The Last of Us Part II Review – A Cycle of Violence (By Nick). No Spoilers

Note from OG: Once again a game came out that I was unable to acquire right away due to it being more difficult for me to purchase Playstation 4 games than ones for Nintendo Switch. However, for this particular title I needed a specific comrade in arms to request this arduous undertaking. Someone who was unaffected or interested in the leaked script, social media discussions/reviews/editorials, online reactions before and after the game’s release, not rely on a Let’s Play or Walkthrough and of course have an open mind on yuri as a whole. I was looking for someone who was a fan of the series, loved/supported yuri and only wanted to play the game themselves. The search was difficult but fortunately I found someone. Many thanks to one of my best friends, Nick from Anime Corps, for offering to share his experiences playing this super hyped and controversial game. Ladies and gentlemen. Here is Nick’s review of The Last of Us: Part II. Enjoy, but most importantly please be civil in the comments.

The Last of Us Part 2 US Cover

For pretty much the whole generation of the PlayStation 4 there has been one game people have been waiting for years to play. The very first trailer for The Last of Us Part II launched way back in December 2016 and since that day it’s always been on the minds of PlayStation fans when this game would be released. Well after years of waiting, and a few extra months because of a global pandemic, The Last of Us Part II finally launched June 19th and wow what a game it was. So after all that waiting and hype, was it worth it? Let’s find out!

Platform: PS4

Developer: Naughty Dog

Genres: Action, Dark, Drama, Horror, Shooter, Survival

Themes: Survival, Yuri, Zombies (sort of)

Length: 25-30+ hours

Story:

For starters I’ll make it clear this is a non-spoiler review and because of that it’s not going to cover a lot of the core details and this will probably end up being pretty vague.

We pick up the story 5 years after the first game with an older Ellie and Joel living peacefully in Jackson, Wyoming. The town is made up of other survivors and has become a thriving community, even though the whole world has gone to hell. Life is going pretty well for Ellie after the first game’s harrowing adventures. She’s settled down, found herself a girlfriend, and is just living a quiet and simple life. But all that changes one day when a horrific act of violence shatters Ellie’s world and sends her on a journey for vengeance, hunting down those responsible. But in doing so, Ellie becomes consumed with anger and hate and the effects it has on those around her, especially those who she loves the most, bringing devastating consequences.

the-last-of-us-state-of-play-screen-02-ps4-us-24sep19Overall I liked the story. It’s told in a non-chronological way, with key parts of the story coming to light via flashbacks, and it’s not until the end where you can piece it all together and see the big picture and what everything all means. There are some parts that did feel a bit slow and maybe the pacing could’ve been better, but in general the story and how it was told was very well done, something that you can expect from a Naughty Dog game. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way as well as shocking moments that will leave you heartbroken. The story is very dark and emotional, themes of anger, hate, loss, revenge, and love are just some that are key to the game. It’s not really a “feel good” kinda game. Sure there are heartwarming moments, but overall it’s a pretty dark story.

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For the most part I avoided all commentary and reactions for this game until I had finished, mainly because of spoilers, but also because I wanted to form my own opinions on it. Even now I’m avoiding most of the reactions from it because there is just so much hate and such and it’s really pointless to read. I liked the direction the story went, the choices characters made and how events played out. For me it’s a game that you appreciate more once it’s over and you can sit back and view it all as a whole. You have all the pieces of the puzzle and can see how it all played out and how each character’s actions affect others. The further into the story you go, the more apparent it becomes that this really is a cycle of violence and you do start to wonder how this will all end up.

I think a part that a lot of people didn’t like was how gray the morality was. Everyone has their own reasons for doing what they’re doing and once you reach the end and have all the pieces to the puzzle, then it’s easier to reason how things played out. Like I said, I didn’t have any issues with that aspect of the game. I mean really, when you step back and look at things as a whole, they’re all living in a world ruined by this deadly virus and there are horrible infected beings roaming out there. Because of that people are going to whatever lengths possible to stay alive. Sure some are clearly bad guys, but the characters presented to us in this game all have compelling reasons for their actions and that’s such a key part to the overall story. The choices they make in the heat of the moment, they can never realize the outcome further on down the line and come Part II, we really start to see how things from the first game affect the sequel so much. By the end when you see what this cycle of violence has done to everyone, it really makes you stop and think. At least for me that’s how it made me feel and of course since I’m not going into details this is probably super vague and doesn’t make much sense, but I really do encourage you to play the game for yourself and experience what this story is telling.

