The Last Of Us Part 2 Review

"The Last Of Us Part II" is a masterpiece of trò chơi design, và a total disaster when it comes to lớn ... <+> story.

Bạn đang xem: The last of us part 2 review

Screenshot: Erik Kain

There is much to admire in Naughty Dog’s ultra-dark revenge clip game The Last Of Us Part II. And there is much to lớn critique. The devs who poured their blood, sweat & tears into the game deserve praise for its technical achievements. The writers who mangled the story deserve the lumps that follow.

Despite its gore và violence, The Last Of Us Part II is a beautiful game, with renditions of post-apocalyptic Seattle & Santa Barbara that are simply staggering in detail and scope. The sights và sounds of this game are lush và lovely, gruesome & harrowing. In terms of presentation, The Last Of Us Part II is easily one of the best of the generation.

Meanwhile, the acting is—without exception—phenomenal throughout. Ashley Johnson as Ellie turns in another fantastic performance, with a great giảm giá more of the spotlight this time around. Troy Baker’s Joel has a much smaller role, but he’s as good as ever. & man, both these two are just insanely talented. Watch this live performance of Wayfaring Stranger they put on:

Laura Bailey, who plays the third main character in the game, Abby, is also excellent. Sure, her character is fairly loathsome, but Bailey is great.

Alas, while the trò chơi is gorgeous khổng lồ look at and listen to, and the acting is as good as any I’ve ever encountered in a video clip game, it falls apart when it comes khổng lồ both gameplay and story.


Best Travel Insurance Companies

Amy Danise

Best Covid-19 Travel Insurance Plans

Amy Danise

The first game didn’t have much going for it in the gameplay department, either—neither trò chơi is particularly strong as an action/shooter, và each forces players lớn spend far too much time tediously picking up odds & ends in order to craft bombs and med-kits, and ammo for your routinely empty firearms. (There’s a setting that makes this somewhat less tedious in the sequel). When it comes lớn gameplay, both games are fine. Just fine. Not great, not terrible. Just fine.

But the first game’s lackluster game play was more than made up for by a compelling story filled with complex characters in a gritty, intriguing post-apocalyptic world. It didn’t hurt that it also had one of the best endings in clip games, period.

It was an ending that deserved to lớn be just that—the end of Joel and Ellie’s story, unresolved and bittersweet. Brittle và precarious & powerful all at once. A happy ending in many ways, but an unsettling one, too.

Joel’s was a lie told out of love, but it was still a lie. He kept that secret for the same reason he rescued Ellie from the Fireflies. Because he couldn’t stand to thảm bại his daughter. Not again.

That same lie kicks off the events in The Last Of Us Part II, but it quickly runs roughshod over everything we loved about the first game, trampling even our high opinions of the protagonists in the process. What follows is a too-pretentious-by-half story of nonsensical revenge & relentless violence. It masquerades at depth và meaning but fails to deliver either.

Better to lớn leave us hanging than take us down this wallowing, nihilistic path of despair & misery porn. Unless you get off on that sort of thing, of course.

An Unnecessary Sequel

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Unfortunately, The Last Of Us Part II only follows in the original’s footsteps in the most generic ways. Chronologically, it comes after the first game & it takes place in the same post-apocalyptic America. In every other sense, it may as well be a completely new franchise. At least then it wouldn’t have so badly damaged the characters we came lớn know and care so much about in the original.

In the original, Ellie is a teenage girl who is the only person immune to the strange vi khuẩn that’s caused this spore-based zombie apocalypse. Unlike every single other human, bites and spores don’t turn her into a monster. We don’t know why.

Joel, who lost his own daughter tragically at the outset of the apocalypse, is tasked with bringing Ellie lớn the Firefly scientists where they hope khổng lồ use her khổng lồ find a cure. The Fireflies are freedom fighters. They’re here khổng lồ help. Or so we’re led lớn believe.

