My Weekly Recommendation (#5) (6/17/19)

[Originally published on 6/17/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#5) – Smartwatches

Welcome back! On this weeks recommendation, I’ll be talking about smart watches, and more specifically why I love the Apple Watch.

I began dabbling in the smartwatch game a little over a year ago with a knock-off from Amazon. I had taken some time off from my usual workout routine and wanted something to track my daily steps, but I also didn’t want to pay $400 for an Apple Watch. It served its purpose for about six months before I received a Fossil smartwatch for my birthday. While the Fossil was exceedingly nicer, it wasn’t waterproof and was just a bit more difficult to actually track steps/exercise. This brings me to the Apple Watch I bought about a month ago, and I have to say it is beyond worth the money. You can get the prior generation (gen 3) off of Amazon for about $200, which is right about the same as the Fossil I owned.

Having the Apple Watch has almost made it fun keeping track of my activity again. Of course, you can have it set up for constant reminders to keep moving, but my favorite part is probably that when you see how close you are to your goals you want to put that extra bit of work in to close your rings. Not to mention it seems much more accurate than the knock-off smartwatch (surprise, surprise) and somewhat more accurate than the Fossil.

So for any of you looking to get a smartwatch I recommend doing some research to see which ones fit your goals and budget!

My Weekly Recommendation (#4) (6/11/19)

[Originally published on 6/11/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#4) – MCT Oil

This week’s recommendation will cover something new that I have been adding to my morning routine, MCT oil. MCT stands for Medium Chain-Triglycerides and these fatty oils are easily digested by our bodies. I started adding MCT into my morning cup of coffee for a little extra kick to start my day, but since then I have learned that MCT oil has health benefits I didn’t even know about! These fats are great for fueling your brain in the morning but can also help burn extra fat, strengthen your immune system, and even help reduce Lactate for those of us with extremely active lifestyles. I currently use a vanilla creamer-based oil that goes right into my coffee, but there are many other types and flavors that can be put in (or on) just about anything. Since adding this to my routine, I have 100% noticed more energy as well as increased clarity, which has been great for getting some early morning writing in. So, if you’re looking for an extra pick-me-up in the AM, I strongly suggest looking into adding MCT oil to your diet.

Thanks for reading this weeks rec!

An Ode to Fantasy Television (6/7/19)

[Originally published on 6/7/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

An Ode to Fantasy Television

Ever since I was a young lad, I have always been a sucker for the fantasy genre. I’d like to think it all started when I began reading Harry Potter in third grade. I was so addicted to those books. I actually read Chamber of Secrets in its entirety the very first weekend I owned it. From those early years, my tastes have spread their roots across countless books, shows, video games, and movies. The first show I remember truly falling in love with was the CW’s Supernatural, which by the way is STILL one of my favorites and STILL running. But when I think about the fantasy genre, there are three shows I think crush the rest of the competition. Coming in at numbers one and two are Supernatural and Game of Thrones, but they are fairly interchangeable at this point. GoT had easily been my number one for the last five or six years, but the ending of the final season may have opened the door for Supernatural to solidify its place in first. Following them both at number three is HBO’s True Blood, which I also watched just as religiously as numbers one and two. Naturally, there are plenty of other top-notch fantasy shows that could have been mentioned, but to me these three hold the crown with ease.  

Let’s begin with Supernatural and its fourteen seasons. It initially aired on September 13th, 2005 and is one of the CW’s most successful shows, not to mention its longest running program by quite a few seasons. Coming later this year will be season fifteen, which I’m sad to say will be its last. I am super excited to see what’s in store though because the finale of season fourteen was quite a doozy. Anyways, one of the main reasons I enjoy Supernatural to the extent I do is the vast array of monsters and villains that are used. Even way back in 2005, before all the technological advances of the television industry, they did a great job of pulling you into the scene with Sam and Dean whenever they were going up against one of the bad guys. You would think that after fourteen seasons they would have had some difficulty writing or that the storyline would have gotten somewhat redundant, but that is not the case at all. Also, the storytelling in this show is phenomenal. Every little detail about the creatures is so in depth and I just love it so much. There may be a few too many sappy brother scenes or an absolutely dreadful musical episode sprinkled into a season every now and again, but even then I am always shocked by how well each episode is put together.  

Next up is Game of Thrones, one of the most watched and talked about shows of my generation. I think this fell into many people’s top few shows before the final season aired last month, but now I am not so sure. If you have a phone or computer with access to the internet, I am certain you’ve seen all the negativity that the show was (and still is…) getting. I’ll admit, I was not a fan of how the series ended, but I also thought every minute up until the halfway point of episode six was absolute perfection (outside of the two water bottles and the starbucks cup lol). All of that nonsense is beside the point though, because GoT will go down in history as one of the most iconic television shows no matter how many people sign petitions about the final season. Nobody can argue that the quality of show HBO put out was anything but exceptional, especially in its final season. The battles in episodes three and five were masterfully shot, and honestly all the battle scenes throughout the entire show constantly had me at the edge of my seat. And then HBO drops that documentary on us… I won’t lie, I cried when Kit started crying towards the end. Game of Thrones coming to a close was actually the original spark behind my novel and that led me to the realization of what my true passion was. So if you were not yet sold on me being utterly engulfed within the fantasy genre, think again.  

