First of all…
Damn. All I can say is damn. I was – and still am – a big fan of the first game so I expected nothing but greatness. This sequel has exceeded my expectations and has taken storytelling to a whole new level. I always wondered what happened between Joel after he decided to save Ellie, eliminating the chance for a cure to be created. A choice I’m in full support of and understand. The Last of Us 2, however, gives us a different type of experience with this game. One with a complex, profound story that puts you in your feelings every 30 minutes (I cried maybe 4 or 5 times, don’t judge me), and forces you to be empathetic towards the antagonist. This game also supplies us with a whole new, leveled-up development to the combat and stealth action!
…you had to take part in every unmerciful, painful, and emotional moment whether you wanted to or not.
It takes place 4 years after the original game, and we are introduced to an older, angrier Ellie. She is on a quest for revenge that ends up consuming all of her time and attention: leaving behind a home and family. This conquest results in an endless sea of violence, and SO MANY infected. We experience a war between different divisions and social groups along the journey and are forced to look at ourselves and figure out where we belong. The game demands that we see into each character and empathize with them, even when we’re stuck on our opinion of them. What I found very impactful was that you had to take part in every unmerciful, painful, and emotional moment whether you wanted to or not. There were so many times I found myself saying, “Can I choose to do this?” or, “I don’t want to kill her, please don’t make me kill her!” I must say though, it made for a strong, moving experience, being behind the wheel but not having control of the car.
The Last of Us Part 2 did a great job of making each and every character feel human. We get a deeper dive into Ellie and Joel’s relationship. We see and play moments from their past and how those memories affect their current relationship. Ellie is currently trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs in the world. Joel, an old, tired man, is struggling with the fact that Ellie loves him but seems to not want to have anything to do with him. Characters like Dina bring a different flavor to the story. She’s funny, kind, and really loves Ellie. Her interactions with Ellie bring out another side that we rarely see which makes her feel more human.
Better than any fatality I’ve ever seen
Now, let me talk about combat a little bit. Everyone who has ever played a game with me knows that I don’t do stealth. I’d rather go in guns blazing. However, while this game doesn’t exactly force you to be stealthy, you’re rewarded for doing so. Mastering stealth gives a better gameplay experience. It helps that there are multiple battle zones/terrains that make being stealthy not only fun but oddly satisfying. The quick cut scenes that come with different stealth kills felt like, “Yeahhhh, I did that shit.” Hearing victims’ teammates call out their fallen friend’s name made it all too realThe enemies don’t stick to a regular route either once they’ve seen someone on their team has been eliminated, which brings some challenge to being stealthy.
There was also the case of learning what each faction is working with. The Seraphites use bows and arrows as main weapons and use whistling to communicate. The WLF members are more vocal and carry heavy arms. And we can’t forget the good ol’ infected. They gave me a few jumpscares, man. Some throw spore bombs that can incapacitate you. The Stalkers are quiet AF and don’t come up on the “listen radar.” They just come up from behind and are ruthless with their attacks. Then we have some of them that just grow and pop out of the walls. Man listen, the infected had me on my toes every time. I found myself having to do some Home Alone ish and set traps everywhere. A trip bomb here, throw a brick over them, load up my shotgun. Alright, good to go!
Seeing how every gun reacts to the NPCs was amazing. The shotgun was my favorite as you can blow an enemy against the wall with it. Now that I think about it, the combat altogether is pretty gruesome. Shooting limbs can cause them to blow off: leaving the enemy lying there, begging for their life. Ha, there’s no mercy in this game. I definitely gave none. I mean, there were moments when I tried to give some compassion. I tried to avoid combat altogether, especially when dogs were thrown into the mix. As an animal lover, I couldn’t bring myself to attack a dog………unless I really, really had too. shrugs
The world as we know it
The world that The Last of Us Part 2 is set in tells so many stories and holds so many mysteries. We gain insight into those stories through the many letters and diary pages scattered around. My favorite place was a bank that had tons of cash stored inside. It was astounding to see that cash now has no value and has probably been sitting in that bank for years. Each area comes with its own puzzles and challenges, whether it be being mindful of where you step in a trip mine infested area or figuring out how to use a rope to swing from one part of a building to another.
While exploring the vast lands in Part 2, you’re hardly ever alone on your journey. This game implements the buddy system heavily. While I’m normally a lone wolf and prefer to travel alone, I never felt intruded on or discouraged having someone with me throughout the game. It was actually very nice to know that there was someone covering me and helping me get them kills. The game also gives you a good amount of solo travel time, so there was a good balance of the two.
Overall, The Last of Us Part 2 is fantastic. A true masterpiece. It delivers a great balance of action/combat and an emotional storyline while giving some open world features in a non-open world game. This gives you the opportunity to explore this post-pandemic world and learn its secrets. I recommend this game to anyone who was and still is a fan of the original game as Part 2 is a major level up and will be enjoyed by all who play it!