Along the way, throughout the course of the game, Ellie & Joel become lượt thích family. It’s not an easy road, but they manage it together & in many ways Ellie becomes the daughter Joel lost, dragging him out of his long malaise and giving him something lớn believe in and to fight for. She’s spunky và funny & tough, & she awakens a new sense of purpose in the burned out, grizzled survivor.

In the end, when Joel & Ellie finally find the Fireflies, it turns out that the group isn’t all they were cracked out lớn be. The doctors are unethical murderers who decide that it’s just fine khổng lồ sacrifice the one living person who is actually immune to lớn the disease in order to lớn create a vaccine (a completely absurd, anti-scientific, anti-medicine decision that exposes the Fireflies for the atrocious bastards they really are).

Joel decides that sacrificing a young girl to lớn save humanity is absolute crap và rescues her instead, killing some of the guards và doctors in the process. He does what every father would vày in this situation—and what every ethical human being ought khổng lồ do.

There is only one correct answer khổng lồ the question “How many lives would you sacrifice to save humanity?”

Your own. Only your own. It’s one thing lớn take life in order lớn save someone; it’s another to lớn sacrifice an innocent in the hopes that you’ll save someone. So Joel takes lives in order lớn save an innocent. It’s unfortunate that he is forced khổng lồ kill, but he couldn’t stand by and let it happen, either. He had no other ethical choice.

Even if—and it’s a very, very big if—her death would have resulted in a vaccine, allowing it khổng lồ happen would be cruel and immoral. Và a doctor, above anybody else, should realize this. Certainly in our own fraught times we should understand just how tricky coming up with a vaccine is—and killing the one specimen that may hold the answer is not only cruel and immoral, it’s magnificently stupid.

Joel lies to lớn Ellie about it after the fact, telling her that it didn’t work, she wasn’t the answer. & off they go, riding into the sunset.

It’s the perfect ending. In my headcanon, I’m just going lớn pretend it’s the only ending.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

When Naughty Dog announced a sequel, creative director Neil Druckmann revealed that it would be a trò chơi about hate. The first was a trò chơi about love, the second hate. Like the tattooed fingers of Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter.

One might wonder at this point, why you’d really even have khổng lồ separate the two. Light is the left hand of darkness; love is the left hand of hatred. The first trò chơi had its fair cốt truyện of hatred, after all. Unfortunately, the sequel really doesn’t bother much with love. When it does, it’s at its very best, but those moments are few and far between.

The first big problem with The Last Of Us Part II’s story is that there is very little about it that justifies its existence. It picks up a few years later, though there are flashbacks of the intervening years scattered about the game. We learn quickly where Ellie và Joel currently stand in their relationship. While the story itself is told in bits và pieces, jumping to different timelines, the basic premise is this:

Ellie has discovered that Joel lied lớn her và she’s mad about it. She’s mad that Joel didn’t let the Fireflies kill her in order khổng lồ create a vaccine. She’s still mad at him when Abby, the daughter of the chief Firefly doctor, tracks down Joel và brutally murders him, exacting a ridiculously brutal revenge for her father’s murder. Và right here, right in this one short paragraph, there is so much wrong that my head hurts even typing it out.

First of all, the trò chơi seems to want us to lớn think that Ellie is right and justified in her anger & that Joel is in the wrong. Not just about lying but about him saving her in the first place. The trò chơi suggests, in so many different ways, that Joel’s actions were selfish & wrong. There is an implicit sense, throughout the story, & especially in the way it attempts to lớn empathize with both its angsty emo female leads, that we should accept that Joel was wrong. That his actions were somehow immoral.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

But Joel was not wrong. The doctors who decided to lớn throw out their entire ethical và moral codes by sacrificing a young girl in the off-chance that they might come up with a cure were wrong. Ellie is wrong to lớn suggest that a person who loves & cares for her should simply stand by & watch as she’s murdered. That’s preposterous. Any parent knows this. Any parent would vì chưng the same thing as Joel. & any doctor worth a damn would never harbor such intentions, no matter how many zebras they save from barbed wire.

