The Last of Us Part 2 Review – Opening Old Wounds

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It’s finally here! After 2014’s The Last of Us wowed gamers everywhere with its superb storytelling, and (at the time) best-in-class gameplay, gamers everywhere will finally learn what happens after Joel and Ellie escaped the Fireflies. Announced back in 2016, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us: Part II (stylized as The Last of Us Part 2 in this review) will be out on store shelves and digital platforms this Friday, June 19. The big question now is: does The Last of Us Part 2 live up to the years-long hype, or does it falter under its own ambition? Read on for our The Last of Us Part 2 review to find out.

Note: We won’t talk about spoilers here, as the game’s main selling point is its amazing story, and the highs and lows it represents. We’ll touch upon the story somewhat, but we won’t delve into specific story points or instances, so readers can rest easy knowing they’ll head into the game fresh.

Remembering the Journey…

Right at the on-set, players are given a look at what happened to Joel and Ellie over the years, and this is interspersed with the actual game tutorial on movement, crafting, combat and more. Those who played the first game will instantly feel at home, as almost everything in the predecessor has been carried over to The Last of Us Part 2. Players will once again use Listen Mode to “see” clickers and enemies through walls; there’s also the crafting system that lets you create med kits and more on the fly as well. There are new items to craft this time, which will help players in ridding of enemies much faster.

One welcome addition to the game are the new melee weapons. In The Last of Us Part 2, players can now pick up axes, hammers, and other melee weapon to use against clickers and humans alike. What’s more interesting here is: these weapons aren’t just merely reskins of each other, as each one has specific attack animations, durability properties (since they break after repeated use), and have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the enemy type.

As for combat itself, a large portion of it remains unchanged from the first game — for better or worse. If you didn’t like the combat in the first game, The Last of Us Part 2 probably won’t sway you. You’ll still be creeping around the environments, and taking out enemies as silently as you can. You’ll still use bottles and bricks to attract attention, so you can sneak around. As is with the stealth portion, shooting feels the same as well, though it’s something that Naughty Dog seems to have perfected way back in the Uncharted franchise, so why change it, right?

Why??!

While there’s a lot to love in The Last of Us Part 2, there are a few nagging gameplay design issues that I couldn’t shake off while playing. First off, I suggest saving often — especially if you want to collect as much item as you want. There are events in the game that when triggered, prevent you from backtracking. And there are no signs that these cutscenes or cinematics will happen, either. So if you managed to trigger one of these, and you haven’t checked out the rest of the level yet, well, tough luck! You most likely won’t be able to just load to check it either, as the game’s auto-save is very aggressive and from my playthrough prevented me from backtracking at all.

In addition to that, there’s a feeling of “artificial nerfing/gimping” of the player as well. While it’s understandable that the player has limited inventory when it comes to items, the bullet capacity for guns are laughably small to the point that it doesn’t make sense. Why can’t I carry more than 15 handgun bullets? I know it’s for game balance, but given how authentic or realistic the game is, it doesn’t make any sense. You can carry all these weapons around at the same time, but ammo? Nope. Sorry!

I might have an issue with ammo capacity, but I loved how the gun upgrades were handled here. Each weapon (well, almost each) had separate upgrade trees, and using these weapon benches to upgrade your armaments not only looked cool (you can see your character screwing attachments in real-time), but it also sounded good as well. As for upgrades for the character, it’s similar to the first game, though this one has a wider upgrade tree and gives players the option on which skills to get first depending on how they want to approach the game.

This Is a Narrative-Driven Game at Its Finest

While there might be a nitpick or two with The Last of Us Part 2, all of that are thrown by the wayside given how engrossing the story is. It’s hard to talk about this without diving into spoilers, but let me just say that there are certain elements in the game that will shock gamers early on. The Last of Us Part 2 has a deep, involving storyline, and it doesn’t need to resort to plot twists or anything of the sort to shock players. This is a testament to not only Naughty Dog’s fantastic character building and storytelling prowess, but the voice actors involved too. You will care for these characters — both new and old. Each character introduced leaves a lasting impression and regardless of their time on-screen, will make the player feel a little more connected to the world Naughty Dog has created.

Of course, the story itself isn’t perfect. My complete playthrough took me around 31 hours or so, and this is with me trying to explore every nook and cranny of every area I can gain access to. While game length isn’t really an issue, there are certain backstory elements that, while I know is to make the player connect with the character more, is just overused, and feels like padding once you get to the latter stages of the game. Speaking of which, the second half of The Last of Us Part 2 is where things really pick up. If you start it and think it’s just more of the same, the second portion of the game and the succeeding parts are easily the best ones — both in terms of gameplay and in story development. I don’t even need to dive into spoilers for this one; the moment you’re in that part, you’ll know it.

New Beginnings

With The Last of Us Part 2, not only did Naughty Dog (kind of) close a chapter in the series, but it also opened up a lot of new possibilities. While fans weren’t certain if a sequel would come out after the first game, I would be very, very surprised if there’s no The Last of Us Part 3.

There are certain elements in The Last of Us Part 2 that might not be liked by some gamers, and how the game handles violence might be one of them. This is as adult a game as it can get without being crass or cheap, and I love it. This is Naughty Dog pushing the gaming medium forward both in storytelling and how to have a game cater to grown ups without feeling forced (for the most part).

While storytelling, graphics, and audio work are top-notch, the title does have some nagging issues that dampen the experience somewhat. Aside from the issues we’ve mentioned above, there are certain plot points that don’t make sense logically that I’m hoping Naughty Dog addresses in the future (since it literally makes no sense).

Ultimately though, The Last of Us Part 2 is a title that every PS4 owner (or gamer, even) must play, since it does push the narrative-driven, single-player action genre forward in more ways than one. This is one title that will cause a divide among gamers long after its finished, and I don’t think Naughty Dog would have it any other way.

Score: 9/10

Pros:

  • Story, character development and how it ropes in past and present events are done wonderfully
  • Action stays faithful to Naughty Dog’s tried-and-true formula
  • Will leave you wanting to know what’s next the moment you play it
  • Voice acting is superb
  • New level of accessbility options

Cons:

  • One particular scene just doesn’t make sense (you’ll know when it when you see it)
  • Pacing is a little off due to the padding
  • Player nerfing just so it wouldn’t break the game jumps at you from time to time

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