The Last of Us Part II (PS4)

The Last of Us Part II (PS4) - Review

by Lee Mehr , posted on 07 July 2020 / 3,224 Views

[Reviewer's Note: Due to what I found to be overbearing NDA rules for a review code, my thoughts on this game will be more expansive than what's been discussed across most outlets.  That isn't to say this review is heavy in SPOILERS (except for the first game's ending); only that some understated story details may be things you wish to discover for yourself.  Discretion is advised.]

It goes without saying that The Last of Us Part II is among the most anticipated sequels of this generation.  After cleaning up on critical & commercial praise during 2013, all it would take to hear ecstatic crowd cheers would be a Firefly insignia painted on a stop sign.  As someone who considers The Last of Us and subsequent Left Behind expansion to be among Naughty Dog's best work, I was sold on wherever they wished to take it.  The direction towards examining hate, as initially described by creative director Neil Druckmann, does lead Part II to creative and brazen avenues, but the execution leaves me something to be desired.

The real-world-inspired Cordyceps rages across the world, leaving anyone vulnerable to becoming infected with a simple bite, scratch, or the inhalation of spores.  You play as Ellie, an immune girl who left a Firefly medical hospital with her adoptive father, Joel, under troubling circumstances at the end of the first game.  Both have settled in Jackson, Wyoming since the event.  Now, several years later, a heinous act inspires Ellie to seek retribution, along with several other side characters.  Players also control a new character named Abby, whose actions are melded in with Part II's central themes. 


If I could bottle my thoughts about this sequel's narrative it'd be this: thematically poignant and narratively lopsided.  

The opening scene works brilliantly in setting the stage.  Joel talking with his brother Tommy about what he's done accomplishes two things: gives context to the audience about The Last of Us' protagonist and sets him up for examination.  What could've easily been a safe Joel 'n Ellie journey with an Uncharted-like ending is instead interested in examining the cycle of violence in gruesome detail.  No character is truly safe from their actions, and the way this is depicted through Joel, Ellie, and Abby's physical and emotional toil is one of my favorite aspects of the story.  If you're one of those who found the first game's ending poetic (as I do), you'll likely find this aptly-named Part II to be the next stanza, carrying the previous baggage along forward.

As with the first entry, Part II is still interested in assessing the lines people draw between in-groups & out-groups—as suggested by the series’ title.  Despite being on unequal footing, putting players in Abby's shoes to reconcile with how similar she and Ellie's worlds are is one of the best storytelling tools Naughty Dog manages.  What's the extent of their factions with respect to kids, education, communal bonding, and more?  There are an incredible amount of parallels between these two, up to and including their retributive motivations.  A few scenarios where your perspective character's anger feels so tangible that you—momentarily—want their 'target' dead highlight just how committed the team is to this dynamic.


I'll freely admit I wasn't initially digging Abby's inclusion, hulking shoulders and all.  Over time, I came away invested in her character arc.  Outside of having the pre-requisite 'Save the Cat!' moments for audience sympathy, I appreciate the near-parallels she shares with Joel: a recalcitrant hardass whose newest 'family' member(s) instigate their road to personal redemption.  It's also a bonus that Abby's kid/teenage companions are the rare side characters I enjoyed interacting with.  How their traumatic tales and established beliefs challenge Abby's pre-conceived biases harmonizes with the story's themes.

I came away appreciating where the writers went with the three most integral characters.  Seeing how Joel rubs off on Ellie during her most bloodthirsty moments for revenge, despite making rookie mistakes all the while, is the kind of difficult examination the story needed.  The times Joel has with Ellie are like a kaleidoscope of warm and depressing colors; the messiness in both the present timeline and flashbacks are among its best moments.  These considerations, along with Abby's growth and importance, lead to a conclusion I admire the more I mull it over.  The best way to explain my incrementally growing appreciation would be this: what we may think is better for these characters isn't what's necessarily better for the grander story.

It should go without saying the story is bolstered by exceptional performances as well.  Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, and Laura Bailey give their all, and the supplementary cast isn’t that far behind.  Reprising the composer role, Gustavo Santaolalla and co. have a pitch-perfect soundscape married to the tone and motivation of so many scenes.  The performative qualities for the story are practically a given with this studio, so this is more of a validation of what practically everyone already knows.

Ah, but with all this positive momentum it's time to [CUT TO BLACK] and focus on the negatives now.


