Follow TV Tropes
Welcome to "Lessons on artistic merits"!
You're a video-game programmer, right? And you want to get recognized for your merits by society, right?
Don't worry then, because I have the solution to ALL of your problems. Just follow this review and understand the genius behind the product, okay? GOOD, let's begin!
The Last of Us: Part II is the sequel to Spec Ops: The Line, but it was renamed after another unrelated game to sell more copies.
I remember liking The Last of Us when I first played it. Okay, it was the festival of the cliche, but it certainly knew how to tell its story in an effective way that didn't seem too generic. Its sequel, however, aims at the "state of art" kind of feel, more than the "weird zombie movie you go see on Sunday" thing of the first. And I really can't say that it's a good result... 'cause it's an amazing result, of course.
Part II sticks out for graphics and superficial game-play: it's essentially an adventure/shooting game with better animations than the norm, with big budget scenarios that will make people gasp in awe until the Play Station 6 comes out.
What do you say? You're a small indie developer and you don't want to sell your soul to Satan to win the lottery? No problem! This amazing game has you covered on the story front too!
Remember what I said about The Last of Us' story? Well, you can apply that to Spec Ops: The Sequel too! There's only a tiny difference! Now, every single character is completely two dimensional! This is what we call TRIMMING THE FAT!
The main character is the girl from the first game, Ellie, which goes on a fucking rampage in search of revenge. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But amazing Mr. Vibrations! Isn't that one of the most basic outlines for a story you can come up with? Where's the innovation?" Good question, my friend! Don't worry, I'll respond to your doubts after having talked about the themes!
The themes of this story are about how violence is bad and you shouldn't do it. In the first game, the theme was the possibility of founding hope in a world that is more and more filled with cynicism and stupidity as every year goes by, and how clinging to that hope is difficult. In this sense, setting it in a post-apocalyptic Earth made perfect sense. The theme of violence, instead, doesn't manage to either follow the prequel in terms of thematic coherence nor construct a new meaning for the world in which is set in, which makes everything fall on the weight of the characters. Which are not really made to support such weight, considering they're pretty surface level.
But don't worry, friend. After all, in real life themes don't exist, so your story doesn't need to flesh out the characters behind some basic attitudes or make the themes fit the world you've created!
With these guidelines, even YOU can sell your soul and become another amazing developer!
Check out next time for other guidelines on how to become a respected artist!
The first Last of Us was alright. It had some interesting characters, an interesting world (though a pretty cliche one) and some interesting ideas for gameplay. Even if it was a Cliché Storm, it did those cliches well enough that it was hard not to get invested.
Part II is, by and large, boring. It has dull, lifeless characters doing horrible, uninteresting things. It takes the most interesting elements of the setting, like the cordyceps infected and the decayed cityscapes, and sidelines them in exchange for telling an even more Cliché Storm story that fails to be interesting. Even pushing aside the horrible issues with the pacing, the unnecessary Anachronic Order, and the plain lack of charisma among the cast, this story has simply been done before in a more interesting way. At the same time, the narrative's desperate attempts to create sympathy for it's characters fails when so many of them just are not compelling. And if you think that this is about the Grey-and-Gray Morality nature of the plot, think again- I absolutely understand that the whole cast is meant to be questionable in their motives, and I understand that the conflict is meant to be seen as pointless. But what I can't understand is why the plot has to be so boring and predictable. You can have morally questionable characters, characters that are straight up unlikable, and characters that are outright HateSinks, but you can't expect me to be engaged in the plot when none of these characters are actually interesting to watch.
There are some really good moments in here- I particularly like the depiction of trauma and how that manifests among the characters, causing them to act in unrealistic ways just to get their trauma to stop hurting. The gameplay is also super solid, with the sound design in particular being incredible and really adding to the punch of firing a gun. The game also looks absolutely astounding at times, with the cinematography and framing of the broken landscapes being just gorgeous. Unfortunately this is a plot-heavy game, and these great elements choke under the weight of a flawed story.
