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The Last of Us Part II (2020): Review

Written by,
Sean Wall

Revenge, Redemption. Relentless. The story of Ellie & Joel goes on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

The Last of Us Part II takes human emotions and has you questioning various aspects that occur. From what you would’ve done to what could happen if you do this? For ever reaction there’s a reaction and this game shows us the consequences of those actions when it comes to the notion of survival. One of the best things TLOU2 tackles is having the player make the difficult choices to further tell the story. At various points in the game I paused saying to myself “This is bullshit… I really have to do this.” Many would find that dissatisfying but that’s something a video game is suppose to do. Challenge your will to make the difficult choice while it tells a compelling story, especially in a post-apocalyptic zombified world.

However, just because I enjoyed the game doesn’t mean there’s isn’t any sort of controversy with it. That’s honestly due to the various amounts of leaks of cutscenes and plot details. Even if you stay away from those extensive spoilers you will play and se why many players were dissatisfied but to be honest that’s many movies, video games and shows can’t truly be enjoyed.

The events in The Last of Us Part II are set five years after the events of the first game. In the opening of the games you’re met with the big death scene that it takes Ellie and her now girlfriend Dina on a journey to the urban overgrowth of Seattle to find those who took away a piece of her life. As they traverse through the broken city Ellie and friend come across some uniquely crazy foes from the living and fungal variety (WLF & the Seraphites aka Scars). Naughty Dog manages to take the player on a ride to make those cold decisions that shape Ellie and others into a discomforting growth of who they once were.

Speaking of controversies, lets talking about the big one, the big death which many didn’t truly see coming. It shocked me but I was a little confused why Abby and the others were doing it at first, but after playing through the game and seeing how far each character had gone to be where they’re at now it made sense why one of the recurring themes in the game is revenge and forgiveness. Although you had to know it was coming or at least something was coming when he went back from Ellie at the end of the first one. You can honestly feel those emotions playing a huge part in every decision you make. Everybody suffers physically and emotionally in the most graphic ways possible.

Credit: Naughty Dog

Ellie’s story is quite powerful even when there are emotionally draining moments that twist your heart for a moment. We dive deep into mind of taking a strong-minded woman who wants to find her purpose in life to someone who will take matters into her own hands even at the cost of her humanity. As well it being tested with her dynamic relationship with Dina which is very engaging and heartfelt throughout the game. Ashley Johnson and Shannon Woodward take those two characters and embodied the emotions performed on screen. When you move to the second-half of the game, we experience a more complexed character in Abby. Her presence alone is definitely such a badass in her own right with a militaristic style with a brute stature that literally works in her advantage to survive in this sort of hostile environment. While I played through her story I truly loved the way she evolves from being someone who doesn’t give a damn about others that aren’t close to her to being close with two kids that are fighting on the other side. Yes, she does terrible things but the writers took their time to build on her motivations behind them and give her a redemption arc in several instances. You can sort of sympathize with the actions she takes. If there is a Part III, there’s no telling where the story of Ellie and Abby will take these two but I will be interested to see if it’s a conclusion or another way to broaden their stories for more to be told.

The gameplay in The Last of Us Part II, truly has fluid mechanics as you play. You have to admire the skill tree that truly impacts a lot of the way you advance in the story. The dodge button is truly a lifesaver as it adds the element of strategically fighting an enemy. You can’t rely on button mashing even on the easier difficulty as the A.I. will eventually catch onto the way you fight. The weapons in the game have a true role to play as the pistol will sway like crazy if you on don’t upgrade it, causing you to miss many targets that could potentially cause your death in-game. Melee attacks is creatively done at the same time is very grotesque in the animation. You can slash someone with a machete and it will show you gory split in the person you hit. Besides the upgrades and weaponry in the game, the A.I. is some of the best in any game I’ve played. They’ll respond accordingly, to your actions even knocking something over. I love when a game can challenge your ability to be a little more tactical instead of moving in head first all the time.

Credit: Naughty Dog

The Last of Us Part II, is a game that will test the threshold of player’s willingness to endure the violent nature of a survival world with hostile enemies. This sequel is a masterful follow-up to as the story is very ambitious with some faults but the redeeming qualities outweigh the cons. The characters have a depth to them that many games fall short on even as the game begins. For the most part, the plot is beautifully told and by the time you reach the end you breathe a sight of relief getting through that sort of rollercoaster ride. Naughty Dog truly has room to grow if they plan on making a third installment and it would be a true wonder to see what sort of story is told.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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