Part II may have the most exasperating videogame story structure since Beyond: Two Souls.  What makes this so frustrating is just how unexpected it is from both the series' and writers' usual pedigree.  It's one thing to discuss pacing & structural issues involving a writer who may as well be considered "French Neil Breen" at this point, it's another coming from someone who's consistently competent.  The haphazard pacing and a missing sense of place during Chapter 1/Prologue makes it feel longer than it should; even after that, Seattle Day One (Ellie) is only casually interested in hitting the gas pedal. 

As creative and interesting as Abby's storyline is, it also houses the most fundamental problems.  There are flashbacks intermittently scattered between both leads.  That's fine on its face, but the issue becomes more prominent when there are sporadic flashbacks within flashbacks slowing down the plot even more.  I'm also not a fan of wasted narrative build-up.  Having some of Abby's most critical hurdles resolve so inconsequentially felt like several wasted hours.  The thematic buildup of humanizing 'foreign' groups becomes muddied in the final chapter as well.


There are other general complaints I have when comparing it to its predecessor.  The most prominent being the downgraded quality of the expanded cast and character dialogue.  The first’s subdued approach to aspects like relationships or LGBT themes are often replaced with wince-inducing moments more fitting for a soap opera.  Bloat extends to its cinematic affectations as well.  Between this and Uncharted 4, it's annoying to think of the staggering increase in cutscenes along with belabored walking bits Naughty Dog seems content to put players through.  Speaking as someone who typically enjoys hunting down supplementary story content, there were several points where its plodding structure became so tiresome.  Finally, its approach on the cycle of violence was occasionally ham-fisted, especially with respect to visibly pregnant women and dogs.  These moments feel so cloying in their finger-wagging towards the player, especially when compared to Spec Ops: The Line.

Part II is a strange narrative to examine.  I'm with the creative, genuine intentions being explored in this revenge tale.  The consequences of self-imposed retribution, the power of forgiveness, and the humanization of the 'other' group are all potent ideas explored in a way respecting the legacy that came before.  Yet, I'm at a total loss as to why they thought this was the best approach.  At times, it feels more like a confused collection of scenes still waiting for an editor to rearrange. 

With the messy narrative considered, let's wind back the clock to discuss what’s between story beats: the ultra-violent gameplay. 


The Last of Us' template could be summed up as scavenger stealth-action: a confection of third-person shooting and action-adventuring of Uncharted mixed with streamlined survival-horror.  While it didn't always nail the insanely-scripted E3 demo, the gameplay loop tied with its high production values always felt rewarding for me.  Considering its chest-high cover and stealth emphasis, it also brought a great nuance to the fore: real-time crafting and inventory management.  Today's technology enables this more easily, but this was a fundamental glue in making split-second action decisions feel like combat puzzles.  It had a special ebb-n-flow that clicked so well on higher difficulties.

If you were on the precursor’s wavelength, Part II will impress with both its expansions and fixes— and maybe change some naysayers' minds too.  The first notable difference is less about a singular mechanic and more about having a greater combat vocabulary.  The ability to go prone, dodge, and jump (instead of clamber) means your opportunities for hiding and fighting are less constrained.  Now, trimming enemy numbers can be done by crawling in tall grass or under military trunks, slinking through drywall gashes, swimming underwater, or attaining vertical advantages.  Although some are better explored than others, these changes go a long way in making level design and AI feel more complex.

This complexity can be most appreciated during stealth.  For one, the distracting THOMP THOMP noise of your companion's boots and their immersion-breaking moments of staying undetected when bumping into enemies has been pared down.  They're much smarter in avoiding obvious detection (despite still being invisible to enemies in stealth mode) and helpful in getting out of jams.  Enemy patrol patterns can feel tougher to pin down; they often keep their heads on a swivel, vocally give updates on their search, and investigate your best prone spots.  I've noticed some hoopla about human enemies shouting their now-dead comrades’ names to make you feel a bit of remorse, but I found that addition believable for this atmosphere.


If there's one stealth issue that hasn't been upgraded it’s the mechanical simplicity.  It is still one-dimensional with focus given to line-of-sight.  Although sound mixing for stealth kills is quieter here, there are times enemies' selective hearing for tossed bricks and bottles breaks believability in twain compared to some of your actions.  I'm also not a fan of Part II's 'grey area' for detection—having played and completed on Hard.  Aside from the 'Scar' faction, the 'suspicious AI' stage is generally forgiving, and it's easy to exploit enemy herding (getting them just suspicious enough during another stealth kill to lure them over).