Last of Us Part II is a real mess, and it's left me confused about the quality of the script and the production of it's story. It reeks of inexperience making this sort of thing (seriously, why not just make Ellie and Abby's story two individual campaigns you can play in either order?), which coming from Naughty Dog of all people is shocking. This is a script that needed a once over before production, and the lack of editing or revisions in places that obviously needed them is kind of ridiculous to me.
The Last of Us Part II is a foray into Protagonist-Centered Morality, attempting to paint a single conflict in separate perspectives to give the player a sense of conflict about who they should support. I will admit, this had enormous potential to be a compelling story on the level of Captain America: Civil War. Unfortunately, it falls enormously short of that goal for several reasons.
First off, the game's aesop against revenge falls flat for multiple reasons. The first is that the game calls you out on violence...even if you try to commit to a Pacifist Run, and only you only kill Abby's circle of friends. The second is that the gameplay doesn't adhere to this concept of antiviolence. Any mooks encountered will by default try to kill Ellie, forcing her to protect herself, meaning she spends the vast majority of gameplay just trying to survive the trigger-happy Wolves and Seraphites. The third is that Abby herself never shows any conflict about the killing she commits, in stark contrast to how Ellie is rapidly unravelling as the game progresses. She kills just as much as Ellie, and she shows no emotional conflict over it...and the message of the game is violence and vengeance are bad.
Another reason the game failed with its story is because it tried to force us to feel certain ways about Ellie and Abby. For example, we're forced to kill Abby's dog, and the player was likely forced to kill several other dogs out of pragmatism as well as several people out to kill her. The player is forced to pet several of these same dogs as Abby to make us sympathize with her. Instead of being endearing, it comes across as manipulative.
For me, this game was a shallow, ham-fisted attempt to force me to sympathize with a truly horrible person in Abby Anderson and force me to be upset with Joel and Ellie. Instead of giving us legitimate choices to either be cruel or kind with either Ellie or Abby, they force us to be as cruel as possible with Ellie, and force us to be as "kind" as possible with Abby. It never felt real to me with Abby. Everything about her seemed selfish and superficial.
But that being said, I truly believe this game had enormous potential. After all, characters like Negan of the Walking Dead show how it is possible to make a character, even an evil one, likeable to fans after they committed horrible atrocities. It's just that The Last of Us Part II failed to make Abby endearing.
I've heard that The Last of Us Part II is divisive, and can understand why- the first game is a Tough Act to Follow, while the second has its share of controversial decisions.
It's difficult to describe the plot of this game without spoiling too much, but while the first game's central theme is survival, this one's is revenge. Unsurprisingly, it's Darker and Edgier than the first game, which is saying a lot and may be too much for those who suffered Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy from Part I.
The story takes place over a shorter time period than the first game (outside of flashbacks), and switches between two characters' perspectives. Seeing things from a different perspective can be enlightening, as well as force you to question how justified your current player character's actions are.
There's a good amount of parallels between the various characters in each half of the story, with certain characters effectively being similar to or contrasting with their counterparts in various ways. That said, I didn't find any of the character relationships as compelling as the bond between Joel and Ellie in the first game (except, of course, for Joel and Ellie, whose relationship also develops in this game).
One thing I think that Part II did better than Part I was the exploration of the consequences of all the killing the protagonists do. In Part I, most of the non-infected enemies you faced ranged from criminals to cannibals, so it was difficult to feel anything about shooting them dead. In Part II, you gradually come to understand your enemies' perspectives, which helps humanize them a bit.
The graphics are, in a word, breathtaking, and it's rare for game graphics to impress me this much. There's considerable attention to detail in the post-apocalyptic world, convincingly showing that people once lived in the ruined buildings you explore.
The core gameplay is mostly the same as the first game, but there are some noticeable improvements, such as stealth kills going off a bit more smoothly than in the original. I also liked the wide range of accessibility options, including a difficulty mode for those who would like to enjoy the story. I found the game most enjoyable on Light difficulty, which is a bit more generous with supplies and easier when it comes to stealth.
All in all, I liked the game, but I don't think there needs to be a Part III. This game effectively follows up on the consequences of Joel's actions at the end of Part I, and ends on a somewhat ambiguous note that's open for interpretation. Having a sequel could show what would become of certain characters, but it would also render most interpretations of Part II's ending invalid.