Rounding out my top three fantasy shows is another HBO classic, True Blood. This was one of their earlier masterpieces, beginning in late 2008 and ending after seven spectacular seasons in 2014. True Blood was the first fantasy show I remember that stood out on a production scale. The carnage they were able to create when the vampires and other monsters were ripping each other apart was insane. And, once again, HBO absolutely nailed the scripts that went into this show, plus the cast was stacked with incredible actors which made the dialogues seem even more natural. HBO actually made me feel like I would cross paths with a Maenad or a Skinwalker if I traveled down to Bon Temps. Unfortunately that is not the case, and if I travel down to Louisiana all I’ll discover is the greatest food of all time and even better people.  

I wanted to briefly touch on some honorable mentions of mine as well because these three shows were not the sole reasons I became such a fantasy fan over the years. MTV’s Teen Wolf is probably the closest thing to a runner up for this category, mainly because it was out when I was in high school and was so easy to relate too. Then there is The Magicians, which is one of my current favorites on the Syfy channel. They just wrapped up the fourth season not too long ago, and I hope there are many more to come. One final piece was Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which had a very dark and twisted storyline. It ended abruptly in season three which struck many people by surprise. It was one of those shows that constantly left my mind spinning in confusion and had me doing research to try and guess what would happen on the next episode. But whether a show fell into my list or just my honorable mentions, they are all enormously significant to the fantasy genre. Without these shows, I wouldn’t have been inspired to start a book or pursue my dreams. And for that, fantasy, I thank you.  

My Weekly Recommendation (#3) (6/4/19)

[Originally published on 6/4/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#3) – Subscribing to HBO

Hey everyone! This week I’m recommending that you all go out and subscribe to HBO. It’s $15 a month (which I know is a lot, especially if stacked on top of other streaming services) but in my opinion it’s 100% worth it. HBO continues to push out amazing content regularly, and this summer is going to be packed full of amazing shows. We have Succession and Big Little Lies coming back for their (better word for second?) seasons, which I am beyond stoked about by the way, and countless new shows like Watchmen, Gentleman Jack, and Euphoria. Not to mention, your subscription comes with plenty of already aired shows that are well worth the watch; Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, The Wire, etc. And for those of you who don’t want to add another app or streaming site to your list, Hulu has the cool feature of adding HBO directly to your account! Another must watch show they put out was Chernobyl, a five-part miniseries depicting the events that transpired when the nuclear plant in Pripyat went haywire back in the 80’s. They did a really great job with this in my opinion, and it alone would probably be worth $15 over the next month! But no matter what your summer binging plans consist of, I highly suggest you sprinkle some of the magnificence that HBO has created on top.

My Weekly Recommendation (#2) (5/28/19)

[Originally published on 5/28/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#2) – New Orleans Cuisine

Hey everyone, on this week’s rec I’ll be talking about one of my favorite things, food! More specifically, the mouth-watering flavors that stem from New Orleans authentic Po-Boys and Jambalaya. Now, I have been a fan of Po-Boys for quite some time but I had never actually eaten an authentic New Orleans Po-Boy. It’s safe to say I can no longer eat them back in Florida because they just aren’t the same! My favorite Po-Boy, the Surf and Turf, came from Johnny’s Po-Boys in the French Quarter. Their menu is endless, ranging from regular Po-Boys with shrimp to Po-Boys stacked with roast beef, lettuce, and mayo. This will no doubt be the first stop on my list the next time I’m back in New Orleans, which hopefully happens soon. I did experiment last week with my own Po-Boy recipe though and it was pretty tasty, so maybe I’ll share that recipe with you all soon!

Next up is the Jambalaya, which has become a staple in my diet since traveling to NOLA late last year. I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans during the Tremé Creole Gumbo Fest, and it was quite the experience. With about 15 places to stop and try different New Orleans cuisines, it was THE pitstop on the way to foodie heaven. Over the course of two hours, I enjoyed an amazing bowl of gumbo, a heaping portion of jambalaya, and a golden square of fried grits (A.K.A. PERFECTION) before my stomach no longer had the room to enjoy the delicacies I was still dying to try. There was also live music the entire time, and all of the acts were NOLA natives which was super cool. This fest is definitely something I would recommend attempting to get to at some point as well if you can! All things considered, my rating of NOLA cuisine is 10/10 and if you’ve never been I highly suggest making your way there soon.

My Weekly Recommendation (#1) (5/23/19)

[Originally published on 5/23/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

My Weekly Recommendation (#1) – The CW’s Supernatural

Good afternoon all and welcome to my first weekly rec post! Going forward I will be posting a weekly recommendation every Tuesday/Wednesday afternoon. It will simply be a brief paragraph on one of my favorite shows, books, or recipes that I think you should give a shot over the next few weeks. So let’s jump right in. My first recommendation for everyone this week is the show Supernatural. Now, this show and its 14 seasons may represent quite the burden to take on but I promise if you give it a shot you will love it. Supernatural is in my top three list of shows (to see the other two, LINK) and I have watched with my dad since I was twelve or thirteen years old. The show is about two brothers who are “Hunters” and save people from evil beings/creatures. Whether it be an angered spirit or Lucifer himself, Sam and Dean do their damndest to defend the citizens of Earth. I personally think the writing in this show is incredible. It can be somewhat cheesy at times, but it always ties back to something and leaves that feeling of nostalgia on your brain. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are incredible as well, and they’re presumably the key reason this fanbase is so crazy in love with the show. It has been running since 2005, so some of the scenes/effects from the earlier seasons may not be the greatest. However, If you stick with it and watch through you will be amazed at how far this show has come. Regrettably, Supernatural will be ending after this upcoming season. But if you start binging now you can be a part of the final one with me when it airs later this year!

