476 - The Last of Us Part II

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Jon Cheetham
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by Jon Cheetham »

I'm in agreement with Marlew there - I dreaded the David boss fight on my second playthrough of TLOU1 and was baffled that they repeated it in 2. I dislike that sort of artificial pass/fail test where the only outcome for getting seen is a loading screen, particularly in a game with otherwise expressive play. I always drop the difficulty settings right down now and just rush through it. Small dings against games I otherwise love playing, though. And the Rat King is brilliant.
Steve Arran wrote: April 18th, 2021, 2:59 pm I would be interested to hear the opinions of those who played any Last Of Us games for the first time just prior to the launch of this one, as opposed to those who had a seven year history with the series, to see how their opinions differ).
That's me, too. I played TLOU1 soon after the MCO started in Malaysia in March last year, played it again immediately and then became extremely excited about the sequel.

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SirBurticus
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by SirBurticus »

I think a lot of the people who angrily refused to play this game miss out on two pretty amazing aspects of this game that are worth talking about.

1. You still get Joel and Ellie's lovely relationship it just comes in the form of flashbacks giving the player that pang of melancholy and sadness knowing that what they are experiencing will never be again.

2. The way the game gets you to warm up to Abby strictly through the mechanics of the game is by giving her what could be considered the "best bits" of the game like the skybridge section, the hospital, and the Seraphites island. All these sections work to endear you more to Abby as they are some of the most bombastic and or challenging parts of the game so you feel it there right alongside her.

I love this game and I feel such sadness for all the people who don't just miss out on the two aspects mentioned above but all the glorious aspects of this amazing and challenging game.

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OldPec
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by OldPec »

A lot of the public discourse on this game has the game being "about" violence (and there is certainly no shortage of violence in the game) but for me the story is really about the things behind the violence, in some cases structural and societal (such as many of the notes backgrounding the various groups) but mostly the deeply personal.

The instant we meet Abby we see her wake with a start. At the time we don't know what that means, perhaps thinking she heard a noise or it's just a normal reaction when you wake in a strange place in a dangerous world. It's only later that we understand that on the morning of the day that she meets and murders Joel, she once again dreamt of the death of her father at Joel's hand. That her pursuit of Joel is not just the result of some cold, calculated revenge for sins past, but the product of a trauma that Abby continues to relive over and over again even now.

With Ellie too there are times where we may desire to be the angel on her shoulder, hoping she'll hold back. But there's a devil riding with her too, a trauma that removes the control we might wish we or she had, driving her to do things that only compound the trauma she carries.

I found Lev to be the only real beacon of light in the story. He seems to be able to see the world with a clarity and openness that defies the trauma visited upon him by both his own kin and traditional enemies. Somehow, despite it all, Lev manages to see the good and reject the bad regardless of its source and move forward.

If the game has a lesson then I don't think it's just a trite "violence is bad". For me it offers an opportunity to consider how our own traumas (big or small) might drive us and how we might be better off if we had better insight into what the means for how we live our lives.

Marlew
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by Marlew »

OldPec wrote: April 29th, 2021, 3:58 pm If the game has a lesson then I don't think it's just a trite "violence is bad". For me it offers an opportunity to consider how our own traumas (big or small) might drive us and how we might be better off if we had better insight into what the means for how we live our lives.
Excellent contribution, very much enjoyed reading that and I wholly agree.

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Jon Cheetham
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by Jon Cheetham »

Same here! Lev is a brilliant character and so well performed.

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Miririn
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by Miririn »

@Oldpec Fantastic and agreed! Lev and Yara are brilliant late game additions and really underrated characters.

A bit of a tangent but your post got me thinking re the violence: what surprised me when I first dipped my toes in the fandom waters was how squeamish many players were about the explicit love scene between Owen and Abby. This is a game that involves at least two scenes of torturing wounded and helpless characters to death, but it was a consensual love scene that seemed to cause quite a bit of controversy. I guess because it was explicit but also not particularly "sexy"? (ie it was emotional and a bit clumsy and not soft focus and pretty... like actual sex vs. p*rny depictions).

