Naughty Dog has finally given the world the sequel to one of the greatest story-driven games of all time. Through delays and leaks, it has been a long road to salvation for fans of the franchise, and the reception seems to be a mixed bag. I will be reviewing “The Last of Us Part II,” available on PlayStation 4, and to do that, there needs to be a bit of context.
The sequel was announced in 2016, and then faced a couple of delays before it was finally released. In late April, some major plot points of the game were leaked to the public and reactions from fans were overwhelmingly negative. Once June rolled around, it was time for fans to play the game in its entirety, and decide if the sequel lives up to its predecessor. And it does.
In my opinion, the first game is the greatest video game I have ever played. For a game that came out in 2013, the mechanics and writing hold up unbelievably well. “The Last of Us Part II” may fall a little behind in reaching the levels of the first game, but those lost steps are recovered quickly with improved graphics and award-worthy performances. This is, hands down, the best looking game I have ever played in my entire life, and I could go on for days about how much detail was put into this on a visual level.
In every game, you are going to have puzzles and platforming levels that are going to feel like chores, and this game has its fair share. There were a ton of puzzles involving ladders and pallets in the first game, and the sequel trades those for ropes. Once you have gone through your 100th rope puzzle, you start to question your sanity. Are these negatives? Yes, but the game brings a lot of new concepts that make for a smoother playthrough, like the abilities to go prone and dodge melee. If I were to rate the game off of gameplay alone, I would have to give it a 3.75/5, but the story allows the game to transcend to a whole new level of appreciation.
One of the best parts of the first game is the relationship between Joel, played by Troy Baker, and Ellie, played by Ashley Johnson. The dynamic between the two is only emphasized even further in this game, and there were so many little scenes and interactions that got some tears out of me. This game rips your heart out, and it is well aware of that. No punches are pulled and no apologies are given. Laura Bailey, who plays the new character Abby, also gives a great performance. Abby, as a character, has received a lot of backlash, but I for one think she’s great. People seem to be so quick to judge characters, and if you just let the game take you on her story, it turns into one of the best parts of the game. Is the story perfect? No, but the amount of hate this game has gotten, from people who have not even played the game in its entirety, is absolutely insane. I will not spoil anything because I truly believe this game is one you must experience yourself.
The game works best when it pulls your heartstrings. There were times where I had the biggest smile on my face, and there were times where my jaw was on the floor out of pure shock. All in all, the game takes you on a journey that you won’t forget, for better or for worse. A lot of the story choices are going to be judged subjectively, and that means you should not let Twitter dictate if “The Last of Us Part II” is good or not. Go in with an open mind, and enjoy the best game of 2020.
Final rating: 4.5/5
Featured image: Courtesy Naughty Dog