While Cyberpunk 2077 only looms on the horizon, today you can rightfully give The Last of Us Part 2 an award for the most scandalous game of recent years, if not even the entire console generation as a whole. Try to say a year ago that a game from everyone's favorites from Naughty Dog would have such a divisive effect on gamers, forcing them to wage a massive war on metacritics and forcing the most unbalanced people to write personally to developers and actors of physical threats, and at best they would twist a finger at temple. At worst, they would have lashed out with their fists for denigrating the glorious name of Naughty Dog. Therefore, this review of The Last of Us Part 2 was written with the aim of finding out whether the players on which side of the barricades were more right, or the truth is hiding somewhere in the middle.
Immediately, we note that the text did without critical spoilers, but we decided to clarify some points of the plot in order to more constructively talk about what to expect from the game.
The cycle of revenge in nature
When it comes to the PS4 exclusive The Last of Us. Part 2 ”Most people only want to talk about gameplay, graphics, soundtrack or sound design as a last resort. The main object of interest is the plot and what he touched the souls of gamers so much, forcing them to experience the whole range of feelings during the passage: from love to hate. Some even gave up the game at the very beginning, defiantly breaking the disc with the game. One can be sure of one thing - no one will remain completely indifferent, so if you want to get an emotional shake-up and ride on a carousel of a kaleidoscope of feelings, then TLOUP2 is your choice.
The main problem is that it's impossible to say with certainty whether you will enjoy the emotional carousel this time around, written by Chief Writer and Game Development Lead Neil Druckmann. According to the official synopsis of the plot, everything is simple: Joel and Seattle moved to the town of Jackson, where they became full-fledged residents of the town reviving in the post-apocalypse conditions. A real idyll, but exactly until the moment when Jackson is shaken by horrific events, because of which Ellie will go to Seattle with one desire - to take revenge.
The plot is even too banal, but unlike the first game The Last of Us Part II, it is difficult to recommend it to a mass player. Primarily because the original game, according to the developers, was devoted to the theme of love, when the sequel revolves around the theme of hatred, trying to evoke sharply negative feelings in the player as a whole in a number of plot points. As can be judged by the hysteria surrounding the game, the developers completely managed to achieve what they wanted, in the end they even fell under a flurry of hatred.
Hate and generally conflicting feelings through the story of Ellie in The Last of Us Part II, the developers cause most often in two ways: either they show us in all details the theater of rigidity unfolding on the screen, or they force us to take a direct part in it. In the first case, one can recallthat veryscene of the death of one of the characters, from which part of the community of fans of the first game is still burning with a bright flame. In the second case, the developers exploit a technique that caused a dispute 7 years ago about the actions of the protagonist in the final of the first game - “The Last of Us. Part 2 "we again commit ambiguous actions with our hands, depriving even a hint of the right to choose.
Most controversial plot in Naughty Dog history
It is in the developers' desire to cause conflicting feelings, and sometimes simply to shock the players, that the main problem of the plot lies. Any mistake in it, illogical events, poorly spelled out characters of the heroes or simply rejection of the fate of favorite characters can cause a sharp protest, because of which the entire plan of the scriptwriters will collapse like a house of cards. It is impossible to say how much the plot will work for a specific player, for example with you. In our opinion, apart from a number of mistakes inherent in AAA games, it is quite logical and explains with utmost attention even such nuances as why Ellie learned to swim.
However, before buying, you should know this in advance: The plot of The Last of Us Part II is very different from what we saw in the first game.
When we watched the heroes grow stronger in the first part, Part II literally breaks them physically and mentally, showing how destructive aggression, a longing for revenge and mental illnesses can be. Another point is the desire of the developers to show the conflict from two sides, essentially dividing the games into two parts. The first part of The Last of Us Part II (sorry for the tautology) is about revenge, the second is about redemption. Such an exposition of the events of the game from two opposing sides creates unusual and regretful situations in the style of "Oh, hello to the soldier / doggie, whom I stabbed / tore apart with an explosive arrow for ten hours!", But at the same time the game takes away part of the screen time the heroes we loved in the first part, forcing us to wade through the fate of the characters,
From the point of view of the plot, Part 2 turned out to be an ambiguous game, if only from the fact how polar emotions it caused in the gaming community: someone likes the first half of the game, someone the second, someone is delighted with the whole game as a whole , when others spit from the very first hours until the very end. We can say for sure only one thing: oddly enough, but the passage of The Last of Us Part II on Youtube is not able to convey even a fraction of those feelings that causes the plot of the game. This effect is best felt in interactive moments, when the game shamelessly forces you to do things with which you disagree, but is forced to obey at the behest of an invisible director.
The Last of Partisans Part II
If you can argue about the plot for a long time, then with the gameplay, and more specifically - the combat sections, things are much more straightforward. In terms of gameplay, “The Last of Us. Part II "became for the first game exactly the same project as Uncharted 4 turned out to be for the second and third parts of Nathan Drake's adventures. In other words, we are facing not a revolution, but a logical evolution of the gameplay, aimed at increasing the maneuverability of the protagonist, as well as the variability and visual impact of the gameplay.
First of all, Naughty Dog significantly expanded the locations, filled most of them with detours and took care of multi-storey arenas. In other cases, arenas can reach up to 4 floors, forcing them to approach the building in a roundabout way, so as not to substitute their head under the bullet of a sniper waiting in a secluded place. Of course, the game could not do without deliberately linear combat sections (especially in the second half of the game), but in general it can be seen how the developers adhered to the Uncharted 4 ideology when designing the levels, where most of the levels were a mini-sandbox, sharpened in the same way as for an aggressive style of play. and stealth.
