If you’ve been romanticising single-player games since EA told you otherwise, here’s a fresh topic to argue why single-player games will undoubtedly win any argument, and in typical Naughty Dog fashion, they have even convinced us that the bridge between beautiful and cinematic storytelling need not come from the big screen.
The Last of Us 2 is the best Naughty Dog game and, frankly, it punches through all our expectations and delivers a story that will make you uncomfortable, sad, happy, angry and every other human emotion there is to feel. We haven’t really played a game with such a strong and visceral message about love and revenge.
We’ll keep this review spoiler-free because The Last of Us 2 is heavily story-driven and it can practically be treated as a playable movie. Yup, you read that right. We think this game is so beautifully directed and scripted that you might as well compare it to the best of the best movies out there. Even the voice acting and character development are the best, bar none.
The post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us is frankly as real as it’s characters. More so now with the coronavirus outbreak in the real world. The first game addressed a virus pandemic that plunged the world into a sorry state and is turning people into flesh-eating zombies who eventually turn into mushroom goo. There’s no cure and now the people are learning to live with the threat of the walking dead in every nook and cranny.
In those four years since the last game, the uninfected have pledged allegiance to whichever groups and militias will keep them safe and secure. So the human populous has really thrived in settlements and groups.
The story paces back and forth with timelines giving you a complete perspective of the scenario. It gets too gritty, too fast. You will definitely fall in a limbo of conflicting emotions for all its characters, and this time Naughty Dog has introduced a lot of characters and perspectives. Even though the story is focused on Ellie and her unbridled emotions, the game finds ways to focus attention on others too, like the absolutely fleshed-out character of Abby (the game’s antagonist).
(This game definitely needs a review with mild-spoilers because it’s impossible to address how good the story is without ruining it for you. Still, we won’t do it because we’re nice people and you’ll have to take our word on this. The Last of Us 2 is the best story-driven game out there, it even dethrones the latest God of War in terms of character building, script-writing and direction).
The gameplay too stays pretty much the same as last time. Pushing you into dilapidated buildings and eerie dark basements for loot. You have to scavenge for parts, ammo and crafting materials to get an edge during a firefight. Stealth works the best, but the situation can quickly turn grim if you get overrun by enemies.
Picking out enemies one by one is what TLOU2 wants you to do, and you’ll be forced to do so thanks to scanty resources. Headshots and stealth takedowns are usually the best way to clear an area of enemies.
Upgrading weapons using workbenches that are placed in various places across the map helps you get necessary upgrades. Crafting also becomes better as you scavenge for ‘pills’ that help you improve crafting, movement and health.
Shooting is tight and visceral. You can knock off limbs and splatter body parts till the ceiling with bombs, shotgun and handgun. Some enemies won’t get detected in stealth mode and that adds a fresh layer of danger and nervousness. The clickers (zombies) are as scary as before. Their clicking sounds and wailing will immediately set your spine upright. Moving through a dark and tight space feels suffocating, quite close to how the latest Resident Evil games feel. You might feel confident after gunning clickers 10-15 hours into the game, but it’ll progressively haunt you by pushing you into infested places with limited resources.
Humans are no less threatening – armed to the teeth with guns and common sense to surround you. Getting past a bunch of enemies is as nail biting as being pit against the infected.
The battle-torn version of Seattle is quite gorgeous. Every element in the game looks beautiful and the graphics on 4K are simply mesmerising. Fair warning, this game will make your PS4 Pro sound like a screaming hair dryer, but it should be alright if you plug in a pair of headphones and revel in its sound design. If you have a good pair of headphones, then the splashing rain, creaking debris and jump scares will breathe life into the game.
We honestly can’t wait to play it on the PS5, if it gets announced, which we’re pretty sure it will. Albeit, it looks damn good on the PS4 Pro too.
We finished the game in about 23 hours, but you should probably play it at your own pace because the game can get overwhelmingly emotional in some places. It’s twice as big as the previous game, and after finishing it, the game feels like two different stories have been told and intertwined so effortlessly that one can only marvel at the beautiful script and the power of storytelling through video games.
This is the first time that I have come across a moment where I couldn't get myself to button mash to kill an enemy… Let that sink in.
The Last of Us 2 is a game so high and mighty on presentation and execution that you will put it up on a pedestal, just like we have. And to be honest, it’s not fair to the non-PlayStation gaming community to not get a chance to play such a beautiful game.