Unlike a lot of fanservicey games where the sex is put in just for the players, or games like "The Witcher 3", which straddle the line between "love scene that is emotionally authentic for the characters" and "absolute 'Game of Thrones'-esque, shagging-on-a-unicorn fanservice", the TLOU2 love scene felt like an emotionally mature sex scene that made sense in furthering both characters' arcs and heightening the interpersonal drama. Which seems like a sort of rare approach in mainstream games, or at least in the games I've played.

I'm probably overthinking this, haha. I think there was a lot this game got right, from the depiction of violence to the depiction of relationships (romantic or sexual, platonic, paternal etc etc etc), to the depiction of factionalism and cult mentality. People often claim the writing was bad but to me it's the closest a mainstream game has got to feeling like prestige telly.

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OldPec
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by OldPec »

Miririn wrote: May 1st, 2021, 10:05 am A bit of a tangent but your post got me thinking re the violence: what surprised me when I first dipped my toes in the fandom waters was how squeamish many players were about the explicit love scene between Owen and Abby. This is a game that involves at least two scenes of torturing wounded and helpless characters to death.......
I remember initially thinking a similar thing when there was some controversy over the deadnaming of Lev in the game, it seemed strange to be upset about (fictional, part of the story) deadnaming in particular in a game where the characters are frequently inflicting all manner of brutal horrors on each other.

But I think it comes down to a sort of implied consent. No-one goes into TLOU without expecting a fair bit of violence, so I suppose it's not unreasonable for people to look past that but still find other things unexpectedly confronting.

Of course, it's not a games job to be non-confronting, especially one that aims to tell an interesting, adult story. There should probably be better ways of informing people who know they find certain things triggering, though awkward, unromantic sex scenes might not quite justify their own specific trigger warning category

The main thing that scene left me with was a wish to have been a fly on the wall in the meeting when the brief for it was delivered to the animator, though I suppose it would have been mo-capped. Maybe a thought not worth dwelling on too much...

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Miririn
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by Miririn »

I saw some of that Lev controversy re the name and thought it was bizarre. I do understand that some people dealing with these issues in real life might find it upsetting, but I think it would be very difficult to make a story about a character like Lev, who is responding to transphobic abuse, without directly showing some of the abuse he suffers.

Lev meets Abby because he's running from people who will never accept him - indeed, will kill him - and them using his old name reinforces this idea. It also wouldn't be realistic if they called him Lev, just based on everything that cult is set up to be (conservative, controlling, intolerant, transphobic, sexist). It's a neat storytelling way of hinting about why he is on the run without contriving to have him explain to Abby/the player directly, and it also develops the blossoming friendship between Lev and Abby by showing that Abby is considerate enough not to push him for an explanation. It would be an entirely different kettle of fish if Lev's allies, like Yara or Abby or Owen, refused to call him Lev. But the Seraphites refusing to accept his new name seems entirely in character and appropriate. I'm not LGBT myself, so I am aware my opinion on this is worth pretty much nothing, but I thought the game handled LGBT stuff pretty well, generally (see also: Dina and Ellie's romance).

Definitely agree with expecting the violence but not so much the sex. In the UK at least there's a PEGI label on the box indicating if the game will have sex, drugs, violence etc and I think that's enough warning. Most people I saw complaining about the scene tended to be stereotypical Gamer Bros (you know, the kind who make memes about Abby being ugly) - I think their main issue was an explicit sex scene not animated in a sexy way, between two "normal" looking characters. For me, the complaints seemed rooted in some sexism. You see it a lot when a fictional character not deemed conventionally attractive dares to have a sex life on screen. (For the record, I think Abby is very beautiful - but people did respond in a weirdly extreme way to her body).

Edit - that became such an essay (my catchphrase)! :P I really, really need to stop talking about this game. Very very sorry!

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designermatt
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by designermatt »

The Last of Us is my favourite game of all time, so it was with huge excitement and a little trepidation that I pre-ordered The Last of us Part 2 for my PS4 Pro. I was a touch nervous at the thought of returning to that game world I hold in such high regard. I have so many fond memories (Giraffes! Learning to whistle!) and care about the characters so much, I wasn’t sure I even wanted a sequel in case it changed things for me. That said, there was no way I was going to miss immersing myself in this beautiful, crumbling world again, and I had to know where the story would go next.

