“The Most Polarizing Game Ever Made”
Controversy creates cash, but is this hateful story worth it? Clocking in at exactly 28 hours and 34 minutes, I finally completed The Last of Us Part II. It is an exhausting, stressful game that will either make you feel better by the end of the credits, leave you loathing it, or simply perplexed. I have mixed feelings on this game. On one hand, I enjoyed the complexity, visuals, and gameplay that the game entails. On the other hand, it may feel like a drag and overly too long especially in the final act. Also, some of the new characters are okay but some I think were unnecessary and a chunk of the story seemed out of place. Overall, the entire story felt wonky and gets drowned by its own bizarreness that I don’t know how I can describe it one word.
Some of the controversy from this game before its release stemmed from the fact that Ellie is lesbian. This unsurprising characterization was revealed in the Left Behind DLC released in 2014 from the original game that comes for free with the Remastered Version. Left Behind was well praised like the main game despite this revelation. So if you dislike this game because Ellie is an iconic LGBT video game character, then I’m sorry to ruin your parade but the main plot of Part II does not even revolve around this let alone bother me nor gets shoved down our throats. The game also features two strong playable female protagonists. If the media portrays the criticisms of this game as misogyny, then ask yourself why games like Tomb Raider and Horizon Zero Dawn are successful and universally praised?
My point is that there are those who are critiquing the game for the right reasons while others are critiquing it for the wrong reasons thinking the game has some sort of political agenda. Politics in games are nothing new or surprising. The premise of Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020) is centered on an ANTIFA like group called Avalanche that conspires to overthrow the malevolent Shinra Corporation that cares more about profits than human lives and the condition of the planet. Spec Ops: The Line (2012) also features political messages of how war has dire consequences that are not worth paying the price for. The menu in this game also has an upside down American flag symbolizing distress about our country’s foreign politics. So why is promoting a lesbian protagonist being treated like a nuance by those who politicize every issue? Why do they politicize everything they see in the first place and try to create a toxic conversation (that goes absolutely nowhere) which only muddles the legitimate criticisms of Part II?
The Last of Us Part II is a game that you won’t forget anytime soon whether you liked it or not. The reason being is its violence, twists, and ambiguous righteousness and wrongness of the two main characters. No one is a hero let alone morally “good” in this world. The obvious issue with the plot is that Ellie’s story feels too spaced out that I think going into Abby’s story feels refreshing in a way because it is much more compacted. The reasoning behind this is probably because the game expects you to be already familiar with the former’s story while the latter is an entirely brand new character.
At two points in this game I felt like giving up entirely because I had never felt right down defeated and nearly let down completely. The first happens early on. Yes, Joel’s death was one of the most crushing and brutal events in video game history that was not spoiled for me. Despite it, I wanted to see it through because Ellie was more than justified in getting her revenge. If you quitted right here, then think about what other reason would she would be more justified in going on a killing spree to bring justice to those who harmed her. None. This unfortunate moment was a long time coming and I too would go join Ellie and her crusade.
The second time I felt like giving up was near the end were a specific outcome would have completely turned me off had the plot gone in that direction. That scene would be Abby nearly killing Ellie. If the writers wanted me to believe that they would kill Ellie off, then they did an excellent job because that moment felt like it was the end. I was relieved that it wasn’t, but at the same time, there was still some unfinished business that even then I felt like that was a strange moment to end the game. Although the game ended rather ambiguously, I think the true ending should have happened then and there if they were hell bent on going through with it rather than dragging it out for another 3 hours.
Like I’ve said early on, my biggest gripe is the pacing especially with Ellie’s story. About halfway through, not much happens other than killing some of those who did her wrong. The problem is that the events are spaced out. They are impactful when they happen, however they feel too spaced out from one another. Sure the gameplay is there too boot these long stretches. Unfortunately, some combat sequences aren’t exactly short depending on your playstyle and approach. I played a more stealthy approach that played out more like Metal Gear Solid. They are entertaining and sometimes difficult, but there are a ton that you almost forget why Ellie is there in the first place.
