Developer: Naughty Dog
Genre: Action-adventure, Survival/Horror
Completion time: 38hrs 32min
When I landed my first job as a cartoonist, I could finally afford to get back into video games. I bought my PlayStation 4 console in 2016. Venturing into the PS4, I had no idea which games were good in that generation. A few years ago, a friend of mine recommended I try out a game called The Last Of Us, a PS exclusive released on the PS3 in 2013 and later onto the PS4 as a remastered version. I wasn’t convinced. I was still deep into Far Cry 5, Gran Turismo Sport, Horizon Zero Dawn and a few battle royale games. About a year later, PlayStation Plus decided to give out The Last Of Us as one of the free monthly games. So came my opportunity to finally try out this critical acclaimed classic. Forty-five gigabytes later, the game was ready. I was immediately pulled into the post-apocalyptic world of Joel and Ellie.
The Last Of Us takes you on a journey across the United States after a pandemic destroys all civilisation, leaving you to wade through the empty shells of cities and highways reclaimed by nature. You play as Joel from a third-person perspective , a smuggler commissioned to take a young girl by the name of Ellie to the Fireflies, a militia group. The world has been overrun by Cordyceps, a mutant fungus that has taken over the human population, Ellie is a possible key to a vaccine as her body is immune to the infection. For the next 12 hours of gameplay, Ellie and Joel form a father-daughter like bond as they shoot their way through ‘the Infected’ and human enemies. After an attack by the Fireflies, Joel passes out and regains consciousness to learn that Ellie is getting prepped for a surgery which will end up killing her if she goes through with it. You get to be Joel tearing through the army of Fireflies in the hospital to save Ellie. When Ellie wakes up from anaesthesia, necessary lies are told, leaving Ellie in the dark, but safe for now. And then I played the game again!
Now, where do I even begin with part 2? The first thing I notice after clicking on ‘new game’ and choosing my difficulty is the breathtaking quality of the graphics. Joel has aged quite a bit and Ellie is all grown up! (A gruff, likeable tomboy with a sick tattoo). Joel and Ellie have settled down in Jackson, Wyoming in a flourishing closed community. We meet new characters, Dina and Jesse. It is apparent from popular reviews that the LGBTQ+ inclusive storyline is garbage and we should burn this game as soon as we buy it. For the rest of us, we have indeed been blessed by the gamer gods with another classic.
You begin the game as Ellie, on your way to do patrols with Dina. The Jackson community keeps a list for those tasked to do scouts around the area, mainly looking out for ‘the infected’. You also meet and play a character called Abby, a young woman leading the Washington Liberation Front (WLF) military group, on the hunt for revenge. I was immediately suspicious when this scene started playing out. When Abby gets caught up fighting off a crowd of Infected, Tommy and Joel show up to her rescue. Abby suggests that they all head back to where the WLF are currently taking shelter from the blizzard.
Jesse looks for Ellie to tell her that Joel was out with Tommy. Ellie and Dina go looking for the two brothers. We find out Abby’s real intentions when the WLF surrounds Joel and Tommy, attacking them. Ellie walks in on the situation, and she is immediately overpowered by one of the militants. She watches as Joel is savagely beaten with a golf club by Abby, and having his skull bashed, killing him instantly. I remember feeling the exact way I felt when Mufasa from the ORIGINAL The Lion King died. I felt my blood boiling at that very moment, but at the same time, I was excited to see where the game was going. It was when I entered Seattle in search of Abby and co. was when I realised that this sequel was twice the size of the first.
The Last of us Part 2 introduces us to new and improved game-play. The weapon crafting system is bigger and better. There are new weapons introduced, a jumping button, players can now crouch and squeeze into tiny spaces and the listening system has been greatly improved. They have also replaced “shiv doors” with hidden safes that the player can only access after using clues to crack the code. Human and Infected enemies are deadlier than in the last game and we are introduced to killer dogs as well! I really enjoyed interacting with the dogs and realising that they can actually pick up my scent while well hidden. I was even more delighted that I could evade the scent by pressing R1 on my DualShock controller to see my scent trail. In the first The Last Of Us, Ellie was terrified of water. In the sequel, she’s now a champion swimmer. The weapons upgrading animation in every weapons station is so realistic and interesting. What surprised me even more was that I could fully play as Abby! In the beginning of the game, I thought I could only play as her momentarily, but, nahh, like i played 10 straight hours as Abby! This was when I realised the genius of Naughty Dog. I got to know Abby and her camp, her fears, her life. Eventually I felt equally connected to Abby as I was to Ellie.
Even with a Sinotec 39 inch LED TV the graphics are really good. The game looks amazing, from textures, to little details like blades of grass whistling in the wind. I’ve seen online players talking about how amazing the game is on a 4K television. The motion capture felt so natural and apt for every emotion and each unique character.
I used my normal PS earbuds and the sound was quite good. The cries of the infected are as haunting at 3 A.M. as they were in the first game. I had a lot of fun playing the guitar using the touch pad button on my controller.
Like the previous game, The Last Of Us Part 2 has a dark, well written narrative with fully developed characters and is very ambitious. Naughty Dog wasn’t afraid to try new things. I still read hate comments about the game online; how the company destroyed a great character (Joel), how they made Ellie ‘full on gay’ and questioning why was Abby made a playable character.
In a few years, The Last Of Us Part 2 will be hailed by those same people as one of the greatest video games ever made. I’m giving it a rating of 9.8 out of 10 for engaging me on every level, from gameplay, to the gruelling and emotional story to a full course meal of beautiful visuals. I highly recommend you play The Last Of Us Remastered first.