That’s a long title so let me explain. I recently watched World War Z, the massively budgeted zombie blockbuster, and all the way through I couldn’t shake an uncomfortable feeling. No it wasn’t that Glasgow was standing in for Philadelphia, it wasn’t the fact that Malcolm Tucker showed up near the end, it was a feeling that I’d seen this done better recently.
Then it hit me: this is a poor version of The Last of Us, the amazing post apocalyptic Playstation 3 game. At this point I realised that video games have reached the cultural peak that allows them to compete with cinema. So how do the two measure up?
Both pieces of entertainment start with an enormous outbreak of diseased flesh eaters. WWZ’s zombies are standard issue apart from their sheer speed while TLOU goes for a devastating fungal infection (also known as the reason I’m forbidden from taking my shoes off at people’s houses). The fungus turns it’s hosts into walking cannibalistic mushrooms. You as the character of Joel must escort a teenaged girl called Ellie across America in the hope of finding a cure for the disease.
Anyway you look at it, you have zombies (my mortal enemy) that eat people. But whereas WWZ has Brad Pitt being heroic and being a good guy, TLOU has Joel who in many ways is a more realistic character even though he technically doesn’t exist. Both men must make a long journey on the quest to find a potential cure, the difference being that Joel is affected by the impending apocalypse. Brad’s character jumps from scary situation to scary situation without ever really getting involved and maybe this is what makes the game better – you’re in the main protagonist’s shoes, you feel every scare, every disappointment, every surprise. In World War Z you’re just a spectator and unlike TLOU the character isn’t changed by the end of world.
So what is the point of this poorly worded diatribe other than for the chance to use the word ‘diatribe’ in a post? I kind of forget but what’s apparent is that we’ve come to the point where movies could learn something from video games. The Last of Us contains more pathos, subtlety, and heart in it’s first fifteen minutes than World War Z can muster in two hours so make your choice now – do you take Brad Pitt to bed or a PS4 controller? In this case the choice is clear.
Basically I’m telling you to go play The Last of Us, Brad can wait until you get to a save point.