The action side succeeds at being a scavenger's power fantasy.  The most distinct way comes from the gruesome animations, impressive visual fidelity, and impactful sound design.  Part II is without question one of the most brutal shooters I've played.  And it's not another splatterhouse in the vein of Gears of War's or DOOM's over-the-top violence.  Molotovs and bombs are capable of clearing entire rooms of enemies, and their final desperate screams have this sickening texture to them that mirrors actual agony.  There are dozens upon dozens of death animations and sound queues spanning from throat slashes to explosive arrows that provide an unflinching lens to this world’s brutality.

I felt uncomfortable relaying those descriptions in the previous paragraph so clinically, which I think is a success for Part II.  Every shot taken by your protagonist intuitively makes you hate anyone who dares cross your path.  You grit your teeth, aim for the head, and a successful hit results in blood and brain matter occupying whatever is behind your victim.  You want to maneuver through the morass and dilapidated buildings of Seattle to use your arsenal against every faction, human or otherwise.  For all the scripted heavy-handed moments scattered throughout, the moment-to-moment gameplay does a more consistent job of showcasing Ellie's thirst for revenge.

Mechanically, shooting and brawling feel more detailed and varied.  Expanding upon Left Behind, the enemy vs. enemy vs. you scenarios feel more organic and provided some of my favorite gameplay moments.  The heightened focus on verticality enables more potential in attacking & being attacked.  The cycle of scavenging for supplies, on-the-fly crafting, and re-pursuing remaining enemies leads to harrowing instances of escaping with the last of your ammo and supplies.  Admittedly, traits like default prone movement and more feel arbitrarily diminished so you have to invest in RPG-lite training manuals; then again, the exploration rewards in finding said manuals are always tantalizing and are typically accompanied with collectible notes that provide more backstory of someone's life after The Outbreak.

The one aspect to receive the least significant improvement is puzzle design.  Ladders and moving Ellie on pallet rafts serve an expository purpose in the first, but they were rarely exciting breaks.  Thankfully, those and dumpster-hauling have been diminished; rope-oriented conundrums take center stage this time around.  Although simplistic, it's a step up since some introduce multiple ways to reach a new area.  Besides those, safe-cracking requires little more effort than looking around the room or the room adjacent and inputting the combination.  It's like Naughty Dog was worried having a moderately taxing puzzle would further disrupt the game's pacing.

There are several miscellaneous aspects I either liked or disliked.  One nice positive is the supplementary guitar-playing mechanic where swiping the touchpad is like strumming guitar strings.  Using the control stick and L1/R1 in tandem to hit different chords enables you to accurately play your own guitar solos.  I also appreciated the similarities & differences between Ellie and Abby's arsenal: the former emphasizing a survivalist mentality whilst the latter a more militarized emphasis.  A personal qualm I had was the de-fanging of Clickers since Ellie's butterfly knife leaves the predecessor's Shiv utility dynamic up to Abby's sections.

In sum, Part II's gameplay creates a harrowing routine.  Areas feel more sprawling which leads to more organic engagements, the increased level of detail makes up-close encounters more visceral, the new Infected and other enemy types are refreshing challenges, fleshed-out enemy vs. enemy battles add a heightened level of dynamism and atmosphere, and the plethora of accessibility options are more dense than many PC games' graphical choices.  There are issues to be raised across stealth, puzzles, occasional AI path-finding, and more, but the combat can really sing when the odds are stacked against you.

Value is an interesting dilemma when compared to the first game.  Although Naughty Dog plans to release a multiplayer mode in the futurePart II decided to remain wholly focused on the campaign, a new game+ mode, and optional goodies to unlock, such as concept art and 3D character models.  I can't help but feel this beefier 25-30 hour campaign was padded as a means to make up for that loss.  When I assess this from a distance, I'm left embittered by Part II's languid pacing and overwrought exposition trudging us through as much background detail as possible.


The Last of Us Part II is one of the most fascinating blockbusters of the year.  It refashions its predecessor's templates, in narrative and gameplay, with greater complexity.  But the dare is an uneven success.  Naughty Dog has created another technical marvel that can be so easily appreciated during gameplay or cinematics, and is sure to take home end-of-year awards in that department.  It's tougher to admire artistic elements, such as great actor's performances, when they're bogged down by such a frustrating narrative.  It's a story trying to plunge into bleak territory and take cherished characters down creative avenues, but disrupts that endeavor with a disjointed structure, less-consistent side characters, inconsequential plot threads, lethargic pacing, and some sophomoric methods of addressing player violence.  It's impossible to forget how annoying those issues are, but the net positives made me willing to forgive.


