The Last of Us Part II

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Angry_Kurt
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Angry_Kurt »

Jon Cheetham wrote: July 22nd, 2020, 11:55 am The story of Part II doesn't really go into
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Ellie's immunity in much detail. That's a whole story they could spin out over a sequel.

Personally the Downtown, Capitol Hill and Hostile Territory (Seattla Chinatown) levels make me want an open world spinoff. I think when Ellie is heading to Santa Barbara she writes in her journal that Las Vegas is heavily infested and some cities are walled up. I'd be up for a game set in an urban environment that you can clear area by area and repopulate with communities.

Alternatively, the opposite; an eight hour Lost Legacy type game that's a quick romp through a shorter number of really top notch linear levels, perhaps with the horror elements turned up. More levels like the hospital, the ferry and the skyscraper descent would really do it for me.
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They're all really good ideas I would like to see, particularly seeing a Naughty Dog version of a post apocalypse version of Las Vegas

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Jon Cheetham
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Jon Cheetham »

Finished my second playthrough of this and I am still happy to call the story and gameplay ruddy good. Really enjoyed scouring the game world, finding new areas and experimenting with different ways to take on the various encounters. What was a messy fight last time was an exercise in silently taking everyone out stealthily this time, where I was patient and crept about last time I lobbed some bombs in and then tried to take everyone down in the shortest time possible. Having a sniper rifle all the way through (due to NG+) is really additive as you can find somewhere to post up and begin thinning the crowd from a distance which is very fun.

Also, as I got sloppy and didn't keep a hard save updated I ended up doing several levels over again in my NG+ run. Getting back to where I had been turned out to be a fun way of seeing how well I had familiarised with the level layouts. It also showed how well the game supports a fast but stealthy approach! There are areas I've spent 30-45 minutes in that can be almost entirely bypassed by taking a particular route or luring an Infected over to a human patrol and making an escape in the ensuing chaos.

The only wrinkle was that this second run did confirm that this game has a bit of a problem with
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...boss fights. They are nearly all pretty drab.

The exception is the Rat King which is fantastic. The concept and design is suitably horrible, and the way they build up to it with the growls behind the doors in the ICU, the torn and bloodied architecture it leaves when it escapes, sublime. Opening the boss fight with a chase sequence is actually a nice touch as it builds up how dangerous this creature is and the fact that Abby would ideally rather get as far away from it as possible, before she ends up having no choice but to face it down. I love the take on a traditional ammo-sink monster boss when you get to the main battle, as well. A good strategy seems to be to spend a lot of the fight sprinting away from it and finding a good choke-point to get a few rounds off before running away again, so it's all about repositioning and knowing your way around your loadout. I usually dislike one-touch kills on principle but the dynamic checkpointing in this game alleviates that and it works nicely to show how lethal this thing is. Really exciting, really good.

That's the only one, though. Apart from that there's the two Bloater encounters, which were regular enemies by the end of the last game. They're fun enough to fight, but don't have much presence as they're so familiar. Then there's the Seraphite bosses who are sort of "heavies", both of which have a contrived plot reason for Abby to lose her gear so that she has to go hand to hand with them. They feel frustrating at first and are then just a test of whether you can dodge three times in a row. Also the second of these bosses, which you face as you escape the burning Haven village on the island, is really quite problematic in how he is coded and represented and even first time through I was a bit taken aback.

As for the fights between Abby and Ellie, I was literally flabbergasted on my first playthrough that they recycled the dire David fight from the original game, an absolute turkey of an encounter that was the only part of that game to truly show its age in its artificial pass/ fail central mechanic. For me it doesn't work any better here, the main issue being that it is testing whether or not you can get behind an enemy when you are more likely to have been ambushing them as they come towards you throughout the game. It's the friction between an otherwise expressive combat system and then an encounter that wants you to take an examination on one weirdly specific thing. The final fight on the beach doesn't feel frustrating the way some of the other human bosses do, but it does feel unpleasant to do. I had to re-do large sections of it the first time through because, not knowing what was going to happen, I didn't want to kill Abby.

As someone who would happily fight Father Gascoigne or the Corrupted Monk any time, I like a nice boss fight. But this game seems to be more proof that some games should seek other ways to produce a climax (or if Naughty Dog does a more horror-themed sequel that deals more with the Infected, they make whoever came up with the Rat King their head of boss fight design).

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Angry_Kurt
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Angry_Kurt »

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listening to the TCGS spoilercast, I was surprised to hear that they didn’t like the Ratking fight at all, in fact Dave seemed to Hate it. I thought it was really good, but yeah, the rest of the boss fights aren’t great

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ratsoalbion
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by ratsoalbion »

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I thought the Rat King fight was fine... for a completely different game (i.e, Resident Evil or The Evil Within or something)!

Saying that, Jay and I were talking about the real 'rat king' phenomenon and exploring that did at least help cement the possibility of such an abomination existing within the fiction of TLoU.

