[Note: Contains spoilers for the game]
The Last of Us Part 2 was released on June 19, 2020 as a Playstation 4 exclusive after several delays, and yielded mixed reviews from its audience. As I played the game, I understood why with “understood” being said loosely. With the biggest concerns that I initially came across on the internet being that a woman was too muscular, my excitement for the game grew… immensely.
I really was convinced that when the story started, Joel was going to be dead and Ellie was going to be this cold and angry woman. But the story shows the before and after of Joel’s death, and then sets the main story in motion. It gives a wider breath of context to the world as we’re introduced to it. I was delightfully surprised that the game wasn’t 100% anger, grit, and violence. A lot of it was, obviously, but not the expected entirety. There’s jokes, snowball fights, and a gas mask bong.
In terms of the story’s structure, I was a big fan of most creative choices, but one choice in particular left me frustrated. After Abby has a confrontation with Ellie, the story resets to Abby’s story three days to finding Ellie. While playing Abby’s story is great, and playing it uninterrupted was definitely the way to go, it’s frustrating to work so hard to get Ellie to the point of finding Abby, only to have the story reset. Story-wise, it makes sense to see where Abby is coming from and play a new story from her point of view. It also seems logical to have the underlying knowledge of what is about to happen to Abby and her friends, however, that dramatic irony of knowing what is going to happen doesn’t serve as much suspense as it does with “let’s get a move on I want to get to the part of the story I already worked for”. That being said, I loved Abby’s story and I really enjoyed her as a character and her development.
Now, while I understand the innate need to hate her, I don’t and I didn’t from the start. Frankly, I started to like her once her character was developed and we learned about her past and how she came to be where she is. Depending on the mood during my gameplay, I like Abby more than I like Ellie.
The Last of Us Part 2 included LGBTQ main characters, all in ways that weren’t forced. The game ultimately benefited from these additions and widened the world, making clear that while the infected were running around and wreaking havoc, there were still complex and unique worlds and people living their lives. The game may forever hold a place in my heart because of this.
The visuals in this game, as expected, are phenomenal. I was thoroughly impressed but also not surprised by this. We knew that this game was going to be beautiful and this fact was one of the biggest strengths that the game flaunted. Another strength that gave the game a new level of awe was how the climax of the game took place during a massive thunderstorm. The storm visuals paired with the thunder + lightning effects were nothing short of stunning. One specific shot of Abby during a cinematic, lit with a flash of lightning, nearly made me heart stop. I was awestruck.
In a recent update, several game mods became available, including unlimited ammo and crafting, which is a great way to spice up the game but it also makes for something a little more hysterical; a molotov run. I made it through at least half of Ellie’s portion of the game using only molotovs and the motivation of my friend beside himself with laughter. 10/10 I always recommend finding ridiculous ways to play very serious video games.
I’m happy to say that The Last of Us Part 2 is an intense, intriguing, emotional, and fun game that anybody who wants to play can find a way to play. That being said, don’t let any young kids play this game. Rated M for Mature after all!
Gameplay Review Notes: I always play games on easy mode the first time around, and usually with several accessibility modes turned on. The Last of Us 2 had a plethora of accessibility options for people who are visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, or have trouble with fine motor functions.
I also played the game with navigation assistance. It’s always been easy for me to get lost or confused with video games that have a really vast setting. I also played with motor and hearing assistance, so it was easier to aim and I had visual cues for when an enemy was about to discover where I was hunkering down. These functions were beyond helpful and made for an appropriately challenging game that I was able to enjoy.