VGChartz Verdict


7
Good

This review is based on a digital copy of The Last of Us Part II for the PS4

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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62 Comments

Marth (on 07 July 2020)

The disconnect between story and gameplay is my biggest issue with this game. It is so well made and the message of what killing each other leads to is very clear in the cutscenes. But then the cutscenes end and we get to "oh boy here I go mass murdering again without remorse while they suffer in agony"


Machina (on 07 July 2020)

That's a disconnect which begins to show towards the end of The Last of Us for me (and I imagine is much more in-your-face in the sequel, since its messaging seems to be much more overt). The idea that violence begets violence and that YOU have become the monster, etc. etc. is something the game tries to shame you with at the end, but it feels very hollow and frankly a bit hypocritical coming from a team that's made a career in recent years out of developing games where you mindlessly kill thousands of pretty nondescript human NPCs.


  • +6
coolbeans (on 07 July 2020)

I'm of two minds about it, depending on the situation. It's definitely the case in respect to the framing of dogs here. "Ludonarrative dissonance" is artsy way of describing it, and I'm sure think-pieces will focus on that. I don't see the disconnect when you're in the thick of it though, just engaging in combat. Because of what transpires in the beginning, I think Part II put an effort on making the protagonists be "violence addicts" than full-blown monsters. The tone on this gets muddied, but I think its most consistent when story's progressing in combative scenarios.

It's an interesting comment to consider though.


  • 0
Marth (on 08 July 2020)

[TLOU II/Pt. II SPOILERS within this comment chain]


  • 0
Marth (on 08 July 2020)

I think this problem peaked for me going from Ellies Seattle Day 2 to Day 3. After you torture that woman for Abbys whereabouts you clearly see how broken Elllie is about her actions afterwards and it feels like this should be the point where you stop. But the next morning you pick up Jesse and you continue the gameplay powerfantasy with another happy go lucky murder spree. It is clear that Ellie has PTSD but in her case it only triggers when the writers want to. I know that giving the player power in gameplay is important but damn I would have wished many of those combat arenas have ways where you can actively try to avoid combat and bloodshed instead of going guns/knives/bows/molotovs blazing. Or give the player some kind of repercussions for going on a rampage, like Ellie (or Abby btw this is not exclusive to one of those two) breaking down in a quiet moment or staring blank into the distance while trying to sort out her mind thinking about what she is doing. Tlou focuses so much about how human these characters are, but in gameplay they pretty much aren't. They are killer robots in those moments.


  • +1
coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

*SPOILERS*

Well, I think this where "tricks' like the flashbacks help facilitate righteous anger for the character. In Ellie's case, sure she's temporarily stricken by what she had to do for information. But when you look at Nora (hospital girl) she's actually a cold-hearted b**** when she plunges that verbal dagger about Joel at her. Through HER eyes, all she knows about this group is this: they tortured Joel, they killed Joel, and they took glee in what transpired.

Even with that, she's still affected by her ugly actions. But then memories come back again and the main remorseless target is still out there. I think that drive is enough to work in that context.


  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 July 2020)

Marrying story and gameplay has always been a huge hurdle in game development. Videogame story writers are often handicapped by the gameplay, or the gameplay is severely handicapped by the story. I mean, how many times have you beat a boss, only to lose in the cutscene, because the story demanded it?


  • +1
coolbeans (on 07 July 2020)

After speaking with EiC I thought it'd be cool for there to be an option to get more detailed on how YOU responded to the story. So, if interested in diving more thoroughly into that you must do this: your first/original comment here MUST read out accordingly: [TLOU II/Pt. II SPOILERS within this comment chain], then reply to your own comment with the story-heavy stuff you wish to discuss. These rules don't apply if you're going to keep things vague. It's also a positive in that comment replies unlock the ability to make paragraphs (don't ask me why or how). Anyways, hope you enjoyed the read.


GoOnKid (on 07 July 2020)

I appreciate that you didn't give the game a 10 by default just because it looks pretty. The balls.


coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

Heh...VGChartz has a habit of not letting anything sneak through with a 10 already. I appreciate the comment nonetheless. A part of me feels like tougher criticisms won't get as much vitriol now that it's been out for weeks. And I wouldn't be surprised to see more 7's coming out of the woodwork from smaller outlets.