In short, I enjoyed The Last of Us Part II, and while I can't guarantee you'll feel the same way, I'd recommend checking it out if you liked Part I and want more.
The Last of Us Part II is a disappointing followup to the first Last of Us, with a confused narrative and plot points and gameplay mechanics that actively work against the themes it is attempting to convey.
The game is not subtle in its theme of "revenge bad" yet, for a game that is so heavy-handed with this message, it's gameplay is glaringly incongruent with the story's attempts to push such a theme and actively undermines itself by placing the player in situations where killing all the enemies in the area is the only option. This in stark contrast to the first game, where the act of killing was treated with great weight and seriousness. The most frustrating aspect of it is that it's clear the writers were aware of this, yet did not put any effort into rectifying them beyond a surface level. For example, the game has a gimmick where if the player kills all the enemies in an area except for one the surviving enemy will stop attacking beg for his or her life. Yet, rather than giving us an option to spare the enemy, the enemy simply transitions back into its "attack" mode after you've waited for long enough. In one Let's Play I watched, an enemy dropped over dead after it was done begging even though the player hadn't done anything. It's very sloppy game design, especially for such a hyped followup to what is considered one of the greatest games of all time.
The story itself also fails to be consistent with its themes and feels like it was written by someone who just took an "Intro to Philosophy" class. Despite the attempts to make her seem sympathetic, Abby is at several points shown having bouts of unapologetic sadism including showing no compunction about murdering a pregnant woman and (while her motives for wanting to kill him are understandable), choosing to murder Joel in the most cruel and overly gruesome way imaginable. As a result, the attempts to make her seem sympathetic later in the game come across as incredibly forced and only made me hate her more, not helped by the disgusting favoritism the game shows towards Abby over Ellie. Ellie kills and pregnant woman and feels bad, and the game treats her like she's like gone unforgivably overboard yet Abby attempts to kill a pregnant woman and shows no remorse, and she effectively gets off scot free. The section where you're forced to play as Abby against Ellie feels like it was deliberately crafted to piss players off, rather than the stroke of narrative genius like the writers seem to have thought it was.
In short, The Last of Us Part II feels like an index of ways to make your game as unpleasant to play as possible. The heart of The Last of Us feels like it died with Joel and while I don't disagree with the decision to kill Joel (in fact I was expecting it going into the game) the way it was executed left me feeling very unsatisfied and not engaged. If there's one kind thing I can say about this game it's that the graphics look good, yet that ultimately rings hollow when I've seen other games do much more than this game with a lot less.
Also, screw Naughty Dog for treating their devs like trash.
I have a bit of an unorthodox take on this game as I think they shouldn't have made a sequel but rather just a continuation with another set of characters. I was pretty hesitant about them making a sequel but I was willing to give ND the benefit of the doubt since they've never let me down before. Upon playing this game, my reservations were proven correct. In essence, I think they should have just left Joel and Ellie's story alone and made a game solely about Abby and Lev. Making it about Abby and Ellie just leaves it so bloated and meandering. Pick a lane and stick with it, people.
When this game is good, it's one of the best pieces of media you'll ever hope to come across but when it's bad, it fucking sucks. There has to have been a way to smooth the ride out some and in my personal opinion, that probably should have just been to focus on Abby. I don't mind the character as much as most but I think she would have been a lot less Unintentionally Sympathetic if you just played as her. Have someone else kill her dad and then her go chase after them only to realize it's not worth it. We got to understand why Joel did the incredibly selfish thing he did, she didn't and that's why I think people have a hard time sympathizing with her. Maybe a Seraphite killed her dad and that's how she comes into contact with Yara and Lev.
I also think her friends would have come off as more sympathetic if you'd played as her from the beginning because as is, you just pick up with them at the 2/3 mark. It would have also fleshed out the love triangle she's in with Owen and Mel. She and Lev don't really meet until halfway through her story which is over halfway through the full story which doesn't give their relationship time to really develop. We loved Joel and Ellie so much because there was more time with them to develop their relationship.
