When the first gameplay trailer was released for The Last of Us one could already tell this game was going to be something remarkable. A sort of ominous feeling that the game’s story would leave an impression. Most would agree when released in 2013, The Last of Us delivered nothing less. For 7 years gamers patiently awaited for a sequel. The problem with having such a universally loved game is that the follow up is expected to tantamount to its predecessor. Just like The Last of Us delivered a cathartic, horrifying, and ultimately fun gaming experience, The Last of Us Part II does not disappoint.
The story is set about 5 years later and the player can tell there is an issue with the relationship between Ellie and Joel. Their friendship is strained and Ellie does not want much to do with Joel anymore. What caused this tension between a somewhat father/daughter relationship? Did Ellie find out what transpired years ago when they finally reached the Fireflies in Salt Lake City? The game does a great job holding on to this question without dragging it on. Throughout the game we are introduced to Abby, a blonde muscular woman, her friend Owen and others who are later referred to as The Salt Lake Crew. Abby and her friends are looking for someone although “looking” is not quite the word and “hunting” would be more accurate. Abby is a woman of conviction and justice who can handle her own. The game provides you Abby's entire arch and background, moments where you eventually sympathize with this new character. The player realizes she is not much different compared to Ellie.
For anyone that has played the first installment, not much has changed regarding gameplay (but there is nothing wrong with that!). The first game’s controls and mechanics functioned very well with few to no frustrating aspects and the sequel keeps that going. One new feature is the ability to go prone and crawl which helps the player keep a low profile for those that choose to go the stealth route. There are differences between both Ellie and Abby as you switch between them. Both control exactly the same but the weapons and skills they possess differ. For instance, Ellie always carries a knife so she no longer has to make shivs to stealth kill people or runners as she did in the first game, while Abby still has to make shivs. Abby has more power weapons such as an assault rifle, double barreled shotgun and flame-thrower. Meanwhile Ellie has a sniper rifle and a pump-action shotgun. Appears the difference developer Naughty Dog tried to make is that Ellie is more of a stealth fighter while Abby is more of a commando, which makes sense given the individuals background. The game explores various sights in the city of Seattle and properly uses the areas and environment. The game makes use of water (being a very wet city, as anyone who lives or has been to Seattle knows) to provide cover. In one encounter the player must swim to and under certain areas to remain hidden and emerge only when the time is right, which proved to be more difficult than expected. The game’s enemies are mostly the same from the previous instalment, though the Stalkers are more frequent and behave a little differently. Stalkers have become much more of a pain to deal with as they are hard to detect in listening mode, run away if you approach them and wait to attack in a more coordinated fashion if you sit still too long. The biggest learning curve related to new enemies; the Scars or Seraphites. And the scars are all about stealth. Communicating with each other in combat by whistling which gives a new sense of challenge and fright, this a tribe disciplined to a new level and strikes when you don’t expect it. When death comes for you quietly it is a particular kind of fright. Reminding you how life is precious and it could be taken at any time.
The Last of Us Part II is definitely a game worth buying. Not only for the worthwhile story that brings heavy human emotion, but for the actual amount of gameplay packed within. This game has the longest story based, non-RPG game one can play and can be split up into three acts. Act one, the intro and Ellie’s journey to Seattle. Act two, Abby’s back story and events leading to the end of act one. Finally act three, the aftermath. Ellie’s half of the story is easily as long as the first game and Abby’s half is almost as long as act one. Just when you think the journey is over, wrong, it keeps progressing. It was almost frustrating, but keep in mind we are very rarely treated to so much content that is not an RPG or an MMO. Furthermore the story is complex and one could argue for the side of any faction involved, stating that no one is perfect. The story tends to paint the Seraphites as the villains, but there is subtlety to the good origins of that faction. The Last of Us was never a story of good versus evil or of right against wrong, it has always been a story of moral ambiguity. People doing what they need to do to survive in an incredibly hostile world, that’s is pretty much Joel’s back story. Ultimately, the themes of empathy (or at least insight into another’s perspective) and forgiveness (or at least reprieve in Ellie’s case) resonate well and give the happiest ending for a world marred by violence, vengeance and strife.
Sony Interactive Entertainment
June 19, 2020
The Last of Us was never a story of good versus evil or of right against wrong, it has always been a story of moral ambiguity. People doing what they need to do to survive in an incredibly hostile world. Ultimately, the themes of empathy and forgiveness resonate well and give the happiest ending for a world marred by violence, vengeance and strife.
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