Game Review - The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4

Written by Malus92 on June 30, 2020 @ 6:03 am

Note: I do not care about the (stupid) politics by the developers of the game, nor the outrage of some fans. This review is about the game itself, and there are some spoilers in this review.

After a 7 year wait, we finally have the sequel to 2013's The Last of Us. And it was worth the wait. Part II is bigger in scale with a longer story (avg. 25 hrs to complete), bigger levels to explore, and a bigger cast of characters that all play a role in the story. Environments are gorgeous thanks to the mastery of the hardware of the PS4, and I can't imagine how beautiful this looks on the PS4 Pro in 4K UHD. Forests are absolutely gorgeous to look at with detailed trees, leaves, bushes, plants, and god rays shining through it all as you explore the area. The music is the same as the first game--scored by the same composer--and it fits just as well here.

A highlight for me is that the combat system has a few neat additions to it. For instance, you can now kill someone if you stun him/her/it by first throwing a brick/glass jar. Running up to the enemy will allow you to "strike" and perform a one-hit kill. Ellie now permanently carries a knife with her, and this makes killing clickers much easier than in the first game. There is also a much-needed feature of being able to dodge an enemy's attack with L1. And, owing to you playing as a 19-year-old girl and not a man in his mid-50's, you generally move faster. Running, slipping through small gaps in the wall, etc. is quicker. The biggest and best parts of Part II are the bigger scale of the environments you play in, the new characters you meet, the improved combat system, and generally just more of what made the original game so great. A minor, but welcome, addition is that you can now craft a silencer for the pistol. It comes in handy, and it's nice to see small tweaks like this that improve the gameplay experience

However, not everything is perfect. There are a few aspects between the two games that I find to be better in the first game than in Part II. Part II is about pure, unrestrained hate based out of the loss of someone you love. The problem is that many people understand hatred, living for vengeance, and seeking revenge on someone is generally bad. There is a saying that "He who seeks revenge should dig two graves." That's where Part II's story slightly slips up. At no point in the story does anyone ever realize the mistake being made. There is no moment where someone realizes waking up, breathing, and walking with nothing but hate in his/her heart is bad and leads you on a path to doom. This creates a lack of emotional maturing by the end of the story--the characters are arguably the same at the end of the game as they are at the start. The first game showed Joel and Ellie's relationship change from the point where they meet to the final level where he saves Ellie in the hospital. The most we get, which I will admit is possibly exactly what I'm complaining about not having here, is the penultimate cutscene showing a conversation between Joel and Ellie, where Ellie says she will try to forgive him for not letting her die and have a cure made so that her life could have meant something. This implies that Ellie actually is learning about forgiveness, but this is after the final battle and Abby is long gone. I feel that, if there is a Part III, that this will only matter if the issue is dealt with in some way during the game then. As it is now, I feel like it may be too late for Ellie to have this revelation.

That said, the ending of the game does reveal that, after all of their revenge seeking, both Abby and Ellie end up losing everything (or close to it). Abby loses all of her friends, except her new friend Lily/Lev, while Ellie loses everything and faces the fate she says in the first game she is most afraid of--being alone. This is a fitting end for both characters as their entire motivations in this game are driven by hatred and revenge, but Abby does not show any forgiveness, and Ellie's possible forgiving of Abby is only hinted at in the penultimate cutscene. I do feel like a realization of the need for forgiveness would have helped instead of letting events play out like they do, but perhaps a sequel will rectify this. Perhaps not. Despite my two paragraphs on this matter, this is but a small issue with the story, but a notable one since I do feel it's lacking where emotional maturity is a major part of what makes the first game so great as it is the main reason it ends the way it does.

All in all, this game is like any great sequel in that it takes the original and expands upon it. It is better in terms of enjoyability, fun, graphical detail, improved gameplay, and it still tells a great story that keeps you invested. I've heard that a chief complaint for Part II is that the game is violent. I don't know much about this as it seems to have the same level of violence as the first game. The first game is about learning to love, and this game is about hate and revenge over the loss of someone you love with all your heart. This is shown by how Ellie has a major, if not complete, personality change from the first game. She is now an adult, and she has a lust for revenge. In a sense, this game shows what hatred does to a person--it corrupts. Even if the characters may not all learn about the dangers of living with hate in your heart, we (the players) can learn from this story so that we may not make the same mistakes these characters do.

Highlights
- Breathtakingly beautiful environments, especially a forest level I'm very fond of that takes place in the past.
- Neat upgrades to the combat system.
- Bigger levels than the first game which means more to explore.
- The game is long and fun.

Minor complaints
- Ellie has completely lost her cuteness. She is grown up, she doesn't care for how she looks, and she is driven with hate and rage. There is also a noticeable emphasis on her being a lesbian. I used to have a crush on her, but now I don't. In the end, however, I just want her to be happy.
- The story lacks the emotional growth that is the center of the original game. Instead, this game is more of a lesson in what not to do than a story showing people overcoming their flaws.

Gameplay Rating: 9
Story Rating: 7
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 9
Overall Rating: 9

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Game Information

Platform
PlayStation 4
Developer(s)
Naughty Dog
Publisher(s)
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre(s)
Action, Adventure
NA Release Date
June 19, 2020
JP Release Date
June 19, 2020
EUR Release Date
June 19, 2020
AUS Release Date
June 19, 2020
ESRB Rating
M
PEGI Rating
18+
CERO Rating
Z
ACB Rating
R 18+
MVGL User Score
8.5
Composer
Gustavo Santaolalla
Official Website
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