This is how the world ends

The Last of Us, Final Fantasy doom us all

By Chris O'Neal 12/08/2011

In the epitome of perfect super-hero film adaptations, The Dark Knight, Michael Caine’s Alfred responds to Bruce Wayne’s brooding contemplation by asserting that “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” Fun fact: did you know that most of those people are gamers? True story. Just take a gander at the shelf in your local gaming apothecary. War? Check. Zombies? Check. Post-apocalyptic communist war zones? Check. Gamers are just not happy unless the world is coming to an end.


Confession: I am one of those people. End of the world? Solved. As the hero, I’m able to set into motion events that can prevent the eventual mass extinction of the human — or otherwise — race. Remember The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Bring down the sky! Mass Effect? Bring on the end of the universe!


In other words, there is no lack of material for the apocalypse-porn fiending fiends out there. Admit it: you’re a freak, like me.


Spike’s Video Game Awards (VGA’s) are good for a few things, one of them being teasers and exclusive premieres. The upcoming show has released a teaser for a Playstation 3 exclusive suggestive of the Dustin Hoffman virus film Outbreak meeting the less-than-stellar Red Dawn spinoff Homefront, or at least one can assume.


In the teaser for The Last of Us, images of various riots and quarantine zones are shown (even a recognizable clip of 9/11), accompanied by a voiceover reminiscing about the simplicities of life. Are zombies present? Thankfully, no. Just chaos in a pure form. Where the teaser succeeds is in building anticipation for an apocalypse experience in a saturated environment — there’s something (possibly) different from the umpteenth zombie disaster released this year.


Hidden in the teaser is an image of an ant from the David Attenborough-narrated Planet Earth series, in which a fungus sprouts from the creature’s head. Maybe an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-inspired romp through hell, then. Fantastic.


No apocalypse would be complete without mentioning an RPG. It seems that the world of fantasy is in danger of being smitten just as often as its digital real world counterparts, and no one series can claim the crown of saving the world more than the protagonists of the Final Fantasy series.


As with every other aspect of social interaction, soon it may be possible to summon Odin or Bahamut on your iPhone. Publisher Square Enix recently announced Final Fantasy Brigade, a social experience pitting you and your friends against all the Sephiroths and Kujas and whatever else. Rumor has it that battles will take their cues from earlier systems (think Final Fantasy VI), while jobs and air travel will keep things firmly planted in the new world. Maybe this will help you forget that XIV ever existed.


Of course, as most 19th-century Russian novelists knew, the end of the world pales in comparison to personal tragedy. Take Infinity Blade II, the follow-up to the title that made gaming on your iPhone legitimate.


Imagine being the great descendant of a legendary warrior, slain by a thing called the God King. Your duty is to avenge him. Unfortunately, you’re not strong enough and the God King kills you, too. Your son takes up the sword to avenge you, and meets a similar fate. In Infinity Blade II, some distant son of yours has managed to kill the God King – but as the II implies, the story is quite cyclical.


If you’re a glutton for punishment, this is your series. If you love the apocalypse on a more personal scale and in the palm of your hand – by all means, head to the app store this instant.


T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” surmised that “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” A virus? Planet X? Why wait? Satisfy your apocalyptic cravings today.


Chris O’Neal has decided that he’d rather die any other way than by fungus. Follow him on Twitter @AgentONeal.

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