But in The Last Of Us Part 2, the doctor who decides to kill Ellie is portrayed as a good man who helps escaped zoo animals and loves his daughter. Và his daughter, Abby, is somehow portrayed as justified in her brutal killing of Joel, and thiết lập as an “equal” to Ellie in the game, given just as much (if not more) screen time by the time the credits role.

I’ll get this out of the way right here: Abby’s revenge plot was deeply stupid from the start. At first, I didn’t even realize that this was the avenging daughter of the Firefly doctor because of how thin that rationalization would be. She doesn’t just kill Joel (who saved her life moments earlier, by the way) she makes him suffer. She wants it done slowly. And she does it with the tư vấn of a bunch of other people who, throughout the course of the game, are humanized & presented as sympathetic characters rather than the despicable monsters they are. (Later, Abby shows Ellie mercy despite her having killed several of those friends, which is kind of weird given the lengths she went to kill Joel . . .)

It’s one thing khổng lồ get revenge because you watch your surrogate father beaten to death with a golf club, bloody và crumpled on the floor. It’s another to get revenge because someone killed your own murderous father while rescuing an innocent girl who he was about khổng lồ kill.

I mean, really? I get that you’d be upset that somebody killed your dad, but when the reasoning is “he was saving his daughter from certain death” that sort of takes the wind out of those vengeance sails, doesn’t it? Maybe if not for Abby, then for her compatriots who might, given a moment to think about it, consider Joel’s actions self-defense. Và sure, you might want revenge, or you might shoot the guy if you run into him và act in a moment of pique, but tracking him down & then making him suffer while beating him khổng lồ death with a golf club when you’re fully aware he did it to lớn save his daughter? Give me a break.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

I’m just trying lớn puzzle out what kind of person goes this far out of their way to lớn get bloody vengeance lượt thích this. A pretty evil person. Abby is evil right from the start. But the game và its creators don’t want you khổng lồ think that. They want you to lớn spend half the game empathizing with Abby. The other half of the game they want you to thảm bại whatever respect you had for Ellie.

The Last Of Us Part II already makes it clear from the outset that we should have very little respect for Joel và his past choices. Then, instead of creating a sympathetic antagonist in Abby, they make her about as evil as possible và then ask us lớn see things from her point of view. It doesn’t work. The real victim of all of this is Ellie, however. I used to lượt thích Ellie quite a bit, but not by the time I finished this game.

So the whole game gets off to lớn a rough start. It doesn’t get better from here.

Ellie and Abby are the two playable characters in The Last Of Us Part II. You play as Joel for a few minutes before he’s bludgeoned lớn death. In many ways, he’s the lucky one. At least we get to lớn remember him as the caring father who saved Ellie & stuck by her through thick và thin. The game can try to lớn convince us that he was in the wrong, but we know better. Joel is spared the next agonizing 25 lớn 30 hours, minus some flashbacks which are its finest moments (and a good template for what this trò chơi could have, và probably should have, been).

Ellie’s “death” is much more tragic, because the trò chơi proceeds to lớn ruin her character in every subsequent scene, thoroughly destroying any semblance of who she once was and turning her into a relentlessly selfish, murderous jerk. All because somebody thought that a story about a cycle of revenge would be more interesting than a story about wandering through an abandoned museum.

I bring that up because khổng lồ me, the museum bit was the most powerful piece of storytelling in the entire game. In a flashback, Joel takes Ellie to lớn a surprise. She tries to lớn guess what it is along the way, & the two banter back và forth like the good old days.

