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The Last of Us Part II review
Meh
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 reviews63

There are some things that really didn't get to me in this game, mainly around some artistic / storyline decisions. I liked that it tried a bit to be like Attack on Titan, to make you see both sides of the same story and of the same conflict, in a morally ambiguous setup. And while Attack on Titan manages to make you love and feel sad for Reiner, which represents the other side, The Last of Us fails to make Abby more than a mediocre character which saves some kids because she felt bad. That is probably due to more decisions of how she is presented in game or her personality, but, for me, a big contributor to this (which also made everything feel a bit anticlimactic) was the storyline splitting decision: to have me (almost) finish Ellie's storyline and then make me start all-over from the beginning playing with Abby. That's quite a bold decision, pretty hard to digest - maybe if they made the storylines side by side, more intertwined and linked together it could've build up more immersiveness? I am not sure. But I am sure that the current version feels flawed.
Anyway, all that aside, the game is absolutely gorgeous. It hits you with the same emotional rollercoaster as the first one, maybe even a bit more, as it is more mature and more brutal, and it knows exactly how to handle the wounds, that it inflicts to you right at the beginning of the game, throughout the story. The gameplay is from another world, the visuals are unforgettable, the ending is brutal as hell. Makes you wonder who the real villain really is, while rooting for the same villain (because, again, the other protagonist is not that likeable).
I really hope people don't miss out on this game because of some storytelling decisions that they did not like. The game is totally worth it and it comes at you with an emotional rollercoaster and also a fun challenge I liked to play while in-game - how many times and how brutally can you kill Abby?
PS: the soundtrack is absolutely <3
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«That ending!»
«OST on repeat»
Great gameplay, but not good story and characterization. The strong point of the first The Last of Us was the characterization of the characters and the bond that was created between them (especially Joel and Ellie) while the sequel has almost all the characters badly characterized, the story is poorly executed and above all it is full of plot armor, deus ex machina etc ... that force the plot to move it forward and in a game like TLOU that wants to be realistic these things completely ruin the game. Even in the first TLOU there were similar things, but in a minor way and above all the game was executed so well that you didn't even notice it. In part 2 the suspension of disbelief is less given how many absurd situations and/or situations that serve to move the plot forward are created, thus leaving you indifferent to the events and making you want the game to end as soon as possible.
«Disappointment of the year»
«Waste of time»
foooo
«Waste of time»
«Boooring»
Storytelling and worldbuilding at its peak
Just got done with my second playthrough of this. *spoilers for those who may have not played it*

Honestly I think I like it more than the first time I played it. Really took my time this time around. 

Gameplay is solid. Character movement feels amazing.

I love how quickly stuff can go wrong in a conflict. It's probably something that wouldn't play as well in other games and end up being irritating but with the setting of this game it makes total sense that you make a couple wrong moves and it's over for you. 

Game has an excellent balance of supplies (I assume this game has somewhat of a dynamic difficulty?), It's very rare I like a crafting system these days but it works quite well in this game what with you having to make decisions as to what you need more in any given moment. 

A key moment for me in the game is pitting infected against human enemies, but there's so little of it. I think you get to experience this like ...twice or three times in the whole game. I could fuck around with that for hours. 

There's a few parts that irk me, story wise. But things considered for a sequel, they did a really fucking job pulling it together, props for them really trying something off the beaten path for a sequel narrative too. Considering the first game was such a hit, it would have been easy (and probably advised by investors to play it safe).

The final scene still hits hard. 

A few extra notes: 
I wish we learned more about the seraphites and the rattlers. I think it's perfectly plausible that groups like this would arise in the post apocalypse world after 30 years or so, but I'd love to know how they came about recruiting people and whatnot. 

I wish there was some gameplay for the final part of Santa Barbara, when you release the prisoners, would be good to get involved in the chaos as they revolt against the Rattlers and would make for an excellent gameplay crescendo right before the final fight. 

I'm not sure what they fuck they'd do if they made a part III, maybe something about Abby and the regrouping of the fireflies. But I'd be here for it if they made it. 

There's probably a bunch of other things I thought of while playing this, but I didn't bother taking notes. this was the general gist of it tho.  

9/10
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«Beaten more than once»
I simply don't have words to describe how good this game is.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to play this game and its precursory at once. That was crucial to my experience since Part II is an organic peace of Part 1. Why? well, let me explain. Basically, all events of Part 2 happen as consequences of the epilogue of Part 1. All the development we saw involving Joe and Ellie is elevated to extremes. But you have to play the first game to feel it. Going straight to the point, the prologue shows how impactful the new engine is. I played the Part 1 remake and was incredible, but still tied in the PS3 script. Here, there is no limit. It`s almost unbelievable to believe that this runs in a PS4. The expressions, lightning, physics. My god, is so verossimile. The gore though... insane. After that shocking beginning, we go thirsty to get our revenge. Fortunately, this game just shows us how important a perspective is. At first, I didn't like the Abby section. But when I started to get involved by the scars arc, man... I was totally into it.

This game is a study of human nature, such as Game of Thrones and Red Dead Redemption. Its connections to the first game add to the original narrative and integrate even more into the discussion about what we do for love. Powerful story. Unfortunately, since English is not my mother language, I really can't express myself about how impactful this game was for me. But anyway, I know you understand me if you played as I did.
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«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
Great!
«Blew my mind»
-- The game is about not judging by people's worst actions, context matters
-- so that's why it's crazy how they can do that but switch protagonists to make you embody and empathize. It;s so meta that people hated the story and that's exactly what they're trying to get you to feel.  
-- Revenge! Is it ever worth it? They're the same!
--the game is maybe too long? Stretched out and the back (like I had to do the revenge) and I didn't want to restart the story with Abby 
-- The stealth mechanic was fun but the sound sucked for it and I wanted more interesting encounter styles 
-- The world building is sublime
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»
The ending is heartbreaking
«Can’t stop playing»
One thing I’d like to say that i love ellie but everything changed and it’s horrible 
After budgeting a good amount of time between release and actually playing this, I can confidently say that the backlash to this game is maybe the worst of all the non-troversies that have shook nerdom in recent years.

I thought it was unanimous that the strengths of The Last of Us were always its commitment to complex characters, a gritty, dangerous world where no one was ever safe, and a genuinely morally grey journey. The Last of Us' ending is not some edgelord fake-deep ending. It's messy, it's uncomfortable, it's gut-wrenching. Joel does not emerge a hero, he's just Joel, with more blood on his hands and just a shred of hope left. It's this experience that left the impact on fans. 

While Part 2 may have a different kind of story, at the end of the day, it's still The Last of Us at its core. I don't see any of the strengths from The Last Of Us absent in Part 2. If anything they're here stronger than ever. The journey may be a  little darker and more complex, but it's always profoundly human in a way that few games are. Beyond that, gameplay has also been improved. Combat is highly energetic, kills are SO brutal, traversal is fun and intuitive. I was motivated to go at it again in New Game + (something I hardly ever feel), though I think I'm playing too many games right now to give that a go.

I still love Elli. Now I love Abby and Lev. I have no idea what they could do for Part 3, but I'd love to see them try. 
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