The moments of brilliance also largely come in Abby's part of the story. The WLF vs Seraphites war is super interesting and the level where she and Lev escape is one of the best I've ever played. But the thing is, as cool as the Seraphites are, there's just not enough room for them to be developed since you play as Ellie for so much of the time. The battle with the Rat King is one of the best boss fights I've ever played. There is so much amazing stuff in this section that's dragged out by unnecessary filler and flashbacks. The jumping around also stops the game from smoothing itself out.
All that being said, taking the game for what it is, I think you should have been given the choice to kill Abby or not. I probably wouldn't have done it but it's a way for ND to have its cake and eat it too.
All in all, I give this game probably a 7/10. It's way too long and bloated but when it's good, it's one hell of a ride.
Edit: The more I think about this game and the more Iíve stewed on it, the more I like it. I might move it into more of the 7.5 ballpark.
Allow me to open this review with the admission that I Haven't played The Last of Us Part II and the reason for that is because I do not with to play a game that makes me kill dogs and wants to make me feel terrible about it. However, I HAVE seen pretty much all the gameplay & cutscenes and I'm more of a middle range fan of the first game. I do enjoy it and think it's amazing and that Joel and Ellie are great characters but neither TLOU 1 or Joel and Ellie are may all time favorite game and characters.
I'm also someone who's VERY pro-Equality so characters gender, sexuality, religion and race do not mean anything to me as I love and hate everyone equally. Also, I regularly read up on spoilers and still wait to see the story to judge it it's own to see how well it works. So, with all that in mind I think I'm the best person to view this game in a more objective light. I'm not as attached to the series or it's characters as others are but I still see why they have such a devoted following even after 5 years.
And with that I will say that TLOU 2 DOES have a number of great scenes, some overall solid new characters and makes a lot of bold choices. It also is the kind of story that seems to needlessly punish Ellie in favor of Abby by treating Ellie's kills as more wrong then Abby's murder of Joel. But to do this the game ignores the fact that all of Abby's friends that Ellie killed was in self defense and she was clearly horrified by what she had done while Abby killed Joel after he saved her life and basically tortured him to death and made Ellie watch all of it.
Abby is an overall solid character and honestly not as bad as some make her out to be. She's also not as charismatic as Joel & Ellie and her relationship with Lev, while good, isn't as engaging as any of the relationships in the fist game. Even Joel and Sam felt like they had a more engaging dynamic together and they only had 10 minutes of game time together.
The game also seems to favor Abby over Ellie by giving her hope for a better future and finding the Fire Flies and getting to keep Lev while Ellie seemingly loses everything and everyone she ever loved because Abby only killed Joel while Ellie killed most of Abby's friends in self-defense. This was even noted on the YMMV page until the Unintentionally Symptomatic part of the page was removed.
But then again, have you Played or Seen this game. Most of these levels look AMAZING. The Rat King, The War between the Scars and the W.L.F. towards the end of middle of the game, the car chases, Ellie and Dina's relationship, the acting is great all around, the flash back scenes between Joel and Ellie are truly moving.
That's the thing about the game, it's not for everyone but I can see why it's found an audience. The people who enjoy this game aren't Holier Than Thou leftest and the people who hate this game aren't a bunch of sexist rights who are being pissy about the white male lead dying. The treatment of the LGBT cast is questionable at best especially when compared to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Sense 8, Steven Universe, Adventure Time and The Legend of Korra and yet this is a game that proudly has a Lesbian as a one of the leads and a trans kid who is played by a trans actor as a main companion to another female lead who's honestly more complex than people give her credit for.
Both sides have a point and in the end I think TLOU 2 will remain one of the most divisive games ever made much like Dragon Age 2 has remained a divisive game years after it's release.
I spent five days to complete The Last of Us Part 2. The only thing that angered me after finishing it, is all the hate it's been getting. After actually experiencing the whole thing, this whole circus surrounding Part 2 comes off as ridiculous and completely unwarranted and is why you shouldn't let the internet dictate your opinion. The Last of Us Part 2 is an incredible experience from beginning to end, the settings are gorgeous, the gameplay is incredibly immersive, the story is bold, powerful and heart-wrenching and personally sucked me into every moment of it.