Thanks again for the read. Be sure to watch out for my second weekly rec next Tuesday, Have great weekend everyone!

The End of It All (5/20/19)

[Originally published on 5/20/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

The End of It All

It’s official, Game of Thrones is over. After staying positive the entire season, I finally cracked last night during the finale. The episode as a whole was underwhelming in my eyes. With that being said, there were some parts that I thought were executed flawlessly… but most of the episode was dull and what wasn’t dull was just plain bad.

Around 44 minutes in is where my initial issue was. After Jon kills Dany, Drogon grabs her lifeless body with his back talons and flies away with her. I was not a fan of this at all, but here I can also see why they did it at least. Once Dany was dead, the only options for Drogon were to 1) fly away, 2) be killed, or 3) be fine with the fact that his mother was just murdered and bow down to the murderer. Number 2 seemed incredibly unlikely figuring that all of the scorpions had just been destroyed. I thought maybe Bronn would come back into the story here but wasn’t quite sure how he would take Drogon down without some sort of massive weapon. Number 3 just didn’t make sense, and Drogon was too connected to Dany to ever allow Jon to mount him after he kills her. That leaves us number 1, which makes sense, I merely didn’t enjoy the fact that he scooped our Khaleesi up and took her with him.

This brings me to my subsequent issue with the episode, which was the absolute nonsense that Jon is now put through for the remainder of the epi. First off, the fact that the Unsullied and Dothraki did not kill Jon after he stabbed their queen makes zero sense. Plus, knowing Jon, he for sure went out and did the “honorable” thing and just told them. And since we’re talking about Jon, I also hated that they sent him back to the Night’s Watch as punishment. I get that he couldn’t stay in King’s Landing and that Grey Worm probably wanted him dead. But the fact that you dispatched a man who already DIED for the Night’s Watch back to Castle Black blows my mind. Plus like, didn’t all of the crows die? We know the Lord Commander died protecting Sam in the battle of Winterfell. We know the wall by Eastwatch is rubble. We know the wildlings are no longer enemies AND that the White Walkers are dead, so why send him to the wall? I did love the fact that he just peaced out once he got there. And maybe he and Ghost were meant to be north of the wall anyways. I’m just saying though, why couldn’t he go back to the Winterfell and help Sansa rule or head west of Westeros with Arya? Overall just a tragic episode for one of my favorite characters.

Next up, the dragon pit scene, which seemed to take place quite some time after the battle judging by Tyrion’s dope beard he had grown. This group had gathered to decide his fate and decide who would rule the six kingdoms next. The part that bugged me here (besides the water bottle) was the fact that Bran was decided as the best fit for King. Yet two episodes ago he desired nothing and could be nothing because he was the three-eyed raven. What changed Bran? And then the line where he basically says he knew and that why he was there… like wtf haha. There was also the unknown Dornish prince or whatever in attendance. I’ve been seeing many people say it has to be Quentyn Martell, but he died at the end of A Dance with Dragons so that makes no sense whatsoever. I think the thing that I am most salty about here is the fact that Bran ends up being our guy. And to touch on the water bottle, HOW in the absolute hell did they miss this?! This was not the first time this season, nor the last, that we would see something that didn’t belong in the show. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. How do we end up with three mishaps after so much money was dumped into the creation and review of our favorite show? It’s utterly unacceptable for a series of this caliber.

All things considered, I probably would have rated this episode a 5/10. I did thoroughly enjoy the Tyrion scenes. His dialogue was killer and so much was looped back around to older episodes and quotes. I also kind of enjoyed the fact that Bran selected him to be his Hand as well. And of course, how could I forget about the incredible shot of Dany when Drogon spread his wings and she looked like she transformed into a dragon herself. The cinematography this season was incredible, so shouts to everyone who worked in that area. If only we could have gotten some of that talent on the writing side of things haha. But, no matter how upset I am with the finale, GoT will forever be one of my favorite shows of all time. The way this all ended may have pushed Breaking Bad up into the #1 spot for me in all honesty. But, I’m sure when I do my rewatch in a few years (or maybe a few months) I’ll remember just how special this show truly was. It sucks that it concluded the way it did, and the fact that it’s over is heartbreaking. At least we all got 8 good years out of it though, right? Thanks for all the memories Game of Thrones!

P.S. GRRM, release the sixth book, pretty please with a cherry on top. I need more information on this incredible world you’ve built ASAP!

The Last of Us Review: Part IV (5/19/19)

[Originally published on 5/19/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

Chapters 10-12: Bus Depot through Jackson

Spring has arrived, and our two main characters have found their way to Salt Lake City. As they’re walking down the interstate, Joel points out that he sees the hospital the fireflies are supposedly at. You climb over some cars and a bus to get to what I believe to be either a movie theater or a train station of sorts. Ellie seems out of it and extremely quiet, which Joel asks her about. She doesn’t have much of an answer for him and the two of them end up walking over to where a ladder is hanging over a ledge. Joel tosses her up, and she pushes the ladder down before taking off after something that Joel “has to see.” Turns out there are some giraffes strolling through SLC! This was pretty cool, plus If you got close enough you could’ve had Joel pet one! This temporarily seemed to put Ellie in a better mood, but as the giraffes stroll off into the distance, the two of you head down into another building to begin what hopefully is your last voyage to a hospital.

