Review: The Last of Us: Part II
After a long wait, we can finally tell you what The Last of Us: Part II really is like. A game that generated a lot of hype, but also a lot of controversial discussions. Is the game a worthy sequel versus an almost seamless predecessor? Read it in our review!
The Last of Us: Part II has been in the works for almost countless years now and will finally roll out on June 19, 2020, exclusively for Playstation. This great title will come out at the end of an extremely cool generation, but does the game also make full use of the potential that the Playstation 4 still has to offer after years? Is the sequel as strong as story-wise, if not stronger than the first? Let's talk about it!
The circle of revenge
The story of The Last of Us was a story of love, acceptance and finding life purpose in a world crumbling. The world was full of zombies, but often enough they weren't the most evil life forms you'd come across. You played as Joel, as Ellie, then as Joel again. At the end of part 1 you see how Ellie and Joel arrive at Jackson. Jackson is also the place where The Last of Us: Part II begins. Ellie is now 19 and dealing with a lot of problems, but also has more people around her than ever before. This time, however, the story is not about love, but about revenge. The peace for Ellie will be disturbed and she will do everything she can to get justice. She embarks on the most dangerous journey ever through Seattle.
Of course we can't tell too much about the story, that would ruin the experience! Neil Druckmann's words didn't lie though, because The Last of Us 2 is a game like no other. Where the previous game mainly leaned on the story, this game brings a perfect balance. This of course starts with the story, which is told so strongly that you can hardly ignore it. The story has impact and will force you to keep watching and playing sometimes when you really don't want to. The game makes you uncomfortable, but in a way that keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat and wanting to know what's happening.
But, besides all the hard moments, there is also enough humor and lightness in the game. Relationships characters have with each other are seamlessly brought to the screen and you feel involved every second of the story. Everyone knows the giraffe moment of part 1, that has also been thought about in this part. The balance between lighthearted moments and 'oh no oh no' moments is fantastic and the overall balance is also extremely strong.
I'm stabbing you, fool!
Ellie plays very differently from Joel. While Joel is a big, strong man who could punch or kick in Clickers' heads more than once, Ellie is just a tender girl. But that doesn't make her any less dangerous. Ellie is smart, fast and athletic and you can tell during exploration moments as well as during combat.
Combat is super responsive and every punch Ellie throws feels like a rake. Ellie's trusty butterfly knife can be found in her hand with every blow she deals. Sometimes it can be hard to get back from someone punching Ellie in the face, but once you've got the upper hand, fistfights feel fluid. Ellie's butterfly blade is useful not only during combat, but also during sneak moments.
The game therefore partly runs on those sneak tactics, where Ellie gives her enemy a throat hole. These finishers are often horrific, since you literally often see someone grabbing at his or her throat, while the blood already fills the floor with a red glow. The game is laid out in such a way that you can play it almost completely without being discovered, except for the scripted moments. But, you can completely decide for yourself how you approach this. If you've saved up a lot of bullets from previous battles, it's best to organize a full shoot-out once. However you play or approach the game, you should always keep in mind the kind of enemies that are facing you.
A broken world
Seattle is a city divided in two. While certain areas are under the control of the Seraphites ( Scars ), the largest area is divided among the crews within the Washington Liberation Front ( WLF, Wolves ). The Wolves fight with military weapons and sniffer dogs, where the Scars mainly use bows and arrows. The Scars, by the way, communicate by whistling, which makes them quite scary. They are also often very quiet and can only be heard if they are sneaking in a bush next to you. Both factions have cool mechanics to watch out for. So if you like Ellie, avoid sniffer dogs and draw arrows from your chest.
What is the best element in the game this time around is not just the story or the gameplay. No, the level design caused quite a round of applause at times. Seattle is breathtaking and more open than ever. You have your exploration areas, where you can enjoy breathtaking scenes and find good loot. And you have your story zones where a lot of action will take place. In each area you as a player are again looking at the way Seattle was designed. The city is full of secret areas, buildings, caves, tunnels and so on. You think you've seen it all, until you play the game again and find something new. But the synergy within areas is also worthy of applause. Sometimes you just sit with your jaw on the floor and can do nothing but appreciate how areas work.Every time you come across a locked door, you just want to find a way to get behind that door. Which brings us to the next part!
Attention to detail
The Last of Us: Part II is packed with details that make for that slightly more seamless experience. The way enemies react when you are seen or if you grab them is different every time, depending on the situation. The way grass moves, the way zombies react and I could go on and on. You also notice this in the safes. There are several vaults scattered throughout the game. These are fun little puzzles that you can solve to find the code. At times, as a player, you really feel like the smartest person after cracking such a safe code. These are the things that just make the game a little more fun and challenging in quieter moments.
Wherever you notice the detail is on the workbenches. Just like the safes, these are scattered throughout the game. Here you can expand weapons. When Ellie puts a scope on a weapon, she actually puts it together and weapons change immensely, both in design and play style. Ellie will find booklets throughout the game that give her a new skill line. With those skills you can, for example, craft faster or craft more. But you can also spot enemies from further away in Listening Mode, where you listen to enemy voices or footsteps.
Graphics and sound
The Last of Us: part II is a breathtakingly beautiful game. Other than that, the game runs smoothly even on the regular PS4. Characters look realistic and their bodies react that way too. Faces are realistic and emotion is clearly visible on every character in the game. However, the areas steal the show again in this aspect of the game. I can't fault the game much in terms of sound. What really stood out here are the sounds that enemies or enemy dogs make when dying in different ways. Sounds that you still hear in your sleep of choking people, burning dogs and so on.
The Last of Us: Part II is a game I could go on for hours. However, it is up to you to discover all the details for yourself. The game offers an almost seamless experience about which there is very little to say negatively. Also, this part may have had more of an impact on me than the first. I can therefore recommend Part II to everyone, even if you haven't played the first one yet. It's a system seller that unfortunately comes out too late to sell systems and worthy of a verdict that a game like Uncharted 4 has also received.
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