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The Last Of Us Part II

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 1 - 2020

Well, damn.

 
Naughty Dog make great games, but The Last of Us was really something special. Joining Joel and Ellie on an emotional road trip across a landscape thrown to chaos by a deadly pandemic that turns victims into bloodthirsty Infected, The Last of Us was an experience, and whether it was played in its original form or the later remaster, it will have left memories. So, where do you go from there? Some gamers would have been happy to leave it at that, while others clamoured for a sequel. Well, it has taken a fair few years, but Naughty Dog has finally released The Last of Us Part II, following on the story of the pair, but this time with much more focus on Ellie.

 


 
While all aspects of The Last of Us Part II are of an exceptionally high level, due to pre-launch media and leaks there has been a fair amount of controversy. The Last of Us Part II is nothing if not a game that makes people talk. I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of the game, as that is for the players to make their own minds up about. However, I would say that the game is a journey and playing it through without too much by way of previous knowledge will give the best experience. Also, the game is pretty graphic and more than a little gritty, so players who are affected by that sort of thing would perhaps be better off playing in small doses, with regular breaks for something more cheerful.

 
The Last of Us Part II follows on from the first game, albeit with a short gap. The good news is that the game is so packed with world-building information that newcomers should be able to enjoy the game without needing to play the first game. With that said, why would you not play the original game first? But hey, the hype train has pulled into the station, so rest assured that those playing Part II first can still enjoy this excellent story.

 
Five years after the events of the first game, Ellie, and surrogate father Joel, have settled down in what is a relatively normal settlement in Wyoming. Were it not for the barriers and the regular patrols to remove the bloodthirsty Infected from the local wilderness, they could even have a normal life. Ellie has grown up and Joel has become older, but everything is otherwise peaceful, or as peaceful as it can be. Of course, nothing lasts forever, but revealing more of the story would seriously take away from the readers experience. There has been plenty of coverage explaining that Part II is a story about revenge, which should be enough to give the player an idea of what to expect. Happy moments are few and far between.

 


 
But the story is simply a vehicle to move things forward. The real meat here comes from the characters and how they develop through the course of the game, specifically Ellie. From her blossoming relationship, through to the downward spiral and brutal efficiency with which she does what she needs to, it is quite a journey. The motivations are easy enough to work out, even though they may be difficult to reconcile. The supporting cast of characters are equally as deep and interesting, and times will come when the player may disagree with the actions of the main characters. However, the linear nature of the story will leave the player with very little control over these times, giving more of an impression of watching a movie.

 
Following the main story will take the player gradually through the world, but stepping off the beaten track, while offering the chance for an easier time down the line, will also give the world much more life. This is a post-apocalyptic world, but small notes and the like give the world some depth and glimpses into life before the events of the game. There are plenty of areas to explore, and some worthwhile rewards for doing so, but the levels are designed to push the player in a certain direction rather than being fully open-world. Despite the claustrophobic fear of the dark, enclosed spaces, the levels never really feel closed off though and the developers have given a wonderful sense of openness and freedom.

 
Of course, it doesn’t do any harm that the game is simply stunning to look at. The motion capture used for the character movements really shows through, especially in some of the intricate things that they do. The quality of the facial animations gives a real life-like feel. Even the world, which is often grim in its post-apocalyptic theme, offers plenty of moments when the player will have to stop and look around. From lighting effects to little things such as snow falling from a tree, the world feels alive.

 


 
When the player is not following the excellent narrative, they will be exploring and fighting, or avoiding fighting. The gun play is as excellent as you would expect, but the limited ammunition will mean that players who take the stealthy approach will likely fare better. Melee is always an option, but hiding, sneaking around, distracting enemies and getting through unscathed will be safer. Not that the player will not be able to hold their own, and Ellie is more than capable of bringing the pain. The combat in Part II is incredibly violent and realistic, which is again something players should be aware of.

 
The Infected are back in force, including the scary-as-hell Clickers. There are even a couple of new Infected to deal with, including one that will sneak up on the player, and all of them have been given an intelligence boost thanks to an improved AI over the previous game. More dangerous than the Infected though, the player will be facing some new Human factions that show Humans are the real monsters here. Again, stealth is often the best approach, and being able to lay prone and hide in the long grass, and hear the movement of enemies make that an easier prospect.

 
During the exploration of abandoned, and not so abandoned, buildings, the player will gather loads of different equipment for use in crafting. The system is pretty much the same as it was in the previous title, but there feels even more risk involved now. Using resources on a trap that could take care of a group of Infected could leave the player without enough resources to craft a healing item, for example. Weapons can be upgraded and improved again, but this time the animation for doing so is much more involved. The little details make all of the difference.

 


 
The gameplay is very well done in The Last of Us Part II, but nothing really groundbreaking. However, when you throw in the incredible storytelling and character development, and the sumptuous visuals, the game is raised to the highest possible level. It may be grim, gritty and at times difficult to watch, but The Last of Us Part II is a sequel that improves on the original in every single way. One of the best games I have ever experienced. Expect the awards to come rolling in.

 

 ★★★★★★★★★★ 



 

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