The Last of Us Part II PlayStation 4 Pro Review

The Last of Us Part II achieves what it sets out to do but that impact it'll have on the player will radically be different for everyone.

By Grayshadow, Posted 20 Jun 2020

The Last of Us Part II is not for the faint of heart. It's a dark and bloody tale about revenge that often shows scenes of unsettling brutality. With Ellie and newcomer Abby crossing paths and their lives becoming intertwined. With Naughty Dog attempting to force Abby down the player's throat as you experience the journey from both sides. As you traverse through this 18-hour adventure killing dozens of people and ruining the lives of many. The Last of Us Part II achieves what it sets out to do but that impact it'll have on the player will radically be different for everyone.

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The Last of Us Part II takes place during multiple periods 5 years after the events of the first game. Joel and Ellie are living in Jacksonville after the events of the first game. The town is now a thriving community full of families, working electricity, and even businesses. Parents take their kids to school and people gossip with one another, but the realities of the infection are still present in everyone's minds and once you leave the gates the positive image Jacksonville provides is gone.

Ellie is the star of the show here. Ellie no longer acts like the quirky kid impressed by the old world and tells jokes. Instead, she has grown into a hardened person and is comfortable in her life. Finally finding friends you're quickly introduced to Jesse, a handsome and capable leader, and Dina, the former girlfriend of Jesse who shows great interest in Ellie.

It isn't long before you take control of Abby and her and Ellie's lives are tangled. After an unspeakable act, Ellie travels to Seattle with Dina. and encounter other allies to take revenge on Abby and her people. It's hard to talk about this without spoilers as it's the drive for Ellie throughout the game but the act paints Abby as a monster to former players of The Last of Us Part 1.

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Naughty Dog attempts to showcase Abby's perspective in the best possible way. Highlighting her ideals and relationships in an attempt to replicate the same feeling players had with Joel and Ellie but it doesn't work. Abby commits such a horrible act, not just in terms of her actions but towards the player that it made me personally hate every time I had to control her. Since she commits this act at the beginning of the game and this establishes Abby's character to the player. Perhaps this was intentional but no matter how much I controlled Abby that anger I felt for what she did never went away. It didn't matter what she did afterward because the introduction of this person was something so painful that it couldn't be erased.

Naughty Dog really plays the cliche tale of vengeance but the first game was a standard tale of saving humanity from an infection using the chosen one's immunity. What made that adventure so compelling was the characters. Joel and Ellie's adventure across America leading up to the outstanding conclusion where Joel sacrifices humanity by saving Ellie. It left a profound mark that overshadowed much of the first game's issues. Naughty Dog still accomplishes this with The Last of Us Part II to a degree.

The animation, voice-acting, musical score, and choreography is near-perfection. Every cutscene and moment has been intricately designed so everything works regardless of the situation is dire, anger, happy, depressed. There is no moment in this game that feels misplaced. With the visuals being pure eye candy to look at.

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The technical quality of The Last of Us Part II is exceptional. How you leave footprints in the snow, ice breaks with pressure, water moves across surfaces, and generally how characters interact with the environment is flooring. Similar to Red Dead Redemption 2 Ellie and his allies will pick up the items directly off surfaces at their exact location and pick into their bug out bags. The amount of detail Naughty Dog put into this game is often jarring at times.

This intricate amount of detail does translate to traversing the environment. Naughty Dog has expanded from the first game's environment design. With large areas that often offer multiple avenues of how to accomplish tasks. Yes, there's only one way out but how you choose to get to that location is up to you. Sneaking is often encouraged, providing the player most options of sneaking, but it becomes a frustrating option in the latter half.

Ellie and Abby can go prone and hide under cars or in tall grass, and if the grass is tall enough couch. You can even craft and shoot while prone but this often limits your view. If you're about to be spotted a sound indicator is played to alert the player, with the tone getting louder the more suspicious the enemy becomes. There are even opportunities where you can use shallow water for cover and dive underneath. With water playing a much larger role this time around as it can be used for both platforming and combat purposes. With all these options you still cannot lock behind cover like other third-person shooters.

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If you do need to fight the game operates similarly to the first game or any third-person shooter. Your gun swings depending on how much you fire or how long you wait to shoot. You'll need to make precise shots as ammo is limited. Crafting provides some options such as bombs and Molotov. With both Abby and Ellie having access to some unique items but gone is the nail bomb which is upsetting. There are new ammo and arrow types that offer some alternatives but nothing too major.

Players will mostly encounter 2 types of warring factions when inside Seattle; The Washington Liberal Front and the Seraphites. The WLF uses more traditional military techniques and weapons and lifestyle reflect this. The Seraphites are a cult that follows a strict religious doctrine. They're stealth focused and are often seen with bows and use whistling as a way to non-verbally communicate with one another. Both factions have unique techniques that the player has to deal with. 