The surprise is an abandoned museum. The first thing you see is a giant T-Rex outside its doors, & if you’re the exploring type you discover that you can climb up its back và leap off its head into the pool below. Maybe you vày this two or three times just because it’s so light and breezy & you desperately need a break from grim and awful. It’s such a cool bit of storytelling. It’s so at odds with the rest of the game.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Once inside the museum, Ellie and Joel explore the displays. There are various dinosaurs và astronaut suits, & even an old rocket ship which you can go into & imagine you’re taking off into outer space. You find an old Indiana Jones hat (a little nod lớn Uncharted) which you can toss onto one of the dinosaur’s heads. It’s imaginative và beautiful.

The sequence takes a dark turn in the end, và that juxtaposition of whimsy & terror makes it by far my favorite part of the game. Joel & Ellie are still a team. They have some great bonding moments. There’s some laughs, a good scary bit & it’s done. I wish the entire trò chơi had been lượt thích this. Moments of beauty and moments of ugliness woven together in a kind of bleak harmony. Some contrast, some variety.

Instead, it’s a game about two young women trying to kill one another, while everyone around them also tries to lớn kill each other. You stab and/or break so many necks by the time it’s over, you start to lớn feel a bit numb.

It’s a game about hate & don’t you dare forget it.

Let’s Not Bicker & Argue Over Who Killed Who

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

After Joel’s vicious murder, Ellie feels lượt thích crap. She wants revenge và so does Tommy, Joel’s brother. He sets out first và Ellie sets out a bit later, accompanied by her new girlfriend, Dina. Halfway through the game, you go back in time khổng lồ when Ellie và Dina arrive in the city, but you play the next few days as Abby instead, seeing things through her eyes. This is an odd choice given how thoroughly we despise Abby at this point, & it never stops being an odd choice. While some of her story is interesting, she really isn’t. She’s a one-note character who, beyond being a murderer, does really crappy things khổng lồ people she cares about. Abby sucks. A lot.

In Seattle, two factions bởi battle as Ellie and Abby traverse the city, Ellie searching for Abby khổng lồ get revenge, while Abby looks for her wayward ex-boyfriend, Owen. The Wolves and the Seraphites (nicknamed the Scars) vie for control of the city.

The former is a group of former rebels who shook off the yoke of a tyrannical post-apocalyptic government và set up their own quasi-fascistic organization. Only now with burritos! They’ve taken in Abby and some other former Fireflies, lượt thích Owen. (They’re not a couple anymore, but Abby & Owen have sex in the game despite Owen’s current girlfriend being very, very pregnant. Because Abby is the worst).

The Scars, meanwhile, are a fanatical cult-like group—the kind that shows up in đoạn phim games like this và in TV shows lượt thích The Walking Dead. They’re kind of like The Whisperers from AMC’s zombie drama, as in they’re so over-the-top it’s completely immersion-breaking. The game’s writers must have thought they were crafting a realistic post-apocalyptic group, but the Scars come off as cartoonishly vile & utterly preposterous.

Also, the Scars shoot arrows that are far more deadly than the most powerful gun in the game, so that’s a neat trick.

Suffice khổng lồ say, the Scars are a completely implausible group that cartoonifies the sequel in ways that simply didn’t happen in the first entry. There were some very bad people in the original Last Of Us, but I never rolled my eyes the way I did with the Scars.

In any case, most of the game—after the opening and before the final act—takes place in Seattle across a three day period. Ellie and Dina arrive in Seattle & start tracking down Abby. During that same period, Abby explores the war-torn city & we see how the Wolves vs Scars war plays out.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Thus begins a story of revenge & violence in which Ellie stabs a couple hundred men & women in the jugular a few times and Abby breaks countless necks. Between the two of them, Ellie và Abby must murder a few hundred people, but of course only Joel & Abby’s father’s deaths warrant retaliatory bloodshed. All those other deaths? No big deal.

Oh, and when you kill someone and another AI bad guy finds their body, they’ll điện thoại tư vấn out the deceased’s name lượt thích it means something.

“No, not Timothy!” “They killed Kenny!” “Brenda!!!”

