'the last of us part 2' review (ps4): dig two graves

     
Naughty Dog

A reviews is only one person’s opinion on a game, and I think it’s pointless to lớn go inkhổng lồ one of these knowing nothing about the reviewer or the context.

The Last of Us, the original, is one of my favorite games of all time. Joel & Ellie are two of my favorite characters.

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No, I did not get an early Reviews copy of this game, which frees me up lớn talk about things like the entire second half of the game which was not allowed before embargo, & I think it’s an absolutely essential core part of the story khổng lồ discuss.

Yes, I have sầu spent the last few days arguing with the entire internet about The Last of Us Part 2, so much so that I am already as exhausted as I was after two years of Last Jedi fighting.

But I’m pushing past that now. I’m not going to lớn keep diving inkhổng lồ why exactly people are review bombing the game or the mob mentality behind it, all I can vị here is explain why I played this game, even having it spoiled in many ways beforehvà, và came out the other side loving it. Loving how it handles its old characters, growing & evolving them, loving how it introduces new ones, & loving how the dual perspective sầu narrative sầu makes for a revenge tale that is infinitely more interesting than the “check the minibosses và big boss off the list” series of levels that it could have sầu been if it had stuck with Ellie the entire way.


This will be a non-traditional Review in that I do not think you should read the rest of it until you are at least a little ways inkhổng lồ the game. Until you at least get to “the moment.” You’ll know which one.

I have no idea how earlier Reviews managed lớn dance around the entire impetus of the plot for their analysis, but I’m not going to lớn bother with that here, particularly since the game has been out for a few days now, and most players are probably past this point.


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The Last of Us Part 2

Naughty Dog

Ellie và Joel have found a new trang chính in Jackson, a small town that has weathered the apocalypse, và managed khổng lồ fend off infected & a few unsavory human types as well. But that changes one day when a patrol goes awry. Joel và Tommy, not as distrustful of strangers as perhaps they were four years ago, rescue a woman, Abby, who you play as briefly. But then, once Joel introduces himself, things turn quickly.

Abby và her group have been looking for Joel. This specific Joel. For a very long time. They capture him, torture hyên, and then ultimately, when Ellie finally arrives, Abby beats Joel to lớn death with a golf club right in front of her.

It is, unquestionably, heartbreaking. I loved Joel as much as anyone, which is why this moment works so well. You feel Ellie’s pain practically as much as she does, và that need for vengeance carries you through the story.

And yet I did not find Joel’s death to lớn be a surprise, as I always figured this was coming.

Yes, this moment was indeed spoiled for me during the leaks by some ranbởi on Twitter. If you’re as online as me, that was always going to lớn be impossible to avoid for an entire month once the major leaks were disseminated.

But past that, even from the first trailer, it seemed very clear that something had broken Ellie và she was going on a murderous rampage of vengeance. What else would have sầu possibly happened khổng lồ make her that angry besides some group killing Joel? Yes, the trailers tried to show Joel was alive, but baông xã then I explained it away as hlặng possibly being in her head. That isn’t what happens, but that footage is either from scenes before his death, flashbacks that happen after, or it was plainly doctored to lớn throw people off (I did not love that tactic, in hindsight).


The Last of Us Part 2

Naughty Dog

I also remember that Joel did something that could easily be considered monstrous, murdered an entire hospital of people looking for a cure for the virus so he could save Ellie. It’s one of the most complicated moral decisions presented in a game, a decision that, mind you, the game did not actually let you make. This was Joel’s story. This was no ending you got to lớn choose. It happened to you, và ultimately, through you, with the controller in your hand. The only way to lớn avoid it was to lớn shut the game off.

People complain that Joel’s death was “weak” and “pointless,” & he should have sầu gone out like a hero saving Ellie. But don’t you get it? He did die saving Ellie, just four years after he probably should have.

