THE LAST OF US II
An In-depth Review and Analysis
Disclaimer - There are a lot of spoilers in here! If you haven’t played the game and you are not interested in spoiler reviews, please exit the building.
It's 3.35 am and I just finished "The Last Of Us II" or should I say "The Last Guitar"... I feel that's a nice name for it as well. I probably won't finish this review tonight as I am exhausted from the nonstop marathon to completing the game in a week.
In all of the 5 years I patiently and impatiently waited for this sequel, I have to say I am disappointed tremendously… Not that I should be, considering a lot of movie sequels go out the window BUT, this game had potentials and the biggest flaw was the makers trying to outdo everyone else, thereby making this game unnecessarily long, accompanied with senseless flashbacks, ridiculous plots, unnecessary sex scene, and just way too much rubbish in the middle.
Yes, that sounds a bit harsh but when a game is made with so much cramming that may or may not cater to all audiences, please provide a skip option, an extra gameplay option to fill with the non-skippable must play flashbacks, with pointless mission objectives that could be achieved in gameplay. And for chrissake, may I have the option to not participate in sexual encounters in a video game!
Also, Guitar…..man, please do not ever repeat such a sequence of having to make me play a guitar a gazillion times. This is a survival game, not a guitar lesson… I appreciate the guitar though.
Going to bed, I will continue in the morning.
Alright, I am up and the Last Of Us II aka The Last Guitar is still a shit show. Yes, I understand it still sounds harsh but once again, this could have been easily avoidable if the makers stuck to what made everyone love the game in the first place.
I am not a gamer but I am someone who grew up with video games as part of my life. I am talking way back to cartridge days and boy has it come a long way. You see, there is a reason we all go crazy for Mortal Kombat. They know what we like, what we want, and what we always look forward to. It is about us the consumers, not about them trying to cram everything into one game to be the best. They understand that upgrades are necessary, multiple options are necessary for those that wish to play stories or go straight to competitions. They understand the skip button is essential, and not everyone has the time or patience to play every flashback or participate forcefully in dialogues they don’t give a shit about. Because at the end of the day, we already have a lot of things we have to do in life willingly or unwillingly, and this is an escape from that. They listen, understand, and provide their consumers with the exact escape needed. That is what this game failed to do.
So just what exactly is my fuss about? Well, let’s do a quick summary before jumping into the problems and characters.
QUICK STORY SUMMARY
In the first installment, there is a virus/fungus outbreak that causes humans to mutate/turn into zombies of varieties. Ellie is a 14 year old, immune to the virus and Joel is responsible for Ellie’s safety, as he takes her cross country to the Fireflies to perform several tests on her and hopefully create a vaccine. The fireflies tried to kill Ellie to make the vaccine as that was the only way. Joel murders the doctors and takes Ellie away.
In the sequel, Joel tells the truth about what happened to his brother, Tommy. They keep it a secret. Joel also told Ellie later on and this causes a strain on their relationship. Abby’s dad was the main surgeon and was killed by Joel. 4 years later and Abby is still on a revenge quest to kill Joel. She successfully does after a zombie attack of which Joel and Tommy rescued her. As a thank you present, she lures both of them to her camp for safety where she tortured and murdered him in front of Ellie (Ellie was there to rescue Joel but was overpowered). Abby also had a complicated love/hate relationship with a childhood friend turned survivor buddy, Owen. Owen is an impatient man who understood Abby was never fully ready for a relationship as her quest was to find her dad’s killer. He then proceeded to dating and impregnating another member of the group called Mel, hurting Abby in the process but also magically wanting to constantly string her along. Ellie and Tommy separately go on a revenge quest to kill Abby for killing Joel. Ellie is accompanied by Dina, her love interest. Dina is also an ex to Ellie’s closest friend, Jesse. This makes things a bit awkward especially as Dina later found out she was pregnant for Jesse. Together, Dina and Ellie goes on the quest to find Tommy and then of course, find and murder Abby. Jesse eventually catches up with them but sadly gets killed in battle. Things grow pretty rough along the road with alot of friends murdered (Jesse, Owen, Mel, Manny, Yara, and others). At the end, Ellie and Abby get to have their final fight with Ellie eventually letting her go.
PERSONAL PROBLEMS WITH THE GAME
Unnecessarily Long - This is one of the major problems with this game. As someone who appreciates action packed video games, this fell flat and was boring for me. It became a task, it was exhausting. This doesn’t have to do with the hours per se but instead the jam packed missions within the total hours of playing. I completed the game at about 30 hours.
Let’s use Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for example. I completed it in about 15 hours but holy shit was it a blast! They knew why we were there and boy did they give it to us good! Despite cinematic conversation and flashback, it was a fun narrative I thoroughly enjoyed participating in. It was straight to the point and every scene justified. So while most of us appreciate getting our money’s worth via hours, we also really want to get our money’s worth when it comes to the game and time investment. I’d rather a short game with nonstop action and fun dialogue than a long game with unnecessary dialogues, sex scapades, and flashbacks.
