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The Last of Us Part 2 - A Review

gaijinkaiju

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So its been nearly five months since The last of us Part 2 was released and I’m finally sitting down to play through it. I brought it on launch and it has sat, unplayed on my shelf for those five months because I had zero interest in dealing with what sounded like a long walking simulator and also because once all the key plot points were spoiled, it kinda put me off playing through it. Why play through something, when you know what happens?

But now that I’ve sat down and played through it, what do I think of The last of us Part 2?


Well to begin with The game is slow paced. Very slow paced. You’re going to be getting a lot of cutscenes, some pre-rendered and some in engine, mostly between chapters, but sometimes between encounters. This is fine, but does get a little tiresome, especially after encounters where it just feels like it drags the games already slow pace, down. You’ll also be doing a lot of walking, especially in the exploration sequences, where you’re going to be spending a lot of time walking around, just exploring the world. The exploration is, in part, incentivized by the need to find resources and to a lesser degree the various collectibles. When you’re not exploring, you’ll be in a combat encounter, which means you’ll likely be slowing sneaking your way through the area, picking off enemies one by one when the opportunity arises, Though you can also just sprint through the area and hope for the best. You could also take the gamble and go in guns blazing, but due to scarcity of ammo and how hard weapons hit, that’s a terrible idea, especially against the infected.
You’ll also be getting flashback sequences for both Abby and Ellie that give you a greater insight into their relationships and subsequent motives. Ellie’s flashbacks mostly show more of the father/daughter relationship her and Joel share, along with her and Dina’s relationship. While Abby’s sequences show her motive for killing Joel and by extension the aftermath of his actions at the end of the first game, and her relationship with Owen.

The story can be split into three acts. Act one is Ellie’s storyline, Act two is Abby’s and Act three would be a combination of the two.
Act’s one and two both take place in Seattle, over the same time period. Abby’s story is taking place roughly a day or two ahead of Ellie’s, with certain events crossing over between acts. The hospital being one, with Ellie arriving after Abby has left, and the Aquarium being another, with Abby arriving shortly after Ellie. Seeing the aftermath of your actions from another perspective was something I thought was really interesting, and just went that little bit extra to show Abby’s motives.
Act Three takes place a few months after the previous events, and takes place in Santa Barbara. You start as Abby, though her section is really short, before cutting to Ellie who then arrives sometime after, and who you’ll spend the rest of the game playing as.

This is where I found myself getting personally frustrated with Ellie. After the events of Seattle, her and Dina have returned to Jackson county and settled down on a farm, living a rather happy life all things considered. Tommy shows up though, and wants Ellie to finish what she started by going to Santa Barbara and killing Abby. She initially she’s no, leading to Tommy storming off, before having a change of heart later that night. As she goes to leave in the morning, Dina stop’s her and tells her if she does this, she won’t be here when she gets back.
This really annoyed me. I get she wants revenge, but surely a happy life with the person you love is more important? Abby’s no longer a threat, just stay and be happy. But no she left, and I felt genuinely really sad about that, especially after everything her and Dina had been through.

As much as people don’t like Abby, due to her killing Joel and nearly killing Ellie and Dina, I personally quite liked her. Whilst I was initially against her before I played the game, after I’d gotten an insight into her motives and relationships, I begin to sympathize with her. Especially by the end of the game, when she’d lost everyone she loves and just wanted to move on, even being willing to just let Ellie go at the end.
Ellie’s breakdown at the end, when she recognizes that the relationship Abby and Lev shared was similar to what her and Joel shared, before she proceeds to let them go and comes to terms with Joel’s death was a very sad moment. This was made even sadder when she returns to her farm, only to find Dina gone and her stuff piled up in an empty room. This was a very bittersweet moment for me. She came to terms with Joel’s death, but at what cost?