Characters:

As mentioned Ellie and Joel are returning favorites from the first game, along with Joel’s brother Tommy and his wife Maria. Aside from them we’ve got some interesting new characters that join Ellie along the way, but I’ll focus on two of the new characters that play key roles in the game. We’ll start with Dina, Ellie’s girlfriend. Dina is a girl from Jackson who Ellie befriends and eventually the two have a closer, more romantic relationship. As seen in the E3 2018 game play trailer, Ellie and Dina are dancing together at an event in Jackson and share a passionate kiss too. As you’re progressing through the game you can really see how close their relationship becomes, the two really are a great couple and if you take a moment to read through Ellie’s journal, you can find some of her thoughts about Dina. There is more I’d like to talk about regarding Dina, but I said I’d keep this spoiler free so I’ll leave it at that.

the-last-of-us-part-ii-e3-2018-screen-02-ps4-us-10jul18

Next we have Abby, who is another main character and we see a lot of her throughout the game. I wasn’t expecting this from the start, but as the game progressed I found myself liking Abby more and more. More so with her than Dina, I won’t go into details about much of her backstory and such because they’re so core to the overall story. I’ll say this, she’s a complex and dynamic character that you don’t fully appreciate until much later in the game. A key point about her I can talk about though is how Abby is a very muscular woman and she’s a joy to watch beat down infected and other enemies. Apparently people didn’t like how jacked Abby is and I’m honestly not sure why that’s an issue in the first place. First we get folks complaining when a female character is “sexualized” in a video game, now we’re getting the same folks complaining when a female character has muscles. Once again I won’t get into details about Abby, but there is a reason she’s built like a tank and it’s honestly not hard to grasp at all. But yeah, Abby is an excellent new character in the game and as much as I want to talk more about her, because we could honestly have a whole post about just her, it’s better to experience Abby’s story for yourself.

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Lean, mean, killing machine.

Note from OG: Naughty Dog knows what matters most in life (Backstage stuff notwithstanding).

Game play and Animation:

As expected Naughty Dog stepped it up a notch when making The Last of Us Part II and this game is nothing short of incredible when it comes to the animation and graphics. I just have a PS4 Slim so I can only imagine how much nicer this game looks on the Pro in 4K and HDR. Nevertheless it’s an absolutely stunning game to look at and by far it’s got some of the best looking cut scenes too. Just wow. The characters look so lifelike and their facial expressions are amazing. It’s truly incredible how good this game looks and it really gets you wondering what games will look like on the PlayStation 5 in the future.

As for game play, it’s very similar to the first game, but there are some new additions along the way. Ellie can now swim, which is a big step up from the pallet rafts of the first game. We’re also given the ability to go prone, which is great when sneaking around enemies. There is also rope climbing, jumping, and a dodge button in fights. In terms of new tools and gear, it’s a lot more in depth when it comes to leaning new skills and abilities to help you through the game. A new piece of gear that I really liked was the silencer for your pistol. It came in handy so many times as stealth is such a huge part of the game. Also the bow and arrow returns along with the addition of a crossbow, which is also very handy too. Other guns that I used a lot were the shotgun and huntsman pistol, which is pretty much a hand cannon. Get the damage upgrade for that and you can pop heads in one shot. Glorious.

