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.
The Last of Us Has Blind Enemies That Hear You (And Only You, No Matter How Loud Everyone Else Is)
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.
Jason Iannone is a columnist, a Facebookist, a Twitterist, a Tumblrist, and most hatedist by English majors thanks to this byline.