Community Review: The Last Of Us Part 2

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Community Review: The Last Of Us Part 2
The Last Of Us 2 (Screenshot: @JimdiGriz1, Twitter)

Now that everyone’s had enough time to work through The Last of Us 2, it’s a good time to go back and reflect on Ellie’s journey through Seattle.

While it’s easy to say that Naughty Dog’s adventure was always primed to be divisive, the retail figures say otherwise. Concerns over leaks and some of the more vocal, toxic fanbases haven’t stopped the game from selling over 4 million copies already, making Ellie’s adventure the fastest selling PS4 exclusive of the generation.

Sales aren’t an indicator of quality, of course. But it does say something about the impact backlashes and certain discourses can have on a game — which, in this case, was practically nothing.

At least commercially. The impact the leaks had on the studio as individuals was something else.

So let's finally talk about all the other bits that we couldn't really mention before embargo.

Cute dog.

The embargoes basically prevented The Last Of Us 2 reviews from discussing, in specific or even general detail, the structural shift in the second half of the game. It made sense why Sony (embargoes aren't issued by the developers) didn't want Abby's 10-hour segue covered in detail. It's a mammoth spoiler. It tells you an awful ton about the game's story, what to expect from the game's ending, and what to expect from the characterisation. And it's not too dissimilar from some of the boundaries levelled on the Death Stranding reviews.

I just wish that whole section was maybe three or four hours shorter.

I get why the whole breakaway is as long as it is. It makes visual and logical sense when you look up and see the space that Abby is being asked to travel. But there are entire segments of that gameplay where I just wished there was one less fight, or one less unnecessary segue back to the hospital.

The scene with Abby as a kid and when she was looking for her Dad, only to discover the zebra caught up in fencing wire?

Absolutely no reason for that scene to exist. It didn't act as a tutorial for hunting. It didn't provide any extra detail that couldn't have been included somehow in one of Abby's flashbacks inside the hospital. All we ended up doing was watching a poor bloody animal stuck in pure misery for shock value.

Just thinking about that scene, and the fact that people argued and defended the narrative necessity of that, makes me angry.

My original gripe hasn't changed, either. I initially regretted that the subtlety used for most of the cut scenes wasn't also used with the game's approach to violence in cut-scenes. It wasn't to argue that Naughty Dog shouldn't use violence -- although it is absolutely overdone. It's that subtlety is The Last of Us 2's best attribute. It's what shows the characters and facial animations at their best. It's the best communicator of emotion. It's more powerful than any line of dialogue.

There are so many scenes, so many moments in the game that use that soft touch so, so well. It's a shame that approach wasn't used for some of the more violent scenes, too.

A friend of mine likened it to pornoviolence. We get that in films sometimes. And you walk into those movies knowing full well what you're in for.

But the brutality usually stops after an hour. Maybe 90 minutes.

It doesn't run for another 20 hours.

I'd still recommend The Last of Us 2 as an experience, uncomfortable as it gets as times. It's not as tight as The Last of Us, although there are definitely points where it is objectively a much better game. It's vastly more accessible, for one, perhaps the most accessible game ever made. The mo-cap tech and modelling puts games like Cyberpunk 2077 to shame. And the story has lots of good beats and moments that are just fantastic to watch.

I wish it was a little shorter at times, but that's more down to the pacing than the game being a supremely long experience. This isn't Death Stranding or Persona 5 we're talking about here.

Now for everyone who's had the chance to enjoy the experience in full for yourselves: how do you feel about it? What did you think about the perspective shift halfway through, the structure of the game, the combat, the violence, and how it all ended? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

  • Didn’t mind the game at all
    The length killed it a bit for me, iv read people complain about the ending but I don’t see the problem reminds me of mgs4 ending.
    I know you can change it but way too much loot and how hard is it to open a fridge door

  • I’ve given up caring about spoilers at this point. the internet did enough of that for me.
    At 19 hours in and still playing as Ellie, I’m already a little over it. I don’t find the rummaging all that interesting and due to a stealthy play-through I’m almost always FULL of many items that I come across, which negates any need to explore (but I do anyway). I don’t know what it is, but 50+ hours of Death Stranding was still more entertaining than 20 hours of this. I’d like to think I’m not just being contrarian to the hype but I’m not really buying what the game is selling me.
    Joel’s death (whilst very shocking) felt like a retread of the Walking Dead’s Glenn scene, so I felt like they kinda just recycled that for required intensity.
    Dina was giving me Mass Effect – Andromeda levels of creep in some of the early animations. I’ve come to like her over time though.
    Dialogue is admittedly pretty great. The screenplay feels very natural.
    I’ve still got a slog to go by all reports so I might circle back round when I’m done.