As the two of you walk out of the building, you come across some medical tents, which brings Joel back to right after it all started and he worked for a triage unit. There’s some loot here to grab and a workbench so level up your gear before moving on and try not to get too sad as some somber background music begins to play as Ellie hands you that same picture Tommy tried to give you at the dam a few chapters back. This was a great little scene showing how much the two of them care for each other now after this ridiculous journey they have been on together. After crawling through a bus this time, you walk up to an underground tunnel that you need to pass through to get to the hospital. The second you get into the tunnel it gets very ominous, and then you come across your first enemies. There are three clickers, three runners, and a bloated, yet they’re spaced out enough to very easily sneak by or sneak kill them all. Walking into the next area you stumble across a handful more of clickers and two bloaters, but once again pretty easy to sneak by or use the good ‘ol bottle to bomb technique I’ve mentioned in prior reviews.

Once through zombieville, you need to swim through an underwater bus and come back on the other side to drop Ellie down a ladder before moving on to the final little puzzle area. As you realize how close you are to the hospital, you go to climb a ladder that ends up collapsing down. This requires some maneuvering of the now broken ladder, a pallet upstairs, and that initial ladder to cross a gap to the set of stairs that leads out of the tunnel. Yet there’s one thing left in your way it turns out, a ripping current. As you’re crossing over some buses and other things floating in the water, one gives way and a total shit show ensues. Joel ends up stuck in a bus, and Ellie jumps over to save him and ends up knocking herself out. It almost looked as if she got completely crushed between the wall and the bus, but luckily she didn’t as we see her unconsciously floating away. Joel snatches her and swims to a safe spot, just to get whacked in the head with the butt of a gun.

And thus begins our most important chapter, the Firefly Lab. Turns out Marlene is still alive, which Joel finds out as he comes to. They talk for a bit before Marlene informs Joel that they’re planning on putting Ellie under for an operation soon. Joel suddenly puts two and two together, realizing that what the fireflies are about to extract the cordyceps on Ellie’s brain, which would leave her dead. Joel is putting off the vibe that he knows they didn’t fully explain this to Ellie before telling her she needed the surgery. The guard with Marlene then kicks out the back of Joel’s leg as she orders Joel to be marched out of the building. And she also adds that if he tries anything stupid to kill him, so of course you know Joel is about to do something beyond stupid. As the guard is walking Joel out, Joel notices his gear. He stops and makes the guard shoot and miss, then shoots him a few times to figure out where the surgery room is before popping him one more time in the face. Now he needs to fight through about 30 guards over a few floors to get to Ellie. One of the men drops the assault rifle here, which was super cool, but it also would’ve been nice to have it for more than just one chapter lols. You finally make it to the surgery room, and the doctor decides to be a tough guy and try to maintain his ground. He gets his scalpel in his neck and then you have the option of killing the other two surgeons or letting them live. I chose the latter, and then grabbed Ellie. The next part was just a bit off to me. As you’re running through the hospital trying to escape, you’re clearly running by guards who should be noticing you, yet they don’t. Anyways, you ultimately make it to an elevator and that’s where the cutscene starts. You stop on a parking garage floor, and Marlene is standing there waiting for you before we cut to Joel and Ellie in a car. Ellie is just now waking up and very confused about what happened over the last 12-24 hours. Joel explains to her that they found the Fireflies, but that they stopped seeking a cure. “There are dozens of others just like you,” were the words he used when explaining this to her. At that moment we cut back to when Joel came across Marlene in the parking garage, and she is desperately trying to convince Joel to leave Ellie. Joel had a pistol in his hand that Marlene didn’t see. Joel places Ellie in the car, and walks back over to Marlene. As she’s bleeding out on the ground she begs for her life. “You’ll just come after her”, are the words Joel whispers as he pulls the trigger and we cut to black.

We’re now with Joel and Ellie at some point in the future, and it looks like their car broke down just outside of Jackson. Ellie is staring at her arm as Joel tells her they’ll be walking the rest of the way. We’re playing as Ellie again, and as we follow Joel he starts talking about his daughter and we get a strange reaction from Ellie. They continue through the woods before They reach a peak and we get a superb view of the town they’re heading too. After about another 100 feet and a small ledge, Ellie stops Joel to tell him about the night she was bit. She then demands Joel to swear to her that everything he told her about the Fireflies and her surgery was true. He takes a second and then swears it was. What a liar!! But then we get such an epic scene, with Ellie taking a breath and then saying okay right as an incredible guitar track starts playing and the credits role.

What a freaking game!! I can’t believe I didn’t know about it until three weeks ago. I’m also super pumped for the second one now, which should be out in 2019 from what I gather. Any-who, I hope you enjoyed my final review of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. This game will undoubtedly remain a classic for many years to come, and I think I’ll break down some stuff on the second one once more is released. Thanks again for the read, it truly does mean a lot!

The Last of Us Review: Part III (5/17/19)

[Originally published on 5/17/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

Part III – Chapters 7-9 (Tommy’s Dam through Lakeside Resort)

Warning: This post has spoilers for the PlayStation game The Last of Us. Proceed at your own risk!

