The Last Of Us Part 2 is unquestionably this generation’s most anticipated video game release and expectations were understandably high, given the toweringly high bar that its predecessor set. Since its release, it has split the PlayStation community squarely down the middle. Some are hailing it as an instant classic worthy of its predecessor, while others are slamming it for its story and accusing Neil Druckman of pushing a Social Justice Warrior agenda. Here we are going to give you our unbiased and honest review of one of this year’s biggest releases. Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned.
A Tale Of Loss And Love
The Last of Us Part 2 story at its core is a story of revenge, which has caused mass accusations of “lazy writing” from a developer known for its stellar storytelling i.e Uncharted. The naysayers are right in the sense that the theme is revenge but if you solely focus on this point you will miss one of the true stars of the show….the journey. This is a story filled with love, loss, friendship, understanding, pain and so much more. To call this is just a story of revenge is selling it far too short.
Things start off fairly straight forward, you’re in control of Ellie and take a quick trip around Jackson, the settlement that she and Joel have taken up residence in. After a quick introduction you’re sent into the wilderness on patrol with Dina (Ellie’s love interest), where you’ll learn the basics of combat and exploration mechanics of the game.
What happens next is another area that fans are unhappy with. You’re suddenly thrown into the shoes of the game’s “antagonist”, Abby. The Last Of Us Part 2 changes the formula of the first game by letting you experience the story from two different perspectives. After a brief section with the new character, the prologue comes to a climactic and emotional end with Abby brutally murdering Joel while Ellie helplessly looks on, at this point we have no idea as to the reason for this but we do get the sense that this is personal.
The Hunt Begins
After witnessing the execution of her father figure, Ellie is hell-bent on finding the woman responsible for the heinous crime and sets off with Dina to exact her revenge.
It’s from this point forward that the game starts to open up and give you more freedom to explore. As you journey through the now picturesque and overgrown Seattle there are numerous buildings and areas to explore, each with their own story to tell about their past. There are also several set pieces that can be missed that help develop characters and their relationships. There is a touching moment in a music shop that bolsters the longing and love that Ellie has for Joel and does it all without showing or mentioning him. This is storytelling with emotion few games are able to achieve.
Not Everything Is Black And White
Last Of Us 2 tries to do something most games wouldn’t dare to even try and that’s to get the player to sympathise with the so-called enemy.
For large parts of the game you’ll play as Abby and discover why she set out to kill Joel. The character is portrayed in such a way you’ll almost come to see her actions as justified, there are always two sides to a story and Naughty Dog successfully tells both.
By the time the game is over, you’re not quite sure who you’re rooting for. There is no right or wrong in Last Of Us 2, only one big grey area of emotion that keeps you second-guessing from start to finish.
The game is also full of flashback scenes for both characters which helps you to better understand the relationships and why they are reacting the way they are. This is good news for returning players but also helps for new players to get the same emotional connection that players have carried over from the first game. The Last of Us dedicated a large portion of its narrative on building a paternal relationship between the games protagonist and his charge that helped players care for the characters on a far deeper level. The developers have succeeded in carrying this over to the sequel for everyone to attain the same level of understanding.
Gameplay Mechanics In The Last Of Us Part 2
Gameplay is far improved from the first game with controls that now feel far more fluid There are several features in the game that help add to the realism while you’re playing.
- Improved Combat – The enemy A.I has seen a big improvement from the first game and will now communicate well with each other to flank and surround you, keeping constant pressure on you during gunfights. Specific body parts can now be severed with a well-placed shot, disabling your attacker from moving or shooting.
- Guitar Playing – There are several points in the game where you can play the guitar and can also cause Ellie to play a song triggering cut-scenes
- Free Exploration And Horse Riding – The game opens up far more than the original and developers have given players the ability to ride a horse and explore several large areas of Seattle. Here you’ll be able to find new weapons, collectables and a few cut-scenes
- Map Marking – To make exploring easier, Ellie will now physically take out her map and mark off any area you have completely explored.
- Rope Mechanic – There are various sections throughout the game where the characters will now use a rope to climb, players are able to manoeuvre and throw the rope themselves and it is used in puzzle-like areas of the game in the form of electrical cables.
- Begging Enemies – If you manage to disarm your opponents in a fight, they now have the ability to drop to their knees and beg for their lives.
- Increased Verticality – The game now offers far more in the terms of verticality by adding scenery and items for the characters to climb on as well as the ability to go prone and climb under objects and hide in tall grass. This awards the player with more options when in combat or the choice to avoid it altogether.
- Bonus Bag Physics
The attention to graphical detail in the game is amazing and although this is just a small example, it had the FinalBoss team excited. Check out the video below to see Naughty Dog’s hard work at a floating bag!!! That’s some seriously impressive physics right there!!
These new additions mixed with the gameplay elements carried over from the first game, create an experience with far greater freedom and more of a challenge for players to sink their teeth into.
Sound And Graphics
The game has seen a huge visual overhaul from the first and Naughty Dog has once again pushed a console to its limits at the end of its life-cycle. From increased foliage densities to better lighting, the developer has not only made things look far more impressive but has used them in a way that further adds to the tense atmosphere that is present throughout the game.
The sound has also seen a major upgrade. Just like the first game players will heavily rely on sound as they progress into new areas and the world around you is brought to life like never before. Each enemy has distinct sounds and certain enemies like the clicker will bring goosebumps to your skin before you even lay your eyes upon their grotesque features. The Last Of Us Part 2 presents players with a symphony of sound that would feel at home within any blockbuster movie.
The Last Of Us Part 2 is a spectacle of storytelling and conveys emotion in a way that few developers understand. This is a game that expectations were set so high that people were always going to be critical of it before it was released. It improved on everything from the first game and added far more emotional depth and makes players question everything throughout. The Last Of Us Part 2 truly is one of this generation’s best games.
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