The Last of Us: Part II Review
It took seven years for us to feel the true force of what was set in motion in 2013. After an announcement in 2016, we waited four more years to play the sequel to one of the most defining stories of a generation. The Last of Us Part II has finally landed, and it is volatile.
Upon my first play-through, I was enamored with the story, physics, environment and sound design. From the first scene, you’re completely immersed in a world that feels familiar and gravitational. Part II picks up where its predecessor left off, addressing some burning questions and immediately throws gasoline on them. We find ourselves on a fast track from the mountain ranges of Wyoming to the decaying remains of Seattle; both extremely different environments but equally unforgiving.
I played through Part II on a base model PlayStation 4. With the game running at fixed 1080p, I very rarely went below 30 FPS. Honestly, I was so taken with the game during my first play-through I didn't notice anything but how stunning it was. Coming off of three play-throughs of Part I, the improvements in tech can’t be understated. Seeing the implementation of hidden load times was amazing. It only took one stray Clicker for me to learn you’re not even safe during these load times. Revisiting Part II on my fourth run, I started to notice bugs and un-rendered items. This could just be my base model PlayStation 4 underperforming. The controls and gameplay feel seamless and easily adapt to your play style with the introduction of 60 new accessibility options making gameplay possible for many new players. Naughty Dog clearly took what they learned from Part I and made major improvements. In Part II, we can differentiate between “Runners” and “Stalkers,” making them all the more terrifying. Not to mention adding a few new variants of the fungal family. We also saw changes to the workbench and crafting mechanics that added a few more options to some of our favorite weapons and resources.
When I think of Naughty Dog I think of perfection. They have always set the bar very high for me personally. Starting with the first video game I ever loved Crash Bandicoot, to this most recent release I can’t think of anything better. The story of The Last of Us Part II is a story of unprecedented loss and hate; subjects that everyone struggles with. Seeing these topics explored to the point of no return was heartbreaking. At times, I forget that these are fictional characters because of the very real emotional ties I have to them. While being a “zombie game,” it is very clear that that is not the main focus of these games.
The Last of Us breathed new life into a subject I felt was overdone. While the problem of the infected still exists in this world, they take a backseat to the task at hand. I’ve never seen a game so full of dark hold so much light at the same time. The devastating lows are balanced with heartfelt memories; I felt oddly targeted by some of them because if you know me at all, you know I love dinosaurs and space. The team at Naughty Dog tackled a lot of close-to-home topics in the current political environment, which makes for a game brimming with unparalleled humanity.
While Part II functions and plays unbelievably smooth, the dialogue and fight sequences are intense and well thought out. The story itself is very lengthy, but not unnecessarily so. My first play-through clocked in at just over 32 hours. If you are like me, you will check every corner, locker, and high space for collectibles and artifacts. Trust me when I tell you there are a lot of them; 286 in total. This is not a game to breeze through. It’s a commitment and makes you feel the weight of the journey the main characters experience. Having willingly strapped in for the four runs, I can tell you it’s well worth your time.
As I work on my last trophy before platinum (Grounded Mode), I can’t help but wonder where the world of The Last of Us will go next. With an HBO series on the way, multiplayer and DLC looking promising, I’m fully prepared to continue having my heart ripped out by Neil Druckmann and the Naughty Dog team.
And that’s the Borderline Bottomline for The Last of Us Part II
Review Written by Addison Tossey