  • I watched the whole story via an abridged Let’s Play and even I noticed a lot of drawer rummaging. In a way I feel sad that I didn’t play it through first hand (the game looks gorgeous) but due to the ultra violence I’m also glad that I didn’t. I’m getting similar vibes to the GTAV story with the torture scene which still haunts me. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if there were some lighter scenes and character development. Things like the museum trip or the weed factory were rare blips of positivity in an ocean of darkness. I get that it’s a dark game but it just felt unrelenting. Like Abby finally makes contact with the fireflies and then bam, new faction of brutal slave traders.
    Overall I enjoyed it and the story made me feel something but I was also relieved when it was over.

  • It was just such a downer. I like that they tried something new but the entire final hour. Why make that happen? Just… such a downer.

    Not a pleasant experience and tbh I think it was a sequel that didn’t need to exist. It dilutes what the first did so well.

    Great gameplay though. The infected sections were amazing. But the story…. Just… awful to be honest. I’m playing games to feel good.

    Personally, I think that were society to collapse, people would be a lot more keen to work together and help each other. The ppl who wrote this game…. they obviously think very differently.

    • ….I think that were society to collapse, people would be a lot more keen to work together and help each other….

      Umm have you seen what’s been happening in the US at the moment?
      People are losing their minds over having to wear face masks to prevent other people from dying.

  • After finishing the game I feel like we should have played as abby first up to the point where she interacts with ellie and then the switchover to ellie occurs. Then we see Joels death it potetentially would have had a greater impact but also an understanding into what’s going on with Abbie’s character. That way it has more impact with these characters. The game has the bones of a good/great story is there, minus some terrible writing in the midst of it, but what makes it borderline bad is terrible editing. These scenes should have been reshuffled around because you can’t get attached to characters due to knowing how their character arcs end.

    Overall I felt like scenes needed to be reshuffled around as well as some rewritten to give a bigger emphasise on characters as well as get rid of some fluff/nonsensical plot points and I agree that it needs to be tightened since it felt like it went for a bit too long.

    • 100% agree the story was out of order
      You kinda can’t sympathize with her cause she is made to be the villain for the first 10hrs (think like 15-20) should of made the game out to be her story build her up keep Joel’s death as a story to her (don’t show faces just how proud she is she avenged her dad) and then switch at the same point in reverse

  • I haven’t played it but given the reviews and comments, it still sounds like a movie I’d rather watch than a game I’d play.

  • I am not quite finished yet – I think about halfway through the Abby part. I have to say I like the game much more than I was expecting from the reviews.

    The gameplay really is just very fun. There are absolutely amazing sections of tension, action and release. The Hillcrest section in particular I thought was brilliant. So many other well-designed locations.

    And as for the storyline – as I said, I haven’t reached the end yet, but so far I think it is actually pretty good. The outlines don’t do it justice. There is more depth than they suggest. I replayed the first just before this, and Part 2 actually feels like a good continuation, in tone, character and plot.

  • I finished it today after about 30hrs on hard. I really enjoyed it and had no issues with the story. Gameplay felt great and game looked beautiful in 4k on the Pro. I didn’t like the flashbacks much waaay too slow and I would search every nook and cranny for collectibles then find there wasn’t any. The end did drag on a bit I kept thinking it was over and then there would be more. I think they should have included difficulty trophies there’s pretty much no incentive to play it again except to finish the guns and perks. I would say 8.5/10.

  • I thought the game while far from perfect was pretty dam great and definitely don’t regret buying it.

    The story is fine imo, held back by some bad paceing and certain parts of the game could have been trimmed but its no where near the clusterfuck people are making it out to be

  • Just finished the game today.

    I was getting over if by the time day 3 with Ellie came around. She just isn’t that great a character. Also would have been nice to have more Tommy and Joel scenes. You never actually believed they were brothers and didn’t connect with his pain.

    In saying that I really enjoyed Abbys half of the game. Yara, Lev, Owen, manny. All great characters. Ashley Birch playing the bitch again (like all of Horizon).

    Only issues I had with Abbys half was, are we meant to believe she had a change of heart in those 2 days? All reports are she is a ruthless killer. Now she is a softy cause an enemy saved her?

    I truly hope Ellie finds Dina. I truly hope Abby and Lev (if alive) find the Fireflies.

  • I just finished The Last of Us: Part II and I really enjoyed it.

    Here’s my “review”, which contains spoilers.