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I played through the game on the hard difficulty and it was a challenge, I’ll say that. I think something that I should’ve done more of was to stay moving all the time, especially in fights against other humans more so than against the infected. The infected just run at you and it’s pretty easy to guess where they’ll attack from. The humans are much smarter. Pretty much the moment you get into a gun fight they’ll start flanking you and if you stay in one spot for too long they’ll surround you and you’re dead. Not sure if it’s like that on the easier difficulties but on hard it’s pretty punishing. Then again with resources so limited getting into long drawn out gunfights is the last thing you want because most of the time you’ll have under 10 bullets for each of your guns, so every shot has to count or you’re just wasting ammo.

Because of the limited resources on the hard difficulty, there is a bigger focus on exploring and finding supplies. Usually areas with a few Clickers and Infected have good supplies hidden away, so while there is an element of risk involved in sneaking into these bonus areas the rewards are worth it. Like I mentioned above stealth is such an important part of the game and there are times where it’s best to sneak around instead of fighting your way through an area. One part I found especially challenging was when the enemies had dogs with them who would start tracking your scent and if you didn’t lure them away, they would find you. There is a measure of patience required when doing stealth so if that’s not a strong point then you’ll have some issues along the way.

Additional Thoughts:

I found Part II to be much scarier than the first game. A couple moments that really stand out to me have to be when you first encounter the Stalkers in an abandoned office building. Those guys are creepy as hell and they sneak up on you very easily. That part was scary to play at night for sure in a dark and quiet room. Another thrilling moment is near the end in a hospital where you fight a grotesque monster. The atmosphere for that whole area is chilling and I was so scared going through that part because you could hear the sound of something big but you never see it until it’s time to fight it, and wow it’s gross.

On a happier note one of my favorite moments in the whole game comes in the way of a flashback with Joel and Ellie visiting a museum and honestly it’s one of the most heartwarming moments in the game. There is a certain part where they’re looking at a spacecraft that’s just incredible, I won’t spoil it for you, but wow it’s really special. It’s also one of the few places where I used Photo Mode a lot and got some really nice looking shots too.

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I took this with Photo Mode and threw on a few filters. I think it came out really well.

Closing Thoughts:

All in all The Last of Us Part II lived up to the hype and excitement for sure. It’s one of the biggest and best PS4 games of this generation. Naughty Dog delivered on making a sequel to an incredible first game. Something I didn’t think would be possible. As always there will be haters just for the sake of hating something popular, but do your best to block out that noise and experience it for yourself. That’s honestly the best thing to do with this game as people have such strong opinions about it. For me, this game is incredible and I really did enjoy it. I can understand nothing is going to be perfect so there comes a point where you have to set your expectations at a realistic level and be satisfied with what you’re given. True there are things about this game I didn’t like or thought could’ve been done better, but I’m not getting stuck on that and missing everything else about it. So taking all of that into account, my score would be a well earned 9.5/10.

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Thank you so much for reading this first ever video game review of mine. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to talk about this game without spoiling it, but I think I’ve done an alright job conveying what I needed to about it. Like I said far too many times, you just need to play it for yourself and experience it on your own.

I want to give a special thanks and shout out to my very, very good friend OG-Man for inviting me to his blog to write this. Thank you so much for giving me this chance to write a review here. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and it’s got an amazing community of people here and I’m happy and honored to be a small part of it. I’ll have to have you drop by Anime Corps one day to write something in the future.

Well that’s it for me, thank you once again and I’ll see you around!

-Nick

Screen shots taken from the Official PlayStation site.

Note from OG: Thank YOU Sir Nickolas for accepting my request. Hopefully one day I too will face this game head on and judge all the story has to offer and yuri development myself. That and relish Abby with every fiber of my being no matter what she does. Dunno what I could contribute to Anime Corps but I am open up for it sometime.

About Nick

An average 26 year old guy who enjoys watching anime, playing video games, occasionally writing and blogging about anime, spends way too much time on the computer, and is a big Vancouver Canucks fan. If you want to talk, find me on Twitter!
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1 Response to The Last of Us Part II Review – A Cycle of Violence (By Nick). No Spoilers

  1. Red says:

    I was already planning to buy and play the game, but I want to even more just to spite all the hateful mobs who can’t handle things that aren’t exactly what they’re used to.

    Thanks for the honest review.

    Liked by 1 person

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