  • +3
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 July 2020)

A score of 10 should be reserved for once a decade per writer IMO.


  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 July 2020)

I've seen so many reviewers criticizing games on their stealth elements, however, I can't think of a single game that does stealth perfectly. It's like reviewers want to criticize a game for not being as good as some non-existant stealth game they have in their heads. While not perfect, I felt the stealth elements are far better than those in other games. They definitely moved the bar higher, when it comes to stealth gameplay here. I agree that the pacing in some parts has problems. Especially in Jackson on your second playthrough. Walking slowly along the side of a road to hear characters do lengthy narrative exposition is really annoying. God of War handled this so well, by having characters do exposition mostly when you were in the boat traveling to a new location. The best part is that Mimir and Boy, would both shut up as soon as Kratos landed the boat. They'd save their story for another time. I really hope more games take on that approach to storytelling. On the flip side, TLoU2 forces you to go through all those flashback moments, and walking simulator moments. It was fine the first time around, since I wanted to hear the story. On the second playthrough though, these areas acted like unskippable cutscenes, annoying me. Outside of those gameplay interrupting pacing issues the story was fine structurally. Part of the genius of this game's narrative is having gone through almost all of the first character's story, and actions, so that you know what to expect for the second character to discover. This leads the player to know exactly what Abby will eventually come home to, and the anticipation of that moment was palpable! This leads to what I feel is the climax of the story, where the two main characters finally reunite, in hatred and vengeance. After this climax though, we get this sort of weird resolution in a whole new locale, that kind of feels tacked on. One thing I really didn't like about the game was all the "impassable bushes". From afar it always looked like you could go through these bushes, so I kept running around them fumbling to find the edges of the levels. Add in all those sections where a cutscene triggers, stopping your exploration of an area, and barring you from going back. These sudden gatekeeper moments really hampered the exploration aspect of the game. Overall though I'd give it an 8.5. I thought it was a great game, but not the masterpiece that some critics have hailed it as.


coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

I suppose it depends on what you wish to tackle about stealth: AI, level design, or mechanics. Since my criticism came down to mechanical depth, such counter-examples aren't hard to find. The OG Splinter Cell titles being one. Let's look at Part II and SC: Chaos Theory:

-Part II detection: line of sight, flashlight is contextual based on Infected or Humans (virtually meaningless), contextual sound detection based on thrown objects or loud action noises like shattering glass windows, special case of slower movement speed needed for Clickers

-Chaos Theory: light/dark mechanic, universal sound detection, universal background sound detection to gauge how loud you could be without drawing attention, thrown objects for distraction, multiple spy gadgets to utilize in environment, more suspicious guard states if you either shoot or EMP a light or camera, picking up and hiding bodies, and maybe a few more stealth nuggets

-"Part of the genius of this game's narrative is having gone through almost all of the first character's story, and actions, so that you know what to expect for the second character to discover."

Heh...that registers as the opposite of genius to me and adds to its frustrating structure. Since you know what's going to happen with them, what's the point of attaching to them? It almost seems like the game tacitly thinks that too, given how bland most of their character writing is. There's anticipation to Abby's reaction, but that barely registered as worthwhile for the cost of having foreknowledge of preceding events.


  • +1
Cerebralbore101 (on 09 July 2020)

So it's a bad stealth game because different enemies behave in different ways? Yes, Clickers and Shamblers are blind, so the flashlight is meaningless to them. Of course Runners are dumb, and don't have very good alert states. Why should low level Zombies be good at stealth detection? Of course Dogs and Clickers can hear better than humans. Few stealth series actually let you hide bodies, and I don't think it would add much to TLoU series. Based on the way levels are layed out you'd almost never be able to effectively drag a body away. And based on the amount of blood that oozes out of every enemy, you'd be leaving behind a trail for any half decent AI to follow. In a post apocalyptic world, I think it makes sense for human enemies to quickly go from suspicious to high alert status. You're talking about a much deadlier world than that of Splinter Cell.

I agree that we were never meant to become attached to Abby's friends that went to Jackson with her. But since we have knowledge of what's going to happen to them, the game isn't aiming for us to care about them specifically. It's aiming for us to care that Abby cares.


