The Last of Us Part 2 is filled with brutal violence, beautifully crafted landscapes and a story so emotionally wrenching that at times it brings a tear to your eye. It is a game that has to be experienced, it has to be played to truly appreciate how brilliant it really is.
A sequel to 2013’s The Last of Us, The Last of Us Part 2 continues the story of Ellie. Ellie and Joel have settled in a small town in Jackson, filled with people just trying to survive the harshness and brutality of this new world.
The Last of Us Part 2 takes you by the hand in the first few chapters, leading you through the usual tutorial type levels to ease you into the game and to get you used to the controls and mechanics of the game. It’s not until the end of the first act when things really start to heat up, and you are thrown into the first of many violent and heart-wrenching story moments.
Being a story-driven game, The Last of Us Part 2 requires a really strong narrative to be engaging and to keep you playing. Thankfully, The Last of Us Part 2 has a fantastic narrative, a story that pulls at your heartstrings and pulls you in emotionally different directions as you experience the game through the eyes of the two main characters.
By the end of the first act, it is very clear what the main topic of the story will be. Revenge.
After the traumatizing events at the end of act one, Ellie and her newfound love interest Dina set off to find those responsible for Ellie’s emotional distress. (I’m trying to write this without spoilers – but it might be difficult.) Seattle is where the lovestruck couple head to and this is where the majority of the game takes place.
Ellie and Dina explore Seattle, trying to find clues to the whereabouts of the people Ellie wants to seek revenge on. The WLF members who committed the heinous act at the end of act one.
During Act one of the game, we find out some of the names of these WLF members. One of them is called Abby. During Act 2 I had grown quite attached to Ellie and her quest for revenge. I eagerly explored every area, every building to find clues to the whereabouts of these scumbags that had caused Ellie such emotional and physical harm. Like Ellie, I also wanted my revenge and to see them pay for what they had done.
The Hunt for Abby
As we follow Ellie and Dina through Seattle in search of revenge and justice the story really heats up as Ellie picks off members of the WLF one by one in a chance to get to the target of Ellie’s revenge. Abby.
The story is filled with very emotional and tense moments as Ellie takes on members of the WLF, the infected and members of a death cult called the Seraphites.
Throughout the story, there is also flashback moments where the game will jump into the past and you will experience moments from Ellie’s life a few years prior to the events of the current game. These flashbacks were mostly with Joel and I felt like they were there to show than Ellie and Joel had created a really strong bond, almost like Father and Daughter.
Ellie the Guitar Hero
The game also features little hidden story beats and cutscenes scattered throughout the game. There is one where Ellie and Dina are exploring an abandoned music shop and Ellie finds a guitar and sings a sweet song to Dina.
The guitar playing part isn’t just a cinematic cutscene though. Naughty Dog actually made the guitar parts into a guitar mini-game. You can move between different chords and strum the guitar using the touchpad. I thought this was a really nice little touch.
As we follow Ellie, Dina and another couple of companions who they meet up with, later on, the violence, the emotions, the scares and the tension continue. Being a horror-survival game, The Last of Us Part 2 certainly has enough scares to make even the most hardcore horror movie fans jump out of their seat. There were a few times during the game where an infected would literally jump out of nowhere, making me almost shit my pants.
As the first half of the story nears the end, we see Abby again as she bursts into Ellie and her friends hiding place. At this point, I thought the game was going to climax with some epic fight between Ellie and Abby. But I had only played for about 12 hours. Surely the game can’t be over this soon? Nope, the game was not over yet. Turns out Naughty Dog had another story trick up their sleeve.
The second half of the game started off with me being a bit confused. The story was now focused on Abby.
It’s in the story acts that follow, you realise that you are playing a kind of parallel story to Ellie’s. As Ellie and Dina were in Seattle hunting for Abby, Abby was also in Seattle at the same time and had just returned from her murderous trip to Jackon.
It’s in the chapters playing as Abby where The Last of Us Part 2 really does put you in a game of emotional tug-of-war. As you start to see Abby interacting with her friends and telling her story, you see her in a different light. Abby is actually quite a nice person and not the heartless killer I painted her as at the end of Act 1.
