After 7 long years, the second chapter for The Last of Us is here! Find out what we thought in our The Last of Us Part II Review!
|Release Date||June 19,2020|
I remember the buzz around The Last of Us when it first announced in 2011 and blew everyone away. It was something familiar yet very different from previous games that Naughty Dog had developed. The game ended up coming out around the end of the PlayStation 3’s lifecycle and was easily one of the most impressive looking games on the console along with a gripping story and tense gameplay. After the ending of the first game, we all knew a sequel was coming, it was just a matter of when. Much like last generation, The Last of Us Part II puts a nice cap on the PlayStation 4 lifecycle as this generation winds down.
The Last of Us Part II is a tough game to review because I feel like I can’t talk about a lot of things that happen in the game at the risk of spoiling it (not that that hasn’t been done many other places already). The game really eases you into everything in the beginning as you see that the people who haven’t been infected have built a massive camp in Jackson and you are re-introduced to Joel and Ellie from the first game. Ellie has seemingly transitioned to an angsty, conflicted young woman who always seems to have a chip on her shoulder.
I will very briefly touch on the story which is long and winding revenge story with multiple characters and factions involved. Some big events happen early on in the game that I won’t get into because I’m trying really hard not to spoil anything. Basically you play half the game as Ellie and half the game as the new character Abby and each one has different weapons and upgrades. The story shines in this game, I don’t care what anyone else says. The cutscenes were some of my favourite parts where I was able to see the interactions between characters and the growth between them. For instance, Ellie and Dina start off flirtatious and you quickly start to realize these two are really falling for each other even though things aren’t that simple as events unfold in the early part of the game. Abby sees equal growth through a lot of the flashback scenes that show us what brought her to be the person she is today. I don’t normally like flashbacks, but Naughty Dog did a great job weaving the story together here. There are so many layers to even the supporting cast of characters that kept me really invested in this story.
The game is set 5 years after the events of the original game in the ruins of Seattle and the surrounding area which provides a fantastic setting. The city is overgrown with weeds and there are abandoned vehicles strewn throughout the desolate streets. It’s a wasteland filled with danger and collectibles if you’re willing to search for them. Unlike the first game which to me was on a very linear plain with very little elevation, you’ll be jumping around and doing light platforming almost everywhere. There are secret vents and areas you’ll have to crawl through along with walls you’ll have to shimmy through to get to all the hidden locations in TLOU Part II.
When I say there are a lot of collectibles, I do mean that there are A LOT of collectibles. There are many artifacts out in the world to collect that will bring you deeper into the story and help you learn more about the world around you and the people who have been around the places you’re scavenging through. You’ll read a note from a father to his daughter or clues about a safe nearby. I’m not one to normally care about little notes and journal entries but there was so much to learn from these that I actively looked for every single one I could find.
There are resources all over the world that you can also use to your advantage. You can find supplements to upgrade your character in multiple different ways like increasing your movement speed in listen mode, crafting more ammo, etc. You start out with one branch of upgrades but you can find training manuals in the game world that open up access to other character upgrades. There are also weapon parts that you can use to upgrade the various aspects of your weapons at workbenches found all around Seattle. These upgrades are things like reload speed, accuracy, and more depending on what type of weapon. There are even new weapons hidden in the world that you can find to aid you against the infected and other enemies, I personally loved using the flamethrower to mow a bunch of enemies down all at once. You can also craft medkits and ammo on the fly provided you have the proper resources. Look around hard enough and you can find the safes that I was talking about earlier which includes notes, parts, and supplements to help you on your journey.
During your first day in downtown Seattle, you’re allowed the freedom to ride around on horseback and explore different areas all around the city with a little map that you found. As you visit different spots, Ellie would check them off. This ended rather abruptly and you were back to the linear style that we’re used to in this series which was a shame. There were puzzles to get to new areas downtown and a lot of items to find that made it one of the most enjoyable parts of the game. I think there could have been a lot you could have done with a small open-world here and that’s coming from someone who is pretty burned-out on open-world games.
The gameplay hasn’t evolved a whole lot since the first game. You still have a really odd control scheme with R2 being what you use to reload but it’s easy enough to get used to. The shooting mechanics are about the same with a floaty reticle that can really be annoying at times. It’s funny to me that the gameplay in this video game is probably the weakest part of it but it’s true. It always felt like a slog trying to get through pockets of enemies or searching through 20 rooms in a skyscraper or things like that. I was always waiting to get to that next big story point. It’s not to say the gameplay is horrible, it’s just not that exciting nor is there much variety. You’re killing the same 10 enemies all game long despite a late-game boss battle that comes out of nowhere.
The combat is pretty brutal but after you’ve sliced someone’s neck for the twentieth time you become a little bit desensitized to it whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There are dogs now that can track your scent and killing them was actually a lot more difficult to stomach than normal enemies. The AI just doesn’t seem to be that intelligent at times, especially on the lower difficulties. I was able to kill a dog that an enemy was leading around on a leash without that enemy going after me. I was also able to do a stealth takedown right beside another enemy as that one just sat there. It wasn’t something that happened every time, but I think those inconsistencies made things seem that much weirder.
The big takeaway I had from The Last of Us Part II is the fact that there are two sides to every story and that the way one action is viewed by one person may not be the way it is viewed by another. I genuinely felt disgusted by some of the actions I had to perform in this game and some of the people that I had to kill. It was amazing to see the story through Ellie’s eyes at first and then to see them through Abby’s eyes. Nothing was black and white in this game, it was all shades of gray. I think Naughty Dog did an amazing job with this story and how it was able to really grip me and make me think about my actions.
The Last of Us Part II is a great game. It’s not a perfect game but it really gives you an appreciation for storytelling and blurs the lines between heroes and villains in ways I really haven’t seen before. The game does have a lot of filler in the middle where it really feels you could have cut a good 8 hours off of it and you would have had the same experience which did sour me a little bit because I did feel like I was just going through the motions after a bit. Still, give this game a playthrough and experience all the ups and downs for yourself, it’s well worth it.
|Fantastic story||Inconsistent AI|
|Tons of items to find||Too long|
|Great character development|