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Game review: The Last of Us Part II

By Damian Seeto
Mon 15 Jun 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Last of Us exploded back in 2013 when the first game came out for the PlayStation 3 console. Even though the game came out late in the PS3’s life, many people have called it as one of the greatest games of all time in that generation. 

Making a sequel seemed like an impossible task for developer Naughty Dog because many gamers were satisfied with the previous game’s ending. However, it’s now 2020 and Naughty Dog is set to release The Last of Us Part II. Can the developer strike lightning once again with the franchise’s second outing?

The Last of Us had somewhat of a happy ending, so I was kind of worried what will happen in The Last of Us Part II. After playing the sequel for many hours and finishing it, I’m happy to say that Naughty Dog has managed to knock it out of the park once again. That being said, there are some story elements that may not please everyone though. 

Anyway, The Last of Us Part II’s main story takes place four years after the end of the first game. Joel still hasn’t told Ellie what happened to her at the end of the first game, but he does feel guilty about what he did. After a short while, Ellie witnesses a very traumatic event and she starts to question what really happened to her that day and why. 

There’s more to the story than this, although I’m not allowed to say much without giving you major story spoilers. All I will say about the story is that it’s an eye opener that may not satisfy every gamer that decides to play it. It’s controversial and very ambitious because it doesn’t paint any of the characters to be ‘heroes’. Even Ellie herself isn’t the noblest human being because she’s forced to push herself against the horrors that await her. 

While the story might be controversial, one thing that will please everyone is the game’s excellent looking graphics. The visuals easily surpass both the original PS3 version of The Last of Us as well as the remaster that came out a few years ago on the PS4. While the character models and hair physics look really good, the many photorealistic style backgrounds look really amazing. It is also great playing this game on PS4 Pro as the visual upgrades are immediately noticeable especially if you’re playing the game on a 4K TV.  

I also like the diverse number of locations that you can get to see in The Last of Us Part II. Some of my favourite sceneries in the game included an abandoned aquarium in Seattle as well as a dinosaur museum. The game is also chock-full of green vegetation making your journey look beautiful throughout its multi-hour gameplay duration.

As for level design, the stages in The Last of Us Part II are much bigger and less linear compared to the first game. One section sees you navigating through a map in Seattle, and Ellie has to use her horse in order to traverse through the many sections of the city. It’s quite a large area and it can be fun just staring and admiring the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. 

In terms of gameplay, there are many new gameplay elements that make this game very tense and exciting to play through. One big improvement is the fact that Ellie now has access to a knife that she can use infinitely. This saves you time crafting the ‘shiv’ multiple times that you needed to do in the first game. 

Aside from her knife, it’s sad to say that other melee weapons only have a short lifespan. You can only use machetes and baseball bats for only three to four times before they break apart. I would have liked if these weapons lasted a bit longer because they become really helpful if you are going up against a swarm of the infected beings. 

Resources are also usually scarce, but you can rummage through rooms to grab as many supplies as Ellie can carry. Many of the same things can be crafted in this game such as bandages, Molotov cocktails, stun grenades and many more. You have to conserve ammo too throughout your journey because there are many scripted battles in the game that forces you to face off and kill hard enemies!

Ellie can also pick up special parts that improve the firepower for the many guns that she will use in the game. You can add things like a silencer or you could increase the damage of the shotgun. All you need to do is have the right parts and find a crafting table to do so. 

Another new element to the game is special pills that can help you upgrade Ellie’s stats and abilities. You have to collect a LOT of pills in order to fully unlock all of the abilities and stat upgrades for her. I feel people will have to play the game more than once in order to fully unlock everything as you cannot obtain everything in just one gaming session. 

The game also includes a pretty useful dodge mechanic that allows Ellie to avoid punches and lunges from enemies. It becomes very important to use during some of the boss fights that occur in the game. The hand-to-hand combat is a big improvement and felt more interactive compared to the first game because of the aforementioned newly added feature. 

A thing that I admired about The Last of Us Part II is the fact that the game includes many accessibility options. One feature I used a lot was the navigation marker that you can use by pressing the L3 button. Whenever I got lost in the many dark corridors Ellie enters in, I used the navigation markers to help guide me to safety. 

You can also become ‘invisible’ while prone if you turn this option on. Again, this was helpful to me when I needed to stealthily kill a large number of enemies all in one area. The multiple options that you can change means both beginners and pros can enjoy this game based on their own preferences. 

Overall, the gameplay in The Last of Us Part II is quite similar to the first one, but it adds a few new welcome features. If you liked the gameplay in the first, you should feel right at home playing the sequel. I will note though that the difficulty level in Part II is much higher than the first game so expect to die more times than expected!

I managed to finish The Last of Us Part II in 20 hours, although it might be a longer playthrough if you choose the harder difficulty settings. There is some replay value on offer here if you want to max out your abilities, or if you want to track down all of the trophies. There’s no multiplayer mode at the moment, although it could be added in the future after the game launches. 

 Once you finish the game, you can also unlock concept art and in-game character models to view in the ‘Extras’ section. There’s a lot of cool concept art to see which spans throughout the entire game. The character models are also nice to attain as you can appreciate how much work goes into a game of this calibre. 

Even though The Last of Us Part II is a near perfect game, it isn’t without some minor flaws. One thing that bugged me is the cover system. Sometimes I’ll enter cover but if I pressed forward on the analogue stick, Ellie would exit cover and stand up. It’s just a small annoyance, although it was frustrating to do during a firefight. 

I also felt the game was too stingy when it came to acquiring ammo. Some boss fights require you to use as much ammo as you need, but sometimes you cannot find what you need. I know this is a survival game, although I always got scared if I didn’t have enough ammo to kill the bad guys…

The story is also something that will not please everyone. However, I managed to appreciate the direction of the story more once I finished the entire game to completion. Something like this comes down to your own opinion though, but I still enjoyed the plot as it’s very unpredictable. Just make sure to fully avoid the leaks if you want don’t want to get it spoiled for you. 

The Last of Us Part II is another great game from the talented folks over at Naughty Dog. The sequel is gory, gritty and gloriously violent. If you liked the gameplay in the first game, you’ll love what the second game has to offer. The only thing that might upset some people is the story in the second half of the game. Despite this, I was still satisfied with the story once I played it until the end. 

Verdict: 9.5/10

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