Sure, Abby is one tough lady and it seems like she wouldn’t take shit from anyone. But, as the game progresses, a softer, caring side of Abby opens up and I started to get emotionally attached to Abby and her side of the story. You also find out why Abby did what she did back in Jackson. And, I sympathised with her and came to think that perhaps her actions here justified.
When Abby meets Yara and Lev
Abby’s softer and caring side is really cemented when she is saved by two young former members of the aforementioned Seraphites Cult. Two young siblings called Yara and Lev who are being hunted by the cult members. At one point in the story, Abby parts ways with the siblings, only to return a bit later to save them from the cult members who are hunting them.
It is from this point on that Abby, Yara and Lev grow closer. They become not only companions but allies and friends. The story does get even more emotionally heart-wrenching when good people are killed when the WLF invade the Seraphites island. But, lots of bad people get killed too, especially at the hands of Abby who won’t let anyone harm Lev.
The story does culminate in a battle between Abby and Ellie. And after seeing Abby’s side of things I will admit, I did prefer Abby as a character to Ellie. I felt Abby showed more compassion than Ellie did throughout her part of the story. Of course, the story wasn’t over yet.
We do eventually see Ellie show compassion, but it seems that she has lost a lot because of her thirst for revenge.
The Last of Us Part 2 not only has an amazing story, but it also has some really solid gameplay. The combat is fluid and you can dispatch enemies in a variety of different ways.
There are quite a few weapons to be found and utilised throughout the game. Including a number of guns. These range from pistols, shotguns, to rifles and submachine guns.
There’s not a massive range of guns, far less than a shooter game. But I don’t really class The Last of Us Part 2 as a shooter, guns and melee weapons are there to aid you not as the primary way to defeat enemies. The whole game could probably be played by firing very few bullets I would imagine.
Initially, I felt the shooting mechanics we’rent that great, and I thought that about the first game as well. The aiming felt a bit, off and not accurate enough. But it did get better as I upgraded weapons and skills.
Stealth is the most powerful weapon in The Last of Us Part 2. Sneaking up on enemies and grabbing them and finishing them off with a knife to the neck or by breaking there neck is very satisfying.
Like the story, combat and gameplay can be extremely violent. Shooting a clicker and watching its head explode or attacking an enemy with an axe to the chest is brutal but absolutely fantastic.
The Last of Us Part 2 also has some great facial animations. Take a look at the screenshot above. The women Abby has just grabbed looks absolutely terrified. The gameplay really adds to the sense of horror and brutality in the game.
The Last of Us Part 2 is pleasing to the ears and the eyes
The audio design in The Last of Us Part 2 was also fantastic. I played the entire game whilst wearing headphones and it really made a massive difference. You could hear every footstep of an enemy, every enemy conversation and the screeches and screams of the infected sent shivers down my spine.
Graphically, the game looks stunning. Just as the first game looked amazing coming out at the end of the PS3 generation, The Last of Us Part 2 looks like it’s used every bit of graphical power that could be squeezed from the PS4.
The environments are meticulously crafted. From the rundown, abandoned buildings, beautiful forest areas and awesome looking coastal areas. The graphics really make the world look post-apocalyptical but with a sense of beauty to even things out.
The levels are built for exploring and there is certainly a lot to explore. Just when I thought I had been in every building or in every room and was ready to move on. I always seem o find another little area that I hadn’t been in yet.
The environments that Naughty Dog has built for THe Last of Us Part 2 are just begging to be explored.
In The End
“Holy shit, that was good.” was the phrase I said to myself once the game ended.
The Last of Us Part 2 was an absolute joy from start to finish. It was also sadness, grief, anger, fear and indignation. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride that made me feel things that no other video game has made me feel.
The story was amazing, there not many games that don’t have me reaching for the skip cutscene button. I was truly engrossed in the story and events that were unfolding before my eyes, I was attached to the characters and I still don’t know who was supposed to be the bad guy out of the two main characters. I don’t think either of them where.
The gameplay is solid and you can create some beautiful set pieces with the combat system.
The graphics and sound are fantastic as you would expect from Naughty Dog.
Overall, The Last of Us Part 2 was a great experience and is one of only a few games that I actually want to play through again.