So I finally finished my first playthrough of the much anticipated sequel to The Last of Us, PlayStations most highly rated exclusive title. While the game is stellar in some ways I was ultimately left unsatisfied with my experience.
Warning: SPOILERS. It lets me talk openly about this game.
The Last of Us Part 2 carries on 4 years after the events of the first film, in which Joel and Ellie have found a permanent settlement in Jackson. They have joined Joel’s brother Tommy to help be part of a thriving environment contributing their own skills.
The story takes some bold decisions and takes them early. Joel is killed. Brutally and in front of Ellie screaming for mercy.
This fills Ellie with hatred and a thirst for revenge that Tommy is reluctant to at first. After all, everything was almost perfect in Jackson. Ellie manages to convince him and Dina that they should go after Abby, Joel’s killer and sets up the plot.
This story is all about revenge. In some ways it uses the characters from The Last of Us to tell this. For the first 10-15 hours you play as Ellie tracking down the location of Abby and her band of friends from a group called ‘WLF’.
During this part I was generally satisfied with where the story was going. Ellie’s need for revenge had no mercy but this led to her making decisions that you wouldn’t always agree with. In some ways I started to dislike Ellie as a person, where I previously held a lot of admiration.
I started to fall out of love with the game.
In a climatic turn of events, Abby actually finds Ellie and it all goes to shit. This character I started to dislike I was now worried for, maybe not for her death but for what this event might do to her after so many bad decisions.
Then the story stops. Why? So we get to see the last 3 days from Abby’s perspective. For me this is where I started to fall out of love with the game.
I think, like most people, I had no desire to understand the character of Abby. Unfortunately Naughty Dog don’t do anything with her character to change my mind.
Abby is one of those characters that’s just dislikeable. Her reputation is for killing ‘Scars’ a faction of believers that they should start again and are somewhat primitive in some ways.
She has her friend cheat on his pregnant partner with her and everyone around her starts to die.
This goes on for 10-15 hours and by the end of it, I just didn’t care. Then to top it all off I play as Abby in a fight against Ellie, almost killing her and Dina. She actually says ‘good’ when learning Dina is pregnant with a knife to her throat.
However after these events I felt some content. We see that Ellie and Dina have settled down with a family and have moved on. I would have been happy for it to end here. Ellie had seen the consequences of her actions and knew that revenge would only lead to despair or worse.
The last section of the game sees Ellie go back to find Abby as she cannot live with Joel’s death. This ends up destroying everything around her and she loses everything, her life with Dina, relationship with Tommy and herself in so many ways.
The combat in this game is very good in the most part. Like the original game I’m given the choice of stealth, all guns blazing or a blend of both. The skill trees are okay, but I’m not sure I liked them as they lacked choice and the weapons are good.
There are some new enemies that are silent, so your listening mechanic is kinda pointless at times and you can only fight in reaction to your environment.
There’s too many fist fights that are boss battles and a knock back mechanic that is frustrating as its totally random (I got knocked back by arrows, pistol bullets and sniper rounds).
The game is still satisfying to play though. It probably has the best combat for a survival horror game it really is that good.
This is where the game is at its best. The environments were and are amazing. They feel real, alive and dangerous. I found myself constantly saying ‘makes sense’ when finding bits and areas.
The game looks, probably, the best of any game out currently.
I was just in constant awe of how this game looks and feels technically. I just wish I hadn’t played what for me was the best section of the game as Abby.
You fight through a hotel and eventually a hospital against infected and it’s just amazing. I kept thinking, as Ellie I would be so engrossed right now, but part of me just wanted it over.
My initial reaction after finishing the game was ‘what’s the point?’
I really felt that this story didn’t enhance on what we had from the first game. Ellie became unlikable, Abby is unlikable and Joel is barely anywhere to be seen. We have some flash backs that just break your heart as you eventually learn at the end of the game Ellie hadn’t forgiven Joel, but wanted to.
This left me rethinking her motives the whole time. It seemed that she didn’t need revenge at the cost of everything because in some ways Joel had taken her meaning away from her. What she had as a result of realising her truth was a life she could make for herself (and did).
I would have liked to see Ellie maybe not kill Abby but save her from the infection (we’re told she gets bitten) as mercy and taking Lev (Abby’s equivalent to Joel’s Ellie), back to Jackson.
The idea that revenge brings peace is one I can’t get behind. I also love a happy ending and this game doesn’t give it. Its such a poor ending.
As a result the game ends up feeling detached from its characters of the first one and becomes a commentary of the world as a whole. It looks the best of probably any game currently out, plays amazingly but ultimately poor story decisions, terrible pacing, and a lack of interesting characters leaves an unsatisfying game.