The environment you explore in the Last of Us Part 2 is absolutely stunning. Probably the best I’ve ever see in a game. From the flickering of Seraphite torches to the Seattle rain soaking everything through, to the jaw-dropping detail of the Wolf stadium base later, it all looks and moves magnificently. I wanted to explore and soak in every detail, and particularly enjoyed the early open section of the game where Ellie and Deena roam around Seattle on horseback.

The stealth and combat felt desperate, improvised and raw. I love stealth games – all the way back to original Splinter Cell - but this had me particularly tense, gripping the controller tightly as I lay in the grass as Ellie, waiting for my moment. The enemies seemed to be sharp and aware, and through their conversations with one other as they stalked around, more like real people with real feelings than I’m used to in video games. When Ellie took them down, the violence was so up-close and brutal, I found myself feeling very uncomfortable about my actions, conscious that I know these people’s names and can hear their friends calling for them. It was pretty intense, and I couldn’t play for long stretches.

The game’s story was very different to what I expected, and even now, a year after playing the game through the first time (I’ve since been back for a couple more playthroughs), I’m still thinking about it. It’s beautiful, dark, brutal and fascinating and has provoked some real emotional highs and lows from me - more I think than any other game ever has.

There are some incredible moments. My favourite was Ellie and Deena’s frantic, scrambling sprint from a hoard of infected through a dark subway station, bursting through the turnstile into the light.. Catching their breath, Deena realising that Ellie has been bitten and so must be immune, and all that implies, before dropping her own bombshell… “I’m pregnant.” What a moment!

I was shocked and furious when Joel was killed, and had to stop playing for a bit, unsure if I even wanted to go further. It made me hate Abby with a passion, and whilst Ellie’s quest for revenge was ultimately pointless and self-destructive, for much of the game I was right there with her, angry and ready to avenge our beloved Joel. As her quest went on and she gave into violence and rage, I worried for her as if I was her big brother (No Ellie! Don’t do it, stay with your friends!) By the game’s end when she can’t even strum a chord on her guitar anymore, I just wanted to give her a big hug and do something – anything – to make things better.

It’s a long game – really long – because right when I thought I had nearly finished it, I woke up as Abby and I started all over again. I admire Naughty Dog for trying this unusual perspective shift, and I was interested to explore Abby’s world too, but I never cared quite as much. I’d spent so much time with Joel and Elly, that despite coming to know and respect Abby as a character, I never really liked her or sided with her. This despite all the nasty things Ellie does. It always just felt like I was in the wrong shoes.

This came to a head in the late stage boss fight, where you have to fight Ellie as Abby. I really didn’t want to hurt Ellie – she’d already suffered so much through the course of the game, and I tried in vain to find an alternative to fighting. What I would have given for an option to just talk and go get a beer together, instead!

I don’t think any video game has got me as emotionally invested in its story and characters as The Last of Us Part 2. Whilst Part 1 still holds the crown as my favourite game of all time, Part 2 is the brutal, uncomfortable and unexpected sequel that I can’t stop thinking about. Sometimes, whilst playing one of the flashback sequences in the game, I wished for more of those happier Joel and Ellie times to counter all the darkness and struggle, but I suppose The Last of Us wouldn’t exist if Naughty Dog weren’t the kind of people to surprise and challenge us. Even though it’s not quite what I expected, I still love it, and I know I’ll be back for more playthroughs. I just hope Ellie finds a happy ending somewhere down the line.

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Nupraptor
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by Nupraptor »

At the time of writing, this is the 70th post on this thread. Whatever else you think about The Last Of Us: Part 2, it certainly got people talking - and still does!
For what it’s worth, I thought it was an incredible game, although it was a gruelling and almost traumatic experience to play through.

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OldPec
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Re: 476 - The Last of Us Part II

Post by OldPec »

https://www.videogameschronicle.com/ne ... o-achieve/

The internal Microsoft review of the game that seems to have emerged in the Epic/Apple trial is an interesting read.

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