Comparing Pittsburgh in The Last of Us to The Real Thing

If you haven't played through this game yet, you might get see some spoilers. I also need to play through this section again to uncover more stuff. I'll periodically update this as I go.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not picking on Naughty Dog for moving things around or misrepresenting the fair city of Pittsburgh. I get that you have to make changes to the geography and buildings to service the gameplay. I just thought that it would be fun to point some stuff out that I noticed while playing through Chapter 5 of The Last of Us. The screenshots I take are poor quality, and I lifted some images off of Google.

Entering the city

Entering Pittsburgh in Last of Us
Blvd. of the Allies

First off, you enter the city via 376 West to the Boulevard of the Allies and are forced off of the highway near the Crosstown Blvd. This is actually not that far off from what it looks like in real life, and that is likely the highway you'd be on if coming from Boston. The Fort Duquesne Bridge in the distance is not visible, though it's location is somewhat accurate.

Second Street

Second Street in Pittsburgh

From here, you navigate through some fights and smaller streets, making your way into downtown. You'll find yourself underneath Boulevard of the Allies, on a street with steel supports holding up the road. This is Second Street, and again it looks like the real thing and is geographically accurate.

Nice View

You'll eventually find yourself under this overpass looking towards your ultimate goal, which is the bridge. Again, this shot is pretty close to the real thing, with the BNY Mellon Building (white) next to the US Steel Tower (black). Fun fact: I work on the 38th floor of US Steel Tower. The BNY Mellon Building is a bit bigger in real life, though US Steel Tower is still larger.

The Omni William Penn Hotel

Omni William Penn Hotel
The Grand Hotel in Last of Us

You'll wind up diving through some alleys and buildings until you find yourself on a flooded main street in downtown. This is where the game deviates heavily from the actual city. Your goal is to make it into the hotel on the right side of the street. It most closely resembles the Omni William Penn Hotel, though it's not really all that accurate in either the architecture or the interior of the hotel. As you can see, the real hotel is broken into three sections, while the game's version has two.

Grant Street, er 5th Ave, er Penn Ave...or whatever

From the lobby of US Steel Building
Penn Ave & 6th Street

The real hotel is on Grant Street, across the street from the BNY Mellon Building and the US Steel Tower (which you wind up never seeing again once you get into the city). As you can see, Grant has planters in the middle and there are big patio areas nearby. The street in the game more closely resembles Penn Ave both in size, how confined it is, and its proximity to the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Also, looking at the screenshot of the game, you'll see a sign that says Warren Centre. The real Warner Centre sign is a few blocks away on 5th Ave.

One Oxford Center

After escaping the hotel, you continue on your way to the bridge. Turning around, you can see One Oxford Center rising up a couple of blocks away. No matter which way you slice it, this building is nowhere near where it should be, which is down the street from BNY Mellon Tower on Grant Street. Also, the real One Oxford Center's three towers are all different heights.

Fifth Avenue Place (aka The Highmark Building)

Joel's body is facing the bridge in the shot to the left. Looking to your left, you can see the spire of Fifth Avenue Place (aka the Highmark Building). It's further away in the screenshott where it should be in the city, close to the Fort Duquesne Bridge and roughly to your left. However, the streets in that area have taller buildings all around which would box you in more in real life.

As you get to the Fort Duquesne bridge, the enemies start after you, so I couldn't get a good picture of the bridge itself. That's a real shame because the signs on it and it's architecture were really well done.

Spoiler time!

You get ambushed and are forced to run for your life, and you wind up on the Fort Pitt Bridge, which is near the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Unfortunately, the bottom deck of the bridge is out and you have to jump. The bridge in the game looks just like the real one. From what I can tell, it looks like you wind up dumped out north of the city up the Allegheny River. The Allegheny actually flows south into the Ohio River, so there's no way that you would end up where you did without someone coming and pulling you upstream.

Signage

The small Fort Duquesne Bridge sign looks similar to the different signs around Pittsburgh, though they don't have that bridge-like emblem on them. They're color-coded to each area of the city. Downtown signs are pink.

Also, I'm going to assume that Pittsburgh Arena would be Consol Energy Center (or maybe the former Mellon Arena), and the Bridge Theatre would be the Bynham Theatre. All of those are within 1.5 miles of each other in the real Pittsburgh, and where you are standing in the game you'd be about 2 blocks from the Bynham, maybe a half-mile from the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and less than a mile from Consol or Mellon.

Area Codes

412 is the area code for Pittsburgh.

512, however is Austin, TX.

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So long, PS2. Thank you for my favorite gaming memory ever.

In the summer months before it was released, I prepaid for my PS2 so that I could have it for launch day, Thursday October 26, 2000. That August, I got my first job as an IT consultant. On launch day, I was working in San Antonio and my regular Thursday flight back to Chicago got delayed. It was 7:30 PM and pouring down rain at O'Hare, but I was determined to make it to EB Games before they closed at 9. I told the cabbie that I would pay double if he could make it back to my house by 8:15 so that I'd have time to snatch up the console. His cab left the stand like a bullet out of a gun, and though it was the most terrifying cab ride of my life, that cabbie was determined to make an extra $40. At the house at 8:10, I threw money at him, grabbed the keys to my Jeep and tore out onto the street. Sure enough, I made it to the mall at 8:45 and ran to the EB. The female cashier, dressed as Ling Xiaoyu, walked in the back and came out with a big white plastic bag of happy, telling me that it was the last system that they had in the store. I don't really remember the ride home, but I do remember hooking up the PS2 and playing Tekken Tag Tournament for hours and hours until the sun came up and I had to get ready for work.