Does Part 2 have flaws? Sure it does. I also thought the pacing was off at moments and, while I never encountered any myself, heard some people speak of the occasional glitches. The switch to Abby is jarring at first, and I found myself hoping I didn't play her for too long. Then she meets Yara and Lev and everything takes off. They introduce all these various and thrilling settings you traverse as Abby, from climbing the top of skyscrapers to stealthing through a horror-esque hospital floor, to galloping through an all-out war on the Seraphite island. I very quickly became engrossed in Abby and Lev's relationship, which is also what made me begin to sympathize with Abby. When the cutscene of her finding Owen dead came along, I surprised myself by crying. Crying, for Abby's sake of all people. That's what made me realize this game is truly something special.
I also struggle to see that anyone who's played through the whole game will be pissed that Ellie spares Abby in the end. I could tell Ellie wouldn't go through with it the moment she sees Abby up on that spike. Both women are so pitiful and broken in the final fight, I didn't see what good Ellie would get out of of killing her anymore, and sure enough she doesn't, and I actually felt relief. On all three characters', including Lev's, behalf. It was either Neil or Halley who described that Ellie going after Abby in the end wasn't so much against Abby personally anymore, it was Ellie going mad from her PTSD and looking for any way to end how she was feeling, her vengeance is like a drug addiction at this point, and she nearly lost herself completely by threatening to kill Lev just to make Abby fight her. Playing through the ending with this in mind makes a lot of sense, and affirmed what I was feeling. I'm sure there are people who played the whole game and is disappointed she doesn't kill her, but I don't see how anyone will be pissed and say they didn't see it coming at all, or genuinely think it would be the best for Ellie had she gone through with it.
In conclusion, am I saying the game doesn't warrant to be disliked? Nope, Iím not saying that either. The game is a divisive for a reason and I totally get behind those who are disappointed and give valid criticism, as long as they do so after actually playing the game themselves and not just watch a snarky playthrough on YT or the cutscenes alone. Let me tell you that watching a playthrough, and playing the game yourself, really can't be compared. What I do say is that while the game is divisive and can be critiqued just like any other game can, it does not warrant the overblown hate it's been getting, at all. It's an incredible experience that blew me away and made me cry from both joy and sadness several times and I'm already itching for the New Game+ shortly after finishing it. As I write this the game has been out no more than two weeks, and Iím apparently late to the party as Iíve heard multiple people say they already finished their second playthrough, and I understand them very well for that.
The Last of Us Part 2 gets a strong 8/10 from me.
In my initial review, I expressed my mixed-to-positive thoughts on the game. The gameplay mechanics and visuals were excellent, and my thoughts on these elements have not changed. I have completed New Game+, however, and I wanted to write a follow-up to express how much my views on the game's story has changed.
The mistake I made on my first playthrough was thinking the story would follow Ellie in a straightforward adventure. While I knew that Ellie was not innocent, I also felt that she and Joel drove the center of the series' heart. The sequel, however, asks gamers to look into the perspectives of otherwise traditional adversaries, and the biases I developed not just from TLOU but the games medium as a whole drove much of my initial dislike for Abby.
Roger Ebert once stated that games are not art because they must always put "fun" above everything else. In other words, games don't often ask players to deal with hard story points that sacrifice fulfillment for greater impact. Having played the game again, I realize that much of my initial feelings were driven from a lack of comfort in the risks the story took, and I'm embarrassed for the ignorance I illustrated in my initial review.
The narrative is by no means perfect. There are a few contrivances in the later stages of the game, and my complaints on the pacing still stand. However, playing the game again made Ellie's crimes and Abby's gradual HeelĖFace Turn more apparent in a way it did not when I still had the biases from the first game. What I once saw in Abby's backstory as "insincere" and "dishonest" was a deliberate and careful request for gamers to see beyond traditional biases in games. Long story short, I now appreciate the writers' risks, and I love the game for it now, but I can see how players can get upset with the game's plot.
Ultimately, your enjoyment comes down to three questions.
If you said no to any of these questions, then this game is not for you. Having given it a fresh look with NG+, however, I have come around to loving this game, and I can see this game's overall approaches to the narrative being Vindicated by History.