Again, after this point, I was expecting a pretty stoông chồng tale of revenge. First, Tommy leaves, heading khổng lồ Seattle khổng lồ take on this “Washington Liberation Front” group, the ones who killed Joel. Ellie, và her new girlfriend Dimãng cầu, follow shortly thereafter, & we get the fairly traditional “hunt down everyone who was present” structure, ultimately leading khổng lồ Abby, the obvious “final trùm.” But The Last of Us Part 2 is not nội dung with that story. Not even cthua thảm.

I’ll pause the plotlines here for a minute lớn focus on Ellie’s actual gameplay as she explores Seattle. If The Last of Us suffers anywhere, it’s probably in some aspects of it…actually being a Clip game. Contrary khổng lồ many bạn opinions, I think the story is the strongest part of the game, followed by the performances and the sheer majesty of these digital environments that Naughty Dog (and its painfully overworked employees) have sầu crafted here. It’s one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen, which is exactly what I said about Uncharted 4. And The Last of Us Part 1. And Uncharted 3. And so on. You get it, this is kind of Naughty Dog’s thing. But it never, ever fails khổng lồ impress.

Ellie pairs with various characters on her journey, sometimes Dina, sometimes others, though occasionally, she’s alone. When that happens, you miss the banter & the game is at its darkest. And sometimes dullest.

Very, very little has evolved in terms of actual gameplay and mechanics here. The control scheme is definitely one of the most bizarre I’ve ever experienced in a game (R2 lớn reload? What?) but you get used khổng lồ it eventually. I’d say Ellie controls less lượt thích a boat than Joel did, but the game is generous making its AI rather dumb và allowing you to silently kill an entire room of bad guys with your switchblade. I think combat is enjoyable enough, a mad scramble between stealth and loud, often incredibly brutal action, but at times I almost felt the game was far too easy on normal, & enemies lost your trail way too quickly if you fled even a short distance away. Even the new “dogs trachồng your scent” mechanic doesn’t really bởi much other than make you feel extremely bad about killing dogs.


The Last of Us Part 2

Naughty Dog

I also still hate every single infected encounter in the game, lượt thích I did in the original, và tried khổng lồ just blitz through them as fast as possible. The one exception was a cool infected trùm fight way late inkhổng lồ the game that I was not expecting, which was the only genuinely fun moment I’ve sầu ever experienced with this series’ cursed mushroom zombies.

I like the exploring, to a point. The game does make you feel lượt thích you need to search every nook & cranny, but it starts feeling a bit arduous the longer the game goes on. And it’s a very long game. There are select moments that you can trigger with exploration that are story relevant (one of the most touching bits of the game is a Dina/Ellie interaction early on that takes place in a random building you could easily miss), but later, this kind of stops happening & you’re just finding endless rolls of duct tape & single bullets sitting on tables. Like the first game, these sequences, whether it’s finding long, long ways around to locked doors, or trekking toward some giant landmark in the distance, can feel too long. I am not saying this game should not have sầu gameplay, but there are many, many sequences that feel lượt thích they should be a lot tighter, like you’re reading a 1,500 page book or watching a five hour movie. Some editing would have sầu worked well in some of these sections.

But ultimately, yes, the game is fun to lớn play. The environment kiến thiết alone makes exploration worthwhile, however plodding it may become. And there’s nothing more gratifying than having a 5’4” girl take down a room full of lunatic cult members with two arrows, three revolver rounds and a briông xã.

The violence…is violent. I understand that it may be a turn off lớn some, và if Naughty Dog’s signature is realism, that translates not just khổng lồ environments và performance capture, but also its brutality. As someone who has been watching the goriest horror and action movies và shows in history for a few decades now, this didn’t really phase me. The lone exception was the dogs…which definitely made me wince. Yes, attachồng dogs have been enemies in video clip games before, but again, those encounters have sầu never been this realistic, và that whimpering and whining and howling of brutally murdered German Shepherds will haunt my dreams.


