The Last of Us left many with deep unanswered questions, but the Last of Us Part II gave players more than answers. Within the first hour, I had already teared up twice. The first three hours of gameplay was jaw-dropping in the story build-up. This was when I knew I was in for an emotional roller coaster.
Never in a video game has a player seen or felt how the characters’ actions could affect someone else in a story. In this two-sided adventure, we spend 10 hours with Ellie going through the emotions that she carries through each choice that is made along her dark, vengeful journey. In the next 10 hours, we see Abby’s side of the story and the reasons for her chosen lifestyle. The Last of Us Part II opens to how every choice has an effect and consequence. One person’s actions can affect thousands. The story runs so deep it shows past reflections just long enough to keep us guessing. Each day in Seattle gives the player anticipation of how the story will play out.
The graphics are stunning. Walking through the town of Jackson as Ellie for the first time was fresh and reviving. Seeing the snow sitting on top of the car as it melts and runs down the side of a vehicle was extremely impressive. Naughty Dog goes above and beyond in this game to give such detailed graphics. The city of Jackson reminded me of an old country western town covered in snow. Little stringed lights filled the town, giving it a safe, comfortable feeling. While the whole story does not take place in Jackson, in Seattle, the city was torn apart and overgrown with luscious grass and abandoned rusty cars. This overgrowth made great use of hiding from enemies. Seeing huge trees growing in the middle of what used to be a highway gave the feeling of a long-lasting apocalyptic world. Whether I was jumping from car to car crossing raging waters or walking across bridges, twenty stories high, the graphics where spectacular. Naughty Dog gave the players a taste of what the upcoming consoles are available of doing. Cut scenes and facial features were flawless in detail, making me feel immersed all the way through.
The mechanics felt familiar as they are like they were in The Last of Us. Every time I fired the rifle, I could almost feel the power behind every shot, and so could my enemies. Shooting the gun with distance became a game-changer as you must compensate for the range. Melee combat offers the initial sneak attack but also new features like ducking and dodging attacks. Once the dodging is done promptly, you can take down the fiercest enemies using only your fists. The switchblade Ellie carries throughout the game was one of the best features. It came in handy more than once when I got cornered by clickers or needed a quick, stealthy kill. Abby, however, still had to hand-make shivs after every use making her gameplay slightly different. Finding new guns and throwable weapons allows you to craft things, twisting the fight style. Crafting things like Molotov’s, explosive arrows, and pipe bombs help while clearing heavily infected areas.
The infected are now smarter than they were before. Stalkers hide and can be terrifying in the dark as they cannot be detected in Listen Mode. Clickers now have enhanced echolocation. While they are on patrol, they will stop and yell, detecting anything close to them. This makes hiding and avoiding them much harder. Once I used clickers to my advantage by throwing bricks at human enemies to draw their attention to them and away from me. The Last of Us Part II had me jumping at every little movement in my house when I was not playing. The game had me on edge from start to finish. It is so intense I often found myself exhausted after 4 hours of gameplay. The stealthiness and patience it takes to kill and sneak around zombies kept my heart rate constantly up. When I felt safe upgrading a gun or sliding through a tight spot, out jumped a zombie or human enemy making me fight for my life all over again.
Two new cult/military groups are introduced. WLF, The Washington Liberation Front, or also the wolfs, are like the fireflies. Their unique ability includes dogs that can smell you and sniff out the trails you take. The other group is the Serephites or scars. This ruthless cult has strict rules and uses bows and arrows as their ammo. They also have their own communication just by whistle tones.
Throughout the game, killing zombies, scars, and WLF members became tedious over time. When my patience would run out, I found myself opening fire on anyone I saw. After making a stupid mistake, the hack and slash killing animation instantly released my built-up anger. There were times I would just run through the enemies because I did not want to stalk or shoot anything anymore. I caught myself squinting at every dog I had hacked an ax at or shot. The dark and ruthless gore that flows through the game made me feel like I had PTSD when I laid down at night.
The Last of Us Part II tries hard to be perfect, and it is close, but it could have been condensed in some ways. Some objectives seemed pointless to the story and made me feel like I was wasting my time. Each destination, there was always a problem, a locked door, or an infested room. After 10 hours, I wanted one objective to go smoothly. Killing zombies’ scars and WLF became tedious and dreadful over time. Overall, everything in The Last of Us Part II felt and looked lifelike. I was always immersed in the world around me. Whether I walked into a room full of bodies hanging from the ceiling of a newsroom or a dark spore zombie-infested hospital, I knew It was going to be intense. The walks in the woods were so beautifully lit and colored. I was in awe every time. The graphics are outstanding in every aspect, and the story consistently made me want to know more. This game shows the complex future of storytelling in our video game generation. The Last of Us Part II is a dark masterpiece and an emotional tour.
The Ruling Score: 9.5