As much as I dislike collectathons, they usually fell like padding to make a game last longer with minimal reward for going out of your way to find various knick-knacks and curios, In this I quite enjoyed finding them...Mostly. The trading cards you could find weren’t that interesting and felt like a waste and the same for the coins, but the various notes you could find scattered around were a really nice way to flesh out the world. Exploring an abandoned building and discovering a journal page or finding a body with a note on it detailing the persons death or thoughts on the situation they were in, was a nice, albeit often sad, insight into a world that was falling apart and forcing people to do things they wouldn’t other wise do or finding ways to cope with the world they now found themselves in. Small touches like that, which just add little insights into other peoples minds always makes me interested in the greater world, especially when it was before you, the player, enter the game. That persons story has finished and you only see the end, unaware of what happened to them before. Ellie’s journal entries are also worth mentioning, because I found it interesting getting an insight into her thoughts over the course of the game.
In addition to those collectibles, there’s also various resources you’ll want to scavenge to help you out on your journey. Resources aren’t rare, but they’re also not super common. You’ll often be finding just enough to get by, but you’ll still need to make certain priorities. Do I need a suppressor or a med kit? Ammo is much the same, you’re not going to be armed to the teeth, but you’ll be finding just enough to keep you mostly stocked, with areas that have survivors being more likely to have some, than areas without.

Combat can be mildly satisfying and at times visceral. Ellie and Abby both have functionally identical weapon options. Both get two pistols, a shotgun, a rifle, a bow or crossbow and a unique gun, Ellie gets a suppressed SMG while Abby gets a flamethrower.
Guns have impact, with shots often knocking you down, which yes can be annoying at times, but adds just that little bit of extra immersion to the game. You’re not just a meat wall that simply flinches when you get shot, You’re a person who feels the impact of that shotgun blast. This applies to enemies too. Some shots will shoot off an arm or leg causing the victim to cry out in pain for a few moments before finally dying. Shootouts tend to be quick and snappy, with it only take a few shots to take down your target. If you take a stealthy approach, the combat slows down a lot. Take-downs aren’t instant kills, instead you’re exposed for a few seconds while you overpower your target. Silenced weapons aren’t an option unless you find the skill book that unlocks the stealth tree. And even then, once you unlock the ability to craft them, they can only be applied to the pistol and are good for three shots, Five if you max out the tree, Before they break. You’re going to want to make your shots count, otherwise you’re wasting a limited resource. Stun grenades are an option too, giving you increased melee damage to stunned enemies, but they’re loud and can give away your location. Trap mines are another option too, though they’re even less stealthy then stun grenades. You’ll need to be in position to place them, The lack of an ability to throw them was just a little disappointing, so you’ll want to watch and learn your targets path. Once detonated they’re an insta kill to anything caught in the vicinity, but you’ll want to be prepared because the enemy will come running to investigate the explosion that just went off.
Sound can be you’re friend though.
The infected are attracted to sound, so a well placed brick or stun grenade can move them away from your position, giving you an opportunity to sneak past or use them to fight other survivors. Create a distraction and slip by, or take the gamble and try kill them before they kill you.

Take this moment in the tunnels section. Clickers are around and attracted to sound, so I need to slowly creep past them, But there’s also survivors with guns, so a shoot-out would be near suicide. But I have a stun grenade. And stun grenades are loud.
So I throw it.
The clickers go running to investigate, and run into the unaware humans, who, in a moment of panic, start shooting, drawing the clickers towards them, simultaneously clearing my path and thinning out each other.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

There isn’t much variety in terms of enemy though. You’re either going up against other gun-wielding survivors or the infected, sometimes both.
Survivors are split into three different factions, the first being the W.L.F or Wolves, second being the Seraphites or Scars, which like to paint very Greta looking murals around the place which I initially assumed to be Abby.
I was wrong.
And lastly the rattlers.

The Wolves make up the initial survivors faction you’ll be fighting either against as Ellie, or with during Abby’s early sections. They’re a well organized militia group based out of a stadium, but exerting control over most of Seattle with numerous outposts and bases located around the city. Being a militia group, they’ll almost always be armed with guns, so expect a firefight if stealth fails.
Seraphites are the next group you’ll encounter. Contrasting the Wolves, they’re a semi-religious cult with an emphasis on living off the land, returning to nature and rejecting technology. They’ve formed a primitive society on an island off Seattle’s coast. Compared to the wolves, they favour a more stealthy approach and are often equipped with melee weapons and bows.
They hunt you, you hunt them.
Both factions are engaged in a war over territory, with it playing a key plot point towards the end of Abby’s storyline.
Functionally, they’re both the same, with the only major differences being their appearances and the dialogue they can often be overheard talking about.
The last faction you encounter in the final act, are the Rattlers
They’re a bandit gang that likes to take other survivors as slaves, and are also the toughest of the three factions with many of them wearing body armour and being equipped with rifles. You’ll first encounter them as Abby but it won’t be until you continue as Ellie, that you’ll actually fight against them.