Flashbacks - OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!! Why, why are we having this flashback? Yes, that was me in every flashback scene that was UNNECESSARY. The game already provided all the answers as we played along, we did not need a reminder occasionally in case we forgot the whole concept of each character on a mission. We did not need another flashback to establish an already established relationship plot. We did not need another flashback to know that a swim will be coming and here is how to swim, because you also included the same instruction in the swimming chapter. For chrissake we are not daft, we did not need those flashbacks!!! Next time, be flexible and throw them in extra content for additional game play. Oh, and if you are going to include a million unnecessary flashbacks, please give me the option to skip. Thank you!
Puzzle Quest - Look, I get it. Most gamers love puzzle games and puzzle quests but please, The Last Of Us was not a puzzle game. It was a survivor game. The first part had necessary puzzles lying around to help us survive or make it to the next round but, please remember the first rule of surviving is to stop f**king around when you have shit to do, warlords to fight, and zombies to conquer. We don’t have time to run around courthouses, run around non stop, learn about other important things in the world like religion, sex education amongst other things. If we must, can we have this conversation as we fight our way through combat? I don't want to walk around idle while learning, I am in the middle of an apocalypse!
All the relationship plots/makeout/sex and whatnot - Again, I just want to play my video game. I want to slash my way through this apocalypse and come out on the other side a better me. If you are with me, be ready all the way, this is survival mode. This is not the time to start a relationship where you require my attention, distracting me from my mission, or straight up boning! I may have time for a quickie but I do not have the time nor patience to establish feelings and whatnot. Can we address those when we make it out? I get it, Ellie likes Dina, Abby and Owen always had and will always have that complicated love, but for chrissake why did you think we had the time to watch feelings unfold? In a time like this where the warlords could bow strike my brains out to crystal the rocks? When the clickers could click me to eternity? Are you serious? You’d be lucky to get 5 minutes of boning time.
Lack Of Character Motive - Ugh! This is mostly with Abby. Seriously, why should I give a shit about going to find Owen as a mission? Why? You think we have that much time on our hands to care enough about a character we have no desire to relate to? Owen? The dude who thinks he is too cool for school? The dude who tries to impress Abby but felt heartbroken for her letting him down, so decides to move on by dating and impregnating another lady in their group, but also wants to keep Abby close enough for days when he can’t makeup his mind, and to potentially and successfully have eyesore sex with, and then decide his group sucks and want to go to Santa Barbara to start over, and leave his pregnant partner behind but perhaps Abby can come with him, because apparently she doesn’t feel guilty enough? That same guy….okay.
Secondly, her new mission is to protect Lev and Yara…..okay, I can work with this...I can work with this a bit...a tad bit because when you already established her character in the beginning, you gave us a reason to not be considerate with her. I get that you wanted us to give the benefit of doubt to see her as a person with a humble side despite her mistakes...I can try to work with this but still having a hard time believing I went through all the missions of finding medicine for Yara, and going back to the village for Lev in a time like this when it’s about survival…..It’s hard, but I guess you also tried to justify this by making us go after Tommy and Ellie for killing Abby’s people especially Owen.
OKAY! With that aside, let’s talk about visuals.
one word, BEAUTIFUL. They nailed it to the core. Everything was incredibly detailed. Some hit and miss with some character physicality. Some looked like game characters and some passed almost as humans with Joel being the most physically detailed down to the hair strands. Loved it. I still think the horse riding detailing was inspired by Red Dead Redemption.
Action sequence was badass! I loved it, I loved the fights with other groups like the Scars, Wolf and my zombie buddies. Fart zombie dudes were the most annoying. Who are those? The robust gas filled bubbled zombies that find you, hold you, and release endless fart gas that kills the character. *clear throat* I mean spore gas.
CHARACTER BREAKDOWN AND ANALYSIS
Ellie - You know her from the first installment. Ellie in this installment is out on revenge. Abby killed Joel in an unforgiving, incredibly ruthless way. Ellie witnessed this via torture, just like Tommy...well luckily, he already passed out but Ellie sadly witnessed the whole thing.
Ellie is now an adult, making adult decisions that came with consequences. Sure there were some ruthless moments involved but justifiable when you put everything into consideration. Joel was a father to Ellie. Abby ruthlessly murdered her father in front of her. The man she looked up to, and always had her back. She tore a huge irreplaceable part of her and there are consequences for this. She’s filled with rage but still has some room for love as established with Dina. Although it was raw and uncomfortable to participate in several killings like the killing of Nora, we have to understand that it needed to be done and the damage was in full effect on Ellie as well. She was physically and emotionally wrecked by this action from her. She didn’t know it was in her and didn’t understand the transitioning process. She almost lost herself completely after killing Mel and discovering Mel was pregnant. she probably never forgave herself for it but considering the situation and how it went down, it was justified. She had no idea prior and was busy trying to survive not dying from the attack of Owen and Mel. She did what needed to be done. Same applies to the last fight between Abby and her. Abby wasn’t allowed to leave so easily without a fight. It doesn’t matter that she was pretty close to dying, tortured, or an unrecognisable version of herself. She needed to fight to survive, that’s what this game is about anyway. Besides, remember the way she tortured and killed Joel? She’s lucky she was given the fight option.