The relationship between Joel and Ellie does take a backseat in this sequel largely because that was the centerpiece of the original. Part I is about love (Joel loving Ellie as his surrogate daughter). Part II is about hate (Ellie’s quest for vengeance). Understandable. That being said, their relationship has shown a drastic change since the time skip and is perhaps the second most important aspect of the game’s plot considering Joel’s moral decision has lead to tumultuous consequences. Their moments in this game are shinning masterpieces of voice acting in this 30 hour epic. The intro would break anyone who gives an ounce about their characters. Actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson have insane chemistry as actors that Joel and Ellie are genuinely two peas in a pod. Their brief yet powerful moments rival the best moments in Part I. It’s unfortunate that the bizarre story direction marrs these perfect scenes. If you gave Part II a 0/10 because of the overall plot, I just wonder if you hated the rather touching Joel and Ellie scenes too?
I’ve heard some criticisms of Ellie in Part II because of the decisions she makes. As stupid as some might seem, Ellie is 19 years old or past 20 depending were you are in the game. She isn’t going to be the smartest young woman you’ll ever see and rightfully so because of her youth. I’m 23 and I know I’ve made stupid decisions at my age so I know what it is to be in Ellie’s shoes. She is human and will make stupid decisions like we all have had at some point when we are young adults. I like to think that’s what the writers had in mind with Ellie even if she made some awful decisions.
The problem here is that the decisions she makes near the end are not believable. Ellie wouldn’t hesitate to kill Abby to end the game when she had her beaten. I would break my own morals too if I lived in a world like this by killing somebody who murdered somebody I loved. The game sets itself up in a way that there is no satisfying result other than watching Abby die at the hands of Ellie. Ellie does murder all her of friends but she spares Joel’s killer? The one also responsible for her PTSD which has scarred Ellie and tortured her forcing to watch her father figure die slowly and painfully. Ellie has killed hundreds and paradoxically spares Abby, the catalyst for her revenge tale? Ellie had already lost her humanity long ago and killing her would have broken the cycle of violence too.
That isn’t to say The Last of Us Part II could have ended with Abby winning like Thanos did in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Part III would then be like Avengers: Endgame (2019_were Ellie and Abby engage in an all out war with the remaining friends they have left. Abby and the Fireflies vs Ellie and Jackson. The issue with doing a plot like this now is Ellie spared Abby meaning they had their climax. Making Part III about this story is repeating a pointless plot that could have been avoided. It would make Ellie all the more foolish to not have killed her.
Because I wasn’t spoiled (not a single spoiler tainted me) or actively tried to ruin the experience for myself like other people who for some reason are obsessed with leaks, I legitimately mourned his demise. Joel has some of the best story moments in Part II because they are usually with Ellie. That being said, the game portrays him as a villain, at least from Abby’s perspective. Joel has wronged a lot of people so his death was inevitable and unsurprising. He is not a terrible person from our perspective because we have been conditioned to sympathize with his tragic past. In reality, he’s a morally gray character. Neither good or bad. He’s just a devastated old man who lost his daughter decades ago. You can’t really blame him for the decisions he has made. Some see him as a good loving human being. Others see him as an evil psychopath hell bent on killing those who stand opposite to him. It’s all about whose perspective you take from. It’s a complicated dynamic that even myself am conflicted about the bad things he has done.
Do I think his death itself ruined the character? I don’t think so because there was someone out there who would want justice for the fall of the Fireflies and those who died in his wake. It didn’t have to be Abby. It could have been the other remaining Fireflies or someone close to Marlene. In addition, Joel’s story had been to told entirely in Part I. Where does he go from there? He had already taught Ellie everything like he once did with Sarah. He loved both of them and had served his purpose. For comparison sake as to why a major character death can serve as a strong plot device, The Walking Dead Game (2012) by Telltale Games did something similar by killing Lee, Clementine’s surrogate father. Lee had served his purpose for the little girl by teaching her how to survive. Likewise, Joel had taught Ellie everything she needed to learn from her surrogate father. Both father figures had done their jobs and served their purposes to allow someone they cared about to live past them.
