Review: The Last of Us Part II (Spoiler Free)
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
The Last of Us Part 2 is the follow up to 2013’s masterpiece The Last of Us. It’s a PlayStation exclusive available for $59.99.
This will be a SPOILER FREE review of the game, which makes it hard to talk about some of the highs and lows of the game, but I personally don’t feel a review is the spot for these spoilers. Tune in to Game Bites for a full spoiler discussion, and check out my spoiler filled review, explaining what made me give the score I did.
The story is hard to discuss without spoilers. Personally, in the end, I ended up loving the story. It was an absolute emotional roller coaster that you need to ride for your self. It goes places that will make you feel emotions you would never think a game can make you feel. The first game's story was amazing, and to me, this one amped up the storytelling even more.
The combat in this game is similar to the first one but it feels even better. When The Last of Us came out in 2013, the gameplay felt perfect to me, and this was just a perfect evolution to what that gameplay would feel like in 2020. The only knock that I have with the combat has to due with the stealth gameplay.
You will spend a lot of time playing this game as a stealth game. Sneaking up behind people and killing them quietly.
The stealth works great, and if this was only a stealth game, it would still be great. I just wish there were more animations for stealth takedowns. You will do this countless times during the very long campaign and it does get a little old by its conclusion. All the other combat scenarios have many animations—keeping it fresh—that I found myself purposely breaking stealth to engage in other ways, when I felt I had enough resources to make it through.
My favorite part of the first game was the hand to hand combat and that remains the same in the sequel. The first game was simple: smash the square button unless you get a prompt to hit the triangle button to counter.
This game gives you so much more control.
You have a dedicated dodge button which you need to take the time to master. Both infected and human characters will attack you, breaking your attacks, if you just try to mash square to fight. Time your dodges to be able to open your opponent up to an onslaught of slashes from Ellie’s switchblade. One of my favorite parts to fighting in the first game was, when you fought near something, it would be incorporated into the fight; that stays true in the sequel and is amped up even more. The below video shows me fighting an infected; you can see the way you dodge attacks to fight and then start your attacks. In this fight, we were fighting near a window; when I attack close to the window it breaks, and then I use the frame of the window to hold the infected down, and deal the killing blow.
From the released trailers, you know Ellie is angry, and she is on a rampage. I will not speak to why this is, or what’s going on, but what I will say is the acting from Ashley Johnson is absolutely amazing. You hear the anger in her voice, and she does an amazing job selling the character's motivation, and making it all believable.
I never had any problems with the gunplay in the first one but I know that was a hot topic. I came right off playing The Last of Us Remastered before jumping into this, and the gunplay feels very similar, for the most part, with some improvements. It's notable when you get shot in a way that makes you fall, or if you get hit and knocked down, you can draw your gun from laying on your back to take some shots before they can get to you. Shooting from this position was my favorite way to finish off some enemies. They also added a craftable silencer for your pistol—which is a real lifesaver—when you can fire off some shots without alerting everyone.
To stay on the thoughts of some improvements, the control you have over your character is so much better. Who would have thought in 2020 we would be talking about adding a jump button, but they added a jump button, and it works so well. Having the ability to craft our own way somewhere, because now you can jump, lets you plan out your attacks even more. They also gave you the ability to go prone which added so much. There is high grass you can hide in and shorter grass you can go prone to lay down in. Going prone was used in a couple more ways too. There are some areas where you will be looking where to go, and the way out can be going prone and crawling under something. The other thing prone adds is something we have seen in many games, but feels right at home in the world of The Last of Us. Weapon sway while aiming is a big obstacle in this game when trying to make every shot count. When you go prone, the weapon sway is drastically reduced, making that tough shot a little easier to make.
While playing this game I was often is disbelief that new consoles are expected to release this year. I do not know how games can look or run better than this, and for context, I was playing on a launch PS4, not even a PS4 Pro.
As always, the world looks great; every area looks believable. Every house you go in looks like a real house, every store looks like it was once real and lived in. I was constantly shocked during my playtime with the game. The facial animations—not just on your character but all the people you encounter—are all spot on. When you sneak up behind someone, and start to stealth kill them, you can turn the camera to see Ellie’s face along with the person Ellie is killing. It’s horrifying to see the anger and emotion in Ellie’s face and watching the life fade from the person your killings face was haunting.
While on the subject of killing people, it has never felt worse in any game then this game. What I mean by that is, every person has a name. When you kill someone, other players call out there name, making it all feel way too real. It gives more of your actions even more weight than they already do just by assigning names to random people. At first, I thought it was novel, but later in the game, I almost felt like I should avoid killing so I didn’t have to hear people cry out for there loss.
The action in this game is above and beyond any other action game I have played. The stealth gameplay is great, but it's when shit hits the fan, and the action breaks out, the game really shines. Perfectly melding shooting, running, and fighting into huge areas and lots of enemies made for some of the most fun I have had in a game in recent years. There are some segments where stealth is not an option, and you have to fight; these are segments I have replayed already and have had more fun each time. It’s easy to go back to these at any time. The game has a chapter select, but it also has an encounter select, to replay those awesome moments at any time.
Collectables make a return, but this time Ellie is looking for superhero trading cards, ways to fill out her journal, and safes to crack. The safes were a really fun addition. Every safe needs a combination to unlock—and some are not as obvious as others—but the tools to get you in that safe are around and you can find them.
All of your guns can be upgraded and it's very similar to the first game. You find a bench and upgrade your gun. However, the animations for upgrading your gun are fun to watch. You watch as the gun is taken apart, modded, and put back together; it's a really cool visual.
The bigger picture with a game like this is the future. Naughty Dog has continued to get better with every release, in my opinion, and now with new consoles on the horizon, I can not wait to see what they come up with next. The future is bright, and it's exciting to know with new consoles comes more power, and I really can not wait to see what comes next.
If you have not played the game, and do care about spoilers, than you will just have to trust me. This game is an absolute masterpiece. It’s well above its class in every aspect. The gameplay and storytelling are on another level. This is my new favorite game of all time. This one gets two thumbs way up. If you have a PlayStation you need to play this one and if you don’t have a PlayStation this game alone is worth the purchase.
Final Score- 10/10
For more reviews, be sure to check out my thoughts on Mosaic, Jay and Silent Bob MallBrawl, Spongebob: Patty Pursuit, and my new podcast: Game Bites, the latest entry in The Spinchoon Podcast Network (check out Flix & a Six here). As always, check us out on Twitter @TheSpinchoonand I’m @Big_Broons.