The Last of Us Part 2

Naughty Dog

All in all, I feel almost identical about The Last of Us 2’s gameplay as I did the first game. It’s beautiful & brutal, but enemy AI, both human và infected, is not the best, & the pacing has its problems. And yet I loved the writing and characters và story so much all of that doesn’t really end up mattering all that much to lớn me.

Now we reach the turn, when we figure out that we’re not just playing as the Joel-murderer Abby for a brief segment, but rather, cthua trận khổng lồ half the game. I’m talking a new skill tree, a new style of gameplay (while Abby can be stealthy like Ellie, she is usually better off plowing through people lượt thích a truck). And an entirely new perspective sầu on not just this game, but the last one, too.

I will stop short of getting into lớn further spoilers here, as these happen late inlớn the game, rather than Joel’s death which is at the beginning. I know that many people disliked playing as Abby in a game they thought they would just be switching between Joel và Ellie again. And much less playing as a character that murdered the character they wanted to lớn be playing as.

But I found it fascinating. Did I like Abby as much as Joel và Ellie by the end? Maybe not, but that wasn’t the goal. The point was lớn show that revenge stories are complicated, and often, never-ending và deeply unsatisfying. Some people just want Ellie to be John Wick & murder everyone who wronged her without a second thought. But The Last of Us 2 wants lớn see that Ellie’s “minibosses” are actual people, Abby’s friends. And if we’re going with the John Wichồng comparison, Abby’s the one whose dog gets murdered.

It is not easy to lớn confront the idea that the characters you have sầu grown to lớn love may not be good people. That was pretty clear in the last game with Joel’s hospital murder spree. Whether you want lớn justify that or not, it’s still brutal và highly debatable, given that it’s not just the Fireflies he killed, but potentially millions who could have benefited from a potential cure.

But you’re also meant lớn question Ellie’s actions here, too. We are so used lớn just cutting through legions of bad guys in đoạn Clip games that we’re stunned when a game bothers to show us the other side. We don’t lượt thích it, it makes us uncomfortable. And yet by the end of the game, you should at least be able to lớn appreciate the perspective sầu that in Abby’s story, Joel and Ellie are the clear villains. And in Ellie’s case in particular, we have sầu a new moral question, whether killing dozens, hundreds of people is worth seeking revenge for one man, a man who did vì chưng something who hurt a lot of people. Many players will scream “hell yes!” and cut through them all with glee. But I think the Abby storyline is what saves this game from being way, way too predictable & lượt thích every single other revenge tale out there, even though no, I don’t think the point is to make her out lớn be a hero either.


The Last of Us Part 2

Naughty Dog

The ending, which I won’t fully get into, has been criticized as “unsatisfying.” For me, it’s really the only way it could have sầu ended. This entire game is a commentary on moral relativism (what I see as right và justified, you see as wrong and abominable), & the circular nature of vengeance (“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”). The ending, from that perspective sầu, works. It’s kind of perfect, actually.

This is a great game. One of the best I’ve sầu played in years. No, I’m not going to lớn go inlớn GOTY nonsense in June, và no, I won’t be one of the 50 outlets giving it a perfect score, even though yes, I vày believe sầu you can give sầu imperfect games 10/10s, given that nothing is completely without flaws. But The Last of Us 2’ actual gameplay leaves enough khổng lồ be desired for me lớn take it out of contention for that.

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But it’s stunning. It’s important. And it’s a deeply well-told story to the point where I genuinely cannot fathom why anyone who has fully beaten the game, not just heard the spoilers, not just watched a streamer snark their way through it or watched ripped YouTube cutscenes, doesn’t appreciate what it has achieved here. But again, I can only offer my own opinion và my own defense of what I think is a must-play as a huge người of the original, even as someone who loved the characters they’ve sầu murdered và maimed và morally compromised here. It’s remarkable, & it will stay with me a long while, just like the first.