It’s been over two months since the launch of the long-awaited sequel to Naughty Dog‘s zombie-apocalypse series, The Last of Us.
I have some thoughts. Actually… A lot of thoughts.
As a digital nomad ‘gamer’, it’s is near impossible for me to carry much more than a laptop and my Switch. That sadly means that I can’t enjoy any game that isn’t available on either of those platforms. Especially not exclusives.
So, my thoughts on this page aren’t from my experience personally playing the game. Instead, I’m basing this review on the story and the gameplay through watching PewDiePie’s playthrough of The Last of Us 2. I thought I should mention this before moving on because I’m all about honesty here.
The Last of Us 2 has caused a big chasm in the gaming world. There are those who like it, plenty who hate it, and a lot who were just…disappointed. Spoiler alert: I’m in that final group.
So, let’s get started.
Welcome to Seattle…?
I’m going to start this “review” on a positive note.
The game was gorgeous. Lighting and textures of the environments were almost akin to God of War gorgeousness. And I love God of War. The dev team at Naughty Dog really pushed the boundaries of what the PlayStation 4 is capable of though maybe just a little too much.
Some bugs here and some clipping there, but it wasn’t enough to take you away from the rushing rivers and snowy tracks. Parting blades of grass and splashing rain. Glossy, reflective, oozing blood. And a guitar that’s actually playable. Massive kudos to the dev teams for creating such a visual masterpiece.
The enemy AI was incredible, they reacted to you even more realistically. They challenge you. Wolves and Scars will actually flank and smoke you out rather than just say they’re going to do so. Sadly, that AI skipped over our companions. The companion AI reminded me much about Resident Evil 5, especially Ellie’s. They weren’t very helpful in taking down enemies, I felt like it was up to the player a lot of the time. Infected could come up to you and you won’t be warned. You’d be dead.
The character animations were great, especially in cutscenes, though a lot more work that could have been put into their facial expressions of characters during gameplay. It was like playing two different games, the cutscenes and actual gameplay. Whenever characters are speaking, their mouths move in such a weird, unnatural way. It put me off a touch.
But not as much as the rest of my thoughts on this game…
Clickers, Runners, Bloaters… Oh, my.
One of the biggest issues I have with The Last of Us 2 is just how uninspired the ‘new’ variants of Infected are. While the lore of The Last of Us itself was pretty cool, humans becoming infected by the very real Cordyceps fungus known IRL to infect and take control of insects, later additions to the game’s Infected lore is nothing new.
Clickers were such an inspired addition to the world of zombies; using echolocation and sound to track their prey. But this sequel brings a new kind of Bloater that explodes more often. Yes, zombies are zombies are zombies. But there are so many ways they could have reinvented the Infected in this game rather than rehashing what was already available. And this doesn’t mean putting all of them into one singular boss.
I want to be terrified, Naughty Dog, just like how you terrified me with Clickers. How about one that I can’t see? Or one that regenerates itself? Maybe even one that breaks itself into multiple pieces after n hits, I don’t know! Just give me something new.
Story spoilers will start in the next section. If you haven’t finished the game, (or if you haven’t watched someone else finish the game), you should turn away now.
And we have lift-off.
I honestly don’t care what you might think, but the story writing was bad. And there’s nothing you can say to change my mind.
Yes, Ellie is grieving. Yes, Abby was grieving too. But why is one’s revenge painted in a better light than the other? Why is one justified, but the other not? I’m sure most of us all grew up with childhood stories that teach us that revenge may seem sweet – but its consequences are not.
I understand the plot of this story, and I understand what the vision for the storyline was to be. Here is someone you hate, because we made her kill someone you care about, and you’re going to spend half the game walking in her shoes. Joel died because he killed Abby’s father, who was operating on Ellie for a cure to the Infection.
But why? What is the point of this revenge game?
The Fireflies disbanded and some of them had integrated into the WLF. No one is even bothering to try and find another way to make a cure, this is all about blind revenge. Four years later.
And then Ellie goes into a blind revenge rage, hunts Abby down for killing the only father figure she had. But why? Ellie was mad at Joel for lying to her anyway. Ellie seemed to want to put a rift between herself and Joel, she doesn’t even want him to back her up when someone’s being a bigot.
Ellie is painted as the villain in this story even though The Last of Us is supposed to be her story. Ellie loses everything in her pursuit for revenge, as per typical antagonist style, but Abby does not. Abby sails off with Lev but Ellie loses her lover and her baby.
The Last of Us 2 is a gory cycle of revenge that feels empty in meaning.
I’m disappointed because I wanted more of Joel and Ellie. I wanted to experience the consequences of Joel’s actions in more than just flashbacks. Joel’s lies felt brushed off and underdeveloped. I didn’t enjoy it because I didn’t “live” it.
Plus, if Ellie was angry at Joel for his lies (seen through flashbacks), why did she feel like she needed to avenge his death?
If I ever were to lose you…
Look, I have no problem with female protagonists. In fact, I want more games with female protagonists. I’m perfectly fine with Ellie being on team L and obviously, I’m not surprised (Left Behind DLC, hello?). I’m fine with the introduction of a trans character, Lev. What I’m not fine with is a cis, straight woman being incredibly and unrealistically butch.
Give me a normal-looking woman who’s had to become fit in this new, dangerous world. I love Abby’s stealth kills, but goodness me, this character design… Even those freaky ogre-looking Seraphite ladies had visible boobs.
And the character building in this game is the absolute worst. I simply do not give two shits about anyone in this game. I don’t care about Dina. I don’t care about Jesse. I don’t care about Yara or Lev or Tommy or Owen. I don’t care about Abby, who kills one of the characters who made The Last of Us so good. Heck, I don’t even care about Ellie any more.
Everyone is empty shells with emotional line fillers and that just lost me altogether.
…I’d surely lose myself.
This game is nothing more than revenge on revenge on revenge. There’s no character growth, there’s no forgiveness, there’s no humanity. I don’t care about the cast, as much as Naughty Dog thought to try to make me care – I just couldn’t.
The story was weak. The pacing was terrible. The character building was even worse.
There was so much potential for The Last of Us 2 to be an amazing game. They had plenty of time to do it too. We’ve been waiting seven years. I feel like the seven years between the original and this sequel was spent more on making the game look good rather than make it good all around.
For me, the graphics of The Last of Us 2 was it’s only saving grace. That is where I felt the most love was put into. But that didn’t save the game for me.
Blaise gib dis game…
TWO CLICKER SCALES (STARS)
Sigh… I’m glad I didn’t spend money on this.
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