I’d like to start by noting that certain embargo rules prevent me from digging fully into some of the points I would like to make. In general; the reviews I write are almost entirely spoiler free, but at times it’s helpful to dive into some parts of titles in order to go over certain points. If something is relatively vague within this article, that’s the reason why. I just want to make sure that’s fully known before being judged on how some of this is written.
The Last of Us Part II is what I’d consider to be the defining technical achievement of the Playstation 4 console platform. From a stand point of visuals, mechanics and general performance this is a near perfect offering. This would be a masterpiece, and it does lean well into that space near the top of gaming experiences.
Now, I personally found that some of the story elements didn’t end up being as profound as I would have hoped for, with the latter half of this game somewhat faltering. It’s not by any means a bad time, it just wasn’t nearly as strong as the first portion of this journey.
This game almost feels like two separate games that were mashed together that showcase a strong sense of humanity, and perspective. I must again dance around certain elements, with the game following the perspective of Ellie. At the same time, it builds out the connection she has to others within the cast, and the greater world at play here. That might sound odd, but once you start playing and see the shift you may understand what I’m getting at within this review of the game. This is a story that’s propelled by a high octane level of revenge, and anger.
This is a tale that will both delight, and cause misery. You will care about the characters, and it goes to extra lengths in order to make sure you do. At least, that’s the hope they were aiming for. For the first portion, I was really feeling this and even a bit for the part that comes after. That being said; I didn’t necessarily feel as strong of a connection, but I really did feel that this helped to humanize the greater world that was present within the Seattle area. I felt it could have been either more compressed at that point since the latter section felt somewhat bloated, or it could have been blown out further to help that aspect have a calmer pacing to it.
Some story elements don’t quite align with expectations, and that makes them feel slightly disjointed. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a seriously amazing and stellar game. The story is really great, lengthy and expansive. It’s a largely linear setup, with times that allow for some open world exploration. These are smaller hub areas, so there is room to go further within the landscape. This is where you’ll get some varied playthrough times. I spent just about fifteen hours working through the title. You could spend another ten or more depending on how much time you take to look around, to deal with additional areas or to seek out many hidden collectibles.
This is a world that’s filled to the brim with small surprises, and delicate details that help paint a more morbid picture of what happened to this society. As mentioned this is a game of perspectives, there are various factions and many conflicting points. There are dangers not only in the form of a military type group called the Wolves, and you’ll discover those as you play on. There are of course many monsters, and these creatures are hardcore. It feels visceral, tense and claustrophobic at times. That’s great, close quarters combat is insanely unsettling and each hit feels so incredibly deadly. You’ll witness times of pure horror, and others of majestic joy. It has just as many happy moments as it does horrific points.
With this having a linear focus, there is a sense of choice. That’s in regards to how you tackle areas. You can do so with stealth, be direct in combat or even walk by enemies if you’re careful. I say that separately from stealth as there is a little bit of a different path I’d take sometimes to run by groups at the right moment. In general, what I’m trying to say is that you can decide how you handle these segments as they pop up. This is also a lengthy narrative, that’s one entirely seamless time. There are no loading screens, and coming back after a death is nearly instant. It’s seriously impressive, and a technical aspect so it really should be under the gameplay section below. Whatever the case, it all flows so well.
The cinematics merge with gameplay almost seamlessly and there’s such a well done balance of shifting. I really liked how the story was structured for the most part, taking a day approach along your journey. That allows you to understand when events take place, it’s just how those events come together that weakens things a tad for me. I truly enjoyed what they did with the cast. These characters feel alive, and they matter. You get those touching moments, just like you get the dark ones. It’s one where it feels as though no one is safe, and anything could happen at any given time.
It is a hostile world, where you’re tracking and yet at the same time never know if you’re on the right path to reach your destination. I mean that as in a justifiable sense, area navigation is great in this. You’ll question the choices being made, and the direction you’re headed. It just felt as though they could have taken this further, or shortened some parts. It’s a weird bridge to be between, but it seems like things were lately adjusted or that they just didn’t have quite enough time to fully branch out what they wanted to do in the latter part of this.
I appreciate the perspective, and it really did make me care about a dog in particular. Such a good boy, and that will stick with me for awhile. We played fetch, got to pet it. I will also make mention of ways to replay this. There’s new game plus, and some extra modes for the game promised to be there at launch. The menu also has some neat extras in regards to model viewing and information on things.