I’ve also heard numerous plot holes considering the context of Joel’s death. Was he stupid in letting his guard down inside a cabin of strangers armed with guns? Yeah for certain and I’ve heard defenses of this situation because he has been living for 5 years in peace while others counterargue that he has been living 20+ years in the apocalypse. Whatever the reason is, it wasn’t thoroughly explained in the game’s story or in flashbacks. It is silly to look at it the more I think about it. Joel’s death was inevitable based on his past actions. I still love Joel as a character, but it was absurd that he did in fact let his guard down. Unless somehow there is a powerful compelling reason he is justified for doing so that is explained in a future installment or DLC, then it is a jarring plot hole that will stick to your mind.
To be honest, I gave Abby a chance. I wanted to at least sort of like her. I ended up liking her friend Lev more than her. He reminded me of a male Ellie in Part I which actually entertained me. So what kind of person is Abby? She cheats on her friend Mel by having a sexual relationship with their mutual friend Owen. Mel is pregnant by the way. So yeah Abby is a scum. Oh and she bashed Joel countless times with a golf club and she also seriously considered the thought of slicing the throat of a pregnant Dina.
I went in with an open mind and completely understood where she is coming from. It makes sense she was out for blood after what happened. Anyone in their right mind would have done the same to what she did to Joel. I sort of sympathize with those feelings, but I still wanted her dead the moment she murdered Joel. Sure, she has every right to be angry and upset, but The Last of Us Part I and Part II are told primarily from Joel’s and Ellie’s perspective. This is their stories, at least that’s how the games have been set up.
I’m fine by soaking in the antagonist’s perspective to understand what compelled their actions. A game that did a fantastic job of making me feeling sympathetic towards a villain is Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Handsome Jack is the epitome of sympathizing with the opposing side. He’s likable, but also flawed and conflicted that I don’t blame people siding with him. We wanted him dead by the end of Borderlands 2 and cheered his demise, but when his own story was told entirely in the Pre-Sequel, it brewed a conflict that left me unsure towards which side I supported. Unlike The Last of Us Part II were the story wants me to feel conflicted by the end about Ellie and Abby, I can actually support a side in Borderlands and make my case rather than diving into Jack’s perspective midway through the game after he kills Roland.
I just don’t think it was completely necessary to write an entirely new story halfway through the game and base an entire new perspective from scratch. Darth Vader had his prequel trilogy told in its entirety and from scratch, but putting Abby’s story in Part II is backwards writing. You didn’t see Star Wars: A New Hope switch to a story about Darth Vader’s backstory halfway through did you? It would have been better had they released Abby’s story in a separate game that was leading up to the events of Part II with Ellie. There would have been no harm in doing that even if it meant Part II had taken a couple of more years to release. I think this decision took away from the drama that culminated near the end. I was not for one second sympathetic towards Abby if the game really wanted me to feel that way nor can I understand anyone who has played Part I would root for her over Ellie.
One of my favorite characters, Tommy’s role is expanded in Part II, but I feel like we didn’t get enough time with him. What irks me the most is not that he foolishly let his guard down with his brother Joel. HOW IN THE WORLD DID HE SURVIVE THAT GUNSHOT IN THE HEAD FROM ABBY? Don’t get me wrong, I was relieved finding out he survived because I like his character a lot, but I thought he was dead at that point! I wanted Abby dead at that point especially right after killing Tommy! How was I supposed to know he survived thinking at the back of my mind he was killed by Abby. It turned out he survived the unlikeliest of outcomes. Jeez, I was stupid to think he was dead right? How was I supposed to sympathize with Abby when all I thought was she killed Tommy just mere seconds ago? None of this made sense. I’ve watched closely to see exactly where Abby shot Tommy. It was directly on the right side of the back of his head, but it’s hard to see where the bullet went through. He dropped rather instantly too and they made it look like he died then and there. Anytime somebody gets shots in the head, it’s 99.99% lethal. It seemed he lost an eye and if this was because of a gunshot wound, then Abby must be using magic bullets that can shoot straight through Tommy’s eyesocket.