Honestly though, even the larger, bulkier and more comic book or trad survival horror enemies never sat that well with me, even in the first game.

I understand that need to escalate and vary the combat scenarios because it's a videogame, but I always felt that the more outrageous monsters threatened to undermine the 'mythos' rather than enhance it. I would have rather seen more regular, human sized 'Clicker' types but with different capabilties and MOs (the Stalkers worked much better for me.

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Jon Cheetham
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Jon Cheetham »

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Yeah I read about real "rat kings" as well and it is fascinating, as well as pretty sad for the poor rats who end up in that situation.

In terms of horror, turning that into the idea that these Infected have been locked in that room in the dark, mutating and growing into each other for 25 years is pretty effective.

I like the Stalkers as well, they turn the stealth back on you in a pretty clever way... they gave me trouble at first but I ended up having a lot of fun finding ways to cut them down before they could reach me.

Agree it would be interesting to see more regular-size Infected types. When you reach Santa Barbera the Clickers there have burnt, raw skin because of the climate they've been wandering aimlessly around in, which is a good, disturbing little detail.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

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I finished this game last night after a week of intensive evenings. I don't have a whole lot to add to the extensive discussion that's already taken place, but I'll just post a few of my thoughts below.

In summary though, I loved it. There are a few things about the first game I preferred, such as location variety, but overall this sequel has improved, iterated and expanded upon virtually every aspect of the original.
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I thought the games opening few hours, including Joel's death was very well done. Unfortunately, it had already been spoiled for me that he died, but it was still a shock and I can't imagine how I would have felt had I not known it was coming. I really enjoyed the mystery of the first few hours, wondering why they wanted him dead and who they were. I guessed the reason, of course, but the reveal that it was the doctors daughter was well done. (Was she in the first game? I don't remember her).

When the time came to Switch to Abby replaying those three days I was disappointed. I felt it could have been done in a cut scene, and I didn't want to be pulled away from Ellie. However, Naughty Dog knew what they were doing, and I fell right in to their trap. By the time I got back to the cinema to fight Ellie I really wanted to beat her. I was Abby, this was her story, and Ellie was the villain.

I felt that the game was going to end after the cut scene with Abby and Dina making their home together, but when Tommy showed up I knew it wouldn't be. Part of me wishes it had, and that the epilogue was a little extra padding which took away Ellie's happy ending, but it did have value and it did enhance the story, I felt.

Naughty Dog did a fantastic job in forcing me to appreciate the motives and feelings each of the main playable characters were experiencing, and I think their writing should be applauded for this. They really did do an excellent job.

Some of the sections of the game were flat out terror inducing. The often mentioned hospital and skyscraper areas were straight out of a survival horror game, and the sound design was harrowing!

The game is probably the most excessively violent and brutal game I've ever played. I genuinely looked away from the screen in places, as hammers were introduced to arms and axes to faces. Everything delivered with a sickening crunch.

The combat does feel improved upon, with smarter enemies and the dogs were an interesting element too.
I took about 32 hours on the default moderate difficulty, with no assists. A lot of that time was spent exploring every nook and cranny, collecting every bandage and blade and whatever else I could get my hands on. I also really enjoyed the guitar sections, especially the free form practice option, which I did probably spend too long on, as it was perfectly possible to play real songs, and was implemented really well, giving you the ability to pluck individual strings with careful use of the touch pad.

All in all, this is a masterpiece of a game, and one that'll stick with me for a while. As for the future of the series, I don't know. Nobody wanted this sequel, and I expect nobody will want a third. But they're probably wrong, they just don't know they want it. I can't see Naughty Dog failing, and have every faith they'd deliver another knockout game if they felt like returning to this world.

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Angry_Kurt
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Angry_Kurt »

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what did you think about the return of Tommy after he was shot in the back of the head? If I'm honest I thought it was pretty odd to say the least from Naughty Dog there

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

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My bigger problem Kurt
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They should've ended it at the farm, the fact Ellie goes full Rambo on a whole settlement to get to and then not go through with killing Abby made zero sense, she didn't need to go through all that to learn the lesson that revenge is bad, it's almost like naughty dog had to make Ellie even worse off in the end and lose her family and her fingers so she couldn't play the guitar and leave Abby like the hero as she gets to meet the fireflies and gets some sort of happy ending.

Ending it at the theatre would've left you wanting to know more and excited for the future, I would've ended it with Ellie looking into the distance with JJ after sending Tommy packing. Oh yeah they had to ruin his life as well :)

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Alex79uk
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Alex79uk »

I agree with you both. I thought that was a bit unrealistic, Kurt, and totally agree it should have ended where you said, Rich. In fact, I was so convinced it was, I put the controller down and sat back.
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Ultimately, I was pleased to be able to play for a bit longer, but think it wasn't really necessary and sort of killed any hope Ellie had. In the end, I was really disappointed Dina wasn't there waiting for her :(

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by ratsoalbion »

Although...
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https://gamerant.com/last-of-us-2-endin ... elet-dina/
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I personally prefer the 'sadder' interpretation of the ending as I feel it's both more appropriate and satisfying. However, it's not necessarily definitely the case that Ellie and Dina are no longer together.

