Not long now until we finally see if The Last of Us Part II was worth the wait. There have been figurative and literal catastrophes along the way but June 19th is only a week away.
In The Last of Us, gamers were transported to a world where humanity wasn’t doing well. We had been pushed to the brink of extinction because of a virus that turned the victims into fungi monsters. The remaining humans fought against them best they could but it was a losing battle. There was no hope in this world. The player took control of Joel as he escorted Ellie across America defending her from the infected and the uninfected. There were betrayals, horrors and an iconic relationship was formed.
Now seven years later we return to this world and face the ramifications of surviving the last adventure.
The story thus far
Four years have passed since the events of The Last of Us and Ellie and Joel have found a life in Jackson. This settlement is lively, happy and most importantly safe. They protect themselves and each other. Everything is normal, or as normal as normal gets in a world with horrifying fungus zombies that is until some strangers rock into town looking to cause some damage.
When the dust settles and the damage is done Ellie and her new bestie Dina head out to exact justice because of what’s been done to the residents of Jackson.
Heading out into the brave, new world of The Last of Us Part II
Once I began my playthrough of The Last of Us Part II I was immediately taken by the graphics. This is a game that pushes the limits of the power of the PlayStation 4. The photorealism of The Last of Us Part II is unbelievable. The locales that you visit are varied and a treat to explore. I say treat even though I was tense 90% of the time I was playing The Last of Us Part II.
Thanks to the heightened realism of the design of the various human factions and the monsters the fear factor was always at an eleven for me. Whenever I thought I was safe I was reminded quickly that wasn’t. For example, to stay alive and prepared you have to ensure that you stay stocked up on crafting materials so you have to scavenge and you will search every nook and cranny for materials for your weapons and gear.
This means that you have to be constantly moving and constantly on the look out for crafting materials. Doing this can easily put you into more precarious situations whether it be with the WLF’s, the SCARS or the infected. All these factions want you dead and there are a lot more of them than you. The WLF’s and the SCARS are intense and well-trained humans but the infected are that same x-factor they were inThe Last of Us.
There are also several new variants of the infected and these new variants are even more disgusting and grotesque thanks to creative and nightmarish designs further enhanced by the impressive graphics on show.
Everything changes but stays the same
Gameplay-wise The Last of Us Part II is not that much different from its predecessor and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all the crafting materials from everyday items mechanic worked organically into the narrative of The Last of Us and it works well here too. The team at Naughty Dog have a,” if it’s not broke don’t fix it” attitude towards this system and that’s fine because for me it wasn’t the gameplay that won me over it was the originals narrative, but we’ll get to that element of this game later.
What has also stayed the same is the combat. You run and gun much like you did in the previous title the only difference is there are a number of new weapons to craft and play around with. My personal favourite is the crossbow an enhanced version of the bow from the first adventure. You can still enhance your skills and there are many options allowing you to craft the best version of your character.
This is the last point at which I will discuss gameplay because I think to fully appreciate this game you have to discuss its narrative and so I will say this final statement before I head into the spoiler zone.
The Last of Us Part II is an enjoyable game for fans of the survival horror genre. The graphics and gameplay are outstanding. it is head and shoulders above others of its kind but it will not win anyone over who is not already a fan. There were some animation issues during my playthrough as well as some rendering problems but they ultimately didn’t take away from my enjoyment.
Of monsters and men
To help you understand my mind going into this final paragraph I will state right now I hadn’t seen any of the leaks when they came out. I had only seen the first trailer and that was it. So my expectations were high, so when I tell you that this game is an emotional gut-punch that never stops delivering on award-worthy storytelling I want you to understand the full weight of that statement.
At first, this is a story of vengeance but as the story goes on you learn how destructive it can be to you and everyone around you and how in the end no one comes out clean. As I trudged through the mud facing off against monstrous hordes of cultists while escaping a rabid militia all I could think about was how all these characters were trying so hard to survive. Everyone has a story and everyone is a hero and a villain to someone in this imperfect world and I loved it.
The Last of Us Part II is a sublime tour de force of visceral and engaging storytelling that is complimented by a robust and addictive combat system. If you are a fan there is no reason not to have this day of release.
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