The Last of Us Part II
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Adventure, Action
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 18/06/2020
Price: Currently £44.99
A Masterclass Title With A Controversial Twist.
When the first instalment of Naughty Dog’s gripping juggernaut The Last Of Us hit the shelves in 2013, people didn’t expect it to flourish into a historic title, an opus worthy of the highest acclaim. It became a game-changer, and railed against the grain, toppling any other game that appeared that year. From its beginning to its hard-hitting conclusion, it took players through the emotions and connected them to its dark-tinged underbelly. This was because of its cathartic story-line, a masterminded plot, brimming in brightly lit anecdotes.
Many fans were left overawed by the Last Of Us, and it has gone down as one of the most ground-breaking titles. Like a seminal movie, it left fans breathless, and it redefined gaming. Action and compromise littered it, hearts were jolted, electrified, and its visuals had taken the PS3 to unmarked terrains. Some couldn’t believe the PS3 system handled the power and strain, but it did gracefully.
Seven years on, pioneers Naughty Dog have given us a sequel. A fresh story attached to despair and monumental controversy. This controversy stems from the subject and how the story unfolds. We all knew it would be studded with dark times, broken eulogies, blood, strained relationships. On the surface, it balances joy well, and at times the player will see a ray of light, but under it all, there’s severity, ruthlessness beyond compare. Guts splash the heartlands, bullets litter the harsh-lands, and hope is at a critical stage.
Pint-sized warrior Ellie becomes the main character in her fight for revenge. She embarks on a long, dangerous journey through the Seattle wastelands teeming with the infected and the infamous fireflies. She wants to pummel and pulverise everything that comes in her way, and that makes for a brutal story. The brutality can be insidious as the guns aren’t the only way to damage the enemy. Knives and hammers come in handy and can decapitate an enemy with force.
Throughout the game, emotions are tested. Ellie is repeatedly beaten down, her headspace is full of memories that aren’t pretty, and her eyes have seen things most people her age don’t witness. Her saving grace is a girl named Dana, who becomes a love interest, a girl who saves Ellie from herself. Dana embarks on this journey too, aiding Ellie in her pursuit for justice.
Visually, The Last of Us Part II is sublime. Creators Naughty Dog has worked extensively on realism. The world around Ellie is alive; there’s wildlife, broken streetlamps, rusted cars, tarnished monuments. In all this chaos, there were times when I felt immersed in the landscape, lost in its true dishevelled beauty. Then, I would shake like a leaf as the infected raced towards Ellie, those clickers who strike with one blow.
These clickers aren’t the only dangerous adversary, as humans are still littered around Seattle and beyond. They carry guns, bows and arrows, they whistle, and they track you down easily. This is because of the impeccable AI Naughty Dog have infused into the game. Hearing your footsteps will only cause immediate chaos and impending fights, and while you try to fight, you must use the option of fleeing.
While there are other weapons, ammunition in The Last of Us Part II can be scarce. Every drawer, every locker, should be searched for necessities. Nothing should go unsearched. Stocking up on essentials is key to surviving the unnatural violence, drawing up plans of action, is also a viable way of keeping Ellie alive. Don’t thrust yourself into the war-zone. I did this occasionally and died horribly.
Health kits are rare, but they can be assembled if you pick up enough rags and alcohol. But as I mentioned, running from these disgusting mutated humans is beneficial as they can overpower Ellie. In combat, Ellie is ruthless, but she has to be in these unprecedented times, killing is the only way, brutality a mainstay in this unpredictable world. When playing, I would quickly try to assemble these health kits amidst the commotion but would be overpowered or attacked, so it’s not a viable way of healing Ellie. Find a quiet area when healing so you can go again.
The mechanics of The Last of Us Part II are similar to the first outing, but they’re more free-flowing. The features are smoother, and when running fast, I felt like I was in Ellie’s blood-soaked shoes, trying to escape the infected. The fluency regarding combat makes for a more enjoyable experience, and when dodging enemies, it feels realistic.
Realism is fundamental in a game of this scale, and Naughty Dog has designed a breath-taking world with dark undercurrents. Not only does the fighting feel accurate and convincing, but when plunging a knife into an enemy, it’s like you can feel its ribcage break or its heart bleed out. It’s grotesque but unbelievably compelling.
The sights and sounds of this marked world are equally brilliant. Throughout the title, Ellie will play songs on different acoustic guitars. As you play, you’ll feel her fingers strum and play the chords effectively. Songs like Green Day’s melodic ballad Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) are featured and can be played. Yet again, this adds realism, and it adds a sense of transparency. You may fall in love with this element; I know I did.
Also, as you walk through the harsh-lands of a solemn Seattle, you’ll hear the disgusting sounds the infected make, which are sick reverberations. As Ellie nears a place where these altered humans live, the echoes and the raucousness merge to create a sound which terrifies. This inserts tension and atmospheric bite.
The Last of Us Part II’s terrifying crusade can last up to 40 hours, which is a significant coup for gamers interested in survival titles. Although 40 hours is only an approximation as you will fall off the beaten path, you’ll want to infiltrate and take in the story and gameplay. This title doesn’t have much of a re-playability factor though, but if you unlock the hardest difficulty, then that’s a mode many hardened gamers would want to try.
Also, as mentioned, controversy hits this title like a ton of bricks. It melts into its core. There has been a backlash because of the harsh story-line, and many gamers have shunted Naughty Dog. Although this has occurred, there is still a healthy fan-base which have fallen in love with The Last of Us Part II. Controversy aside, The Last of Us Part II is a masterful, genre-defining title. It does what it sets out to do, shock and provokes and pull at the emotions. From the start to its crashing conclusion, it quivered my spine and put me straight into its unconventional aura.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase The Last of Us Part II from the PlayStation Store.