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Review of The Last of Us Part 2: I’d Surely Lose Myself

I’d heard that leaked rumours caused a stir before the games release, but nothing could have prepared me for this….

Developers Naughty Dog had their work cut out with making the second part of a game which sold more than 17 million copies. In the Last of Us we are introduced to Joel on the day of the outbreak. We go through the loss of his daughter with him, before fast-forwarding 20 years into a post-apocalyptic America, to see he has become a smuggler. He and his friend Tess are tasked with bringing a 14 year old Ellie who has an immunity to the virus to a group known as the Fireflies. They hope to develop a cure, but after Joel finds out Ellie won’t survive, he makes the decision to save her, against her knowledge. It is a story of love and loss that captured the hearts of millions.

Part 2 is set 5 years after the events of the last game, and we play as a 19 year old Ellie, seeking to find out the truth of what really happened with the Fireflies. We are introduced to Jackson and Ellie’s new friends Jessie and Dina, but it’s not long before Joel’s past catches up with him and tragedy strikes.

There is no arguing that this game is beautiful. The scenery, changing of the seasons and immaculate attention to detail in each level carried through from the first game, and was enhanced. Letters and objects give life and backstory to the world of The Last of Us, with interactive notes and trinkets left by previous survivors, as well as objects which can trigger hidden cutscenes between characters. Ellie also keeps a diary which lets us peek into her thoughts at the slower moments of the game, an endearing feature which was previously seen in another Naughty Dog game, Uncharted. Transitions from gameplay to story are once again smooth as butter, and when accompanied by the peaceful and hauntingly sad soundtrack, written by Gustavo Santaolalla, it transforms from just a game to a story that you can really experience – one that is ideal for backseat gamers.

The appeal of the game is in its realism. No big fiery explosions and weapons to wipe out masses of infected, ammo and resources can be extremely limited as well - towns have been swept clean by survivors before you, as can be expected in the apocalypse. The introduction of the new enemy types such as guard dogs, Shamblers (infected that emit a dangerous cloud of spores if you go near them – not to be confused with bloaters which throw spore-bombs at you) and enhanced Stalkers, provide a terrifying challenge that gets your heart racing. The added ability to slink through any gap you think might be big enough for the character to fit through, as well as the new prone feature, which allows the player to crawl on their bellies, makes stealthing and getting through levels much more satisfying and rewarding.

Naughty Dog did well with their portrayal of diverse characters and storylines, but I felt that at times the pacing was a little off and rushed. There wasn’t much time to explore Jackson and get to know the new characters in a tension-free environment before the action kicked off. Something I initially hated but have grown to love is how they presented a character as a villain, but made us play as that character for the second half of the game, making the player question where their empathy lies…

It is a game definitely worth experiencing. Naughty Dog managed to turn my own hatred and thirst for revenge into sympathy and forgiveness, and this is why it sits uneasy in my mind as a brilliant game despite its flaws. Their point was truly made; violence is a cycle, and it leaves us asking whether losing ourselves in revenge causes us to lose a lot more than we bargained for.

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