Hello everyone! Today, I wanted to review the video game The Last of Us Part II.
I don’t review video games too often, but I figured I would for this game because it was so long awaited! Now, the game has been out for a little over a year, but I still wanted to share my thoughts on it.
I loved the first game, The Last of Us (TLOU), so I really looked forward to Part II (TLOU2). The game was supposed to be released awhile ago but it was delayed so the developers, Naughty Dog, could finish it. Then it was delayed from their May release into June due to the pandemic, but finally released in June when stuff started to settle down. The game does occur after a devastating pandemic of it’s own and this particular installment happens years after the original game. So due to all of that the game’s release was delayed to be sensitive to current events.
For this review I’m assuming you know the original game fairly well. I’ll do a shorter, spoiler free review at the start. Then I’ll be sure to warn you and put a picture of the game case before and after the spoiler section so you can skip it if you want!
The Last of Us Part II Spoiler Free Review
This part will be fairly short as I don’t want to spoil the game! It’s really a good game and worth playing, so if you haven’t played it yet I do recommend going into it without spoilers.
I felt this was a good response to the original TLOU game. I played TLOU on my PS3 years ago, so I was worried about not remembering the game but honestly it’s such a memorable story that I didn’t have that issue at all. The characters that we got to know and love still show up in the game as well a plethora of new characters to explore.
As we saw in the trailers, Ellie is the main playable character now instead of Joel. Due to this, I wasn’t too upset when we didn’t start out right away with all the same items that Joel got to use (which if you read my reviews on the Rise of the Tomb Raider, you’ll remember was something that annoyed me previously). Instead, it did feel like a fresh continuation. Joel’s journey centered around Ellie through Joel’s eyes but now Ellie’s journey was through her own eyes and showed her own growth. Now, if Joel had been the main character again and we had to “collect” the instructions to craft the same stuff again, I’d be annoyed. While it seems weird that Joel wouldn’t haven showed them to Ellie, the fact remains that Ellie was a child in the first game so it’s possible she just didn’t need that information from Joel so she has to find it on her own. Again, it’s a whole new journey for her even if she is a known character.
As for the new characters, I thought they were presented very well! Since the characters knew each other, they weren’t fully introduced as in “hi Ellie, my name is [insert the character name’s here]” but they were slowly introduced in the conversations they had or from Ellie talking to another character about them. It really presented the world perfectly I think, as there was a genuine familiarity between Ellie and those characters, but enough introduction for the player, who doesn’t know that character yet.
Back to the story, I do think that parts of it were much, much stronger than others but overall it was a good sequel. It was a whole new side to Ellie, a good return to the world of TLOU, and a totally different story while still respecting what the original game gave us.
That’s all I really want to say for now while avoiding spoilers. Again, I highly recommend playing it if you loved the first game. Now, I’ll be doing a spoiler review so if you don’t want spoilers, skip down to the SECOND time to you see the photo of the game (the spoiler section is sandwiched between the photos of the game).
The Last of Us Part II Spoiler Review
Okay so welcome to the spoiler section review of the game! So I’ll start with what everyone has been talking about, how differently the story that was promoted to us was from the game we actually played. In the trailers we heard Joel talking with Ellie and while the scenes were actual game scenes, Joel wasn’t a part of them! For example, the scene that ended up being between Ellie and Tommy, not Ellie and Joel like the trailer led us to believe. Like many people I was disappointed that Joel didn’t end up being as big a part of TLOU2 as I expected, although the extra flashback scenes were more powerful as a result. Losing Joel so early in the game, and in such a dramatic manner, did make for a good motivation to power through with Ellie.
Now, when I went into the game I had mostly avoided spoilers. The only thing I really knew was that Ellie was the main playable character and Joel would die during the game. So I was very surprised when we started playing as Abby. I have to say, Abby’s part was the part that I considered to be the worst part of the game. I’m not saying it wasn’t necessary to this story because it was, but I just didn’t care for Abby herself. While her redemption arc with Yara and Lev was probably the highlight of her experience, and it was important to get to know her crew, I just wasn’t interested in “helping” Abby try to beat Ellie. I do think that the way the game was structured was great because by the time we got to know Abby’s friends we already knew their fates. I also liked that we had done all of Ellie’s journey in Seattle instead of splitting it up and repeating days right after another. I much preferred Ellie’s Day 1-3 followed by Abby’s Day 1-3 instead of Ellie’s Day 1, Abby’s Day 1, etc. However, I felt Abby’s days were just too long to play through because I just wanted to get the gist of it and then back to Ellie’s story instead of spending so much time with Abby. I appreciated getting to know a different experience from Ellie’s but I just preferred Ellie’s to Abby’s.
I do think that the flashbacks in the game though were phenomenal. I loved seeing Ellie and Joel’s adventure to the museum from Ellie’s 16th birthday. Plus, they really helped us see the unraveling of their relationship, as well as the beginning of them working to mend it. I think it really helped us further understand Ellie’s motivation for TLOU2. Also, I loved how Joel doubled down on his decision to save Ellie at every turn when he was confronted with the consequences of his actions. While the rest of the game is super linear, I loved that the flashbacks were scattered throughout the game.