It’s another little touch that’s designed khổng lồ make the game’s world & people seem more real. It doesn’t work. At all. Hearing Generic Bad Guy call out the name of Dead Generic Bad Guy only made me chuckle và roll my eyes. I’m coming for you next, pal. This shiv’s for you!

We have the same half-dozen enemy character models repeated over và over again throughout the game, but I’m supposed to lớn feel something—some sense of guilt, perhaps?

Not hardly.

I mean, the trò chơi doesn’t even give you a non-lethal option and stealth mechanics are severely limited so why not just murder everyone?

The Slog Of Slogs

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Meanwhile, pacing is a mess. The Last Of Us Part II drags on far too long with too many encounters, too many dramatic moments and too much redundancy. I’d take a trò chơi half the length with just a few more interesting set-pieces khổng lồ replace all the endless slaughter.

There are a few named characters Ellie finds & kills as she tracks down Abby, and at least one of these encounters has oomph (when Ellie discovers that she’s killed a pregnant woman, having just found out about Dina’s pregnancy) but largely this sense that we’re supposed to lớn feel bad for all this killing feels more lượt thích something Naughty Dog is hammering into us rather than part of a well-crafted story.

I watched a bit of footage I’d captured the other day where Ellie stabs this guy in the neck four or five times and it’s just gross. It doesn’t make me feel bad it just feels completely gratuitous. I simply don’t care about any of these people I violently murder in The Last Of Us Part II, and honestly, neither does Ellie. That may be the real problem with the game’s violence. It doesn’t square with the game’s seriousness or flimsy attempts at some kind of message. It’s so nihilistic so much of the time, you get the sense that there is no message. Nothing learned, nothing gained. No meaning khổng lồ be found, even when you get to lớn the dregs.

Yes, we get a sense that Ellie is traumatized by all the violence. When Abby let’s her go for a second time, despite having just killed everyone Abby cares about (and despite Abby having proven already that she’s the vengeful type so this mercy makes no sense whatsoever) we follow Ellie and Dina and Dina’s new baby khổng lồ a farmhouse where they’ve cobbled together a new life together. But what appears khổng lồ be all peaches and sunshine falls apart when Ellie has a bad flashback. Tommy shows up and chastises her for not killing Abby. So Ellie gives up her nice little life and sets off again, lớn try lớn kill Abby again.

Xem thêm: Cách Chat Ola Trên Máy Tính Tải Về, Phần Mềm Chat Ola

Because Ellie learns nothing in this game. She must have left behind two hundred corpses in Seattle, including all of Abby’s friends, but that’s not enough to lớn sate her thirst for comeuppance, and she doesn’t realize, bafflingly, that it will never be enough. Revenge won’t bring Joel back và it won’t assuage her guilt at how she treated him & it won’t lead to lớn a life of happiness.

But off she goes lớn California.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Many people who aren’t super-fans of Naughty Dog were incredibly upset by the game’s ending. So was I, but for somewhat different reason. We’ll get khổng lồ that in a second.

After her stint at the farm, Ellie abandons Dina và the infant they were raising together to once again seek out Abby, this time in Santa Barbarra. It’s just another way the trò chơi makes you hate Ellie. Her pettiness, her bitterness, her endless self-obsession và selfishness. That the trò chơi feels it necessary to have Ellie try for revenge once, fail, & then go out again is pretty ludicrous from a narrative standpoint, not only extending the trò chơi for no good reason—it’s about ten hours too long—but making Ellie out lớn be even more unsympathetic in the process.

In any case, Ellie ditches Dina (who deserves better, quite frankly) & the child & heads to Santa Barbara. It’s a great location, all sun and heat compared to lớn Seattle’s rain và gloom; orange and yellow instead of green and grey. Once again, Naughty Dog proves that it can craft some truly jaw-dropping environments. Your first moments in Santa Barbara are wonderfully scary & tense.

