The Last of Us 2 – Buy or Pass

The first Last of Us game is undoubtedly one of the greatest video games of all time. The character development, gameplay, and overall story arc made the first game many people’s favorite game. After 7 years of anticipation, we finally have the release of The Last of Us 2.

As with all Buy or Pass reviews, I will be sharing my own opinion on the game to help you decide whether the game is worth buying, or passing on.

Graphics

When the first Last of Us was released, it took the gaming community by surprise with its incredible graphics. Likewise, the second game does the same and exceeds expectations.

The graphics in the Last of Us 2 are absolutely gorgeous. The game excels in Lighting, facial animations, foliage, and texture qualities.

  • Sun rays

The light rays and casting shadows from the sun look great.

  • Dense forest

Something that took me off guard was the amount of greenery on screen at one time. Every area is dense with overgrown leaves and trees, and the game handles it all extremely well.

  • Particle effects

Another area to note is the spore invested zones. The particle effects in these areas really impressed me.

  • Facial animations

I don’t know how they do it, but Naughty Dog really rises above the crowd with the level of detail and accuracy in their character models. The facial expressions are always on point and never look odd or out of place.

Overall the Graphics are extremely impressive in the game. I primarily play on PC and I have to say that this just might be the best looking game I have ever played.

Level Design

Something that I think is really important to talk about, is the level design. The game really takes some risks with how the levels are layed out, but I think it pays off.

Now, yes, The game is a linear game, but the levels and areas you are thrown into, are massive. One of the very first sections of the game is a large area where you have a map and are given the option to explore the different locations.

This is far from open world, but the levels are big are promote exploration. Not only that, but they are also designed so well, that you know exactly where to go and the game never confuses you on which direction to take.

Gameplay

No matter how you feel about the story or different aspects of the game, I have to say that the gameplay is incredibly fun and really refined.

This goes hand and hand with the level design. The gameplay is smooth and I found myself having trouble putting the controller down and logging off for the day.

There are some new puzzles, as well as some from the first game. All of the puzzles aren’t too hard to solve but not too easy. It really breaks up the pacing nicely.

The movement in the game feels incredible. Switching off from it and playing another game felt like a downgrade.

Another welcome addition is the added depth to the skill tree. Similar to the first game, you collect pills to upgrade specific abilities. In this game, they added more options and even more motivation to progress through the skill tree.

The weapon upgrades are even more viable in this title. There are more options and more things to choose from. I also want to note that the animations for the workstation is impressive and shows an attention to detail that I think most developers would ignore.

Overall the gameplay is top-notch. It is smooth, the pacing feels good. The movement and feel of the game is unlike any other. I found myself enjoying and having fun with how the game feels. It makes it easy to play for hours on end.

Combat

Going hand-in-hand with the gameplay, I need to talk about the comat in the game. There is a lot to like here!

  • Weapons

The weapons feel incredible and sound really good. There are a lot of options here and I ended up switching around and using all of the weapons.

  • Hand-to-Hand Combat

The game makes it to where you really need to use your ammo wisely. If you don’t and find yourself out of ammo, or even taking a stealth approach to save ammo, you will find yourself using melee options.

The game takes a more cinematic approach to the melee animations this time around, and I think it really works.

The death animations are absolutely brutal and extremely satisfying if you like doom esc kills like me.

Overall the combat felt great and adds to what I said before, You will find yourself having trouble putting the game down.

AI

I felt this needed it’s own category, due to the level of detail put into the AI. It took me by surprise and I am happy to say that I was really impressed with it.

  • Personality

I haven’t seen this in any other game. The enemy AI has personality and I realism feel to them. So what do I mean by this?

Basically, let’s say you kill an enemy, and one of their partners sees, that partner will scream out that enemies name and tell the others that they died. The difference in this one, is that, each enemy has a name and each of their other enemies knows who they are.

I would go as far as to say you hear the emotion in their voice when they find one of their friends dead. Sometimes scared, sometimes sad or angry. This added such depth and personality to the AI that I was really surprised with.

  • Awareness

Not only do they have personality, but they also are aware of their surroundings. There were points where I ran out of ammo and my weapon clicked, and I heard one of the enemies shout to the others that they heard I was out of ammo and to move forward on me.

