The Last of Us 2 Review
(BTW, if you want to watch the shorted version of the review, that’s less expansive and less formal, the video will be embedded at the bottom of this article, just scroll down)
I wasn’t sold on TLOU being as great as it was touted. Sure, the storytelling was superb, but the game felt clunky. It just wasn’t that fun to prod along. It was a great game, but I felt it was overrated. I love Naughty Dog’s ability to tell a story, but I don’t always love their mechanics or journey to get to the plateau. I wasn’t sure what to expect from TLOU2, especially after the damning leaks. But I was blown away. You’ll have to play it with an open mind to get even to the midway point, which is about 15 hours of play, and about 4 hours of cutscenes. TLOU2 will rip out your heartstrings and force you to sympathize and understand their tale. And a lot of people didn’t like that. So please, only play this game if you can handle gruesome violence, despair, anxiety, and empathy. And most importantly, letting go. Because chances are, you’ll have to say “goodbye” to characters, environments, or situations you aren’t ready to let go of. This brilliant dichotomy of a journey will force you to get uncomfortable and that’s what makes it so damned amazing.
My overall score for TLOU2 is 4.95 / 5 which is the best score I’ve ever reviewed a videogame at. The only games I’ve played that could possibly be better than I haven’t reviewed are Heavy Rain and Witcher 3.
Ellie is now 19, a budding but brooding adult living in Jackson where you arrive all those years ago after Joel rips you from your destiny and then lies to your face about why. This game will take on on an emotional journey all about lies, forgiveness, anger, betrayal, and vengeance. When unexpected deaths occur, the game, and your emotions, are kicked into high gear. You will be forced to make decisions you don’t want to. Characters will die, suffer, and lose. People will become consumed with hate and anger and they will act out of character. Your heart will break. But in every dark, hollow, depressing moment there is a paradox. A moment that is so saccharine, soft, and loving that it balances out your heart. Where there are love and light there is hate and darkness. What is found is lost and what is missing is discovered.
This game was polarizing in every sense. This game left me wondering what happens when we can’t stop hate? What happens if you can’t stop your thirst for vengeance on a justifiable crime? How many people would you be willing to lose? How much are you willing to take from someone else? How much is true love worth?
TLOU2 story gets a score of 4.9 / 5
This game has what you would expect in a zombie apocalypse world. Factions of living humans at war with each other on top of the war they rage against the infected. Not only are there more and much harder infected, but there are also more human factions. There are no heroes or villains. The protagonists become antagonists and vice versa. Everything you thought you knew about right and wrong with character development will change. The writing was stellar here, and the characters were absolutely likable, hell, even lovable. Even the ‘bad guy’ was likable and, by the end, I saw her as a good guy and fell for her story. The parallels of the characters’ and their development are DEEP. Their lives, their fears, their loves, their passions start blurring together. Just like the lines of good and evil. In the end, their goals are similar and when vengeance consumes, far too many fates are intertwined. Nobody in this game was immune to judgment. I was so in love with so many characters. Some from the beginning, some had to grow on me. Some characters I once loved turned dark and cold. There were times I questioned things, times I nearly cried in sadness, and times where I could get the elated grin off of my face. These characters made this experience so worthy.
I give TLOU2 Characters a 5 / 5
The mechanics were so improved from the first installment. Combat was smooth, movements were fluid, and animations were sick. I played my first run hardcore stealth. My second aggressive combat. Both were highly satisfying. Ariel combat, explosives, melee weapons were all SO DAMNED enjoyable. The mechanics were more realistic than many games but of course, you’re still in a videogame so you have to take that with a grain of salt. The game felt rehearsed at times because there was so much quality in the gameplay, controls, and mechanics. Even making the camera angles as wide as possible, you still were removed from the direction on incoming combat making the game tense, and anxious to play. That was by design. As unfun, frustrating, and hard as it was at times, it was also addictive and felt like a real accomplishment. The boss fights, human AI, NPC AI were all drastically scaled up and improved. As a person who highly dislikes zombies, I was terrified of the Stalkers and the Rat King! I thought I was going to die.
What I loved most is the blend of open-world exploration combined with linear gameplay. It was a perfect balance. The length of the game felt right and the difficulty settings scaled well. What was most amazing was all these hidden gems that you could only unlock through exploration. Extra bits and pieces of character development and relationship development.
The gameplay of TLOU2 gets a 4.85 / 5
This game was stunning. The world, the weather elements, the weapons, the clothing. Everything was so detailed, crisp, and rich. It’s in the details that this game separates itself from others. The rope mechanics were insane. You bleed through bandages. You squint when you zoom in on mirrors. Dirt under the fingernails, movement of your hair, ballistics, even sounds that objects make. The details were so technical and precise. This game was on par with the details and world design of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, and God of War.
TLOU2 Graphics gets a 5 / 5
I can’t say I experienced a lot of issues in the game. I found a few funny little glitches but nothing major. One sneaky little glitch that prevented me from impaling my enemy’s neck with a switchblade that exposed me for far too long, but only a couple of bugs is pretty damned good in a large title.
Performance of TLOU2 gets a score of 4.8 / 5
I hope you’ve enjoyed my The Last of Us 2 Review and that it will help you either play or not play the game. It truly is a game that is either well received or well hated. The representation in the game is a positive to many minority groups out there. If you’re a true “get woke go broke” believer, you may not enjoy this game. This game features strong female lead characters, gay relationships, a trans character, a Jewish character, a Mexican, an Asian, and a masculine dominant woman, and her boyfriend who many on Twitter have called a ton of harsh terms. I don’t care about these things. I care if the characters are quality, rounded, growing, likable people. If these attributes cause you to believe the story is not good, you probably won’t be able to enjoy the game.
As far as the storyline goes, I don’t expect many happy endings in the apocalypse. ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ was one of the best WLW films I’ve seen, but it didn’t have a happy ending. Sometimes the characters you love have to die. Sadness doesn’t equate to bad writing, it equates to a specific emotion needed for the journey.
The acting in this game is superb. Ashley Johnson is stellar as Ellie Williams and deserves every award that exists. Shannon Woodward as Dina is my new favorite thing. Their chemistry lights up your experience. Laura Baily as Abby was perfection and I don’t understand why people sought the need to send her death threats over a fictional character. So if you are going to take gaming that seriously, consider playing a game with less emotion and depressing consequences.
My least favorite part of the game was a particular character’s death, but probably not the one you’re thinking of. My two favorite parts of the game include these quotes “I don’t want to lose you” surrounded by a sweet embrace, and “you are my people.”
That’s it for my the Last of Us 2 Review. Unless something here is going to strike a chord with you, this game is amazing and definitely worth playing. I’d love to connect on Twitter or Instagram and don’t forget to share your thoughts on the game, what characters you loved and didn’t, and what your favorite moments of the game were.