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The Last of Us Part II review
by Kieran

The Last of Us Part II was a massive disappointment, at least from a narrative standpoint. Unfortunately, even while other aspects of the game may be brilliant, at the end of the day it is a narrative-driven game that has a flawed narrative. Let's get the pros out of the way. 

Gameplay-wise, TLoU 2 is pretty great. They've improved on the stealth and combat gameplay from the first game and created a solid system, with crafting and upgrades providing the requisite progression. Encounters were at times difficult but always engaging, especially when playing as Ellie. There were some truly cinematic moments which were awesome to experience. New characters of Jesse and Dina were excellent. The flashbacks with Joel and Ellie were heartwarming, even if I wish they weren't delivered as flashbacks (although the one where Joel reveals the truth was pretty effective). 

But here is where the problems begin. Joel is killed by Abby in the first two hours of the game, which no one is going to be happy with - everyone loved Joel. The circumstances of his death make him seem dumb and naive, which is really out of character for Joel, but EVEN PUTTING THAT ASIDE his death never reaps the payoff it needed. I really enjoyed the first half of the game because I was anticipating that eventual payoff where Ellie gets her revenge, but that moment never came. Ellie never kills Abby. I would have been okay if the game ended at the farm, because at least Ellie would've had a new life with Dina and JJ. But to see her leave the farm, travel all the way to Santa Barbara and still not kill Abby is so mind-boggling. Ellie ends up going home, losing everything without achieving anything.

Naughty Dog makes you play as Abby for the other half of the game and tries to humanise her and emphasise the theme of perspective, but I was never going to care about her after what she did to Joel. She was unlikeable, her friends were unlikeable, and when she started to care about Lev and Yarra I didn't buy it. The game tries to convince you that she's a good person when you're preconditioned to think that she isn't, because she's killed our favourite character, who saved her life, by the way. Yes, Abby's dad was killed by Joel, but we don't know her dad. We know Joel. We know Ellie. That's the bottom line. Getting us to care about the character that killed Joel was never going to work, and Naughty Dog should've known that. 

However, Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog knew exactly what they were doing with this game, in that everything was deliberate. It's just that those choices that they made were poor. Big risks MUST have a fulfilling result, and most of them didn't in this game. Taking risks isn't in and of itself a commendable act. It's pulling off those risks that makes the game, and when you don't pull them off you just look pretentious and self-indulgent. The game is depressing and makes you feel so empty by the end, and the themes that the narrative was trying to evoke were poorly executed. The Last of Us Part II has great elements, but they are almost completely undermined by a narrative that punishes you for caring about certain characters. There's a million ways this game could've been rewritten and instantly been made better as a result, but unfortunately those versions were not the game we received.

Looking at the game as a whole, it's not bad. You can't ignore the elements that are well done. But the narrative is so flawed, and in a narrative-driven game, that's a massive problem. 
«Disappointment of the year»

Other reviews35

Incredible narrative with emotional moments that make this game my favourite of ALL TIME.  
A sequel that isn't just fan service. It took some bold risks, I know it didn't pay off for some but for me it for sure did.
«Blew my mind»
«That ending!»
One of the best things mankind ever made.
«Blew my mind»
«That ending!»
There are so many things to say about this game, but I guess the best summary would be: it did not (and probably could not) live up to expectations set by the first game, but that doesnt make it a bad game.
Story: 7/10
Gameplay: 10/10
If only they could have tightened up the story and fixed the pacing, then the story could have matched the gameplay in greatness and we would have had another massive hit like TLOU or Uncharted4.
Masterpiece in animation and an incredibly moving story. One of the best games I’ve ever played, and one of the best sequels in any form of media. 
Even though this sequel didn't stand a chance against its originator, I still fell in love with it. I liked the idea introduction of new characters as well as their stories. My issue is I feel like some things are out of order, whether that be just my taste or how I am used to traditional storytelling. Though without spoiling, there is a reason why the story is written this order. 