  • 0
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

You're jumping at shadows here. Both in my review and here, I eschewed making a qualitative assertion such as "bad stealth" altogether. The adjectives I'd used would be basic or limited when looking at the baseline mechanics. It's funny because the differences in AI attitudes is one of the best things any designer can do ease that criticism. I liked the Stalker dynamics and I implicitly felt the Scars were better hunters based on experience and their complex whistling system. I didn't touch on that all the variations here, but that's not what I'm focusing on.

But now you're transitioning to excusing why more mechanical depth wouldn't make sense rather than questioning "what's the non-existent stealth game you're imagining that TLOU's design falls short of?" Your initial question in regards to mechanics & depth can actually be refuted quite easily: certain Splinter Cell games (like Chaos Theory), the early Thief games, certain Hitman games, I believe the Styx series has a solid stealth system too. I can't tell how many times I'd tail a human enemy (TLOU II) by vaulting over a table or making a modest drop on boxes or whatnot and the noise wouldn't rise suspicion. And I'm not knocking the flashlight for its function, only to emphasize that it's rudimentary. It's not of the same standing as Chaos Theory's light/dark mechanic. I disagree about hiding bodies. For one, you can easily make levels to accommodate it. And since Ellie can make traps, she could utilize the blood trail to lure other enemies.

Eh...kinda sounds mental gymnastics to me. Players can already assume Abby cares for a posse that was willing to exact vigilante justice with her. The work comes in giving players something worthwhile to latch onto their circumstances and provide suspense in what'll happen to them. Not really invested in what some pregnant girl's rant against Abby does to her when I'm thinking of her hourglass striking zero anyways. And as far as character writing goes, I felt like I was running into constant Error 404 messages whenever wanting dialogue that wasn't insipid.


  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 09 July 2020)

I'm not so much jumping at shadows as much as struggling to understand your meaning. Your writing style is overly wordy, and ambiguous at times.

I'm glad you answered my question about what Stealth game TLoU2 falls short of. Now I understand where you are coming from. You are right. TLoU2 doesn't have stealth as good as early Thief or Splinter Cell games. But I still think that considering TLoU is much more than a stealth series, that your criticism here is undeserved. I mean, I could criticize the melee combat in TLoU2, by complaining that it's not as complex as Sekiro. But that would be silly, since Sekiro is extremely focused on in your face melee combat, while TLoU2 is not.

I see a lot of reviewers, and youtubers complaining that this game or that game doesn't have the best stealth. I was always wondering what imaginary stealth game they were comparing it to. But having played Chaos Theory, I finally understand where they are coming from. I just needed a reminder, since I haven't played that game in 16 years.

So I'll change my criticism of you and those other reviewers to "You expect a game WITH stealth to have as good stealth mechanics as a game that was focused almost ENTIRELY on stealth?"

I'll throw in that I thought Chaos Theory was unrealistically difficult. If I vaulted over an object in TLoU2, and an enemy heard it and turned around, I'd put the controller down.


  • +1
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

Noted. Oh absolutely. This is where it gets kinda messy in evaluating. Although it still had examples of this, 7th-gen onward had a strange habit of concocting genre hybrids instead of emphasizing a focal point. Maybe faltering at one aspect but succeeded at another could ease criticism as a result.

I disagree and don't think your comparison adequately applies. Sekiro's combat is much further away from this world's expectation than my stealth example. TLOU's melee combat isn't centered around parries, ripostes, and the hectic attacks of swordsman; it's more akin to drunken patrons throwing fists in a parking lot. The sloppiness and tension fits the players' surroundings. While TLOU's stealth isn't akin a super spy, our understanding of the real world isn't much different from one. You'd be confused if someone 5 feet ahead didn't turn around to the sound of AHHHH choking gasps or a buff girl slamming two feet on a pallet of barrels/boxes after dropping down.

Instead of having more complex, universal standards (a step's loudness between different surfaces in Thief), TLOU's sound system is contextual to your aggressive actions: throwing something, breaking stealth with a melee swing, breaking some kind of glass.

-"You expect a game WITH stealth to have as good stealth mechanics as a game that was focused almost ENTIRELY on stealth?"

I guess this will harmonize with your other comment chain (which I will get to soon): I guess it'll depend upon the context for me. A key issue I have in mulling over this question is that MY typical focus is in respect to console generations, rather than genre focus. Know what I mean? I think my approach would be this: I'd hope a 8th-gen hybrid with a heightened emphasis on stealth to have mechanical complexity *within the ballpark* of a 6th-gen stealth game.