This element gave them so much more then just bots that I needed to kill, but AI that I needed to be careful of.

Another thing I had noticed is that they will call out where you exactly are. Once I was behind a van, and I heard one of them shout out that I was “behind the white van!”. Not only did this put me more on edge, but gave me more to be worried about.

  • Dogs

A new addition to the AI is dogs. These dogs will be tied to their owner and sniff out your scent until they find you.

I actually was on edge when any dogs were around. I knew I couldn’t hide from them for forever. Not only that, but I also knew that whether I killed the owner or the dog first, I would have to deal with the other knowing I was there.

I really liked the addition of dogs in the game, it really added to the stealth meter.

  • Secret call outs

I won’t mention too much about this, but there is an enemy type that even has their own call out system. The different pitches and lengths in their whistles will indicate whether they spotted you or not.

I never knew when they knew where I was or were just calling out to search the area more. This element was a nice addition to the game.

The attention to detail and time put into the AI is incredible. There is more to fear and worry about then in the first game, and I think it adds to the experience rather then subtracts from it.

Infected

The game never loses it’s horror factor when it comes to the infected. I would even say that it amps up the horror and ambiance. I was more anxious running into infected in this game than in the first game.

  • Shamblers

There are two new infected types, one of them being the shamblers. These are similar to the bloaters in the first game, but more of a head on rushing type. They were actually a challenge to take down and whenever I ran into them, I had to prepare before taking them on.

  • Stalker

To support the amped up horror aspect, there is the addition of stalkers. Stalkers are not able to show up when you use your hearing ability. They stalk you for periods of time before actually killing you. These, especially in groups, were really creepy and sometimes the hardest to kill.

I am happy to see the horror aspect of the first game makes it’s way to this one. Even more, so that it is on a higher level. The infected are faster, smarter, and creepier than ever. The addition of the new types helps add to the game and I am really happy to say they pulled it off again.

Story

Of Course this is where it really counts in this review and in the game overall. The story is what most people are passionate about. This game has a unique one, that’s for sure.

So, after traveling the country with Joel and Ellie, where does Naughty Dog take us? Is there even a need for a second game?

Well we were given a story and when you look at it how it is and accept it’s the story we were given, I think there is a lot of good to take away from this.

  • The Good

The story focuses on Ellie and her story, which I think was a good choice, she is grown up now and It is her time to have her arc. We played as Joel and we grew to love his character, but It is time to pass the torch.

The story really amplifies a lot of unique points of few, that I think most developers are scared to explore. They try a lot of view points to fill in the gaps and make the story more of a real to life situation.

Not everyone is the bad guy, or maybe, in a way, everyone is the bad guy. The story really hits hard with some of these ideas and concepts.

There were characters that I really liked to get to know. I would say I was sad to see they weren’t in the game as much, but I was interested in them.

I think the story is pretty good. I think looking past the bad of the game, there are some interesting concepts and ideas playing out.

  • The Bad

I think there is a lot of good in the story, but unfortunately, a lot of bad too. I found myself wishing they would have gone another way in some parts.

There are some major events and plot points that I really think were unnecessary. I don’t know that it was the best option and that it was the wisest choice.

The middle section of the game really slowed down for me, and I think most people will feel the same way. A lot of the characters in this portion of the game were boring and uninteresting.

I think that the way the story was arranged wasn’t the best choice and that it focused on uninteresting characters rather than the ones we already love. It was fighting a uphill battle.

The story on the game is pretty good. Not a masterpiece like the first, but with the story we were given, I think it’s at least worth seeing through. It has a lot of ups and downs and sometimes is all over the place, but I think it uses a lot of unique perspectives. Overall I think it will work for some people, and won’t for others.

Conclusion

So is The Last of Us 2 worth buying? Or should you pass on it. My answer is I think the game is worth a buy. The gameplay, graphics, and level design in the game are the best and most refined that I’ve ever seen. The game is really fun to play through and really unique. Story wise, it really is a strange one, but it works with a lot of cool perspectives and view points. Yes, it fails in a lot of areas, and they really did do some things that were kind of a slap to the face to lovers of the first game. I think regardless of how you feel about the story, the game is worth playing through and experiencing.

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