The Last of Us Part II Review
I want to start off on this review addressing the fact that I have never played the first installment to this series and there can’t be to many people left that can say that. I guess you could say I am one of The last of Us. Infact our very own Shaun Grimley and I set the date many years ago to play it. Upon its release I decided that a quiet gentleman’s drink at the old local watering hole would suit me best that night, anyways, 1 drink turned into 20 and as you can tell by this picture here, I slept like a beautiful prince on Shaun’s couch and missed the entire play-through of the original game. So trust me when I tell you this review is based on The Last of Us Part 2 as a standalone game and nothing else.
Before I start I will also address the review bombing that I have seen on Metacritic after I played the game — I honestly do not understand how the game only got a 4/10, with a lot of people giving 0/10! First of all, anyone giving this game 0 out of 10 is being ridiculous as zero out of 10 means, graphics 0, sounds 0, gameplay 0 and story 0… graphics being a 0 doesn’t even make sense, was there no graphics? The graphics were amazing, and anyone giving this game a 0 is just being childish.
Secondly anyone that believes that Naughty Dog is pushing an agenda in LGBTQ has clearly got some issues that they may need to work on. I honestly didn’t notice a thing, and just so everyone is aware, being gay is not like a unicorn, this exists and should be acceptable everywhere. If this did somehow annoy you then please enjoy my screenshots of the Elle and Dina kissing below. And finally, people who did not like the “Death scene” or the ending… well, this isn’t Hollywood, not everything is sunshine and lollipops and remember, Before You Embark On A Journey Of Revenge, Dig Two Graves!
Story – Spoilers Ahead
Sometime after the first game, Ellie and her father figure Joel are living in his brother Tommy’s settlement in Jackson, Wyoming. This scene introduces you to a few of Ellie’s friends being Jesse and her lover, Dina, which is a little bit strange at first when you find out that Dina and Jesse just broke up. Meanwhile in the winter, Joel and Tommy go missing whilst out scouting the infected and our protagonist Ellie sets off with Dina to find them.
Joel and Tommy happen to run into Abby who unbeknownst to them is a leader of a small group within the WLF; I don’t want to give anything away, but Abby plays a huge part in this game. Not only does she play the villain, but you also get to walk in her shoes and learn why and what made her do what she did.
This is the big spoiler here, so if you haven’t played this game yet then please do not read this next sentence — Abby reveals herself as the daughter of a surgeon Joel killed while saving Ellie and takes a golf club to Joels head like she was the daughter of John Daly. All this plays out infront of Ellie after she finds their whereabouts of Joel and has to suffer as she watches her father figure have his skull crushed before her. This moment here was one of the emotionally best moments I have experienced in a long time; you can literally see Ellie’s heart shatter as you connect with the pain and suffering with Ellie in this moment, which is an extremely hard thing to do. Severely affected by the incident, Ellie swears revenge and sets off to get it.
As far as story-telling goes, Naughty Dog has seriously impressed me here — I very rarely play single player games, neverless caught up in them that they take me away from my own life to focus solely on this. It was outstanding at how many highs and lows this game made me feel, from empathy, to love, to laughter, to sadness, to anger, to hate; all of these emotions could run through me in the space of an hour and this is a massive homage to Neil Druckman and the team at Naughty Dog. I went to sleep the night I finished it, dreamt about it and woke up still thinking about it — unbelievable.
The game takes roughly about 25 hours to complete, but this can easily change based on the difficulty you put the game on and your playstyle. It is a linear, narrative-focused adventure, although Naughty Dog have done a magnificent job of making it feel like an open-world game.
The game controls do take a little bit getting used to, like who ever uses R2 to reload? Non-sense… but it doesn’t take long to master them. The gameplay itself is unbelievably smooth, a pleasure to control and is filled with perfectly timed jump scares, long worrying silences, and some of the best death scenes I have ever seen on a video game. One thing that nobody seems to like is animal cruelty, so the first time I seen a horse get shot I was a bit uneasy and I guess people would feel the same about the dogs in this game too; They are attack dogs that are trying to kill you, if that makes it any better? Anyways, any sort of violence to animals is never an easy subject to confront people with.
The darkness of the game is complimented by the soundtrack that is haunting and impactful at all the right moments. The stealth movements in this game are brilliant and the silent takedowns are a lot of fun, but going in loud with guns blazing is also just as rewarding. What I found extra special is the amount of small details like when you kill an enemy, their friends will cry out for them, by their name! It adds so beautifully to the realistic detail and makes every enemy in the game seem more human.
There is also ability trees that you invest resources into that look like little medical pills and depending on your preferred playing style, you can unlock extra features to compliment this. There is also an upgrade bench where you can find bolts around the world and spend the bolts in upgrading your weapons.
The graphics of The Last of Us Part II is simply stunning — The detail of the environment and objects are phenomenal. I was blown away that this was a game on what is soon to be an old-gen console. These graphics and detail are that of a high end PC game and a real compliment to the artists involved. When I say detail I can’t express how much; the snow crumbles when you crawl through it, any sign or poster can be read, blood splatters certain ways depending on the kill and there was even tadpoles in a spa in the backyard of someone’s house! Its unavailable, I mean yes, when water sits to long in a spa or pool tadpoles are often found in there, but never would I of thought I would see such detail in a video game.
The emotional journey is truly what makes this game one of the best as it resembles a 25 hour long Hollywood movie with all the ups and downs. From one moment you completely feel for Ellie and want nothing more than her revenge, then it seamlessly takes you to the other side of the fence with Abby, putting you in her shoes and lets you relate and understand with the one person you vowed to kill. No words can describe how brilliantly this has been done.
I truly feel like a lot of people are not seeing how good of a story this truly is. I can see, understand and emphasis with both sides of the coin as both sides are right, but also wrong at the same time. In the end, the ultimate tool you have in your possession is forgiveness — If you only seek vengeance, revenge, and only see hate then the ultimate enemy is always yourself.
You will lose everything and everyone you love if revenge wins over forgiveness. People say they didn’t like the ending, but to me, this was the only ending it could have. Even if the ‘Death scene’ made you hate the game that much you decided to give it a bad review, then Naughty Dog have done what they set out to do — emotionally challenge you. The game is nothing short of a F*****G masterpiece and I guess that means I should go play the first one now!
- GAMEPLAY - 95%95%
- GRAPHICS - 95%95%
- AUDIO - 90%90%
- STORY - 100%100%
The Last of Us Part II is a masterpiece from every detail in the environments, to the soundtrack complimenting every moment of gameplay and the story-telling that of a blockbuster Hollywood film, this game truly has to be played. Even not play the first installment I can not recommend this emotional journey anymore, to not experience this game should be a crime!
For more on The Last of Us, check out our previous coverage.