Combat can be a bit vexing. The AI is amazing, communicating with one another and noticing if one of them goes missing, increasing patrols in certain areas, or searching quicker. This level of intelligence means you'll have to think through every step. Dogs offer a new challenge as they can track the player's position. The Sense ability does make a return, allowing Ellie to pinpoint locations but at the cost of movement speed. You cannot just use melee to beat enemies into the ground anymore as the final boss combat system from Uncharted 4 has been added to the game. With enemies dodging and counter-attacking, making melee combat much riskier but due to the camera not locking into position during these cinematic fights you can find yourself at a disadvantage. Adding to the mix are enemies who look behind them when walking and you have a cocktail for some challenging encounters but what's the problem? Well, it's the enemy count.

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Despite being in a zombie apocalypse the human count seems very high. At first enemy, counts seem reasonable, enough to offer a challenge without being too overwhelming but this quickly changes halfway through the game. There are often so many enemies that sneaking without being noticed becomes unmanageable. Often I would throw caution to the wind because the number of enemies made sneaking more irritating. There's also no underwater takedown, at least none that I could trigger.

Naughty Dog does infuse elements of vengeance into the gameplay. With the NPCs yelling out the name of the person you just killed. Showing off that these characters all have relationships and by killing them you've caused a new vendetta. It definitely adds to the emotional weight that each kill could manifest into another situation similar to Ellie's but given that there are so many enemies this eventually became white noise.

The infected are still here and Naughty Dog has given them just as much care. With improvements made to the creature's design to make them more frightening. Clickers have more of a plant-like skin and curl their arms up like a mantis. Often they'll make a horrible screech that made me cringe wondering if they saw me. They genuinely look like something out of a horror movie but their design isn't just cosmetic.

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Runners are still hyper-aggressive killing machines but now will avoid melee strikes and can drain your health easily. Stalkers utilize the same hit and run tactics but will also use the same hiding techniques the player uses. The Bloaters have become literal monsters with increased defenses and more attacking patterns, making them more of a mini-boss than just an enemy encounter. Shamblers are the newly added common infected that can expel toxic gas make 1 last burst when killed. There's 1 last infected that I cannot talk about for the sake of spoilers but it's something truly nightmarish and only possible under very specific conditions. Despite you facing humans most of the time the infected remains a real threat and perhaps Naughty Dog should consider making a survival-horror game in this universe.

You won't be alone for the entire adventure. Sometimes an ally will accompany you that will offer support in combat and provides hints if you're stuck. However, they won't search for supplies and unlike the first game will often ignore you when grappled by an enemy. They're capable are in killing enemies but when you really need their support often they'll ignore you.

Sometimes your goal isn't just to kill or get to the end of an area but find a key item. I make mention of this because during my playthroughs I found that you cannot interact with these items after an enemy spots you, even if you return to a hidden state. This goes for interactive non-key items as well. You'll have to forcefully clear a room and in a game where supplies are everything, forcing this when you've already made it to the item adds a new annoyance.

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When you're not fighting off all these enemies you'll be exploring. Naughty Dog has expanded the platforming systems to include a jump and utilize the new prone system. The game's environmental design is exceptional, with many hidden areas that often take advantage of the new movement system and leading to more supplies or upgrades such as weapons and scrap. For example, safes hold the best supplies but the combination is hidden either and often requires looking at the environment to solve. This goes for many of the often simple but clever puzzles. You're constantly encouraged to explore and take risks for life-saving supplies with some areas offering semi-open areas with optional objectives that sometimes yield extra weapons.

There are new collectables to earn such as hero cards that I personally found pretty bland and notes from past survivors. The survivor notes highlight the perspective of the people in this world from the Seraphites, the WLF, and the ordinary people trying to survive. I personally found these to be the best as it showcases what these factions are truly like outside from those dedicated to the organization who often just praise their faction.

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The leveling system hasn't changed. You'll get scrap and pills to upgrade the player and the weapons in your arsenal. The presentation for upgrading your weapon has been improved with Ellie and Abby deconstructing their weapon before adding the upgrade. The pills system has changed much. You can invest in several trees, some that are locked and require magazines to unlock. It's basic but it works.

If you do find yourself overwhelmed Naughty Dog does offer the ability to alter the difficulty based on your own preferences. There are standard options but if you want to adjust certain features it's here. With an array of accessibility options that go above and beyond.

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The Last of Us Part II is a troubling game that will likely irritate many, especially those who played the original. It's a complex title that succeeds in generating a lot of sensations that most don't want to feel when playing a video game. The gameplay offers incredible exploration and traversing options but often enemy saturated sections that make you wonder if the infected have truly killed off most of humanity. The Last of Us Part II's tale of vengeance will incite feelings of hate and resentment but it delivers one of the most profound experiences this generation. You'll probably hate it but you won't leave playing The Last of Us Part II without feeling something.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Sony
Developer(s): Naughty Dog
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Horror, Violence
Release Date: 2020-06-19

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