By Matthew Ingram
The Last of Us Part II is a challenging game.
Not that its combat is particularly difficult, because it isn’t. Most of the game can be coasted through with minimal effort, but in the same way Dark Souls seeks to challenge its players through towering bosses, The Last of Us Part II looks to challenge your preconceived notions about characters you’ve come to love over the past seven years.
In the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2013 post-apocalyptic third person shooter, legendary developer Naughty Dog has delivered its most ambitious game yet. Through its gameplay and story, the game brings up questions of good and evil, loss and recovery, and the nature of revenge. It’s a world where you’ll watch cities burn and friends die as everything falls to pieces in front of you.
This game will bring a tear to your eye and a grimace to your face. It is a masterclass in video game design and storytelling and a perfect end to Joel and Ellie’s story.
The brilliance of The Last of Us Part II lies not only in its story but in its gameplay as well. Far from a movie game that plays itself, this game offers some of the most engaging combat I’ve ever experienced in a 3rd person shooter.
Fights here are fast and brutal.
Melee hits land with a satisfying thud unlike even the best close-quarters brawlers. Gunplay is finely tuned with the perfect amount of weapon sway and recoil. Having tall grass to hide in and the ability to crawl on the ground improves the stealth system greatly and makes sneaking around more rewarding than ever.
Even small skirmishes will have you gripping your controller and grinding your teeth. The combat and level design is a huge improvement from the original game.
Stealth and sections built around infected enemies would help change things up some of the time but for the most part, the levels felt incredibly gamey. In part II Naughty Dog has made levels much more open giving players more choices about how they take on encounters.
Cover is now more appropriately placed in the world. Rather than crouching behind a series of arbitrarily placed boxes and partially destroyed walls you’ll find yourself fighting in abandoned apartment buildings, dense forests and desolate suburban neighborhoods, all of which feel like places where people would actually live.
The Last of Us Part II is a fantastic follow up to the 2013 classic and an instant recommendation to any fan of the original.