Overall - 80%
The Last of Us Part 2 just isn't as good as the first game, but nevertheless warrants a playthrough for most fans of the series.
After multiple delays, The Last of Us Part 2 has finally launched. Did Naughty Dog create another masterpiece, or have they lost a step? Check out our review to find out.
The Last of Us Part 2 Review
There is a spoiler that happens within the first couple of hours of the game that I talk about below. I personally believe it is important information that is relevant to your purchasing decision. Still, if you want to avoid spoilers, stop reading this review now.
The Last of Us Part 2 starts at the end of the first game. After a quick recap of previous events, you fast forward four years into the future, where Ellie and Joel are living their lives in Jackson. Instead of Joel, you play as Ellie this time around, who has become a respected member of the community. After a snowball fight with your friend Dina and some kids, you head out on patrol to meet up with Joel and Tommy. The area you patrol acts as a tutorial before you get to the meeting point.
You are also introduced to a second character you will be playing as: Abby. Abby is a much more physically imposing character than Ellie, and seems to be hunting someone down. That someone happens to be Joel, and she finds him before Ellie can rendezvous. Abby kills Joel in front of Ellie and sets up the story’s main point: revenge. What follows is a 25-30 hour story of brutality with plenty of ups and downs, both in story and gameplay.
The story itself was fine for me. I preferred the previous title, but didn’t hate this one. However, I did have a massive problem with the pacing of the game. There are times you will go 45 minutes to an hour between story bits, and they can just endlessly drag on. Early on, you will spend a lot of time scavenging large, nearly empty rooms for supplies you can’t hold anymore. There are some great moments to be had, like Ellie playing “Take on Me” for Dina, but they scattered through boring and lengthy gameplay segments.
It is the classic Naughty Dog gameplay loop, but extended for far too long in many sections. Find enemies, kill enemies, search nearly empty rooms for 20 minutes, get a snippet of the story, and repeat. The first eight hours or so are ridiculously slow, but after that, it picks up quickly. It reminded me of walking up dune hills. It is a great exercise, but eventually, it gets exhausting. The Last of Us Part 2 has a lot of dunes to cross. You also get pressured to move on by the AI while exploring; pick a lane, Naughty Dog.
Let’s dive into the actual combat gameplay. Shooting has never been this studio’s forte, and it still suffers here. There is an auto-aim option for those who don’t want to put up with the shooting. The melee combat is much more robust this time around. You have a dodge and a multitude of melee weapons you can use in combat. They are the most fun part of the fighting, except when you rush someone with a gun. The AI can land shots easier if you rush them (which makes sense), but it takes away from the fun. You can also upgrade your melee weapons for extra damage.
Stealth returns, and it is almost mandatory in certain spots. If you go in guns blazing, you will be overwhelmed. The AI isn’t that smart, but they have the numbers to make up for that. Widdling down your opponents slowly is satisfying as the rest of the group freaks out and searches for you. You can then use traps like trip mines to exterminate them in larger groups, or pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails. They do have dogs this time around that can find you hiding – be prepared to hear some yelps and whines when you kill them.
Humans and dogs are one thing; the Infected are another beast entirely. You have the classic Clickers and Runners, but there are some new monsters as well. The Shambler is an acid spore spreader with a ton of HP. It will dive down at you and explode spores, causing damage over time. There are also enemies called Stalkers, who hide and wait to ambush you. Still, the Clickers are the worst. Their awkward movements and the potential one-hit-kill bite are still a huge threat. The Infected are still a joy to kill; much more so than their human counterparts.
Tracking most of these enemies is simple because of Listen Mode. It is precisely what it sounds like, listening for enemies. If the enemy is close enough, you can hear them through walls and other objects. Using this to your advantage, you can set up traps and even avoid fighting entirely. It starts weak, but you can upgrade it over the course of the game by finding Supplements. You can consider Supplements exp that you can use to improve your various skills. The skills aren’t all required, but explosive arrows make life much better.
During all your downtime, you will find crafting supplies and scrap. Scrap can be used to upgrade and improve your guns. You can get larger magazines, more damage, scopes, and other minor upgrades. Crafting is where most of your other materials go. Medkits, arrows, bombs, suppressors, and other traps are all made in that menu. The only thing you can’t craft, for the most part, is bullets. You can craft mid-combat if needed, though, which can get you out of a sticky situation…or you can get shot in the head because you are standing still.
On the subject of supplies, The Last Of Us Part 2 is generous. For the first two-thirds of the game, I felt stocked up. I might not have always had the ammo I wanted, but I always had way too many crafting supplies. I was playing on normal, so maybe a harder difficulty reduces their spawns. I think it was because enemies dropped a lot more materials then they did in the first game.
I didn’t run into any bugs or glitches and had no crashes. I didn’t notice any frame drops, but my PlayStation 4 Pro was very loud. This isn’t surprising, since the game is easily the best looking PlayStation 4 game to date. That’s probably why there is so much downtime; they want you to enjoy the scenery. It also has some of the best facial animations in video games.
The Last of Us Part 2 just isn’t as good as the first game, but nevertheless warrants a playthrough for most fans of the series.
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