I surprisingly liked Dina more than I thought going in. She isn’t a super memorable character, but the voice actress who plays her does a really good job of being a suitable love interest for Ellie even if we know a little about her. She is loyal and fierce and a boon to Ellie’s life back in Jackson. I just like any character that protects Ellie, but I think Dina should have been developed more and much more prominent that she becomes more of herself rather than just being a simple love interest.
Jesse wasn’t developed enough for me to care enough. If anything, he just served as someone for Abby to kill someone in Ellie’s side. It’s a shame because the voice actor who played him did a fine job. Jesse has an interesting demeanor and feels like he has an equally interesting backstory, but it is hardly touched. He was prominently shown in the game’s promotional material yet he barely left an impression.
Lev was my favorite supporting character in Abby’s story. He hasn’t been exposed to pre-apocalypse culture and norms which leads to interesting dialogue from his past. He’s also very innocent and gullible that he feels the most human of Abby’s friends. I only wish that when he grows up he understands how heartless Abby truly is.
The Rest of Abby’s Friends:
I didn’t really care about everyone else from Abby’s circle. The main issue was that they should have been developed through a full game if the writers really wanted to make us care about them or not shifting to their perspective after they committed an unforgivable act. Also, why should we sympathize with Joel’s killers halfway through the game? Knowing what they had already done, their despicable actions never left my mind. I was desensitized about all of them that I felt joy in Ellie and Tommy slaughtering them maybe except Mel (only because she was pregnant). If you have played Part I, then you would likely feel the exact same way as most fans of the series would. If you didn’t play Part I, then you might actually be torn. The problem is, Part II’s story expects that you have played Part I to comprehend the relationship between Joel and Ellie. Part I and Part II have been set up from their perspectives that taking in another perspective that are an antithesis to them can be hard to digest. The game expected me to take a 180 and feel conflicted about both sides. That never happened. Oh and by the way, does anyone know who Danny was? Were we supposed to cry or feel their sorrow? Who knows.
PLOT SCORE: 5.0/10
If you liked the gameplay from Part I, then you will surely like the gameplay in Part II. The game revolves around the survival horror aspect meaning you have to scrounge for supplies to craft various tools at your disposal. Exploration also rewards you with valuable weapon parts to upgrade your guns and skill trees. I will admit that it can be tedious searching for resources, but it is not enough to stall my enjoyment from the big gameplay moments that require strategy and patience in the harder difficulties. Some locations can be learning curves especially when enemy patrol dogs are introduced. I played the game in hard difficulty which isn’t too hard if you have played Part I. It isn’t too easy either although if you play a mostly stealth walkthrough like how I did, you might have an overflow of supplies. Thus, I recommend using your entire arsenal in those big fights or to pry out human enemies who don’t move from their cover. In fact, I recommend hard difficulty in your first walkthrough if you have played Part I and grasp the gameplay mechanics very well. If not, it might be better to start on moderate so you can understand the game’s mechanics such as stealth.
The enemy diversity is really well crafted. The combat is also much more unpredictable and frantic. Just when you think you’re most safe, the enemy will suddenly ambush you. It has a much more randomness which leaves you at the edge of your seat. The enemy AI is fairly intelligent although at some moments they might not feel so. If you confront a large group of enemies, then the enemy will strategize by flanking you from every direction. If you stealth your way through, then you might find more instances where the AI can be easily fooled and not cautious as they probably should be. Maybe this is from my experience, but the Seraphities felt a lot more keen and smarter than the WLF. The AI of the cultists felt a lot more unpredictable and much more strategic perhaps intentionally which refreshed the gameplay when you first combat them. WLF dogs aren’t too hard to lead them off your scent, but during a full fight, they are a nuisance since they are much more faster than you.
