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REVIEW: The Last Of Us Part 2

No spoilers here. It’s been rough waters for The Last Of Us Part 2 in this final stretch and this review contains NO spoilers. You can rest assured our content is about the gameplay mostly.

First, it needs to be said. This is the most advanced video game I’ve ever seen. The graphics are so lifelike at times you can actually be fooled into thinking it’s live action. This is especially true of background details. There’s just these moments that your brain says, “Hey, we’re watching a live action movie!” and you get pulled back into, wait no, this is a video game. It’s right at that edge. I don’t know if it’s the lighting, how everything is shaded, or a beautiful combination. All I know is you haven’t experienced anything quite like this.

The gameplay itself feels smooth and natural. Only the odd time I found myself forgetting how to play. That was mostly because I’d hopped over to another game and popped back in trying to press the wrong run button. Otherwise, everything is laid out so it just flows. You don’t really need to think about controlling Ellie as much as you do just doing what you want. The only thing that caught me up was the rare section where I had to swing on a rope. I think that’s mostly because I was fighting with the camera to have my own view instead of taking on the games perspective.

Combat is ridiculously wonderful. There’s just this sense of accomplishment when you take out a patrol. Especially when you do so undiscovered. There’s a bunch of weapons to work with, including a mix of melee ones. The game just feels alive when you get into these situations too. Being able to listen for enemies makes the world feel more real. Dialogue also brings the game to life. Enemies aren’t just random things to kill. They’ll actually call out for fallen companions by name. It all brings more tension into the situations you’ll encounter.

There was even this one moment where a woman on patrol had wrestled away from me. Before she could shoot Ellie, I’d managed to hit her with a baseball bat. She dropped her gun. Instead of just running in circles or doing whatever else a gaming character would, she dropped to her knees. The character was pleading with Ellie. Not knowing what else to do, I still finished her off. But the game certainly makes you think about the fact that these are people and not just targets at a shooting range.

Clickers and runners do make a return, along with more infected. As shown in the previews, it’s fun to turn them against your foes too. If you get a chance to mix them up it’s well worth your time. Some situations give you the chance to sneak by, while sometimes you’re kind of forced into clearing out an area first.

The exploration is incredible. While it may feel like you’re just in box after box at first, you start to realize those boxes are full of things to do. Including moments and dialogue you’d miss otherwise. So instead of barrelling through the game, it’s good to look around your surroundings. Usually you can tell what buildings are accessible by open windows, or even just how detailed they are. Windows that aren’t boarded up can be broken and the inside explored. Overall you are progressing through the world. So it isn’t open world in the sense that you can just wander back to some previous spots, or fast travel from a map but there is a lot to check out in each area.

Jump scares are well done and don’t feel forced. When something happens, and it will, they’re brilliantly placed. It’s not even a sense of being lulled into feeling safe. At times it’s just out of the blue. The detail and flow of how well these are implemented is fantastic. I think jump scares suck in games. TLOU2 does it wonderfully right and I actually look forward to these moments. It makes it feel like a great evolution of survival horror.

Nothing is really by the numbers here. I think that’s what the game gets the most right. Puzzles don’t really stop you as much as they make you feel smart. Like, “Hey, I wouldn’t normally do this in other video games, neat!” Even if you fail at something, it’s something to see. I was making my way along a high up wall at one point. After jumping a bit too early, Ellie fell. Most games your character just pinwheels, falls upright, and lands feet first only to fall over and switch to a death animation. Instead, this looked like something out of a movie! Ellie plunges and hits the ground. It’s like a moment out of the newer Tomb Raider games but for a regular death, not an intense cinematic moment.

There’s a lot of games out there right now. Despite what you may have heard about The Last Of Us Part 2, this is “the” game to play. The violence may be over the top for some, but it is a mature rated game. Mixing in amazing cut scenes and incredible stealth, this game feels unique. There’s a lot here that the first game got right. Then there’s just more that brings it to life.

You’ll want to dig in and explore around. Patrol encounters are something you’ll want to get involved in. All of it just makes the world more vibrant. When you wander around and find a building that you would have missed otherwise, it feels rewarding. It’s the ground level experience that makes TLOU2 worth playing. I did play the whole game and I found myself reminiscing about a lot of great moments. Don’t check out the spoilers. Take it all in. Experience the surprises. Even the more story driven scenes draw you in. At times I found myself wishing there were even more of them. I enjoyed my time with the game and I’m very grateful Sony gave us the opportunity to check it out early. If you enjoyed the original, saddle up.

Gameplay 9
Graphics 10
Sound 10
Overall 9