We pick back up with Joel and Ellie as they’re walking up to Jackson County, which as Ellie so kindly points out, “must be near Jackson city, right?” The two of you make your way down to a river which leads up to a hydroelectric dam. This part took me foreverrrrrrrr to figure out my first play through. There’s a pallet you need to get Ellie across, but it’s hidden underwater. Where I dove for the first time I missed the little area where it was stuck, so I spent probably thirty minutes searching for this thing haha. Anyways, once Ellie is across she finishes getting the bridge to come up and the two of you climb back up roadside. Once here, Joel realizes the only way to get to your destination is to go through the Dam, which ends up being where Tommy and his crew are. After walking around for a bit, Tommy tells Joel that they’re here trying to get the power back on. He also mentions that when the power is on this place has an electric fence and is great for keeping people safe. About two minutes later the dam gets attacked however, and Joel is stuck helping Tommy defend it. This was a super simple mission here, just run through and kill the bad guys quick as there’s not much to gather here and get ready for the next cutscene.

This one’s a doozy though, because Ellie overhears Joel’s conversation with Tommy about who will be the one to take her to the fireflies. She freaks out and takes off into the woods on a horse, so the two brothers set out to find her. I’m not gunna lie, I wish more of this game had been dedicated to horseback riding. This part was so dope, and it really ties into the aspect of the bike that Days Gone was shooting for if I’m not mistaken. Joel and Tommy come across a small bandit hideout that needs dispatching before finally finding Ellie holed up in an abandoned house (Or maybe a mansion, it was huge!). She ends up being fine, just typical angsty teenager drama on her part. However, some Hunters do end up finding the three of you and sneaking into the house so it’s up to Joel and the gang to take care of them. There’s only five or six so this is also pretty easy, and then your on your way back to the horses for another cutscene. Tommy brings Joel and Ellie to a town where he thinks Joel will stay when he and Ellie go find the fireflies at The University. Little does he know though that Ellie’s shenanigans stirred up some feelings for Joel, and he’s now decided that he actually wants to be the one to take her where she needs to go. So, after a little heartfelt chapter with Joel’s brother, our two main characters are off to UEC to find the firefly doctors in hopes they can create a cure.

Once Joel and Ellie arrive at UEC (Go Rams!), they decide to head towards the middle of campus since they have zero clue where the science building is or where the fireflies are. It doesn’t take long to determine the general direction you need to head, and there aren’t many buildings to explore here so you get there rather swiftly. A garage towards the beginning does have the flame thrower though, which in all honesty I didn’t use very often, so go grab that and then head off towards the science building. You stumble across two areas, one filled with runners, the other with clickers and a bloater. As usual, a brick or bottle toss off to one side of the room groups them all up and a Molotov (or the flame thrower if you’re feeling frisky) wipes ‘em all out. When you do get to the bloater you can sneak by if you want, but I suggest killing him as he drops a firefly pendant (for all you completionist’s out there). After this Joel and Ellie finally make it to the Science building, just to find it closed off with no one there… or so they think. After grabbing all the supplies and finding a tape recorder explaining that everyone either died or headed back to a hospital in Salt Lake City, a ton of Hunters swarm the building for the two of you to take on. As you fight your way back down to the exit, Joel gets tackled off a balcony and lands directly on a piece of rebar that penetrates his midsection. I for sure thought we were losing Joel here. This game had already taken his daughter in the first chapter and Tess in the third, not to mention this looked to be a super fatal injury right here. Luckily Ellie is there to save the day again and kills three or four straggler Hunters. This sequence was gripping as hell and super emotional. You can tell Joel doesn’t want Ellie risking her life for his, yet she can’t imagine a world without Joel after all they’ve been through. Not to mention the subtle fading in and out for Joel and feeling his heartbeat slow through the controller made this sequence that much better. Also, these dualshock controllers were new to me but I love how interactive they are. The fact that you can shake the controller to get the flashlight working again, or feeling heartbeats pick up/slow down in certain situations, or even playing the voice from the tape recorders you find… it adds an additional layer to this already spectacular game that I didn’t even know was possible! But Ellie domes these last few stragglers before she helps Joel onto the horse and they gallop away from campus. Joel’s not looking so hot, and actually ends up falling off the horse right as the cutscene starts. Ellie starts to low key freak, then the screen cuts to black as it usually does at the end of a chapter. We then find out it is winter as the next chapter of the story starts to unfold.

Ellie is stalking what looks to be a nice sized buck through a beautiful, recently snow covered, wooded area. She sneaks up close and gets a shot off with her bow, but no matter where you hit the animal it will run off to the next section of the woods. After two hits it automatically disappears up through some clearings and you find it dead in a small town, which is where you meet David and his companion for the first time. They talk for a bit, and David says there is enough meat there for the two of them and Ellie, and that Ellie should come back with him to his camp too. Ellie says nah, and makes him hand over his hunting rifle. She says David and his people can have all the meat from the buck if they have some antibiotics to trade for it. Before this scene I was almost positive Joel had died, and that the rest of the story was going to revolve around Ellie getting herself to the fireflies. Thankfully I was wrong, and the fact that she wants antibiotics clearly means he is still alive somewhere. David sends his friend off to get the meds from their camp, and after a little while he and Ellie are attacked by a whole mess of runners and clickers. After killing about 15 of them, David says screw it and busts down a door for the two of you to escape through. You quickly get separated when a walkway on the second floor breaks, but after four more stealthy clicker deaths you’re reunited. The two of you end up in a room on the second story of this building. David then realizes that you’re both trapped and that the zombies know where you are. Some come in through the door you came from, and then they start popping in from the windows and the ceiling. Eventually a bloater falls in too, and that’s when you know the battle is almost done. All in all, the two of you probably take out about forty undead before you get another cutscene. This is where David finally shows himself as the bad guy, and he starts talking about a bunch of his men being killed by a crazy man and a little girl back at the UEC campus… Ellie takes off and heads straight back to Joel who, by the way, looks really messed up. Like, how long has he been out with an infected wound? It definitely seems like at least a month has passed by if we’re getting a change in season lol. She quickly realizes that coming here was foolish because David and his men just followed her back. Quick on her feet as always, she decides to lead them away from here before they realize that’s where Joel is. She sneaks outside and hops on her horse, which leads to a sweet chase scene that unfortunately ends horrendously for Ellie’s horse roughly thirty seconds later.