Haha...well it's definitely not everyone. Aside from the bathhouse level, I just have to disagree with you there. Absolutely love Chaos Theory.


  • 0
TallSilhouette (on 07 July 2020)

Finished the game over the weekend and have been absorbing various perspectives on it since. Some criticisms have merit, others are ridiculous. I loved it over all, though. What it lost in the tightness of its story it made up for in the improvements to its gameplay. Girlfriend Reviews actually has my favorite take on it so far: https://youtu.be/bh5gzGs-63Y


coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

[SPOILER WARNING]

Glad you came out loving it, Tall. I appreciate the vid. It feels nice to not have to actively dodge think-pieces that were being tossed around while I was still trying to get through it.

Overall, I'd say her explanations are...pretty good. I get the Pulp Fiction/Tarantino structure comparison despite papering over the disparities. Abby & Ellie's storyline sandwich is actually more familiar in approach than the vibrant, near-scatological structure of PF/Reservoir Dogs. I'd also say how Tarantino handles suspense, even with a character's known fate, trumps how its done for Abby's friends in Part II.


  • 0
coolbeans (on 16 July 2020)

ICYMI: Girlfriend Reviews finally did a proper review of Part II. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1pA4mFLyvU

I like her plucky attitude when defending it, although I think the 'Understanding...' vid was more substantial.


  • 0
Jaicee (on 09 July 2020)

I spent a lot of the night thinking about what, if anything, I should say here and honestly I'm inclined to not say anything because I doubt the general reaction will be positive. I'm kind of afraid to. I've also thought, "If I wait too long, my reply will be so far down the list nobody will see it anyway". I've also already supplied some of my at-length thoughts on the game on the forums, so figure there might not really be a need for me to 'review this review', if you will. Casting these issues aside though, I just can't resist saying something. First of all, I appreciate the work that went into the crafting of this review, so let that be said! However, I just disagree with some of its main conclusions and honestly find the proposals for what should've been different almost on the cartoonish side in the worst sense of the term. You (Lee) complain about the game's use of many cinema scenes and "walking" parts and also feel that the relationships in the game should've been more "subdued". What does that leave us with? Little but the violence, and maybe notes strewn about (and a built-in multiplayer mode in the alternate scenario you suggest should've been). Personally, I appreciated the game's quieter moments the most. For me, those moments provided a very welcome break from the gore-fest and supplied me with actual reasons to care about these characters and what happened to them. I lived from story bit to story bit, from dialogue to note to cinema scene. You also seem to suggest that the story's developments should've been relayed in strict chronological order of occurrence. I just don't see how that would've been as effective. It's like you want TLOU2 to be a more generic action game than it is and it disappoints you that instead it's something more.


hunter_alien (on 09 July 2020)

Hey, don't worry I at least read what you wrote :-) I am on the same boat. Most criticism of TloU2 seems to boil down to 2 major arguments: 1. It's not the first game and they did something different. 2. It's not the game I imagined it will be, pronto, so by default it's not something that is worthy my time. Now, there is nothing wrong with different opinions, and this review is very well structured, and written, one of the reason why I tend to read local reviews as of late (local, as on VGC :-D ). BUT I do have a feeling that impressions like these would have popped-up no matter what ND would have made, simply because the bar was set so high and expectations became so incredible, that delivering to all of them was nigh impossible, and they had to choose what they wanted to tell.

Still, this is my opinion, and I have to say, on a personal level, for me this game is pretty much the GOTY and doubt that anything will come even close to it. I am also glad that the critical consensus was on their side, as I really wish that we will get more experiences like this in the future. Is the game perfect? No, it's not. Is this game as good as it gets... well yeah, and honestly there are few games that can objectively stack up to it's level. Time will tell how will we look back on the game in 10 years or so, but one thing I can guarantee, we will look back on it even in 20.


  • +2
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

Before hopping into your assessments, I want to emphasize that I really hope fear of negative pushback doesn't overwhelm from discussing game stuff like this often. Sure, I can lob a couple smarmy daggers back at those who're trying to act smug themselves; however, in no way does that approach relate to your complimentary & critical assessment here. Since I also do my best to keep tabs on comments, rest assured that I'll report responses that constitute as harassment. Anyways...