    The game does have a slow start, but it starts to get better once you reach the more open area as Seattle. The graphics are absolutely stunning, Naughty Dog really knows how to push the PS4 to its limits. I also enjoyed the game’s soundtrack, which was a mix of calm and peaceful, to eerily uncomfortable. Most of the characters were performed quite well and seemed so life-like. The more open environments were quite cool too, offering a lot of optional areas to explore, or multiple pathways to reach your destination.

    While the game doesn’t really bring in any revolutionary ideas of game play, for the most part, it works. Being a bit more nimble and being able to jump, climb and crawl on your stomach are great additions. A lot of stealth segments had me feeling like a ‘predator’, rather than just hiding and waiting for an opportunity. I also liked the ability to dodge, it made combat so much faster. Being able to best three enemies at once without taking any damage, thanks to the dodge mechanic, is an awesome feeling.

    I was happy to see that there were more skills, or at least, were branched out into skill-trees, and that pills, or supplements, were more plentiful. The weapon variety was quite good too, along with the upgrades.

    The most annoying aspect of game play I found were the A.I. of partners. I found that they were cumbersome, and would always get in the way. This was especially frustrating when I was trying to get to cover to avoid being spotted, or when I was trying to run away from enemies. I understand that the characters are there to provide narrative support, but in terms of game play, I preferred when my protagonist was solo. I am glad that I didn’t experience any in-game bugs.

    The game is quite long, which may or may not tickle your fancy, taking anywhere from 20 – 30 hours to complete. I found that towards the end of Ellie’s campaign, I was a bit over it and was kind of hoping to reach the end. Upon playing as Abby, I hated it at first, but over time I came to actually like Abby as a character, as she is conflicted and flawed. I also liked some of the supporting cast such as Yara and Lev, they were really interesting. Abby’s friends on the other hand, like Owen, Mel and Manny, they were kinda boring and I really didn’t care about them that much.

    One thing I liked about playing as Abby is it changed the game play. Abby has a slightly different skill set and play style compared to Ellie, and also gets different weapons. So while the ending of Ellie’s campaign was becoming repetitive, Abby’s campaign actually changed it up for me.

    To begin with, I found the story pretty generic. Indeed, I hated Abby at first and I absolutely hated what happened to Joel, but over time I learned that for the particular story the writers of this game wanted to tell, they had to make this choice. I think we need to remember as well, is that the world and setting of The Last of Us is horribly cruel. It is brutally violent, unforgiving and unfair. Joel himself, as awesome as a character he is, was once upon a time not a very good dude. He did many awful things to many people, including violence, torture and murder. I’m not saying Joel “got what he deserved” because he deserved a shot at redemption and a peaceful life, but I will say that I’m not entirely surprised that someone came for him eventually.

    Going back to the story, I actually really enjoyed Abby’s campaign. The further I got into it, the more invested I became and the more I wanted to see, especially once Yara and Lev come into the picture. I was emotionally engaged by the game’s gripping and intense story. Ellie’s adventure, while it makes sense, just got boring after a while. I guess there’s only so much revenge I can deal with.

    It’s cool how the game has a New Game Plus mode, as well as a mode to specifically play every stealth/combat encounter, without having to go through the game again. One thing that I wish though, is to be able to do any of these encounters with your fully powered up character, e.g. all the weapons, upgrades and skills you’ve accumulated. Unfortunately, it only allows you to have the weapons, upgrades and skills that you would normally have around the time of each encounter.

    Regardless of what people said on the Internet, if you enjoyed the first Last of Us released in 2013, then I think you’ll enjoy Part II. If you’re a fan of action and stealth games, you could try and give this a shot, but it may not be as engaging without having played the first one.

    Is it Game of the Year 2020? Probably not. 2020 has released some good games, but in my opinion, none of them have been mind blowing and “great” so far.

  • Overall, this was a great game, and the gameplay itself was way more enjoyable than the first one – great graphics, sound design, atmosphere; it made me feel like a bas-ass rambo at times.

    My biggest gripe is that, despite having her arse handed to her by Abby yet again, and being shown mercy YET AGAIN, Ellie can’t leave well enough alone and abandons her family for another stab at revenge.

    The game should have ended with Ellie and Dina at the farm, with Ellie suffering PTSD – it would have echoed the slightly sour ambiguous ending of the first game, and left players wondering. Instead, she goes off on a mini-adventure to Santa Barbara, weirdly introducing a new human faction, a couple of more infected encounters, etc etc…it feels tacked on, and almost like an idea for DLC that they decided to instead include in the main story.

    And then – they STILL both live anyway, except now she’s just shit at guitar and lonely, and Abby has some new scars. That whole section seemed really pointless and unnecessary.