But once again we have another group of wicked bastards lớn contend with. This group is called The Rattlers. The Rattlers aren’t as psycho as the Scars, but they’re close. They keep slaves & crucify troublemakers down at the beach. In Naughty Dog’s apocalypse, life truly is nasty, brutish & short. Psychopaths & creepy cults are everywhere.

This group must have sounded good on paper but to lớn me the Rattlers are just more cartoon villains for us lớn stab và shoot & blow sky high, this time with a silenced SMG in your arsenal. There must be a more nuanced take on the apocalypse that all these game and TV show studios could come up with, one in which people are complicated, & groups of people aren’t always so different from one another. But so far, only the Jackson, WY settlement seems lớn be comprised of real people with actual shades of grey.

I’d say that Naughty Dog tried to lớn make Abby and the Wolves complex, too, but they kind of botched that when they had them murder Joel in the very beginning. Every subsequent attempt to lớn humanize Abby and her co-conspirators falls short thanks to lớn that misstep.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

In any case, back lớn Santa Barbara.

The sequence starts with Abby and her companion Lev searching for the Fireflies in Santa Barbara. We met Lev back in Seattle. He and his sister were Scars, but they were cast out and were going to be killed when Lev cut his hair. Lev, we discover, is biologically female but wants khổng lồ identify as male, và the uber-religious Scars think this is an unforgivable sin. It’s a pretty ham-handed attempt at tackling the issue of trans people & tolerance in the game, simply because the Scars are so outlandishly awful. But Lev is a good character & Lev & Abby’s relationship is the one point of redemption in Abby’s entire arc, & one which I wish Naughty Dog had handled almost entirely differently. More on that later.

Abby and Lev are looking for the Fireflies so they can rejoin Abby’s old group, & just when they’ve made liên hệ over the radio they’re ambushed và taken prisoner by the Rattlers. You can tell right away that these are Very Bad Dudes.

Sometime later, Ellie shows up, following the lead Tommy gave her back at the farmhouse. She discovers the Resort và this new enemy faction after creeping through some very zombie-infested buildings. One thing this trò chơi does bởi vì very well is make the various spore zombies scary, as much through their terrifying warbling và screeching as anything. Naughty Dog’s sound design is matched only by their graphical prowess. Nobody can discount just how technically and artistically this trò chơi succeeds. It’s the writing, the narrative, where everything falls apart.

And we come, at long last, to lớn the ending.

This Is The End, Beautiful Friend

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Depending on how you play, you either sneak or blast your way through the Resort area until you không tính tiền some prisoners và they tell you that Abby has already been taken & punished for trying to lớn escape. So you head khổng lồ the beach as the prisoners go to battle with their former captors (or what’s left of them after Ellie cleaved her bloody path through their ranks).

She walks down lớn the beach. It’s dark. The sounds of combat echo in the distance. The sea is draped in fog. Abby & Lev, along with countless others, are hanging from posts, basically crucified and on the verge of death, skeletal from starvation. It’s as grim và awful as anything we’ve seen up to lớn this point.

It’s just that we’re all so very, very numb by now. Another fresh hell stuffed into 30 hours of grimdark violence, atrocity and betrayal. A powerful moment that needed khổng lồ come much, much sooner. (Honestly, they should have scrapped California entirely & had Ellie find Abby strung up by the Scars in Seattle).

Still, it’s probably the first time I felt real sympathy for Abby. No matter how much of a monster she was—a faithless friend, a brutal killer, a small-minded ruffian—it’s tough lớn see even your worst enemy starved, hanging from a post, dying slowly. Và Lev was innocent. He didn’t deserve this fate. Nobody does.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

When Ellie cuts her down, và Abby carries Lev khổng lồ a boat to make good their escape, & it looks lượt thích Ellie has finally realized that revenge really doesn’t make anything better, I was actually pleasantly surprised. There is a beauty in mercy. Even Abby showed mercy—not once, but twice—to Ellie, after all.