The infected fights in this game are very enjoyable and much more terrorizing. They are predictable in their patterns and all not too hard to stealth as their biggest threat is their large numbers. The new stages of infected are also a welcome addition. The ultimate stage of infected you face late into the game’s run time is perhaps one of the most satisfying yet grotesque boss fights ever. Seriously, it was something straight out of Resident Evil or Dark Souls. That fight was a real challenge unlike anything up to that point which made me rethink how to approach whatever that abomination was. If you like a true definitive horror gameplay experience, then The Last of Us Part II has plenty of it.
The melee combat is also very fun and frantic. You now have a dodge button which gives you a chance in a one on one scuffle. You have to time the dodges to gain an advantage and fight back against an enemy whose attacks can easily kill you or grab you and leave you vulnerable. The shooting combat is really unchanged other than headshots are a must in stealth. Your accuracy is heavily challenged in this aspect, but I feel like this game really shines in close combat which got my blood boiling.
What really refines the gameplay to the next level is the sound design. It is the most satisfying feeling when you get headshots, when you kill enemies with a suppressor, and hearing enemies explode into a thousand pieces.Without this next level of sound, the gameplay would not have been jaw dropping to engage in. I don’t think a game has made me feel more satisfied in getting headshots or multi kills.
The exploration in Part II has also seen a major upgrade. Early on, there is an open world location which makes the game feel much more expansive. The game is still largely linear, but even those linear locations have a lot to explore in. This size increase also leads to longer combat sequences which ultimately leads to a longer time from getting to point A to point B which drags the story moments. I don’t mind the gameplay moments in between, but I think this hurts the story pacing, not the gameplay itself.
Despite my distaste for Abby’s story, I actually enjoyed her distinct playstyle compared to Ellie. They both do have some similar skills, but their weapons and combat have noticeable differences. Abby is more of a tank and fighter, while Ellie is more nimble and stealthier. This didn’t redeem my overall dislike towards Abby, but it made her gameplay (not story) tolerable and somewhat refreshing.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed the gameplay in Part II. It is most definitely a highlight of this sequel and one of the most enjoyable non multiplayer games I’ve played through. It isn’t perfect, but the big moments deliver. Anyone who gives this game a 0/10 judged it entirely on its plot and not its engaging gameplay and sound design that delivered big time. The Last of Us Part II is a video game and although it is a story driven game, we have to remind ourselves that it is a video game that requires an actual controller to really submerse into the entire experience.
GAMEPLAY SCORE: 9.5/10
GRAPHICS AND SOUND:
I will describe in one sentence the graphics and sound design of The Last of Us Part II. The greatest visuals and sounds in video game history thus far. Period.
GRAPHICS SCORE: 10/10
Gustavo Santaollala’s scores never disappoint and they are not an exception in this game. I want to also give credit to Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson for their own renditions of songs that were sung perfectly. Not only are they world class actors, but also world class singers.
SOUNDTRACK SCORE: 10/10
About the Perfect Scores and User Ratings:
After completing The Last of Us Part II, my opinion on professional reviewers and user ratings will forever change. About halfway through, I knew that this was not a perfect game let alone a masterpiece. The pacing felt off although I was enjoying almost everything else at that point. If anything, The Last of Us Part II could be a turning point on how we perceive reviews which exposes video game reviews by major sites and journalists who attack others who don’t agree that the game is a masterpiece afraid that critiquing the game will label you a misogynist or transphobic. By the end, I knew I was going to disagree with both extremes. The game is not terrible to the point that I wouldn’t touch it and it surely is not a perfect, masterful sequel. It is not a 0 or a 10. The most controversial game of all time? Absolutely and that’s mostly because of a weak story and not everything else. It is not controversial to say that the gameplay, graphics, and soundtrack are really well done for the most part with minor inconveniences.
The Last of Us Part II is a video game and I think there is something for everyone to at least enjoy an aspect from it. If this was strictly a movie or TV series, it would have been a catastrophe of epic proportions. The gameplay and graphics make this game worthwhile. The story quality varies from person to person. I’m still conflicted on what to think about the pivotal moments but right now, I can safely say that they didn’t connect with me. I’m not going to waste hours upon hours raging how I didn’t like the specifics of it because I try my best to look at the positives. What’s done is done.