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Angry_Kurt
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Angry_Kurt »

Yeah I agree Rich with what you're saying and it was a problem I had at the time as well, but even though I thought it could've been done better, I still enjoyed the story up that point and that part of the story wasn't enough of a misstep for me personally to sour my experience of the game. I can see why it would though had I been more invested in that world and characters from the first game which I played and really enjoyed but wasn't as enamored with as many others.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

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I think putting it simply I felt like naughty dog
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went out of their way narratively to kill Joel (which agreed he probably had coming in some way) and ruin Ellie who are two very much flawed but loved videogame characters and expected everyone to be happy with it whilst making you try to love Abby. That didn't work for me
Looking forward to the TV show hopefully without expectations subverted!

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

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ratsoalbion wrote: December 1st, 2020, 2:32 pm Although...
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https://gamerant.com/last-of-us-2-endin ... elet-dina/
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I personally prefer the 'sadder' interpretation of the ending as I feel it's both more appropriate and satisfying. However, it's not necessarily definitely the case that Ellie and Dina are no longer together.
Oh that's interesting. Yeah, that's the version I'm going with, then :)

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Alex79uk »

I will add, that aside from the slightly superfluous epilogue, I really didn't think Naughty Dog put a foot wrong with regard to the story, and even then, I still really enjoyed playing that closing chapter. I can see and appreciate any criticism, but it's just not how I felt playing it.

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Jon Cheetham
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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Jon Cheetham »

Agreed Alex.
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I was also scratching my head when I first got control of Abby but by the end it was her story to me as well. Hers and Lev's.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Simonsloth »

Jon Cheetham wrote: December 1st, 2020, 6:20 pm Agreed Alex.
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I was also scratching my head when I first got control of Abby but by the end it was her story to me as well. Hers and Lev's.
Yeah this was my overall feeling too. I appreciate it’s a well used tool in film/tv but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it in a videogame. To make me not only empathise but root for the initial antagonist was quite powerful and I’ve ruminated on it ever since.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Marlew »

Joel got my empathy in the first game, but he was no hero. I loved getting to know him and he had a a lot of positive qualities, but he was also a monster and, ultimately, while I sympathised with his final decision re: Ellie, it was once again borne of selfishness and survival instinct. He betrayed not only the entire human race (potentially) but also the only person he valued - which is almost worse.

I can't blame Ellie vicariously for what happened in the first game, but I do blame her for trying to redeem herself by following in his destructive steps. She had any number of opportunities to prioritise and hold onto what was most important, and again and again she put her misguided revenge redemption above the people who really mattered most.

It's not as inane as 'revenge =bad', it's that her own ego, regret and misplaced loyalty to Joel blinded Ellie to how she could transcend her circumstances. It's fucking heartbreaking.

The other thread showed that even in the worst circumstances, redemption, change and forgiveness are possible. That's ultimately the uplifting message of the game, in amongst the crushing, inescapable tragedy.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by ratsoalbion »

Absolutely agree, well said Marlew.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by Filth_Element »

I’m of the opinion that it was way too obvious what Naughty Dog was trying to achieve by making me
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play as Abby. I understood straight away that I’m supposed to see her side of the story and empathise with her now. Ultimately it was ham fistingly forcing me to have feelings for the woman who just brutally murdered one of my favourite fictional characters.

It didn’t subvert my expectations or help me understand a character I at this point hated and wanted to hunt down just as much as Ellie did. The way that her character seemed to change but only after killing Joel was a bit of a cop out for me too. Only now that she completed her revenge story she finds redemption taking in Levi and is now suddenly not a trusty brutal killer for her group that she has been a part of before we took over her story was really weak story telling if I’m honest.

I enjoyed my time playing this sequel but I think a lot of the criticism it gets is justified.

I loved playing as Abby in the theatre hunting down Ellie. I have never ever felt that in a game before, my wife was laughing at me as I gingerly pressed the button in the QTE because I genuinely didn’t want to choke Ellie. That was a whole new feeling I never felt before and the highest point in the game for me personally.

Unfortunately a lot of the discussion around this game has been about it being too woke and all sorts of other juvenile opinions but I think there is ultimately a disappointing sequel to a much loved game here. For the first game it was a high water mark for story telling in games one of the first, which now has been emulated and build upon successfully by others.

So the sequel had a lot to live up to and unfortunately didn’t quite do enough to really wow us again as an audience.

Maybe shame on us for expecting so much.

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Re: The Last of Us Part II

Post by ratsoalbion »

Many people were most certainly wowed by TLoUII - see how well it's done in player voted end of year awards and polls for example.

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