The Road Less Traveled- The Last of Us Part II Review

It took me a week to come up with this title.

I’ve been working on this article for a week and some change, and for once I don’t have a long intro/monologue where I talk about the game. I feel like this one is pretty self explanatory.

What You Need to Know

The Last of Us Part 2 takes place a few years after the stunning conclusion at the end of the first game. Joel and Ellie are living in a survivor community in Jacksonville, Wyoming with Joel’s brother Tommy. Certain events lead to Ellie leaving the community on a mission for revenge, which I won’t spoil.

Since this is a review, I can confirm I finally beat the game. Like I mentioned, I won’t spoil anything, but I also intend to give my honest opinion. I also didn’t record any gameplay so instead enjoy these pictures shot on iPhone (’tis a joke).

Here we go.

Gameplay

If you’ve played the first game then the second game follows a similar structure.

You’re a lone survivor in a world full of infected humans and savage humans willing to survive no matter the cost. (Sorry trying to make this cinematic for stream).

Anyways, the core gameplay is the same. You scrounge for supplies to craft items that will aid in your survival, you shoot and knife people, you sneak around. If it sounds familiar that’s because it is. This is how the first game goes, and to be fair, this game follows the same formula. There are some news additions and subtractions like suppressors for pistols and not having to make the limited use shivs which are nice additions.

This go around you play as Ellie. Leading up to release, Ellie was being hyped up to be a more agile character than Joel because she’s younger. Ellie has a dodge ability which is only useful in close encounters. Time your dodge correctly, and you’ll leave your opponent open for a counter attack. She might run faster, but it’ll never be proven. She can also jump (useless) and go prone.

Enemy encounters still function pretty much the same. You’ll either sneak around and murder them or go loud and murder them. There are a few new additions to the infected hordes in the form of Shamblers, big bloaty guys. On the human front, enemies will have dogs who can sniff you out which makes for some added stress and really big dudes with axes. There are cool moments when you can actually pit them against each other which is fun in an evil mastermind sense. There is one faction of humans called Scars who communicate by whistling which creates for some chilling encounters.

Besides all the killing and sneaking, the level design has improved significantly. Areas are more open and allow for either more exploration (which means more secrets) or for more opportunities to avoid confrontation. Ellie can squeeze through small spaces allowing her to completely bypass groups of enemies if she’s careful.

Leveling up your character remains the same in some aspects. You’ll find supplements that are invested in her skill trees and weapon parts that improve her weapons. However, there are a few minor tweaks. For one, the skill trees are a bit deeper and finding catalogs will unlock extra trees to level up. If you don’t find those catalogs, you’ll miss out on whole skill trees so explore.

To sum it up, TLOU 2 plays the same as the first with some minor improvements.

Review

I feel like I sound like a broken record, but I never really enjoyed The Last of Us. I feel like the story ended pretty well, but compared to developer Naughty Dog’s other work, it doesn’t hold up as much. I was surprised they were making a sequel, and despite not enjoying the first one, I was willing to give the second one a chance.

I feel like the gameplay is a huge improvement over the first one. I think part of my frustrations with the first game are targeted more towards the actual gameplay rather than the story itself. It’s slow, methodical and repetitive, and while this game is the same, Part 2’s combat runs a lot smoother and the pace has upped immensely. You can weave in and out of combat in an instant which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would try stealth, mess up, start fighting, regroup and renter stealth. Those scenarios were so seamless and fluid. I found myself wanting to fight rather than sneak by foes or feeling it was a chore to finish them off. It maybe the same concept, but the execution feels much better this time around.

I think this is the most visually pleasing game I’ve ever played. I would myself spending extra time exploring and taking screenshots just because I was amazed. It’s incredible to think that there’s another generation of consoles coming out right around the corner when this game looks as good as it gets. What’s even crazier is my PS4 didn’t sound like a plane engine while playing the game *cough cough Modern Warfare cough cough* Combat is visceral and pleasing on the eyes, the sun burns when you stare into it, character models are insanely detailed. It’s just mind blowing.

Leading up to the start and finish of my playthrough, I refused to watch any reviews just because I wanted to form my own opinion on the game rather than be influenced by the media especially in regards to the story with all the leaks that came out before launch. My biggest concern with this game before release was knowing how the first game ends, I knew there would be no way the story would be on par this time around. Needless to say, I was correct.

The Last of Us Part 2 is a long ass revenge story like it or hate it. The format of the story was weird, but it did just enough for me to sympathize with the characters. A friend of mine gave this an 8/10 because he felt like the game dragged at certain points and to that I agree. It took me around 26-28 hours to beat, and a lot of that is due to exploring, but it also felt like this game didn’t need to be anywhere near that length. Outside of the story there were some good parts, especially one in the second half of the game, that honestly might be one of my favorite parts in video game history.

Shot this in the convenient Photo Mode.

I started watching some of the reviews for this game, especially the one from Skill Up. His complaints on the story where focused on how bleak it felt with forgettable characters, and while I agree to some extent with the latter part, I feel like the former is justified given how the first game ended. There is no solution for the world at this point. Just my two cents.

I know this game is flawed, I know people will either hate it or love it. However, I liked it. I came into it knowing the story wasn’t going to be good, and that’s not selling Naughty Dog short, that’s just the reality of a sequel for a game that didn’t really need one. They recently announced that a t.v. show was in the making, and to that I say kudos. Another flaw is the multiplayer mode Factions isn’t in the game since ND wanted to focus on the campaign, but there’s a possibility they might bring it back.

I feel like this game is the prime example of a series that didn’t need a sequel. This is just me, but I would’ve been interested in a game where we learn more about Joel and his life in between the start of the outbreak to leading up to the beginning of the first game. That being said, come end of the game, I feel like I got my money’s worth. Will I replay it? Sure somewhere down the line when I have enough time to actively sit and steam roll right through it. For now though, it’s on to the next game.

What did you think of the The Last of Us Part 2?


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