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Mary-Kate and Ashley Sweet 16: Licensed to Drive puts you in control of the Olsen twins, spending your days doing Olsen-twinny things such as driving around making deliveries and escorting your friends wherever they want to go. We can already tell that this game has a tenuous grasp on realism, because the Olsen twins have likely never driven themselves anywhere, let alone run errands for other people.
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"We don't even own cars. We travel everywhere on the backs of diamond unicorns."
However, in order to inject a little reality into a game based solely on ultra-rich celebrities driving around in a car, S16LTD (as it's known to us die-hard O-twins fans) set up a system wherein you get penalized for bad driving, just like in the real world. If you ever speed or go off-road, a cop will magically appear and write you a ticket, like some civil service genie. Receive three tickets in one level and your license gets revoked, and we can all agree that there's nothing worse than having to rely on your personal chauffeur to drive you to Nicole Richie's grotesquely expensive birthday party. So embarrassing.
"Just leave it in the street. The peons will move it for you."
But to be fair, this is how the rules of the road work. Drive like shit and you pay the penalty. As much fun as it would have been to send Mary-Kate and Ashley careening into a Grand Theft Auto-style orgy of vehicular destruction, this game clearly wanted to teach impressionable Olsen twins fans about safe driving. And we can't really get pissed off at them for that.
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Wait, we changed our minds. We totally can.
However, in their attempts to recreate the authentic world of teen driving, they stumbled upon a few roadblocks and didn't bother to swerve past them. You know those tickets you get? The ones that signify how much you suck behind the wheel? Well, you never have to actually pay any of them. Which is a fair representation of the Olsen twins' experience, I'm sure, but not of the general "behind the wheel" experience this game is aiming to teach. There should at least be a little animation of angry parents cursing your name as they mail a check to the city. But unless you collect enough tickets to lose the game, there is absolutely no punishment associated with getting one. We're essentially teaching kids that tickets just kind of hang around your backseat, like a best friend sleeping off 10 tequilas.
Also, if you hit somebody with your car, callously running an innocent person down in the street like a maniac, you get the exact same punishment you do for everything else. There's no arrest and no official investigation. The cop just hands you a ticket and sends you on your merry way. We would have at least made the accident look horrible to scare players straight.
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If that's not enough, any tickets you earn on one level don't carry over to the next, so you could conceivably get two tickets (which range in severity from speeding to vehicular homicide) on every single level and still win the game. We don't deny that this teaches players a powerful lesson, but it probably isn't the one Olsen Twins Sweet 16 had in mind.
Stealth games like Metal Gear Solid have a difficult relationship with reality. While the idea of quietly sneaking up behind your enemies and dispatching them sounds great, it would be exceedingly hard to pull off more than, say, one time before everyone in the secret military installation goes on high alert and combs the area with search lights and helicopters. If you were a soldier on patrol and one of your buddies mysteriously turned up with a broken neck, you would never let your guard down ever again, much less 30 seconds after discovering his dead body.
"Boy, I haven't seen the enemy in three minutes. He must have died horribly or otherwise moved on from here, so I can resume scratching my nuts for the rest of this shift."
That's where The Last of Us differs from traditional stealth games. Instead of a highly trained military force, the enemies are blind mutants and murderous highwaymen with the organizational infrastructure of a bunch of preschoolers on an Easter egg hunt. Your character, Joel, would be a fool to try to fight all of them at once, but quietly picking them off one by one is completely doable, because they don't have the wherewithal to mount an orchestrated counter-offensive.
Unless, of course, you make noise, because those blind mutants have the super hearing of Ben Affleck's Daredevil. These situations become particularly harrowing, because if you so much as kick a tomato can while you're trying to sneak up on one of them, you'll alert every single killer mutant within a 200-yard radius to the fact that you are creeping around in their territory and that you are delicious. Seems like a refreshingly realistic take, right? Except for one problem:
That's Ellie, the 14-year-old girl The Last of Us tasks you with escorting across the country. Have you ever met a 14-year-old good at staying quiet unless they're in Angsty Pout Mode? Of course you haven't; they don't exist. God literally forgot to create them.
And Ellie, ever the team player, starts running around all willy-nilly, shooting her weapon at the wall and uttering a series of stupid jokes while you're trying desperately not to make one solitary sound lest you alert six psychotic monsters to your presence. Ellie will even start fucking humming, because watching you fight for your life is apparently the most boring thing in the entire universe.
Please note that the game does not allow you to shoot Ellie yourself at any point.
But it doesn't make a difference if Ellie starts doing a soft-shoe and spinning plates on sticks, because the enemies can't hear her. Or any other character, for that matter. They only ever react to sounds that Joel makes. Ellie could be standing directly in front of a bloodthirsty monster, blasting a tuba into its face, and it wouldn't flinch. But Lord help you if Joel accidentally farts or kicks the side of a desk, because every enemy in the area will bear down on you like a flood of hungry teeth.