In terms of variability, the developers this time went even further, because of which the level structure and gameplay of The Last of Us Part II offers the opportunity to go through the combat sections without killing at all. However, we note that avoiding battles will have no effect on the plot, and there will be only one practical benefit from trying to play the pacifist - saving resources and ammunition.
Expanded locations work especially well in synergy with Ellie's increased agility, achieved through advanced motion matching animation technology and an expanded range of moves. Even such seemingly insignificant little things as the ability to crawl, quickly squeeze through holes inside a wall or jump significantly deepen the gameplay and raise the "guerrilla" gameplay familiar to the original The Last of Us. On difficulty from "medium" and above, the game in every possible way incites the player to the tactics "hit-retreat", which is why the extended maneuverability is only beneficial, allowing you to significantly speed up the gameplay, and Ellie, as a result, making the hero much more dangerous than the hardened killer Joel in the first game.
Hotline Miami on steroids
In addition, opponents urge to move, who use terrain changes to occupy the most advantageous position, go around from the flank, with a well-aimed eye strain out even Ellie lying inside the lush vegetation and often talk with each other, and without receiving an answer, checks the place of the last deployment of the partner. In other words, with all their might they insert sticks into the player's wheels and try to make the appearance of the presence of brains in a virtual skull. Surprisingly, they manage to pull off such a trick, but only at maximum difficulty.
The Last of Us Part II is actually a rare action game, where increasing difficulty affects not only the amount of damage taken from opponents, but also directly on the artificial intelligence. The speed of decision-making and the delay between "saw and fired", the range of visibility, persistence when searching for the main character and even the ability to look around while walking - at each point, opponents show themselves best on the difficulty of "survival".
This is why we recommend playing The Last of Us Part 2 on PS4 only on Hard difficulty starting with "High". Otherwise, from a tactical action movie that forces you to constantly perform tactical maneuvers in conditions of a shortage of ammunition and smart opponents, the game runs the risk of starting to resemble a primitive copy of Gears of War, depriving the gameplay of depth. On "survival", the combat system completely turns into an analogue of Hotline Mayami on steroids: into an insanely adrenaline action with blood-soaked levels and people writhing in pain, where the high cost of mistakes and meticulousness in exploring the locations of opponents makes each fight with misted palms from tension. In this case, even the developers' promises that we will sympathize with every killed soldier or dog fade into the background, leaving room only for primal rage.
Another important component of the gameplay of the game is the exploratory part, which serves to collect resources and as a relaxation zone between intense fights. There are no fundamental differences between the first game. As before, we are attracted by the outstanding graphics performance by console standards, pleasing the eye with the unique interiors of almost every meeting room. In the corners, however, secretly huddle notes revealing mini-stories of locations, resources and safes, which often, like Dishonored, will require you to examine the environment in search of clues for the desired combination.
Rare puzzles, which this time turned out to be more interesting than the puzzles with rafts and ladders, are designed to further diversify the passage of The Last of Us Part II, but they succeed with varying degrees of success, especially in the second half of the game, where linear levels often come to the place of open levels levels tailored for the increased dynamics of the narrative.
Obviously, the exploration of locations is clearly not the strong point of the second part of The Last of Us, and there is only one truly open level for the whole game. To further reduce the enthusiasm for exploring locations, your inventory can be overloaded with useful items, so again we repeat the mantra that for the best experience of playing TLOUP2 you should play at high difficulty levels. Also, be prepared for the third "pillar" on which the gameplay rests, and is much more shaky than the previous two: in the moments of breaks between adrenaline fights and unhurried exploration of levels, the game in important plot moments turns into a real walking simulator, forcing only and do something to tilt the sticker forward to view the new cutscene. This kind of storytelling isn't bad at all
SJV, LGBT, agenda
As a separate item in the review "The Last of Us. Part 2", we will consider one of the most hotly discussed game components on the USA Internet: inclusiveness, the presence of homosexual relationships and other influences of the progressive world that cause strong rejection among domestic players. Let's say right off the bat: the problem is clearly exaggerated and apart from some absurd excesses, like a pregnant woman leaving for a task, in general the developers managed to organically and naturally convey the relationship between Dina and Ellie, as well as other inclusive moments.
What can we say, if even a sensational transgender character (a girl who decided that she is a boy) is an example of a realistic and motivated teenage rebellion, when a girl stopped wearing a dress not out of a child's whim, but because of her unwillingness to follow the customs of the sectarian religious community and go out married at 13 to an elderly man. Or, the same kiss from the E3 trailer for The Last of Us Part II is actually the trigger for one of the most tragic events in the game.
Bottom line: buy or not buy?
Concluding the review of The Last of Us Part 2, we admit that the game is very easy to hate, it does not try to play along with the fans of the first part, does not offer another journey for Joel and Ellie, and with all its might tries to evoke negative emotions bordering on hate with a number of plot twists ... Of course, there are enough bright moments in this story, but they are unlikely to hide the disappointment and a feeling of emptiness inside if the plot moves do not find a sufficient response in the soul.
Based on the impressive number of completely opposite reviews, it is difficult to unequivocally recommend a game to someone, but if you are ready for a difficult, large-scale (about 30 hours per playthrough) story that tests your nerves, and do not expect the sequel of the cult game “the same more, but only thicker ", then it is worth trying and perhaps the game The Last of Us Part II will become for you one of the brightest and most surprising gaming experiences in recent years. Exactly such a game as “The Last of Us. Part 2 "for me. For everyone else who has doubts about the purchase, I recommend waiting for the discounts and in no case missing the game for the sake of the reference audiovisual performance and exciting, open to tactical maneuvers and spectacular, full of primitive brutality.
If you are interested in learning even more about The Last of Us 2, then we suggest paying attention to our guide with not obvious gameplay mechanics and a selection of the best secrets and easter eggs.
The Topic of Article: Review of The Last of Us Part 2: One Step From Love to Hate.