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Naughty Dog’s sequel to the critically acclaimed The Last of Us has recently dropped in the form of The Last of Us Part 2 and the internet has been sent into a frenzy. I’m here today to tell you if Sony’s latest PS4 exclusive is worth your time. Fair to say, there will be no spoilers below.
The story is set four years after the events of The Last of Us. A viral infection has wiped out humanity and the ones who remain struggle to survive in a forever hostile environment. Ellie and Joel (the characters from the first game) now reside within Jackson, a makeshift civilisation located in Wyoming. When out on patrol, Ellie stumbles upon a winter cabin in an attempt to escape a brewing snow storm. What happens in that cabin sets Ellie out to Seattle seeking vengeance.
This is by far one of the most ambitious and brutal stories that Naughty Dog has told to date. Unlike the first game, this is very somber, the heartfelt moments that can be seen within the first game are very few and far between. This is not to say that the first game wasn’t dark and upsetting, it was. But The Last of Us Part 2 takes it to new extremes. It is fair to say I found the story to be well-written and of high standard, similar to the first game’s story. It evoked intense emotion from me and constantly had me on edge.
As you would expect from a Naughty Dog title, the performances from the actors is nothing short of phenomenal. Stand out performances come from Ashley Johnson’s gut-wrenching performance as Ellie, and Shannon Woodward’s performance as Dina.
However, the story isn’t perfect.
I found there to be some pacing issues at the beginning of the game after a strong start that gets you fired up, it almost grinds to a halt for an hour or two while you do some menial tasks. Luckily, this doesn’t last for long and I found no more issues like this throughout the rest of the game.
The gameplay in The Last of Us Part 2 is a much more refined version from the first game. If you were a fan of the first game’s combat and mechanics, you’re in for a treat. If you weren’t, there’s enough new here that it may just win you over.
A plethora of new mechanics have been introduced, some borrowed from previous Naughty Dog titles such as Uncharted 4. Ellie is a much more agile character, she can now traverse the post-apocalyptic landscape through jumping, climbing and swinging on ropes to reach new heights, squeezing through tight gaps and going prone to crawl through narrow spaces.
The combat, similar to the story, is visceral and brutal. The weapons feel weighty and powerful and the kills are unapologetically gory. Each enemy has a distinct name now, adding a layer of personality on the enemies you take out throughout your play-through. The addition of a dodge mechanic toppled with the aforementioned jump and prone mechanic means that Ellie is a very versatile fighter as she can tackle her enemies from the ground or from a more vertical position.
The gameplay is definitely a standout within The Last of Us Part 2, it’s a very smooth and cinematic experience that will keep you hitting that New Game+ button.
The presentation within The Last of Us Part 2 is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s without a doubt one of the most graphically impressive games on a next gen console to date. It’s clear to see Naughty Dog did their homework when recreating Seattle as a concrete jungle, the moss covered skyscrapers ooze with atmosphere and the almost constant downpour of rain creates a stunning gloss over the environments.
The soundtrack is once again mostly composed by the excellent Gustavo Santaolalla, with additions from Mac Quayle. It consists of gloomy muted guitar strings and melancholy tracks from Gustavo’s side. Whereas Mac Quayle primarily focuses on more action focused tracks, with a standout being ‘The WLF‘; a very industrial, sound heavy track that fits the action well.
I played through The Last of Us Part 2 on a base PS4 Slim, and the performance was fantastic for the most part. I came across some stability issues at a certain scene towards the end of the game, but prior to that the game ran well.
The audio also had a few issues. This is something I’ve noticed on three play-through’s now at the same scenes. Despite this happening a handful of times, the rest of the sound was extremely crisp and high-quality.
There also doesn’t seem to be much of a difference graphically when playing on a PS4 Pro or a base PS4, both look stunning and have little to no difference visually.
To Buy or to Not Buy:
The Last of Us Part 2 is a very well designed game and is of high-quality without a doubt. The gameplay is stellar and mechanically satisfying. The presentation, sound and performances are also very strong despite the very few audio issues I came across.
The story is well-written, fierce and immensely intense. However, it does have it’s faults. Primarily the pacing issues in the beginning which does feel like padding when compared to the end of the game.
Overall, I would definitely say that this game is a as easy recommendation. It’s not perfect and does have its faults but they are without a doubt overshadowed by the positives.
If you’re looking for the next big story-driven game to keep you going for the next while, this is a must. It’s sure to keep you enjoying yourself and also deliver a powerful heart-wrenching story.
Purchase The Last of Us Part 2 here.
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