Ellie is now forced to walk through the rest of this camp that turns into the resort. It was meant to be snuck through, but I decided on my second go round that I was just going to run out and destroy everyone. Once you make your way through a few houses, a bait shop, and a bathroom, Ellie shimmies across a broken bridge and moves on to the next area. This is the true lakeside resort. Ellie is faced with five more Hunters before she through a hole in the roof to make her way inside. There are a few more bad guys inside she needs to take care of before making her way to the exit. As she is opening the door to leave, David sneaks up from behind and puts Ellie into a chokehold. She slowly passes out, and next thing you know you’re locked up in a cage in David’s compound. This is now where Ellie begins to see David’s true self. As he’s trying to convince her to switch over to his side, Ellie slowly grabs his hand as if to comfort him before she breaks the shit out of his finger. David gets angry and asks, “What am I supposed to tell the others now?!”. Ellie of course answers sarcastically before David walks off talking about how they will cut her up into tiny pieces.

And from the dead rises Joel! It was nice to be back playing as our guy with all our upgraded weapons. You weakly make your way out of the house and start moving through the town Ellie left you in when five or six hunters attack. After you take out one or two they retreat, and this makes them much easier to take on in Joel’s slightly slower state. I wasn’t 100% positive that he was moving slower because he is supposed to still be injured, or if Ellie’s character just moved that much quicker… but either way Joel definitely seemed slow here. Once the hunters had been taken care of, you hop two small barriers out into a main road we’re Joel gets jumped by two more guys. He narrowly avoids a knife to the gut and ends up knocking both men out, which leads to a grisly torture scene that ends with both men dying by Joel’s hands.

Then we’re back with Ellie, who once again Houdini’s her way out of the situation she’s in. She ends up biting David and showing her infected bite mark before ending up outside in a blizzard. This storm was intense! I could barely see a thing making my way around the town. Ellie needs to avoid a ridiculous number of Hunters here and eventually make her way to a restaurant where she finds herself face to face with David. Ellie needs to stealthily stab him three times before he will go down. The first time is pretty simple, the second time gets more challenging, and the third time David pretty much goes invisible and knows where Ellie is at all times. I died quite a few times on the third stab where I was sure I was being sneaky, and he just turned and merked me with his machete. After a few attempts though I finally sank that third stab right into his back. Unfortunately, as the blade slides into him he spazzes and slams Ellie backwards into a table before they both fall to the ground unconscious.

We jump back to Joel for a second time, and he’s also now out in the blizzard making his way into town. It’s pretty easy to bow your way through this part of the chapter if you have the ammo, and you eventually make your way to the restaurant that Ellie is inside of. Oh yeah by the way, it’s on fire. Like really really on fire at this point lol. It jumps back to Ellie for the cutscene to end the chapter. As she and David are both coming to/too after that last stab, David begins kicking and choking the shit out of Ellie. But what he doesn’t realize is that he’s beating her closer and closer to his machete. You’re prompted with a triangle button mash, which allows Ellie to grab it and slam the blade into David’s arm. Ellie then proceeds to climb on top of him and continuously slam the machete into his skull until Joel comes in and grabs her. He tells her everything will be ok and calms her down. This was one of the more emotional scenes for the two of them. We even get the sound of Joel’s voice cutting out as the camera is focused in on Ellie, showing us that she’s zoned out after this ridiculously traumatic experience. The two stand up to head out, and we get an extremely slow pan to the machete sticking straight up. It sinks in again that this is sticking out of what should be David’s head, and then the screen fades to black.

Next our two favorite characters are shot forward to Spring and the Bus Depot! So be sure to check back soon for Part IV of my review of The Last of Us, where I’ll be covering the final three chapters.

The Last of Us Review: Part II (5/15/19)

[Originally published on 5/15/19 on my previous site, Bright-blood.com]

Chapters 5 – 7: Pittsburgh through The Suburbs

Warning: This post has spoilers for the PlayStation game The Last of Us. Proceed at your own risk!

As Joel drives down the interstate, slowly getting closer to the bridge that leads out of Pittsburgh, he notices how jammed up the highway is with old, broken down cars. He decides to cut through downtown, and while driving on one of the streets a man pops out from behind a car looking like he needs help. Ellie tells Joel that they should stop to help the man, but before she can finish her thought, Joel mashes the gas pedal down and heads right at the bystander. As the truck crashes into him, others begin to shoot at the truck which causes Joel to swerve into a convenience store. As the cutscene ends and you take control of Joel again, a stranger comes from nowhere and grabs Ellie. As Joel is fighting to pull her away from the man, another stranger comes up from behind him and smashes Joel’s face into the center console. He then pulls you out of the car, throws you into a freezer cooler, and attempts to slam your neck down on a piece of shattered glass from that shattered cooler. You shake him off and do a sick spin move which in turn leaves the Hunter with that same piece of glass wedged into his jugular. Joel runs back to the truck to get his gear when a swarm of men come out from across the street and start firing at you. This was a fun little battle, lots of places to hide and get sneaky shots off from inside the store while they tried to get in.