We witness character development with Ellie. She was on a ruthless mission initially but as the mission progressed, She grew some level of empathy, She understood the consequences of Joel’s actions - both when he stopped the procedure and why. She understood about sacrifices, She understood about love, She understood humans are not perfect.
Joel - He didn’t doom humanity, he contributed to the process which could be resolved with eliminating the problem - the zombies. Of course with a vaccine, there would have been a reduction in numbers of the infected but at the end of the day, Everyone, doctors included, should always have a plan B and plan C incase plan A never shows up or goes haywire. While he was responsible for plan A going haywire, he wasn’t responsible for the doctors/scientist not coming up with additional plans. Which is why the elimination process became the only solution. Let’s also remember that the doctors were not civil enough to have a proper conversation with him, explaining the risk, and giving him the option to decide how to proceed. Yes, Ellie was also upset later on about Joel robbing her of her right to decide but Ellie was 14 years old which made her a child. A parent is responsible for the child’s decision. A parent's natural instinct is to guide and protect and that’s exactly what he did. Any human who walks in to find a group of people about to dissect his/her child will get the fury of a parent. Joel did exactly that. They were a threat and those threats needed to be eliminated in survival mode.
Did he deserve to die? Honestly, no. However, I understand why his character needed to be assassinated according to the game survival rule, but the way he was murdered was not justified. It was evil which is why it is almost impossible to relate or see any sense of reasoning with Abby.
Abby - This is complicated. Yes, Joel murdered her father and participated in dooming humanity but that’s it. Did Abby deserve to seek revenge? Absolutely! Was her way of murdering Joel justified? No! It was evil, cold blooded, wrong, just wrong. It was also incredibly selfish of her to drag her crew down that hole with her, thereby making them automatic targets for Ellie. Dragging Owen into it is one thing, but the others? No ma’am.
Also, to ruthlessly torture and murder the man who just saved you 5 minutes ago, is straight up heartless. Abby deserved no saving grace and it was more like an insult to have us play her as a character. We know Joel and Ellie inside out from game one. He is not perfect but he is a loving father who will massacre anyone that comes his way or attempt to end the life of Ellie. Also, I reference him as her dad because he was. He didn’t need to be physically responsible for insemination to be named this. His actions are that of a father.
SUB CHARACTERS APPRECIATION/MENTION
No sir, you do not get one. Sorry.
Yara and Lev
They were one of the best sub characters in the game as a whole. They had a cause, they paid the price for change. They were both badass siblings, Yara will be missed, and Lev found another big sister who sees him for who he is and not what was expected of him. ♡
Oh man, I adore you. At first, you were almost a useless character during game play for never attempting to help out, but instead let me do all the work but that changed later on and you saved me on multiple occasions. It was an adorable relationship but you have to realize Ellie was on a mission and nothing comes before Joel. It’s not you, it’s her and perhaps, when she walked into the sunset, she eventually found you or maybe not. No hard feelings.
Good on you but come on! Did you not understand that it was an ambush you and Joel walked into with Abby? For everything you have been through, surely you understand you shouldn’t release your real name to strangers? Especially after part one and all the encounters?! Oh well, lesson learned, you saw it through and reminded Ellie of her part. Hopefully things got resolved with wifey and everything slowly became the new norm.
Jesse and Mel
Hey, no hard feelings, sacrifices needed to be made and sometimes we just find ourselves in the wrong relationship at the wrong time. Mel, that was messed up, what happened to you…..truly messed up. Jesse, it was good while it lasted. You both were good.
You all rock! I love you all for being gross and badass. You gave me some serious beating and a load full of fart spores! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Overall, The Last Of Us II was still entertaining despite all the issues with it. It took me away from all the situations around us, and took me into the game world. I enjoyed my time with it but will not be looking forward to another installment. Hopefully the next to come will focus on what gaming was and truly is about - pure entertainment and a fantasy world that caters to everyone, from kids to adults without unnecessary awkward scenes that aren’t justified. Give us what we want and we will bless you with our fortune. While we understand all press are good press and breaking records are awesome, remember that retainer is necessary and sometimes, it’s not about breaking the bank but instead, warming the hearts of all fans who patiently waited for 5 years for a sequel to top the first installment. This sequel was a massive letdown.
With that being said, thank you for bringing another form of entertainment to us and thanks for finally delivering a sequel to us as promised, after a million delays.