With that being said, I want to point out that the reviewers who gave the game perfect scores did so likely because of pressure from the fans rather than actually judge the game’s quality. Alanah Pearce, a former IGN employee, clearly stated the conflict between reviewers and fans. Watch below:
This reasoning gives a rather eye opening perspective on other game reviews and potentially future big game releases such as Ghost of Tsushima and Cyberpunk 2077. I would be cautious if a Triple A game gets universal claim such as these games that have such high expectations. It’s not that these games can’t be masterpieces. Simply some reviewers are judging games based on expectations from fans. Say Cyberpunk 2077 gets mixed to negative reviews. Fans of the game will probably be outraged and storm social media and those outlets with toxic comments based on what they’ve seen, not what they’ve actually played since the game hasn’t been released. But if Cyberpunk 2077 gets critical acclaim and a lot of perfect scores like The Last of Us Part II, then fans of the game will protect the reviewers from the haters for potentially overrating a game. The perfect scores will also confirm fan’s beliefs that the game looks and plays like a masterpiece. This is an example of confirmation bias and I will admit to have fallen for it when it came to The Last of Us Part II. Cyberpunk 2077 will surely get great reviews no matter what because that’s what fans want to hear (Keanu Reeves is in it so it has to be great!), but will the actual gameplay and story be good? One can only hope so.
Before giving my final thoughts, I want to list highlights of positive, mixed, and negative reviews of the Last of Us Part II. I’m more in the positive-mixed category because of the lackluster story but I enjoyed everything outside the game’s plot. It’s a video game so I must judge it based on every other aspect meaning I am more lenient in scoring games than movies or TV shows. The point of these reviews is to highlight quotes of what many popular reviewers/gamers have said specifically about the story that has been the focal point of the game. Note that almost no one outright dislikes the gameplay, graphics, and audio.
Forbes articles by Paul Tassi
The first article is the review of the game while the second is a defense of Abby. I totally understand this interpretation of the story he generally defends. In a lawless world, killing more friends than Ellie did compared to Abby does not justify anyone else more that they are more human or in the right. There is no right or wrong in a post apocalyptic world like The Last of Us as we have seen countless times. Human nature completely takes control over us when we find ourselves in a violent journey of revenge. Even if someone does interpret the story the way it was meant to be, I couldn’t help to think the overall story could have structured and paced so much better. The game didn’t live to its potential relative to the size of the story it wanted to tell us. I felt numbed by the needless epilogue that should have been stretched into a Part III with Abby gathering her Firefly comrades who convince her to help find a vaccine which results in an all out war between her faction and Ellie’s friends in Jackson. To make things more interesting, Abby could be the leader of the new Fireflies.
Jeremy Jahns on proper structure
Jeremy Jahns legitimately reflects the same problems I had with the game’s structure and the way it went about. It wouldn’t have hurt to have Abby her own story or maybe have her befriend Ellie in a Part II. You could have started the first half of Part II with Joel and Ellie bonding more but their relationship deteriorates when Ellie finds about his lie. The second half, Ellie goes out on her own angered at Joel, but runs into Abby by accident. Their bond grows that they become best friends with the game ending with Abby finding out that her father’s killer lives with Ellie in Jackson who happens to be a father figure to our protagonist. This is a prime example of the game’s story not living to its potential.
Famous Youtuber Angry Joe points out the various plot holes and questionable decisions made about the game’s plot. There are many plot holes, conveniences, and ridiculous character choices that will also leave you questioning why the writers came about it. He doesn’t outright hate the game. He simply gives constructive criticism at what could have been another masterpiece only for it the game to be swallowed by its own absurdities and potential that was not fully maximized.