  • Just finished it a few minutes ago. Still turning it over in my mind, but overall I loved it. Not as much as I loved the original, but thats my favourite game of all time from 40 years of gaming, so it’s a high bar that it would be unreasonable to expect it to get over.

    I made damn sure not to spoil it by reading any of the spoilers that leaked prior to release or any discussion of them, and now after playing the game I still have no idea what could possibly have inspired such raging hatred in some people. Maybe I’ll go back and read some of it now that I’ve finished the game, or maybe I won’t bother. I suppose if people just wanted Episode 2 Of The Continuing Adventures Of Joel And Ellie then they might have been disappointed, but I didn’t go into it with those (or any) preconceived notions of what I was expecting from the story.

    I also don’t really understand the complaints about the violence. I mean it was certainly a very violent game, extremely so in some places, but I didn’t think it was any worse than any number of other games / movies / TV shows that I’ve seen over the years. We all campaigned long and hard to get the R rating for games, and games like this are the reason why – so, as adults, we are able to consume art and media made for adults.

    Gameplay wise it was superb, a clear improvement on the original in pretty much every respect. Tense stealth and really visceral, physical combat. The only part that wasn’t an improvement was the companions. In the original, Ellie never really got in the way, Joel could hide behind the same cover as her and kind of shield her while he was doing so. In this one I couldn’t get behind cover that my companion was behind and, on a couple of occasions, my companion actually jumped behind the same cover and pushed me out, thus exposing me to enemies. Luckily it was only a couple of times, and the checkpoints were generous enough that a restart was not much of an inconvenience.

    My biggest criticism, as with just about every game these days, is that it just goes on too long. I wouldn’t take out any scenes, but I would shorten a lot of them, take out a couple of encounters from each area and just make it all feel a little leaner and tighter. Cut the length down by about 20-25% and it would be a better game. And maybe save those poor bastards some of that horrendous crunch, too.

  • Definitely not a 10/10 …5-6/10 at best

    Graphics and game play btw stellar but that does not make a game for me I’m a very story driven player…

    I personally though the story was a mess after Ellie’s half of the campaign ..story writing 101 don’t make your villain the focus point of the story in the first few hours then spend the rest of the game trying to justify there actions after killing Joel that was it i hated her .. sad thing is it felt naughty dog did everything possible to make Abby the better character better guns brutally strong overall combat wise a better character to play even the helping of the kid and the sister it all felt forced upon me .. I wanted Abby dead regardless of what happened ..

    All naughty dog has done is destroy there franchise by terrible story telling they can slap there embargoed 10/10 reviews before the next last of us is released all they want mislead players with fake trailers all they want the franchise is done for me along with a lot of annoyed and pissed off players..

  • Superb, loved it from start to finish.

    Gameplay-wise it feels like a great improvement from the first, with the exception of the companion behaviour. Ellie feels like a hunter, Abby a soldier. Guns and movement feel good, stealth engagement offers risk but not enough to make you feel you can’t move. Graphically and technically excellent, and the audio expertly added to the atmosphere. I encountered a few bugs which forced a reload of the last checkpoint and some strange AI behaviour, but it was otherwise fine.

    Story, everyone is basically a broken, selfish mess. Dina and Jesse… maybe Mel, are probably the only not-horrible main characters in this entire dismal experience. I guess it would have to be if the main motive is revenge – oh, sorry – “justice”.
    Seeing the entire story from the perspective of the person you hate the most is hard at first – there’s no justifying her actions, but it does a good job of delivering the fact she’s no more or less shit than Ellie. In fact, Abby spent most of her time trying to do something to “clean her slate” after doing something so horribly shitty, whereas our so-called protagonist descends further into a selfish, all consuming darkness.

    There’s no light. Everything that everyone works so hard to achieve is often lost in an instant of misfortune or poor judgement (even Joel). Perhaps the only speck is that in all her fury, Ellie inadvertently manages to save her adversary from certain death in the end. And maybe, she’s not entirely unforgivable.

  • The last of us 2 gave us a sequel when none was needed. The first one was a full game in itself. We come from two characters who we played and loved in the first game to see one of them killed in the sequel. The second character, Ellie is naturally vengeful but does not complete her quest. We know that Joel is her only family member from the first game and as we all know families are flawed. We accept this and still love them. If someone hurts them, we go after them no matter how irrational or thoughtless our actions might be. That is what makes compelling stories. It is the flaws, the cracks, the tears, the sweat… This story fails in its execution.

    No wonder some players were having Abby fall straight into the Clickers when they were asked to play her character. Killing Joel was cheap and reeked of crappy writing

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