Once you take care of the thugs though, the two of you head outside and begin to search for an exit route to the bridge. Ellie eventually finds a garage door that’s unlocked, and you shuffle your way underneath. Once inside you see a huge pile of dead bodies, which sparks a conversation with Ellie. After this brief discussion, the two of you gather up the room’s supplies and start your journey to the bridge again. Almost immediately after leaving the garage, Ellie asks Joel how he knew the man did not actually need help. “I’ve been on both sides of situations like that” is what he responds with, giving a little more info on himself through the last twenty years of apocalyptic madness. You eventually come across a crashed bus that you need to get by, but as you get closer three men hop over it. This was fairly easy, as they just walk right by you if you stay hidden, and once they were gone it was over the bus and into a large hideout full of Hunters.

This outpost requires you to sneak past (or kill) about 20 men. This area was very challenging to complete solely by sneaking, so I found myself hiding for about two minutes before I pulled my bow and started (dome-ing?) everyone I came across. After cleaning out the hideout of Hunters and supplies, you head out back to a street where you see two guards moving a piece of plywood that crosses over a river, thus marking your new destination. There was more swimming here for Joel and another pallet to grab for Ellie before finally reaching the crossing. It was an extremely short walk from there to the hotel, which you now must go through to get to the bridge. Once in you traverse two floors of enemies, which again was basically impossible to sneak through, before climbing up to a third floor where you find a broken-down elevator in its shaft. This had sketchy written all over it, but Joel pushes forward anyways. He and Ellie crawl through and jump on top of the barely hanging elevator, and as he hoists her up into the next floor the elevator gives out. Joel falls four or five stories, lands on the elevator, and then bounces off into the water below. He finds himself in probably one of the creepiest areas of the game, and this part was definitely the scariest part of the entire game in my opinion.

As I made my way around the dimly lit lower levels of the hotel, the eeriest sounds are emanating in the background. At one point a light fixture breaks off the ceiling and debris falls into the water in front of Joel and I jumped assuming I was being attacked by runners. After some maneuvering and swimming, Joel finds himself in a massive area with a bunch of destroyed rooms. All of the power is off in this area of the hotel as well, which added that extra layer of fear when moving through each room. My first two stabs at this I had zero clue what I was supposed to be doing in here and I died miserably. I stumble across a generator and attempt to start it, but as I do I am jumped by four runners who nearly killed me due to the sheer unexpectedness of the attack. I heal myself and give the generator another go. This time I got the power on but then realized six more runners have now found their way into this area. And guess what? They brought some clickers and a bloater along with them too. My first instinct was to hide so I could sneak around and kill them one by one before tackling the big guy. Yet I made it maybe four feet before I ran right into a clicker who ate the flesh right off my very face/neck. The second attempt I got the generator going and ran straight up the stairs, shotgun blasting my way through all but one clicker and the bloater. I then found the door I was supposed to exit out of, but it required a key card that I had not found in all this chaos. I was low on ammo and decided to just let the bloater put me out of my misery this time. The third time I nailed it. I had gone and found the key card before I started the generator, which was upstairs on a desk hidden in a room that you could only get if you crossed through two other rooms. Once the generator was on this time, I made a mad dash for the key pad but made a pit stop in a side room to throw a bottle. This pulled the clicker and the bloater away long enough for me to sneak by and get through that damned door.

Once through and up the stairs within, Joel takes out a few more Hunters in a kitchen before seeing a ladder he could use to climb back up to the floor Ellie was on. As Joel reaches the top a man kicks him square in the jaw, and he falls all the way back down to the kitchen level. Joel is really taking a beating this chapter, and this man is actually about to kill him before Ellie shows up to save the day. From here the two of you climb back up the ladder and head outside, where you find a rifle and a few more Hunters waiting. Joel leaves Ellie up top with the rifle as he heads down to try and take the men out. There was probably supposed to be an element of surprise here on Joel’s part, but I just rushed in and got the job done. From here the two main characters slowly begin making their way back towards the bridge. You come across a few more enemies who’ve set up some booby traps, but they’re in plain sight and it’s cake to get through this area. You pass through another abandoned building and come up to some windows. Joel hears screeching and tells Ellie to get down just in time to see a Humvee run up on two innocent people and just light them up with a mounted machine gun. This was brutal, not to mention I now am assuming that at some point Joel will have to take this thing out haha. Luckily the next area can all be snuck through and then when the Humvee notices you (which happens no matter how stealthy you are apparently) it’s easy to not get hit by its bullets as you sprint between back alleys. Once Joel and Ellie have escaped, they climb up a fire escape and shimmy across a ledge for one more almost scare by the Humvee before slipping into an open window where some new characters are introduced.