Abby is not a sympathetic character and nothing the trò chơi tries made me lượt thích her, but I do want to lượt thích Ellie. Ellie taking revenge on Joel’s killer might feel good, but Ellie showing mercy makes her more human. It makes her a better person. It means that after all this blood and death and hate, she could come out the other side as someone who has grown and changed and run the gauntlet of suffering & still come out the other side with her self intact.

If she had simply turned around và left her lớn her fate, I could have accepted that ending as well. It would have been more cruel & Ellie would have been less humanized by it, but at least it would have been a decisive và powerful ending.

Or if Abby were already dead, there would have been some poetic justice khổng lồ that as well. Ellie’s hands would be clean. Well, not clean exactly but cleaner. I’ve heard it said those damned spots don’t come out.

But instead, Ellie cuts her down. And they go their separate ways, not friends or allies, but united in suffering and tragedy. An end to the cycle of violence. Something lượt thích resolution, however bitter và incomplete.

Only, no, not quite. We need some mud-wrestling, don’t we? We need to see the women get down và dirty. We need that sweet, sweet misery porn.

What follows is the single worst moment in the entire game (aside from forcing us lớn play as Abby for fifteen hours of it, or the total character assassination of Ellie). Instead of cutting her down, showing mercy, Ellie decides that actually she still needs to get revenge. Wouldn’t want all that stabbing practice to go to waste, right?

She’s going to lớn stab this woman, who has been starving to lớn death hanging from a pole, until she bleeds out & dies. Only, not really. Nope. She’s going to stab và slash her a few times and then let her go again.

Fun times. This is really how I want khổng lồ spend my đoạn phim game time.

Have Mercy

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Now, a lot of people are angry that Ellie didn’t over up going through with it, that she spared her sworn enemy. They hated Abby & think that a satisfying ending required Abby khổng lồ die, & Ellie lớn kill her. I think that’s rubbish. Sure, it could have worked in different circumstances. If Ellie và Abby had met on equal terms, for instance. But this “I’m going to lớn save you and let you live, oh never mind time lớn die, oh never mind again you can live” nonsense is just bad writing.

Revenge can be fun. John Wick does “fun revenge” very well. I remember watching Braveheart for the first time và William Wallace’s revenge was thrilling. But the moral of the story in serious works of fiction is that revenge is bitter (not bittersweet) and never quite plays out the way you’d hoped. It creates a cycle of violence that hurts everyone caught up in its wake. Hamlet is consumed by his desire for revenge—prompted by the ghost of his father—but in the kết thúc it just means that everyone dies, including innocents like Polonius và Ophelia and, though she’s perhaps a little less innocent, Hamlet’s mother as well. Revenge, like that green-eyed monster, jealousy, is dangerous. Something to be avoided if at all possible. Even justifiable revenge—think A Time to Kill—can lead lớn all sorts of problems.

What this trò chơi needed in the over was grace. The kind of strange, unsettling thing that comes over someone when they suddenly realize something profound & choose lớn take a different path. When Ellie sees her emaciated enemy hanging from a poll and, instead of feeling gleeful satisfaction, feels only horror and pity, she acted with grace & mercy and, in that moment, became the person we hoped she would become. It was never about killing Abby. It was about Ellie finding her own redemption.

And then they throw it all away.

Two angry, beat up, half-dead murderesses slicing each other over and over again in the shallows, blood and saltwater spraying everywhere, until suddenly Ellie gives up & let’s Abby go. Again. I’m not one lớn usually criticize games for their violence, but this felt exploitative khổng lồ me. Và redundant. All that potential for mercy và grace lost.

Ellie already let her go! She already came lớn the conclusion that she should let Abby live when she cut her down! Why go through all that again? Why have this horrible, violent, senseless slasher fight if, at its conclusion, Ellie simply let’s Abby go again?