Patricia Hernandez on how talking about The Last of Us Part II (good or bad) results in criticism
It’s okay to talk good about the game but it’s also good to talk bad about it. No movie or game director should shove out criticism, even minor criticism. The director of the Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) movie was stormed by social media because of how horrible Sonic looked. He didn’t throw a tantrum or called out fans for disliking something. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t agree with everything fans say. What you shouldn’t do is outright mock, call out, or take it personally. Instead, the director agreed to make a fix and did so without making a big fuss about it. We all get criticized for the smallest things no matter how good we think we are. Why not take the criticism and reflect that you are human too? We all have failures but we have grand successes that overshadow those failures. The Last of Us Part II has essentially become a toxic center point of discussion that saying anything good or bad about it leads to either egregious criticism from Sony/Naughty Dog executives or its fans. Not all 7.8 billion people in this planet will say something good about Zelda: Ocarina of Time which is considered by many to be the greatest game of all time. Hence, not all 7.8 billion people in this planet will say something good about The Last of Us Part I and Part II. Art is meant to be critiqued.
Ultimately, The Last of Us Part II is not a terrible game and it is surely not a masterpiece to be put on the same pedestal like its predecessor. The gameplay, graphics, sound, and soundtrack make the experience worthwhile, but the story’s plot and characters left me more confused and disappointed. I didn’t mind the story’s themes and tone since The Last of Us isn’t exactly a happy world to live in. I think the best way to describe the plot is missed potential. A simple restructure of the story would have helped. Cutting off the game’s epilogue would have left me wanting to see Ellie fight Abby and what I assume would be her new Firefly friends who could be determined to hunt Ellie down in one last conflict between her, her friends in Jackson, and the resurging Fireflies in a climactic Part III. This could still happen, but Ellie would look incredibly stupid now because she spared Abby’s life.
I was going to play Part II regardless of the leaks and criticisms that followed largely because I am a fan of the series. As a true fan, I didn’t want any of the story to be spoiled. I don’t understand how some people take this to be ignorance just because they didn’t like the leaks. I didn’t actively search for Avengers Endgame spoilers because I wanted to ruin the experience of a highly anticipated movie. The Last of Us Part II was my Endgame for 2020 and I experienced it through from start to end with a blind eye. I think this obviously helped my enjoyment more but I can safely say the game’s story didn’t meet my expectations. Part II had so much potential yet it took an odd path that it didn’t bring out the best possible outcome that it should have generated.
The Last of Us Part II is still a video game. Had it been something but a video game, the only enjoyment I would have gotten out from it are the actors, music, visuals, production and the Joel and Ellie moments. The Last of Us Part II should win year end awards for best sound design and graphics regardless of your opinion. Should I recommend The Last of Us Part II? Yes, especially if you like a great horror gameplay like Resident Evil. If you are someone who like myself cares about the characters and pay attention to the story and judge it entirely based off that, then I wouldn’t recommend it. I still recommend you to play the game even if you don’t like the game’s story solely based on the pros which overshadow a perplexing story that could have been handled better. Who knows, you might like the story more than I did, but I interpreted it differently than some people who have given it perfect scores. That doesn’t make me stupid or not intelligent for not understanding the intended story. It gives me an opportunity to learn others’ perspectives and try to comprehend why others love it so much. Heck, maybe 5 or 10 years from now, I might change my opinion and reflect on Part II’s story and end up liking it more than I initially thought by taking in a whole new interpretation. If that happens, then I will say that I’m happy that I was awfully wrong. Regardless of what you think about this game, stop attacking others for giving their opinions on this game! The game is controversial, that’s a fact. What is also a fact is that it is not universally panned or praised as some want to think it is. If this was Naughty Dog’s goal on purpose, then they did a masterful job at doing so for whatever reason. With that being said, reviews will fluctuate wildly and thus no one should be called out for liking or hating the game.
OVERALL SCORE: 7.5/10
GOOD BUT NOT GREAT
Horror gameplay tone that never failed to put me on edge
Intense action sequences
Jaw dropping graphics
Mesmerizing audio design
Great voice acting
Joel and Ellie moments that deserve universal praise
Confusing story direction with an anti-climactic ending that should have been put 3 hours earlier or saved for Part III
Unnecessary epilogue that drags the game
Perplexing character decisions
Obvious plot holes that are not explained