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Guess I know what I'm doing this year

Pretty good haul, games-wise, for Christmas. I ended up with:

  • 360: Kinect w/ Kinect Adventures, Gunstringer, and Fruit Ninja
  • 360: Arkham City
  • 360: Dead Island
  • 360: 4800 MS Points
  • PS3: Just Cause 2
  • PS3: Driver: SF
  • PS3: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Not to mention that I want to play through Skyrim a second time, and Bethesda will start releasing DLC for it fairly soon. I'm about 8% through Arkham City. I could probably blow through it quickly, but I'm sure that I'll waste a ton of time trying to get all of the Riddler puzzles and trophies. I have a feeling that I won't be buying any other games this year. Between work and wife, I just don't have enough time.

I picked up the Kinect since it's on sale at Amazon. I got started with it yesterday, and I really like it. It's kind of gimmicky and I doubt that I'll get that many games for it, but my wife really liked playing Fruit Ninja and I'm a huge fan of the voice recognition. It works surprisingly well.

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Cloud Saves Are Great!

For anyone who didn't see the quick look, one of the lesser talked-about features with the new 360 dashboard is cloud saving. If you have two internet-connected 360s, your profile can now live on both systems. Additionally, there's an option to turn on cloud saves, which saves your files at MS. When you log into the other system your files are there waiting for you. Unfortunately, marketplace content can't be saved to the cloud which is an issue for Rock Band DLC in particular.

After trying out the cloud saves with Skyrim, I had zero problems with them. The saves are just as quick as offline saves, since they don't get uploaded right away. I have noticed that you're going to add about 20-30 seconds when starting up the game for the 360 to find and download the cloud saves. So that's something to consider. All in all, I'm really happy with the way that it works! Good on ya, MS.

edit: It actually only adds the 20 second cloud save loadup when you've switched consoles. So, for instance, I was playing all day on my main 360 and it didn't need to pull down any cloud saves. It'll only check when I log into my other 360.

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Got a Rock Band Beatles Bundle for $20!

I was at the Devon, PA K-Mart yesterday to get some denim shoes and a cammo hat (don't ask). I decided to check out the electronics section, and found The Beatles: Rock Band Limited Edition bundle for $20! My RB2 guitar and drums were crapping out on me, so I made sure to grab that sucker. They had like 4 of them for 360, and also had DJ Hero + turntable for $10, and the Band Hero bundles for $40. Stock up!

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Skyrim's Daedric Quests Are More Evil This Time Around -spoilers

Over the weekend, I decided to take on a few of the daedric quests. Specifically, I completed Azura's, Boethia's, Namira's, and Clavicus Vile's quests. The lore of TES states hat the daedra are the evil counterparts to the Nine. While some of Morrowind and Oblivion's quests showed this side of the demon princes, I think that Bethesda's stepped it up in Skyrim.

I didn't kill the dog Barbas to keep the Rueful Axe, figuring that not killing him would get me the Masque of Clavicus Vile. I don't use axes anyway, so that was an easy choice. Still, that was one nasty choice.

I didn't have any issue killing Boethia's followers, or her former champion. However, I do feel really bad that I paid a mercenary to follow me, just so I could stab him in the face. The animation of him becoming bound to the stone was pretty disturbing, and that Boethia uses the dead body right away was pretty eerie. All in all I really liked that quest, but it was still uncomfortable.

The quest that I really had to sit and think about was Namira's quest to kill and eat a priest. I led the priest to the feast, and stood above him, deciding whether to eat him or kill everyone else in the room. I have a no-reload policy for these types of decisions, so I assumed that I would fail the quest if I did not eat him. Ultimately, I want to S-Rank this game, so I decided to go ahead and eat him so I'd get Namira's boon. I ate a dude to get achievement points. That's messed up.

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10 Word (or Less) Game Impressions

I was on vacation for awhile, but I've been getting some games in:

  • Uncharted: Had to quit, so f'ing boring
  • Infamous: Getting grindy near the end, but still fun as hell
  • Dead Space 2: Oh My God, so good!
  • Super Mario 64 DS: I don't care that it's a classic. This game sucks.
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10 word game impressions

I picked up a PS3 in the past few months and started going through a few of the exclusives:

  • God of War III: It's God of War alright. I'm getting sick of Kratos.
  • Uncharted: I want to like this game, but it's really boring.
  • Infamous: It's good: exactly what I want from a superhero game.

I also have played quite a bit of Mortal Kombat since I've blogged last. I really like it, though I feel like it's really unbalanced.

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Purchased the RB3 Pro Cymbals Today

I traded in a few PS2 games that were lying around today, along with some DS games that my wife no longer wanted.  I pre-ordered RB3 and picked up the Pro Cymbals that are running $40.  I've been using the RB2 cymbals for about a year now, and I really liked them.  However, one broke, so I figured that I might as well get the updated set.  After playing for a bit, I can tell you that the new cymbals are awesome!  First off, they are ridiculously quiet.  They make practically no noise at all, which is a welcome change from the plastic-y thump that the old ones had.  Also, the 30 degree tilt on them definitely helps keep me from accidentally getting caught up underneath them (a particular problem that I have on fast songs).  So far, I haven't noticed any cross talk or dropped notes.  I'm definitely looking forward to trying Pro Mode with these. 
 
Speaking of which, I'm interested to see how the hi-hat rolls will be charted for RB3.  I suspect that they'll just stick with the standard red as hi-hat, yellow as snare that they've done in the past.  However, I'd like to see if they chart Pro Mode as yellow hi-hat roll, with the snare being the yellow pad.  Guess we'll see in a week!

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