“Phew.” That was my feeling when I finished Naughty Dog’s successor to their acclaimed 2013 title. Not a “phew, I’m glad that’s over because it was awful”, more of a “phew, I’m glad that’s over because I’m not sure I could have managed much more of this tension”. It’s a hard game to review without giving away massive plot points but I’ll give it a go.
TLOU2 was unlike anything else I’ve ever played. While I am a huge fan of the first one and had been excitedly awaiting the sequel, the worry, personally, was whether creative director and co-writer Neil Druckmann could bring something fresh to a genre that has been re-hashed over and over. Yet he definitely managed it: a story line that is able to fairly explore themes of revenge, obsession, love, hate and, of course, grief (it couldn’t be a sequel to The Last of Us without that).
This game suffered on its first day from review-bombing which led to review-aggregate site Metacritic changing the way people can review games, making them wait 36 hours after the games release before they can share thoughts. TLOU2 deserved better. Just because it didn’t give us exactly what we wanted – a replica of the first one – does not mean it deserved the hate it got on social media. Actress Laura Bailey received horrific hate mail because of the actions of her character in the game, regardless of the fact that hers and everyone else’s performances were stunning.
So now to my star reviews:
Gameplay – 5 Stars
The AI in this game is intense: enemies sneak up and flank you, the infected are more aggressive, and the actions you can make as a player are way more realistic than any other game I’ve played. A nice little touch is that all human enemies are named, and their friends will call out in horror upon finding their body.
Graphics – 5 Stars
This is a beautiful game. That is all.
Immersion – 5 Stars
I got stomach-ache from nervousness while playing.
Fun Factor – ??
This is hard because whilst I wouldn’t say it was ‘fun’ to play, I definitely enjoyed playing it.
Story – 4 Stars
This is a hard one because overall the narrative is excellent. There is real representation of different characters unlike anything I’ve ever seen in AAA games; not just that, but these characters are given real respect and time to tell their stories.
I only have one problem: the ending. It was harrowing, excellently structured, but lacked just that last couple of lines of dialogue between protagonist and antagonist that I needed to fully feel satisfied. Having said that, the last scene was an excellent testament to just how much we can lose when we give ourselves over completely to revenge.