Henry and Sam get off on the wrong foot with our characters after they jump Joel and point a gun at he and Ellie. Henry quickly turns it around when he notices Joel has Ellie and states “He’s good. The bad guys don’t keep children with them.” All four of you head down to the ground level of the housing complex and into a… toy store? Why in the world is there a toy store here haha. Anyways there’s a little scene with Sam trying to take a toy that Henry says no to, and if you pay attention you’ll see Ellie go back over and grab it. Henry then leads you all to the architect firm to show Joel that across the street is their way out of the city, and they’re making their escape tonight. This part was pretty cool in my eyes. As you make it down to the bottom level of the building, Henry and Joel duo sneak attack two Hunters. You then get to sneak up to the guard tower while they’re focused on sniping clickers, which is kind of entertaining to just sit and watch. But the generator needs to be turned off, and in doing so you draw the men down to you. One well-placed Molotov did the trick for me, and I was on my way. As the four of you are pushing open the gate, THE HUMVEE SHOWS UP AGAIN!! Henry slams the gate and you all run over to a ladder attached to a truck. Henry goes first to scout, then max, then Ellie. But as Ellie gets pulled up the ladder breaks, leaving Joel down by himself. Henry apologizes and then dips so fast, what a guy huh? Ellie’s dumbass jumps back down and says that she must stick with Joel no matter what. How touching right? Anyways after this you run into a garage and then out a door where the Humvee comes crashing through right next door. It’s all sprinting after that until you get to the bridge, and as Joel and Ellie are crossing they realize it’s been destroyed in the middle and is impossible to cross. Ellie’s full of great ideas suddenly, and she decides to jump off the bridge into the rapid waters below. And it’s as she’s jumping that I remember, wait she can’t swim?! Joel dives in after her, grabs her, and then slams his head against a rock to end the chapter (FYI: this was probably the longest chapter of the game. It took me just as much time for this chapter as it did for the first five combined!). Joel wakes up on a beach with Ellie, Henry, and Sam. Apparently to Henry, “you’re a survivor. I knew you’d survive”, which is just him covering his ass right? The four of them start heading down the beach trying to find a way up. You get down to a beached boat that has a comic for Ellie in it (Also, I loved that fact that she stole a comic from Bill and after that you get to start collecting them for her! Such a dope concept to throw into the fourth/fifth chapter of the game) before you hear Max call to Ellie saying they found something. It’s an entrance to the sewer and all four of you crawl into it. If this were me I’d have been finding the way around rather than going through. This area ended up being pretty cool though, and it had tons of super interesting artifacts and collectibles. After the four of you have done some exploring, a security door falls between Joel/Sam and Ellie/Henry and a group of five or six clickers come out on the other side of the door. This results in Ellie and Henry running while Joel and Sam are left to deal with the runners on this side of the wall. This room could have been tricky if you weren’t stocked up on ammo, but thankfully I was. After taking out the zombies you climb a ladder just to jump back down into another sewer alley way of sorts, which is when Ellie and Henry come back into the picture. They are currently sprinting away from a mob of clickers and runners so apparently, they just ran the entire time you were killing haha. The four of you narrowly escape and climb up the stairs surrounding a broken elevator shaft. You finally get to a room up top with a door leading back outside and out of the sewers, but whatya know it’s jammed shut from the outside. Joel and Henry fight off the attacking wave of undead as Ellie and Sam climb out of a window to open the door. This fight was simple in all honesty. There were only two doors in for the zombies, so when a squad of them got close I just launched a Molotov or a nail grenade over and took them all out. Once outside you all turn around to see a massive warning spray painted on the wall next to the door, if only you would’ve come through this way and not through the back end of the sewer!

The four of you begin heading down a hill and end up in what seems to be an abandoned suburb. After upgrading your gear and taking every single thing from the block, you jump down into another suburb. As you’re all jumping down someone starts shooting at you, and it seems as if he has a sniper. This area requires you to sneak through the suburb and avoid the sniper, who can land some ridiculous shots apparently. I was hit a few times through windows that I passed by on the opposite side of a building that he had been shooting at. Basically, if you’re anywhere near an opening he can hit you, and it does quite a bit of damage. Once you get past his men you sneak into the house and kill him just in time for Ellie, Henry, and Sam to all get attacked. Luckily for Joel, he knows how to use this rifle and starts picking off the bad guys one by one. There’s also a cool part when the Humvee shows back up and you shoot the guy who is about to throw the Molotov at your companions, and he then drops it into the Humvee killing himself and the driver. After this some runners start chasing your friends. You hold them off long enough to get to the house Joel is in and then the four of you meet up downstairs and trigger a cutscene. As you all leave the house and finally make it to the radio tower, it jumps ahead to later that night/day. Basically, everyone but Sam is enjoying dinner and Ellie goes to talk to him. He is basically brooding and hiding in another room, which is when Ellie pulls out that toy he wanted from back in Pittsburgh! Yet it seems like he was hiding for a good reason… he was bit when the zombies attacked in the suburbs!! Yet his dumbass tells no one, so when the next scene starts with Ellie going to grab Sam for breakfast, he is full on zombie and grabs her instead. They struggle for a few seconds on the floor before Henry comes in and shoots Sam. This was when I realized how dark this game truly was, because at that moment it clicked that Sam was Henry’s younger brother. Henry is immediately distraught and points the gun at Ellie and Joel. Then, overcome with grief from ending his own brothers’ life, he puts the gun up to his own head and pulls the trigger before the screen cuts to black.

Well, I hope you enjoyed Part II of my recap! As I continue completing my playthrough, I’ll be uploading other reviews of the game. I’m thinking there will be two more, but who knows. This one ended up being quite long, so I may end up needing three or four more. Keep an eye out for Part III, the review of Tommy’s Dam through Lakeside Resort!