The Last Of Us: Part 2 is one of the latest memorable games to come out on the Playstation 4. We are welcomed back to the world of the deadly infected and fearful human enemies with Ellie and Joel. There are twists and turns that many players will not expect in the game. There’s also a lot to be said for the graphical and gameplay details. With the game being out for a while now, and the reviews all out of the way, we can comfortably judge the game for exactly what it is. So let’s take a deep dive into The Last Of Us: Part 2.
There WILL be spoilers!
Characters & Relationships — Meet The Cast
The Last Of Us: Part 2 contains a diverse group of characters, some coming from the town of Jackson. You’ll meet a guitar playing old-timer like Gustavo, a boomer inspired jerk in Seth or the little rascal of kids that you will destroy in a snowball duel. The town of Jackson is merely rich in life. A far cry from the first game’s two partner connections of Joel and Ellie.
Of course, the main focus is Ellie, and her newly blossoming relationship. The connection between Ellie and Dina is a deep and rich love that brings a wide range of emotions. You will meet Jesse, with his own conflict and motives — coming to grips with losing his girl to Ellie, and Dina’s secret pregnancy.
What about Joel? Well, he is there but not in the way you think, because [SPOILERS] he dies in the first hour of the game. Not to worry however, because you do see him through flashbacks. While in present-day, you play as not only Ellie, but Abby, the murderer of Joel, you didn’t see that coming.
Abby is a unique survivor with motives similar to that of Ellie to survive and protect those nearest to them. She has her cast of characters that you will meet within her portion of the story. She is ironically also in a love triangle, just like Ellie. Making The Last Of Us: Part 2 part post-apocalyptic survival horror, part drama-filled daytime soap opera. The game emphasizes relationships as an essential element of the game and one that are critical and reflective of both Ellie and Abby’s motives and actions.
Narrative — Let’s Tell A Story
The narrative of The Last Of Us: Part 2 is one that can be interpreted. Ellie co-owns the story with Abby, as mentioned earlier. Both are carrying motives for revenge, while Abby’s is one of malice towards Joel. The aftereffect of her actions affects Ellie’s same motivation for revenge in the first act of the game.
In contrast, Ellie ventures into the once peaceful suburban neighborhoods of Seattle and worn-torn buildings housed with infected. She is in search of Abby for three days within Seattle, Ellie’s portion of the game comes to a pause at the end of Day 3. Thus, initiates the twist in the narrative as you play as Abby for the second act of the game. Abby has her conflicts and interest, especially with her relationship with her love interest Owen and connection with Yara and Lev.
The story is also told through flashbacks, which Ellie shares the spotlight with Joel. The two share a heartfelt moment while exploring a dinosaur museum with Joel’s subtle references to Jurassic Park. Thank You, Naughty Dog. Abby’s flashbacks explore the backstory of her relationship with her father and Owen. Not all moments are heartwarming within these flashbacks as you find out that Joel’s acts catalyze both Ellie and Abby’s stories intertwining in the future. Joel is responsible for Abby’s father’s death while revealing the truth to Ellie behind the vaccine that could have saved the world.
Gameplay — Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken
While The Last Of Us: Part 2 is a story-driven game with characters and narrative, let’s not forget the reasons that keep us engaged and glued to our screens. The action.
It’s top-notch with the most satisfying combat to date that even rivals Naughty Dog’s sister series: Uncharted. The formula is still there from the first game, such as sneaking around enemies, stealth killing infected, and engaging in hectic firefights with limited resources, but Part 2 shakes things up a bit. You can now squeeze into tight spaces to evade enemies. Ellie can perform her best Solid Snake impersonation by going prone and crawling underneath cars and tall grass. Unfortunately, there is not a cardboard box included.
The skill system is back, but much more fleshed out this time around. You may need to put into the effort to explore to find manuals to upgrade your character, but it’s worth gaining benefits such as increased health, faster crafting, and an improved listen mode. The crafting system makes a return, but apart from some aesthetic changes, isn’t that different.
Let’s move to the weapons, shall we?
The Last Of Us: Part 2’s weapons are fantastic. Each weapon has it’s pros and cons, but all are useful in dispatching enemies, which can make you squeamish sometimes. Limbs can be blown off, and faces may need plastic surgery after a brutal shot. However, nothing beats the satisfying explosive arrow kill. Both Ellie and Abby have several weapons at their disposal, from silent weapons like bows to guns that aren’t afraid to make some noise. Almost every weapon is upgradable to improve damage, recoil, stability, fire rate, and added scopes. Each modification comes with a sweet build animation and the reminder of how screwed the opposition is.
Graphics — It’s The Little Details That Matter
The Last Of Us: Part 2 is a technical marvel of its own merits. The game does a fantastic job of making you feel like you are in an urban decaying jungle of a once lived society. The graphics are insane for the sure amount of finer details from the snow tracks to the blades of grass that move as you crawl through them. Naughty Dog did an excellent job of capturing the essence of being in a post-apocalyptic environment. Each building you enter tells a story amidst the outbreak with notes detailed in writing. My favorite is opening-up safes with creative clues. Especially “The Employee of the Month Award” of one adorable doggo. Not only that, but enemies react to specific actions. They might call out the name of a fallen comrade.
Ellie and Abby’s reactions are also lifelike. For example, Abby has a fear of heights that is prevalent through her playthrough. Focusing on her face as she is walking a beam while ascended several stories above give her a scared facial expression. The damage taken or blood spatter on the character can be detailed and will stay for a period of time. Getting wet in the rain or taking a dive in the water offers realistic effects of being soaked. It’s the small details that count within the game, which makes the graphics shine. Just those details show the efforts Naughty Dog emphasized within The Last Of Us: Part 2.