But those are the reasons that make it awesome.
I needed to breathe for a moment after experiencing The Last of Us Part II before I go ahead and play a second run-through of the game. The game plays more on story and emotion, with horror and combat coming in second. It’s violent and at times emotionally exhausting, which made me play it in stages just so that I can rest up and realize that this is just a video game.
But that is what makes The Last of Us Part II great. It pulls you into this post-apocalyptic world and actually makes you care for each of the characters introduced on the screen. By the time it ends, you’ll somehow feel drained yet fulfilled, which admittedly only a few games manage to do.
The Last of Us Part II takes place five years after the first game, where Joel saves Ellie from being killed as she holds the cure for the pandemic that causes infected individuals to turn into zombie-like creatures. The game now centers on Ellie, traveling through Seattle looking for her foe as revenge and vengeance are what currently drives her. There are reasons for her anger of course, but as to keep this review spoiler-free I won’t be saying much about her mission.
New characters such as Dina bring more depth into Ellie’s character, which is perfectly presented in the game – these brief moments make you think if you’re really playing or watching a movie. Supporting characters are abundant, and returning characters like Tommy and Maria join Joel in the sequel.
Much like the original game, you’re tasked with navigating ruined cities that involve killing infected and at times, human enemies. The sequel introduces new factions: the militants also known as the Washington Liberation Front and a religious cult called the Seraphins, all of which Ellie will encounter during her mission.
If you’ve played some Naughty Dog titles like the first Last of Us or the Uncharted series, you’d be familiar with some of the gameplay mechanics from stealth to combat. But as Uncharted takes you on a more Indiana Jones-type of adventure, The Last of Us Part II takes on a more serious and depressing tone. Despite that, the game still has some light-hearted moments, though I can’t help but be emotional with some scenes – particularly when Ellie plays the guitar.
As Ellie, you are given an arsenal of weapons that you can upgrade during the course of the game along with skill sets that you learn as you progress. Weapons vary in power, which is essential in defeating some enemies. A special commendation should also be given to the game’s sound design – each noise the clicker makes or the scream of the infected give off a realistic feel when playing.
As with the sound design, the graphics are also something worth marveling at. Each ruined building in Seattle is rendered in glorious detail, down to the grasses that sway with the wind. Even the slightest smile from each character is clearly seen, pushing the capabilities of the PlayStation 4.
Killing the infected shows more blood and gore in this sequel and while that can be fun at times to watch, seeing the more brutal animation when killing humans can somehow be uncomfortable. I know the game will be violent, but I did not expect it to be that violent.
As Ellie finishes off enemies that lead to her main target, you’d feel a sense of how the game takes the character from a rather innocent teen to a more vengeful young woman. Even Ellie’s hinted romance with Dina gave the character’s story a more human approach. But there’s a good chance that not everyone will be onboard Ellie’s character direction, so expect fans to be divisive (this scenario reminded me of Star Wars The Last Jedi). In the end, what matters is how you will play and enjoy the game.
The Last of Us Part II finishes on a rather grim tone and while we’re not sure if that warrants another sequel in a couple of years, you will realize that the game isn’t made to be played, but it is made to be experienced.
The Last of Us Part II is now out on PlayStation 4.
+ Effective emotional story
+ Incredible graphics
+ Amazing sound design
– Some story directions won’t be enjoyed by some
Final Rating: 5/5