As with the starting part of this review, this really is what I would call the definitive technical achievement of the platform. It’s an entirely seamless game that shifts between cinematics and regular play. You can sort of tell where they’re sneaking in the loading since you’re opening doors or pushing things up constantly. That being said, a regular player would just be blown away that you can enjoy all of this without any loading. It’s seriously impressive. Now, I did face two crashes though over a fifteen hour playthrough that’s nothing. I thought it was worth noting, since even despite that I was right back where I had left off when it re-loaded.
You can manually save if you’d like to, the game does a fine job of auto-saving however. Prior to jumping into the visual aspect, I will say this is very impressive in terms of accessibility. There are many difficulty tiers to choose from, and lots of regular accessibility options for any problems an individual might have with game interaction. These are appreciated, and welcomed. This game is gorgeous, the density of the lush world is just insane. Every single scene is filled to the brim with content. From decaying buildings, to flooded streets and even majestic new world towns. Every little bit of this game is stunning to behold. You can see so many little details such as objects, or destroyed portions of rooms.
There’s grass for miles in some areas, and it’s all flowing beautifully. It’s a world that feels lost to nature, and it seems like this area has been through one serious beating since the fall of humanity. You do visit a number of neat landmarks, and get to see certain spots during different moments for a sense of progression. The world also feels lively, despite being a desolate journey. There are times where you’ll see humanity banding together, and varying spots will have different types of growth in that regard. Some are further along and towards regular living, whereas others are just makeshift towns. It’s interesting, and paints a picture of how a society could become segmented over time after the regular structuring begins to fall apart.
I was seriously impressed by the variety of areas you go, and how full each spot felt. You could go off the path to say a coffee shop and it would feel like it had its own story to tell. There were also hidden secrets in almost every spot. This ranged from having generic supplies, to maybe a safe to decipher or of course collectibles too. You sort of wanted to visit these areas, and I can see many really getting lost in this massive world that has been presented here. Moving onto general mechanics, this played beautifully. The character models are perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. They move so naturally, and look ever so realistic. The facial details are remarkable, as are general arms and in how everyone moves. On top of that, the reactions to each area felt so natural.
How you would merge into cover, or use stealth if that’s your sort of thing. This was whether you were rushing through snow, diving into water or hopping along what’s left of buildings. There were minor puzzle aspects to some maneuvering, but you get the point that it all felt fantastic to explore or go through. You do get a basic selection of weapons, and the option to enhance those as you gather some materials. I compare this to what the Tomb Raider games have done this generation. Light on the go crafting is also available for say health packs or explosive type tools. These are helpful for dealing with enemies, especially those tougher monsters out there.
I really liked what they did with AI in this game, it’s very advanced. For one of the first times ever, I felt like the AI accompanying me were actual people in this situation. They would help if you were getting attacked, they were doing their own battles and also kept in a stealthy position if you were. They mattered, and they assisted you. It was also neat to see how this changed based on who was with you, or the size of your particular group during many differing moments. To build on that aspect of real people, it was distressing to eliminate enemies at times, since their friends would call out their names. They were like actual people, and not just another target to remove from play on my path to an end goal.
The Last of Us Part II is the definitive technical achievement for the Playstation 4, it does a beautiful job of humanizing the characters as well as their perspectives. I did have some issues with the narrative structuring of the latter half, and I’m not allowed at this time to fully dig into why that is. This is a truly remarkable experience, that’s well worth your time. It’s seamless, and it flows wonderfully no matter what type of player you are. It caters to all with excellent accessibility options. If you haven’t played the first game, this one can easily be enjoyed without having done so.
You will have a stronger connection to the characters present in this roster if you did however. It sets the stage well for new players, and I appreciated that aspect as it might be hard for those fresh to this to understand what’s going on without that setup. When it comes to how the story goes, I think that some fans are really going to be hurt by some aspects and the direction they took here. I’m taking a view point on this outside of connections to characters, and mostly at what the story has done. Looking past that, the structuring was well done and for the most part the revenge feels very justified. It makes sense, and helps provide a good determination.
I wish that would have been the determining aspect the whole way through, as that does get lost a bit despite a refueled pickup as it progresses. This was one visceral, at times haunting and generally tense game. The combat when close felt intense, and those horror aspects are very good. It also has some just lovely moments to it that help lighten the mood. They’re sprinkled throughout, and always an enchanting time when you come across one. There was a great balance here, between soft times and those darker ones. It’s dynamic, intense and lengthy. It paints the perfect picture of what has happened to those that remain. Or; you know, The Last of Us.
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The Last of Us Part II Review on Playstation 4
Review Code Provided by SIEC