a REVIEW by Shaahid Seedat
images by Yusuf Ghodiwala
THERE’S NO SPOILERS IN TERMS OF SYNOPSIS BUT IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY PORTION OF THE GAME OR MY THOUGHTS ON IT RUINED DO NOT READ
Platinum #302: The Last of Us Part II (PS4)
Time to Platinum: 30-40hrs
Ah yes. The game I bought the best Collector’s Edition for (Ellie Edition) and a Second Special Edition just for the SteelBook. I spent over 2 hours with my mate Robin Mazumdar trying to organise a pre order for the Ellie Edition when the restock was announced. Fair to say I was absolutely hyped for this game. Nothing would stop me from getting into it Day 1. Without fail, it came to be. Unfortunately, I’ve finished the game to 100% before I’ve received either of my two Physical copies.
In the year 2020, the world was struck by the Corona Virus and words such as ‘Embrace the New Normal’ became very popular as travel restrictions and lock downs were imposed. A couple of months in, we have already adjusted ourselves to it all. My point – The ensemble cast of game put forward the importance we humans keep towards trying to live a normal life even in times of extreme trials. The game is set way after the events of Outbreak Day – hence the ‘New normal’ for the characters has become a way of life.
Morality isn’t even spoken about – but it is the player who makes the judgement for themselves where to draw their lines with right and wrong. Every player can have a different thing to say about the same events – and that’s special.
In the world of The Last of Us Part 2, years after the ‘Outbreak Day’ in 2013, humans are way past the status of surviving an apocalypse. They are actually thriving, building communities and having families. The undead are just another part of their world. A kid brought up in this world probably has killed the undead before they lose their virginities. A teen is shot at or shoots at a human enemy just the way they brush their teeth in the morning. The Last of Us Part II attempts to tell a realistic post apocalyptic story where the world is neither white nor black. It is entirely grey with every circumstance a player will engage in. The player WILL choose how they feel about their actions based on their own Moral Compass.
I’ll get straight into the gameplay. An absolutely refined experience with almost no bugs during my playthrough. The game has been well made and it shows that the delays it got were necessary for such polish. For this iteration of the game, they decided to have dynamic combat settings available giving you a number of ways to approach objectives and combat scenarios. The crawling mechanic during combat makes it absolutely worth diving to cover and crawling away as the enemies try looking for the player. Apart from that, Ellie and other playable characters have a bit of weight to them which is a welcome feel for a third person action adventure game.
Violent Realism 10/10.
I had the feeling the game was trying to shame me for my thirst for violence but yeah, maybe they’re right. I am desensitised to it all. I would gladly shoot a Dog Owner so the Dog becomes an easy kill. At the end of the encounter, if there’s one enemy left, you can injure them and let the screams fill your headphones in all the sound glory possible. Hey! You could even perform a ‘Glory’ melee kill to end the combat by shoving a weapon into your enemies skulls. The extreme violence depicted in this game are probably realistic. Humans are trash and I get that fully.
The game gives the player upgradable weapons going from a Pistol, Revolver, a Shotgun obtained from a Bank, A Bow and Arrow, A Rifle and finally a Flame Thrower for Ellie. All of these can be upgraded with weapon parts scattered throughout the level at workbenches found frequently across chapters. Other characters get a variation of the same guns and have their own upgrade trees. On the flip side for character upgrades, supplements together with training manuals found in the world allow upgrades to various facets of the player. Combat, Crafting and Stealth efficiencies can be upgraded throughout the game. However, to have a fully upgraded character, the game needs to be completed atleast 1 and a half times.
Feels dated without any new additions that we haven’t seen before but plays extremely well.
Graphically, the game is one of the best I’ve seen on the PlayStation 4. Absolutely gorgeous landscapes with a very real feel to the whole world of the game. Highways broken apart with no maintenance, nature taking over portions of the city and buildings looking grey with all the wear and tear. The characters, Npcs and enemies are very detailed with their designs and it really showcases itself on 4ktvs with HDR enabled. A fantastic looking game.
The Last of Us Part II decided to showcase the premise of its story in its graphics as well. The world for the most part is NOT rainbows and sunshine. It’s dark, grey, cold and rainy depicting the events of the game taking place at that moment in time. A storm is brewing in the world and all of its contents will be poured over the player, drenching them in thoughts of morality and human transgressions witnessed by playing the game.
I found this a very interesting choice as it really could have been an entirely different game with Vibrant and Sunny locations throughout. The game tries to tell a story that the world the characters are in isn’t heaven. It’s just Earth as it is now – run by humans with no regard to anything but themselves. ‘Us Vs Them’ attitude is what everything is based on even in game. Locations in the game are Jackson (Starting location) and various places Around Seattle. Going through some of the most impactful emotional moments in this game came when the game was Dark and the sun was out.
The sound design alone is a 10/10.
Next up, I’d love to talk about the sound design in this game. With the Ps5 pushing audio in games as a marketing strategy, this game shines where most do not. Take it this way, Safes in the game require codes to unlock. Using headphones, a player can actually try opening the safes without finding the codes. Enemies can be located with too! Even during stressful moments, the laboured breathing of the player can be heard very audibly. Take for instance one section of the game requires the player to cross a bridge on top of a sky scraper – that moment in itself being anxiety inducing for me just controlling the character was a massive win for sound design. Undead enemy types have their own unique sounds too. The music score is also amazing to go through with headphones.
The Accessibility menu was talking about by the developers as well during the build up to this game. I for one have got no issues with my body BUT seeing non gamers able to pick up the controller and make the game easier for themselves infront of my eyes was so amazing to see. Just because I don’t need it doesn’t mean others won’t. The game is available to play by any type of gamer and that in itself is what the industry standard must be like. Games are experiences and anyone being able to play is genuinely heart-warming to see.
The world building in this game is immaculate too! Quote often collectibles are a chore for adventure games. In this one, it’s focused around the area as people write suicide letters, letters to loved ones and even clues to goodies around the area. The characters also respond to what they read with a ‘Damn’ every now and then so that adds to it all.
Story gets a solid 7.5/10.
For the story, without going in depth into any of the spoilers I can say the following. In a desolate world of The Last Of Us Part 2, I find solace in the fact that small acts of kindness reverberate around the entire area like a chain reaction. A dead human in a zombie state is a problem. A living human is worse. What happens when you’re an emotionally driven individual that’ll stop at no cost to get what you want? Would you be able to see actions and consequences? What gives you the moral high ground over anyone when you could perhaps be just as bad or even worse than the ones you despise?
The story is not forgettable either, but definitely a good enough one made out of absolutely nothing. The lowest score on this panel goes to the story.
Some would argue that the emotions and drama in the game are not consistent with the world of the game. My question would be, are they not the same disgusting humans that are portrayed in the game? Jealous, Angry, Entitled, Selfish, Power Hungry, Liars, deceitful creatures?
For a trophy list, this game is nowhere near as difficult as the first game. Nearly 80% of all trophies are collectible based with only a few that are miscellaneous. The grind comes with player and weapon upgrades that can be done in 2 playthroughs. You’ll need to play it twice anyway as digesting this story can’t be done within one playthrough.
All these are questions Naughty Dog’s latest game left me with. A definite must play despite the leaks and various hiccups along the way to release, I can safely say they have put in the effort for this game and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Play it. Enjoy it.