"The Last of Us Part II" deserves credit for its major successes

By AARON ACEVEDO
On September 16, 2020

Photo courtesy of Midhras, Flickr

“The Last of Us” is often considered to be one of the greatest video games, not just of the seventh generation of game consoles, but of all time. With its ambitious story, memorable characters and easy-to-understand gameplay, Naughty Dog’s 2013 release won numerous awards and a seemingly spotless reputation for years. 

However, what initially began with immense amounts of excitement quickly became one of the most polarizing games of this generation with sequel "The Last of Us Part II."

On top of having several controversies, critics and fans seemed to have completely different opinions: people either thought this was one of the best games ever made or the exact opposite. 

As someone who bought the game around its launch day and spent over 20 hours playing through it, the game is not awful -- not in any sense of the word. In fact, several aspects of the game are truly remarkable. 

However, to say it is perfect would be a lie, as there are problems with the game that keep it from being exceptional. Nevertheless, “The Last of Us Part II” does feel worthy of its namesake, with a product just as engaging as the first one, if not more so at times.

The game mainly takes place four years after the first game, with Ellie (Ashley Johnson) now living a seemingly normal life in Jackson, Mississippi. With her own house, a community with good-hearted people, and the company of her girlfriend Dina (Shannon Woodward), things seem to be going well for her. 

That all changes with the introduction of Abby (Laura Bailey), who, after being rescued from a horde of infected people by Joel (Troy Baker), ends up murdering him as Ellie watches. 

After this, Ellie swears revenge, suiting up and, with the help of Dina, travels to Seattle with the intention of executing Abby for what she did. As the two girlfriends explore this new city, Ellie slips further into ruthlessness with each passing day, raising the question of whether or not she is becoming the exact thing that she believes Abby to be: an emotionless killer.

The sequel's gameplay remains similar to its predecessor, with its main focus being on stealth and tense combat encounters. The main addition to this loop is that you can now crawl beneath surfaces and squeeze into thin gaps quicker. 

Although these changes seem minuscule, they add a lot more variety in regards to how you can traverse around the world. It makes combat more enjoyable, especially when you use the crafting system to create varied and useful gadgets to help you as you move through Seattle.

The game’s aesthetics are also well-crafted, with Naughty Dog using all of the PlayStation 4’s power to create one of the most gorgeous games on the system. Each location looks memorable and will stick with you, an effect that is equally carried by the game’s rustic and powerful music. 

By all accounts, the game has the technical components to be one of the greatest games on the PS4. The only thing that prevents it from reaching this point is its story.

The game’s story is one of the dangers that come with obsession, and how every person feels like they are the hero of their own story, even if they are a villain in someone else’s. For the most part, these concepts work well. 

The story’s content was very engaging, and I found it to be made with as much care as possible. However, the game’s pacing is its biggest flaw, as it comes to a grinding halt halfway through. 

Without going into details, it attempts to pull off a risky move to coincide with its themes, and while the sentiment is nice, it feels like it came at the pace of a story that up until that point felt like it was moving at a normal and enjoyable pace.

Despite these flaws, I still rather enjoyed my time with “The Last of Us Part II.” While not perfect, it is one of the most narratively ambitious games I have ever seen. This game may not be for everyone, but those who are within its target audience will grow to respect it. 

“The Last of Us Part II”  is an intense and memorable project that will leave players reflecting over its powerful themes and beautiful technical work long after the credits roll.

 

4/5 stars

aaceved3@ramapo.edu

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