Sidescrollers: Blockbuster season for video games

"The Last of Us" puts you in a scarily realistic dystopian wasteland. Credit: Naughty Dog
“The Last of Us” puts you in a scarily realistic dystopian wasteland.
Credit: Naughty Dog

Summer has long been the purview of blockbuster movies, but it’s only the last couple of years that publishers started saving some of their AAA games for the season. After all, popular wisdom dictates that people like to be outside and not cooped up playing video games. Popular wisdom is stupid. Being inside rules! Being outside drools. Here are some big titles that have just dropped.

‘The Last of Us’
PS3
Naughty Dog
5 (out of 5) globes

My how the times have changed. It used to be that if you wanted a good dystopian drama you’d head to the multiplex. Now, however, that multiplex only has Will Smith’s “After Earth,” and your PS3, meanwhile, has the stellar “The Last of Us.” This game is not only a masterwork of interactive fiction, it’s a masterwork period. Video games have just about grown up (finally.)

If you’ve played the “Uncharted” series you have a vague grasp on what the gameplay is like here. You wander a beautifully rendered postapocalyptic wasteland, twenty years after a fungal outbreak. This is a simple tale of survival, with narrative ties to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Unlike most video games, the violence here is extremely real. You spend most of your time hiding and each and every bullet counts. This one will keep you up at night.

‘Animal Crossing: New Leaf’
3DS
Nintendo
4 (out of 5) globes

Now to shift from dystopias to, uh, cute villages filled with talking animals. “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” is an utterly addicting “life sim.” The goal of this series is that there is no goal. You simply live in this village and hang out. You spend your time fishing, writing letters or digging holes around your neighbor’s houses so they are trapped inside forever. It’s good, clean fun.

The hook in this new iteration is that you are now mayor. This means you now have much more control over the look and feel of the village. It’s a fun and surreal take on both “The Sims” and “Sim City.”


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