The infected come in a few distinct flavours:
Runners are your basic shambling zombie and are capable of both seeing and hearing you. Weak but fast, Take them out quickly and quietly, If you alert them they’ll swarm you. Fast.
Stalkers are a mix of clicker and runner. Like the runner they can see and hear you, but rather than running straight at you, they’ll attempt to sneak around and catch you off guard using their strength to overpower you.
Clickers are tougher, and far more alert to sounds. Move slowly and stealth kill them. If you alert them, you’re going to need to move quick because they hit hard and they’ll draw more runners to you making the situation worse.
Shambler’s are a new type of infected. They’re a variant of bloaters that have been exposed to water for a long time but are functionally the same, so expect them to be tough. Like the bloater they’ll throw acid at you, and upon death they’ll explode leaving a cloud of acid in the area.

I thought the way the atmosphere of the game changed as each act neared it's conclusion was excellent. During act's one and two, when you start each characters journey, the game has a very sunny atmosphere. But as each act progresses, and both characters change, the weather changes in turn. The sunny atmosphere serves as the calm before both the figurative and literal storm. By the end points of both acts, the weather has changed to a raging storm, fitting the mood of both characters and the subsequent events.
The same applies to the third act, albeit progressing from morning to evening instead. When you start, the day is bright and sunny but by the end the day is dark, and cloudy, again fitting the mood and tone.

As much as I enjoyed the ending, and the game overall, I did find my self asking questions, that'll likely not be answered unfortunately.
What happens to Ellie is my biggest one. Does she return to they Jackson County settlement? Does she just roam, looking for a new purpose? Does she reunite with Tommy? What about Dina? The latter is wishful thinking, but I'd like them to have a happy ending, especially after everything they've been through together.
Abby's ending is a little less ambiguous, with the start screen showing her and Lev's boat washed up on Catalina island, implying they found and re-united with the fireflies, So I'd hope they got a somewhat happy ending, even after all they'd be through.

Some other things that are worth mentioning but I don't really have much to say on are the way the game uses yellow to guide you through the game. You'll often find a yellow car, sign or painted area that hints at the way you should be going. Sometimes the AI can block your path preventing you from moving through a door or around cover. This is just a little annoying, but it's not something that happens super often. There's a lot of quick time events. Get grabbed by an infected? quick time event. Want to open a door? quick time event. Want to play guitar? quick time event. And something I just found kinda funny, you can find people playing PS Vita's. I found someone playing Hotline Miami, and another playing Jak and Daxter The precursor Legacy, another Naughty Dog Game.

Overall, Despite the my initial apprehension in playing it, and despite it’s flaws, and the heavy dose of suffering, I thought this was a really good game, albeit one that has left me emotionally exhausted.
I’ll give it an 8.5 out of 10, with the pace, certain sections, and to a lesser degree, the combat, holding it back from a 9.
In addition, I’ll also be giving it my award for Game of the Year 2020.
This is a bittersweet game that’ll stick with you long after you finish it. I highly recommend it.


Note: there was going to be a video, but editing it is proving harder than expected
 

Arnox

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Both games are just so grimdark though... It's hard to take it seriously because it's so predictable. All the drama feels incredibly pointless, and I think that's a very big problem with a story-based series such as this. Further, the end message seems almost non-existent too. Don't kill people mindlessly? Yes, we know that. Perhaps an argument could be made that it's talking about the importance of forgiveness I suppose, but if so, it could have delivered that message in a much better way. Also, what's the point of the infected still being so numerous during the second game? You'd think the population would start to thin out already.
 
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