The first impression of "The Last of Us Part II" is that it is ungodly pretty. The hardware specs of the PS 4 are pushed to their limits to provide an epically pretty game, with polished animations, vivid setpieces, and scary looking monsters.
As pretty as it is, the game's strengths do not go beyond the superficial. Gameplay-wise, it plays like the first game in the series, and does not innovate in a way that seems meaningful. The mechanics of the game were a bit dated in the first part, so, over 5 years later, it feels utterly lacking and unimaginative.
Plotline and character wise, the thing that made the first game so beloved and made non-Playstation owners demand this gem go cross platform, the game fails in an epic fashion. The narrative choices of revenge and what it does to people not only feel like a Very Special Episode that could've been written for kids, but it can't even commit to this, as Villain Protagonist Abbie indulges heavily in revenge and gets everything she wants out of it, and less-lovable protagonist Ellie. The way previous game characters are treated borders on Put on a Bus to Hell, and the narrative's transparent attempt to make us feel for Abbie and believe her to be a well written character is far too obvious. At one point in the game, Abbie falls victim to the sort of Developing Doomed Characters moment in a horror film and takes delight in bringing harm to a pregnant woman. However, the game spends all of its time trying to tell us we should like her and sympathize with how she feels. But it is utterly insufficient, and forcing the player to spend time with her just makes her more unlikable.
There was a supposed narrative similar to the Far Cry series, particularly the third game, as well as Spec Ops: The Line, in which awful things happen and the game turns around and shames the player for indulging. However, slaughtering the Faceless Mooks of the Rook Isles is engaging and fun, only for the surprise to come later. Whereas in the Last of Us, we're forced to do things we never wanted to do, and the game still tries to shame the player.
All in all, don't waste your money. Sequels tend to be for people who liked the original. And you will only be disappointed. You can render a rat and make it look realistic and pretty, but it will still bite you and transmit some horrible disease.
Platform Reviewed: PS4 Pro
Works that become popular get demand for sequels from fans and studios alike. But just because they can get sequels, it doesn't always mean they should. Unnecessary stories have hurt the reputation of works like Terminator and The Hunger Games, and it's important for creators to consider how sequels can add to the original work without hurting or poisoning its impact in the process. Unfortunately, while TLOU Part II is a visual and gameplay triumph, its narrative decisions hurt the original.
Let's focus on the positives first. The game makes most of the PS4's capabilities in terms of visuals. The characters and setting all look photo-realistic, with Seattle standing out as the literal urban jungle you get to explore. This design change also means the original's linear corridors are replaced by open-ended environments that give players the flexibility to actually explore the collapsed city. I spent half of my playtime entering abandoned buildings and I enjoyed searching every nook and cranny for notes, workbenches, and artifacts.
I also greatly enjoyed its visceral approaches to stealth and combat. The addition of grasses to block LOS makes stealth much more feasible than the original, and improved enemy AI will not hesitate to flank or trap you if they spot you. There were fewer combat encounters overall than the original, but each one felt special and intense thanks to these changes.
Like other games from Naughty Dog, TLOU Part II is a narrative-driven game. I'm sorry to say, the game's story is its biggest issue. The pacing of the game often disrupted with flashbacks that could have been better served as DLC, and the focus shifts haphazardly between its two leads Ellie and Abby. This would be fine... if Abby wasn't a Villain Sue who stands as the most despicable Villain Protagonist I have seen since Light Yagami or Frank Underwood. Her Establishing Character Moment of killing a major character in the opening is nothing short of reprehensible and, while her story does get fleshed out later on, these moments are hollow. At best, Abby's story and relationships with others felt like a retread of Joel's from the original. At worst, these moments felt dishonest and insincere, especially since Abby continues to make (or at least consider) morally repugnant choices without remorse. These decisions for the game's plot put a bad taste in my mouth and its anti-climatic resolution made me wonder if Naughty Dog made this game to spite fans for their sequel demands.
Overall, if you're looking for a visual stunner with great gameplay and exploration, TLOU Part II is what you're looking for. Fans of the original and players who like story-driven games, however, will not like the choices this game makes. It's a case of Play the Game, Skip the Story in my opinion and its a sequel that ultimately hurts the original game.
Community Showcase More
How well does it match the trope?