted by flippyandnod (369 posts) -

He says you always find something to live for. He got over Sarah, he got over Tess. He'd get over Ellie. I think his statement doesn't underscore your argument, it undercuts it.

He doesn't say "don't lose what you live for" he says "you always find something to live for". Always.

#7 Posted by EquitasInvictus (2004 posts) -

I do see him as a bad guy. He isn't evil, I agree, but the choices he makes and the things he does are still without question immoral and wrong. I feel bad for him, but I don't agree with several of his decisions and actions. Kudos to Naughty Dog for making a character that actually matches the things you do in the game as the player.

I definitely agree with this appraisal of Joel's character. He is deeply flawed to the point of being an antihero, and Naughty Dog definitely did a great job justifiably staying true to it on top of all the development throughout the seasonal arcs. I don't think Joel would've ever been able to rise above the objectionable aspects of his character considering everything he's been put through over the years. I didn't even agree with his final decision on everything and yet I still couldn't hate him, the tragically flawed aspects of his character were definitely well done.

The Last of Us has my favorite ending in a video game so far this year (even more so than BoShock Infinite), it was so subtle and yet so powerfully delivered that it felt like it came out of a legit film. I don't think I'll forget that final close-up of Ellie as she merely responds "okay" to Joel's white(?) lie.

#8 Posted by 1hit (3 posts) -

Joel's actions in the end cement him as a hero.

There are two ideologies in the Last of Us. "Things happen for a reason" or "Things happen for no reason".

David believed that things happen for a reason and then used this to justify whatever actions he took, such as being a cannibal. David transferred his guilt away from his himself. He found Ellie for reason, it wasn't his fault he would kill or rape her, there was a greater reason than himself.

Joel believed that things just happen randomly, there's no reason for them. He wasn't able to justify murder and just explain away the things he had to do. He knew he was guilty for all the terrible things he had done. He carried the weight of them, by doing that he maintained his humanity.

David like Nazi soldiers, like suicide bombers, had chosen to believe things happen for reason beyond his control. All he can do is go along with it, feeling justified and guilt free because there is a reason, some reason that controls what happens.

In the end Ellie said, it all had to be for a reason, that so many people died. In this belief for a reason coupled with the guilt that everything was her fault she would kill herself. Joel saved her from her own naivety and from her guilt. He offered to take all her responsibility and guilt from her shoulders onto his own. That's why I think he's a hero.

He'll do anything to protect Ellie, he becomes her father by chose.