I have to say, I loved the parallels between Ellie and Abby throughout the game. Both had lost loved ones very early on in their lives that affected them throughout their journeys, which was the most obvious, but even less the obvious ones were great. Abby had her “Salt Lake” crew that followed her to Jackson to get revenge on Joel, and Ellie had her own crew from Jackson that followed her to Seattle, although she wasn’t the clear leader either. I think Abby commanded more of a following from her group because the main reason for them going was so she could get revenge for her father’s death, but all of them wanted to avenge what happened to the Fireflies and the loss of a cure, which is probably the strongest motivator. Ellie’s group was very individualistic though. Ellie and Tommy were driven by the need for revenge, but Tommy left Ellie behind and did his own thing. Ellie really followed Tommy if we’re really thinking about it even though Ellie was the most vocal advocate for revenge. Then Dina followed Ellie but Jesse followed Dina.
There was also the parallel of Dina and Mel that jumped out at me. Both women were pregnant during the game. Mel’s pregnancy becomes known when they’re all at Jackson while Dina’s is revealed in Seattle. Both undertook a really strenuous journey early in their pregnancies for their friends and lovers, but they each had a very different outcome. It was sad that Owen and Mel ended up being killed, along with their unborn child. I think this made Dina’s pregnancy, Jesse’s death, and then JJ’s birth so much more beautiful that at least one of the babies made it through.
Both groups seemed to follow the rule that they were stronger together. Just as the settlements all came together throughout the US, the groups had to come together to be truly strong. Abby found Joel and Tommy on her own, but only after Owen showed her the settlement. In order to follow through on her goals, Abby had to lead Joel back to her crew and that’s how she was able to finally get her revenge. Once they split up again in Seattle, Ellie had no issues picking them off one by one. The Salt Lake crew was definitely stronger together. Same thing happens when Lev leaves the group to go try to talk to the mother. Lev ends up losing Yara and Abby isn’t at the aquarium to defend Owen and Mel. Lev’s selfish decision to run off alone cost both so many people. Ellie also had the same rule, but for different reasons and with different consequences. Ellie needed her crew more for the decision making and rational thinking. For example, Jesse was able to convince Ellie that it was time for them to get back to Jackson for Dina and that they would only stay long enough to get Tommy. Later on, Ellie left Dina and JJ because she wanted to go after Abby, making the choice to go on her own and making what I would consider to be the wrong decision that cost her the little family she’d established.
I wanted to mention the new game plus feature. Basically, you start the game over from the beginning but with the upgrades to the characters and their weapons that you did previously. I did appreciate that because I did want to play again but the thought of having to collect every little thing again wasn’t too appealing. Now, I just have to worry about getting stuff I missed.
Another thought I had after finishing the game was how the title didn’t quite match the game anymore. In the original the title is meant to drive home the point that the characters are quite literally among the last uninfected humans left and it really felt that way. However, this game takes place many, many years after the outbreak. Even though being infected is still a death sentence to the characters, there are entire communities that are well established. Jackson is clearly the most established we’ve seen, where the entire city is safe and is almost a regular city we’d visit today. The only thing missing in Jackson was probably the lack of cars and the city has come a long way from when we first saw it in TLOU when they didn’t have electricity, struggling to get the old plant up and running. Then in Seattle the Scars had their entire island with their main settlement and smaller towns around the island too. They didn’t have electricity because they refuse to use it but they were a fully functioning society complete with their own well established societal roles. And then in Santa Barbara, the Rattlers had an entire plantation full of slaves although they seemed to be the least established or secure of them along with the WLF in Seattle. They both had their own societies but were still at risk of infected attacks due to the vulnerable locations they put their people in. Still, all of these groups did their best in securing their areas and keeping their people safe, as well as finding a new way to move forward together. With so many groups, it did seem like this was the norm so it didn’t feel like these were the “last humans” with the risk of extinction anymore. It felt like humanity was making big steps towards thriving again or, at the very least, surviving.
One more thing, I loved that there was an aquarium in the game as one of the main locations! My sister has worked and volunteered at an aquarium before (prior to the pandemic) and so I’ve been able to get little tours behind the scenes there. I loved how Ellie was completely out of the loop on the aquarium. For example, when she snuck in she took one look and wondered out loud “what is this stuff?” which made me laugh. I knew exactly what it was because my sister’s showed me those containers before! (They’re used to grow the food (plant or fish) for the animals in the aquarium.) Ellie, of course, had no way of knowing that, and it was just another little way the game shows us how different Ellie’s world is from ours.
So those are all my thoughts on The Last of Us Part II! Or at least, all the most important ones I could think of anyway. I could go on and on about this game, but I feel like that’s plenty for now. If you’ve played the game, what did you think of it? Please try to label your comments if you include spoilers please!
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on social media!