The ending could have worked with mercy or revenge as the outcome, but apparently the writers had trouble making up their minds about which direction they wanted to lớn go, và decided to lớn try and have their cake và eat it, too. The result feels sloppy, repetitive và frustrating.

More than anything, this game’s ending needed khổng lồ not beat around the bush.

Either cut her down and let her live (mercy) or have Ellie take revenge (leave her to die) or have her already dead when Ellie gets there (chance). You can’t have it both ways, all ways, whatever. If you want to kết thúc the game with a knife fight, vị that. But don’t make Ellie cut her down first. Have them meet as equals. It’s too much lượt thích Indigo Montoya helping the Man in black up the cliff just so he can kill him. Only not in the least bit funny.

The last scene, when Ellie returns home to an empty farmhouse, Dina & her baby long gone, is better. A fitting reward for Ellie’s selfish, self-destructive obsession with revenge.

A game about hate, sure, but even more a game about loss.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

Not everything about The Last Of Us Part II’s story was terrible. I loved all of Ellie’s flashbacks with Joel & Tommy. I might have even enjoyed Abby’s if her character deserved it.

As I noted further up, I also very much enjoyed the sights và sounds. Graphically, few games I’ve ever played can compare. For all its violence và misery, The Last Of Us Part II is a true beauty. Sound design, though, is what really makes it scary. When the trò chơi bothers trying lớn be scary it succeeds more often than not.

Gameplay gets bogged down at times by the lack of a full-fledged stealth system & somewhat dense AI, but there are still some exhilarating sequences & combat, while far from my favorite, can be tense và exciting. There’s simply too much of it, like there’s too much of just about everything here. Too much crafting, too much scavenging (though remember there’s an option lớn make that more tolerable), too much story và too many hours of trò chơi to get through.

For all my complaints—complaints I genuinely found made me dislike this game and everyone in it more and more the longer I played it, and the longer I stewed over it after—I still had something resembling fun while playing. I finished the damn thing, which is more than I can say for a lot of games.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

I also really enjoyed the entire frightening intro sequence with Yara & Lev, & those characters in general. If only Abby had had some sort of dawning realization about Lev & her relationship with Lev made her better understand Joel’s actions. She could have let go of some of that hate. If Abby had realized that protecting Lev from Isaac và the WLF was basically exactly what Joel was doing by rescuing Ellie from her dad & the Fireflies (only he knew Ellie a lot longer) we might have actually had a story with some interesting dynamic character arcs.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I wish that The Last Of Us Part II had never been about Joel và Ellie at all, and that the entire thing had been the story of Abby & her desire for revenge & how that transformed into understanding và forgiveness for her father’s killer as she grew into the role of protector và surrogate mother for Lev. She could have found empathy along the way, và chosen to lớn spare Joel’s life, sparing Ellie her own story of revenge & horror, và saving all four characters in the process.

Perhaps a trò chơi about hate could have turned into a game about love, after all.

The Last Of Us Part II

Screenshot: Erik Kain

P.S. This was a strangely challenging đánh giá for me khổng lồ write. I didn’t get a reviews copy so I was late khổng lồ actually playing it, but even after I finished the game I had a hard time putting pen to lớn paper. I finished my first draft of this đánh giá weeks ago và then found myself unable to lớn come back khổng lồ it. I’m not entirely sure why.

In one sense, it’s because the trò chơi left me with such conflicting feelings. It’s clearly a very good game in many ways, and yet also sort of horrible at the same time. & even though I ultimately found the tale of revenge & violence too pretentious & not nearly as effective as its creators hoped, I was still haunted by it. It had emotional resonance even while not really standing up khổng lồ scrutiny. So my apologies for the very late review, but sometimes that’s how it goes. Writer’s block is a helluva thing.

P.P.S. I wrote that first P.S. A couple weeks ago & still didn’t publish this thing for some reason. Today I went back in and edited a lot of it. I’m probably still not entirely satisfied, but oh well. I’m going khổng lồ publish it now, come hell or high water.