The Last of Us Part 2 Review

The Last of Us reigned supreme in terms of story-driven excellence last generation, and the sequel should not disappoint.

The Last of Us Part 2 Review
The Last of Us Part 2

REASONS TO BUY

+  One of the best looking games this generation

+  Gripping story with complex characters

+  Stealth-based but guns blazing is an option

REASONS TO AVOID

-  Slow to start

Naughty Dog released The Last of Us seven years ago, surprising fans of the Uncharted series with a grim, post-apocalyptic slog across America, from Boston, Massachusetts, to Jackson County, Wyoming.

The rich smorgasbord of biomes served up by Nathan Drake's globe-trotting adventures was replaced with a platter of four seasons saturated in a more subdued palette; lush, tropical forests and turquoise lagoons gave way to a crumbling skyline studded with stone monoliths. The Last of Us Part 2

Homicidal excursions peppered with clever quips were abandoned, leaving Joel and Ellie to deal with the much more harrowing reality of what it takes to survive. The Last of Us reigned supreme in terms of story-driven excellence last generation, and the sequel should not disappoint. The Last of Us Part 2

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The events of The Last of Us Part 2 take place five years after the events of the first game and its divisive climax. Regardless of your feelings about Joel's decision to save Ellie, the proverbial has clearly hit the fan, with the characters' relationship visibly straining under the weight of Ellie's rage and bitterness.

It's startling and heartbreaking to see the bond we built in the first game shattered, and it's taken a noticeable toll on Joel, who appears to be coming off the back of a second term in the White House.

Things get off to a sluggish start as Naughty Dog unpacks its narrative Lego bricks and begins to assemble what will eventually become a structure of incredible poignancy and complexity, but things pick up once you're dropped into the world proper. This time around, the combat feels much more refined, and you can expect an arsenal of upgradeable weapons to suit your playstyle, or - more realistically - frantically switch between as you unload clips of ammo into the nearest skull.

The upgradeable skills have returned, with a basic tree for attributes such as Survival, Crafting, and Stealth, but you'll need to find Training Manuals scattered around the world to unlock them. Both weapon and skill upgrades are unlikely to be unlocked completely in a single playthrough, so you'll need to prioritise your resources and commit to a playstyle early on to get the most out of it. The Last of Us Part 2

Crafting is still an important part of replenishing your inventory, and you can make a few different flavours of ammo for a few of your weapons, as well as explosives and modified melee weapons. And boy, you're going to need them!

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The infected have evolved, and there is a delightful selection of new and terrifying monsters to be on the lookout for that are a trypophobic's nightmare. The new additions to the infected lineup, festooned with clusters of lumps, blisters, and eyeballs, are tough - and not just because it's difficult to aim when you're actively trying not to look at them. But isn't that what bombs are for? The Last of Us Part 2

The series' barbaric violence may shock newcomers, but it never feels gratuitous - and there are moments that will have even veterans clutching their pearls at the brutality on display. The Last of Us Part 2

Of course, some merriment is permitted - after all, it is a game - but the moments are fleeting. Dispatching a horde of infected is a high-stakes, high-tension affair, as their ungodly utterances pierce the oppressive combat music, but it's not half as satisfying when you pull off a flawless stealth kill.

Cherish those proud moments when you plunge your shiv of death into a moving body, because they come infrequently. As you travel through Seattle, you'll come across a few different factions that have sprung up since Joel extinguished the Fireflies, and they all have names, friends, and pets - all of which you'll discover during your murder spree. The Last of Us Part 2

Agonized wails over fallen comrades and guttural ululations at the discovery of a beloved canine pal you poked a few holes in earlier will follow you around the map as you increase your body count, reminding you that they're more than just bodies and that they matter to someone.

There's no getting away from the aftermath of your carnage, which players can justify as a necessary evil borne of Ellie's insatiable thirst for vengeance, but just when you think the two of you are at peace with doing whatever it takes to get it, you serve up a new batch of atrocities you didn't realise you had in you. And you're not the only one to blame. The Last of Us Part 2

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Tribalism is central to the plot, with characters justifying horrific acts of violence committed by themselves or their group. It exists on a large scale between factions and is mirrored in a microcosm within those groups through acts of bigotry and ignorance. The cast of characters is extremely diverse and will challenge any preconceived notions you may have, but they are all guilty of dehumanising anyone they perceive to be the "other." The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us Part 2 is an ugly lesson in humanity, but it's beautiful to watch unfold. It's a story about hope and redemption, as well as all-consuming bitterness and rage. So brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster in the slickest-looking game of this generation.

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The Last of Us Part 2 was released on June 19, 2020. To commemorate the release, Sony published The Last Of Us: From Posts To Poems, a book that transforms fans' comments on the first game into a heartwarming collection of poems peppered with gorgeous artwork from the game. Unfortunately, it is not for sale, but you can look at one of the pages above. The Last of Us Part 2