Even if you're skeptical, I would recommend trying the game for yourself. There's still a lot of chatter from both extreme sides (this is either the holy grail of gaming or bugsnax will take GOTY over it). I went in thinking it was going to be disappointing due to critics, but loved it. Even if you end up hating it at least you used your own thoughts to come to that. 
«OST on repeat»
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»
Yeah a lot of people can hate it for perfectly understandable reasons, but for what it counts, it blew my mind with just how much of a dick the game tries to make you think Joel and Ellie are, which is perfectly reasonable. The game centres around a very basic premise, but is elevated by voice acting and some damn good writing. Biggest problem was the downtime, the game spends far too much time wondering around, which is kinda sad considering how fun the game can get at times. Wouldn't recommend it for anyone looking for Mario, or anyone looking for Spec Ops or BioShock, play it if you're looking for an interactive movie with interesting pacing. Lastly, if you're angry that there's a lesbian in the game, you are fucking stupid
Absolute masterpiece of a game. A high bar was set by the first game for sure and this cleared it with ease. 
The upgrades to the combat system really brought that extra level of flexibility to the character movement and I loved the fact that most of the situations you get into can be approached in different ways and play styles.

The storyline was always gonna hit hard, we knew the world going in. It was raw and realistic. Really challenges a person to consider more than what they see in front of them too: giving us the opportunity to see a situation from a different perspective. It definitely left me with a lot to think about in between play sessions and has cemented this game as a firm favourite for me.

I laughed, I cried, I swooned,  I yelled outloud, and I cried some more. Truly an incredible experience to play.
«Blew my mind»
Pure perfection 
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
so overall i really enjoyed the game, although there were a few parts that dragged it down for me. what i liked: the gameplay is so much better than the first game, everything flows really well and that intensity in every encounter makes you really value your resources. easily the best part of the game was "The Seraphites" chapter on seattle day 2, where you have to use all the tactics you've learned up to that point and apply them to a new environment with new enemies and new combat techniques. the level design in the game (especially seattle day 2) was outstanding, with large open areas full of different pathways and ways to hide. the story during the first half of the game is also fucking great, joel dying is honestly fine with me and everything really clicked story-wise in that first half. one of the most powerful moments in the game for me is when abby beats nora with a pipe to make her talk, the game even making you press the button prompt to swing the pipe, then we see her hands shaking and she's clearly shaken by what happened. another pretty powerful moment was when abby kills mel, who she then finds out was pregnant, and you can see ellie hyperventilating and panicking because i imagine she was thinking of dina, who is also pregnant. this really had a profound effect on how i thought of the wolves, as it made me understand that they're people too, and abby's section of the game also helped in creating this sense of no one in this world being truly in the right or the wrong.

the overall production value of the game is out of this world too. the music, level and sound design, graphics and gameplay all exceeded my expectations by a mile - it's an amazing technical feat for the playstation 4 and a great swansong for naughty dog's ps4 era

abby's section was really great... to a point. i feel like the writing really dropped down a notch in quality after abby goes to the seraphite's island, and also jesse's death? no one ever talks about him or even mentions him except for one note after he dies. isaac, who is built up from cutscenes and from notes as being this terrifying and imposing figure (who really should have been pitted against abby more in my opinion), gets killed by one bullet from another character who had already been stabbed. it just felt... cheap for both of these deaths and i didn't find it very dramatic. i was upset when jesse died, but the game doesn't do a very good job making it feel truly meaningful to the story in my opinion. however, abby's story really does humanise her and made me sympathise not just with her, but the scars/seraphites too. lev is a really good character who i empathised with a lot too.

joel's death is the main motivator for the entire story, it's what makes ellie want revenge on abby and it makes sense in the context of the story in the way that it's set up. abby tracks down joel, only to be saved from a horde of zombies by him, and abby leads him back to her lodge, where joel obviously chooses to go because who would want to fight a horde of zombies instead of keeping safe with a bunch of survivors? of course, what joel doesn't know is that abby is the daughter of the doctor he killed near the end of the first game when he saves ellie. joel's actions have had consequences in this world, and abby decides to exact her revenge in a rather over-the-top way, but i think it's still a very powerful moment. joel was not a good person, nor is abby, they were just humans trying to survive, one of whoms father was killed by joel because of selfish reasons.

oh so you wanna know what i think of the ending? well... i thought it was pretty good actually. ellie understands the relationship between lev and abby, and spares abby's life because she knows what it was like losing a parental figure to her (joel), and i believe she didn't want lev to go through the same thing, so she ended that cycle of violence that is ever-present throughout the game. when ellie returns home, she finds that her quest for revenge has cost her almost everything, including her girlfriend and her surrogate son. she also lost two of her fingers, meaning she can't even play guitar properly anymore. the final shot of the game is so depressing to me, as we know that ellie has lost everything but she may go looking for dina? who knows, but the damage going back for abby has caused to her and her relationships will be near-irreparable.
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»