The Last of Us Part 2 is the sequel to the excellent 2013 hit The Last of Us, the game was developed by series creator Naughty Dog and was published exclusively by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4.
The game this time focuses on two main characters Ashley Johnson reprises her role as Ellie and Laura Bailey was brought in to play Abby.
Ellie’s main goal in the game is to kill Abby after she kills Joel by beating him over the head with a golf club, the reason for killing Joel is revealed later on in the game and is a plot point I will not spoil here. Joels brother Tommy heads to Seattle on a Solo mission to hunt down his brothers killer, Ellie and her new girlfriend Dina leave to find Tommy and help him get revenge for Joels death.
Abby is playable in the second half of the game, her journey takes Abby to try and rediscover the purpose in her life after she kills Joel. Her reasons for the the violent way that Joel died are revealed during these chapters along with showing us her relationship with boyfriend Owen and pregnant friend Mel.
Purpose is a theme played with heavily throughout the game and both playable protagonists have to try and get to grips with what is important in life. Revenge is something which effects both characters Ellie is desperate to kill Abby hoping that it will heal her pain from losing Joel, she is so hell bent on this fact that she is blind to the world around her.
Abby is having the exact opposite problem she has killed the person she was after but she is still pained, she realises that her emotions are not going to heal, everything will never be ok again so she is desperate to try and make the most of what she can, later on in the game she even teams up with an enemy of her group and has to choose which path she wants to follow.
Ellie is painted very differently in this game compared to the first and thanks to the excellent writing by Naughty Dog you will be rooting for her in the beginning and later on realising that Ellie is very slowly becoming dangerous, I never knew how the story was going to affect me, at first I hated Abby but by the end of the game I was disagreeing with Ellie and having more sympathy with the person she was trying to kill.
For reasons I don’t particularly understand Ellie’s blood can no longer be used to save humanity so for the most part she isn’t under the danger of being experimented on and is spared multiple times in the game because of this, I wish they explained how its different in this game compared to before but maybe that is something we will discover when the TLOU 3 eventually comes out.
The gameplay follows on from the prior title with its survival horror and moments which require stealth, compared to the first game though I would argue that there are much less infected to deal with compared to human enemies, this of course ties into the main themes and story of the game, there is a big conflict happening here between former firefly’s now known as the WLF (Washington Liberation Front) and the Seraphites a religious cult who want humanity to live off the land and get rid of technology after teachings from their prophet stated that the fungal virus was only brought upon humanity as a punishment for all of its sins.
A new dodge mechanic was added into this game and was extremely helpful during combat especially with the infected, it made the combat a little easier at times without taking away from the games overall difficulty.
Both Ellie and Abby are able to upgrade weapons at workbenches, this will allow for faster reloading, scopes, more penetrating shots and much more.
Skill paths can be purchased with medication, these will allow you to gain new skills based on different play styles focusing on health, explosives, firearms, field tactics, endurance etc.
Collectibles are a massive part of the game this time around with even more things to collect and unique items which tie to both of our playable protagonists.
Ellie is able to find collectible playing cards of people with special powers similar to the X-Men and what I am assuming inspired these. She can also find notes and write down entries in her journal.
Something very cool Ellie can do is play the guitar and while some songs are played as part of the story, if you try out different combinations you can actually play a catalogue of songs from artists such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Metallica and more.
Apart from notes the only other collectible Abby can find are coins each representing different states in America, these were fun to hunt down but its hard not be a little disappointed compared to how much effort was put into Ellie’s half of the game.
A creative choice I would have made is to still have the two campaigns but mix them in together, one chapter of Ellie then one chapter of Abby and so on.
Visually the game is extremely impressive graphically it is one of the best looking games on the system. There has been a big upgrade compared to the first game with Naughty Dog using techniques such as motion matching and advanced light sourcing technology to make the game run smoothly in 1080p and 4K, the game now has new environments to work with, there are still depressing, dark and abandoned areas to explore but also more uplifting and less intense places more prominently seen in flashbacks and my favourite chapter “The Farm”.
Naughty Dog do a fantastic job with making sure that the graphics do not disappoint from start to end with realistic particle rendering of small details such as realistic uses of dust or dirt particles, the realistic movements of flames, and the almost life like visuals of the infected and fungus makes this one of the best looking games for the PS4 and to be honest I think it could even be pulled off on PS5 while it is still in its early lifespan.
Music has a more prominent role in this game compared to the first, In my review of the original game I spoke about how music tracks are few and far between with a higher focus on immersive gameplay. Here we can say the same thing but in a brilliant move by Naughty Dog Joel gifts Ellie her guitar, because of this we can now have these wonderful and emotional renditions of real world songs which not only have a meaning that ties to Ellie’s story but they added more music without taking away from the immersive gameplay as players still feel isolated and lost in this rather depressing chapter in the Last of Us franchise.
I held off from playing this game for a long time, its no secret that a lot of people were disappointed with the game for various reasons including Joels Death, how we are supposed to feel a connection with Abby and some sad saps had a problem with LGBTQ in the game as Ellie and Dina are in a lesbian relationship.
I am pleased to say that I had none of these issues, at first I was upset with Joels death but after the story unfolded I began to understand why Abby wanted him dead and yes I began to feel bad for her, I felt a connection with both and it gave me conflicted feelings I didn’t know who’s side to be on and by the end of the game I was secretly praying that the two could just be civil so I didn’t have to witness either of them die.
The gameplay is addictive, the story will have you on edge of seat and the morals and narratives will have you wondering who the real hero is, you will question many moments and may even see certain characters in a different light, but to truly know how the Last of Us Part 2will affect you is by playing it yourself and that is something I recommend as just like its predecessor this is well worthy of a clean 10/10
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