Home » word wide » HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ is really good. That doesn’t mean other video-game TV shows will be.

HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ is really good. That doesn’t mean other video-game TV shows will be.

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HBO’s “The Last of Us,” based on the video game of the same name, is a certified hit.

The second episode was watched by 5.7 million viewers on Sunday, a 22% increase from the premiere’s first night, HBO said this week. The first episode ended up being watched by nearly 18 million viewers in its first week, and the show has already been renewed for a second season.

Not only is the show popular, it’s also good — a rare occurrence for video-game adaptations. The series has a 97% critic score and a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Last of Us” precedes a coming wave of live-action TV show based on video games, and it would be easy to proclaim that the series could usher in a new era for game adaptations after a history of game-based movies — from the “Resident Evil” franchise to the “Assassin’s Creed” movie — largely failing both critically and commercially. (The occasional success story, like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” hasn’t done much to change that narrative.)

But just because “The Last of Us” creators, Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, managed to bring the game to TV in a satisfying way, doesn’t mean other video-game shows will have the same fate.

Small-screen game adaptations in the works include “Assassin’s Creed” and “Horizon Zero Dawn” at Netflix, as well as “Fallout,” “God of War,” and, reportedly, “Mass Effect” at Amazon.

Unlike those games, “The Last of Us” tells a fairly linear story from start to finish, with little room for exploration. It’s a heavily character-driven game with two main characters, a man named Joel and a young girl named Ellie, who traverse across a post-apocalyptic US.

It seems to have made for an easily transferable TV series, with the main plot points and locations of the game each getting their own episode (with some unique touches not seen in the game).

For instance, the second episode focused on the characters making their way to the Massachusetts State House, while the third episode will see Joel and Ellie meet up with the smuggler Bill, which is its own “level” in the game. After that, Joel and Ellie travel to Pittsburgh in the game, which I assume would be the fourth episode’s focus.

The other aforementioned game-based shows in the works could prove more challenging to adapt. They feature role-playing options; vast open worlds to explore; and numerous side missions that deviate from the main storyline.

That’s not to say that they don’t feature compelling narratives, and they could still be great TV shows. But creators will have to make a lot of tough decisions about what storylines to focus on and which characters to flesh out.

The “Mass Effect” games, for example, give players options to customize their character’s appearance and backstory, and allow players to make choices that could impact their character’s personality and the game’s storyline. The “Assassin’s Creed” and “God of War” games feature a bevy of side missions that could convolute an adaptation.

“The Last of Us,” on the other hand, has always been praised for, first and foremast, its story and character-centric narrative, with gameplay and customization an afterthought. That makes it easier to translate to the small screen than others.


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