I think my first emphasis would be that going after protracted cutscenes & walking sections doesn't mean they ought to be trimmed down to the point of only having shooting galleries. I think a more useful consideration would be stuff like the snowball fight in Jackson: retools the baseline mechanics in a way that brings joy instead of misery. Even though it would've been shorter, imagine if 30-45 seconds in cinematics were spent there instead? Maybe it'd look crisply-edited and have Sanataolalla's track playing, but something would've been lost, right? Because TLOU and Left Behind managed these dynamics well (maybe too many ladder puzzles), I was surprised just how enthused I was with Part II's handling in comparison.

It's less about strict countdown clock and more about mindset. I don't think ND handled this question well: "does this propel the story forward meaningfully & succinctly?" Since I went in blind about Abby, I easily understood the "humanizing the other" angle regarding WLFs early on. Then I started visiting other camps...then I began picking up training manuals...etc. In the same way the "revenge is bad!" motif was being consistently recycled, "your enemies are flawed people too!" message just ran its course with me. It's worth noting how that harms the final 2 hours too. Imagine if the two warring factions were retooled, or the 3rd was a splinter group RELATED to one of them. See what I mean? My head occasionally went towards making the story more compact but with the same or even MORE emotion behind it. Also, not all violent encounters would've been safe from the cutting room floor either.

In regards to chronological order, well I think that's impossible given the huge amount of flashbacks. A part of me felt like Ellie's 2nd flashback would've been a solid tutorial mission. Overall, I think how I'd re-edit it would've been more organized but still sandwiched together to disparate degrees. Rest assured, I wouldn't be giddy at the thought of TLOU2 being a "more generic action game." I'm glad you held onto the quieter parts; I did quite often as well. But my mind couldn't help but wander or wish *x part* was done b/c the point was sufficiently made. I think a good comparison would be Uncharted 4's old lady's mansion level. Was it worth waltzing around a mansion with no tension for 30+ mins just to hear the origin of Nathan Drake's name? Those are the types of conundrums with pacing I think Naughty Dog (& by extension Neil Druckmann) are disregarding for...artsy-fartsy intentions. (Yes, I'm quite mature lol).

Still, this is a critical response I do appreciate.


  • +1
hunter_alien (on 09 July 2020)

I really don't think that we are at the point on VGC where some negative pushback will derail any meaningful discussions about any game, yet (though this game most definitely pushed some boundaries with the community, myself included) :-) I also hope that my mostly short responses don't come off as smug, or god forbid harassing, so I do apologize if it came off like that.
Regarding the slow, walking sections that these games have, I personally like them. Sure they do not age well, but they are mostly nice distractions that take an alternative, sometimes more emotional and experimental interactive approach to storytelling and character development, than a cut scene. For gameplay purists, this might be a nightmare, and I understand that. They might also feel like they bloat the overall game, a game whose structure and coherence is already under a question mark. But again, I can only take these elements as positive aspects of the game and contrast perfectly with the tenser scenes, like the rat king encounter.
Is it a perfect approach? No. Do I like them in the context of the current game? Yes. Do they always hit their intentions out of the park? Absolutely not! Would the game be lesser without them? Absolutely. Could they be retooled? Probably yes, but then we are going into a discussion about artistic freedom and how much influence should a fan base have on the final product. I am not a huge fan of that. In an age where most steam games are built on community feedback, I am more than happy to see certain developers trying their own, even if the end product is not quite perfect, or even far from it.
For example, I felt that the old lady mansion in UC4 was pretty entertaining and a good half hour where no tense action was happening. As a huge fan of “walking simulators” I really do like how you get a small glimpse into the world/story/character without any meaningful impact. These sections and how developers handle them remind me of QTE's. At first they used it all the time, in a horrible way, and today they are mostly refined, well-executed, and entertaining. I do hope that scenes like these are here to stay and more developers will be willing to try their hands with them. That way we might reach a point where the execution will be flawless or close to it.
Yes, they might affect pacing in general. The part where the Abby section starts feels a bit like a brick wall, that manages to quickly turn around and become the arguably better part of the game at a later stage. And I do agree that the last 2 hours feel more like a “Left Behind”-like section that should have been added later on as a separate experience. But these flaws did not impact my gaming experience in a negative-enough way. What I came away with was a striking, mature and bold move onto the body-horror territory that thus far the movie-industry dominated, and the gaming industry only managed to achieve on a creature-feature like level. The French new-wave should take notice, as there is a new medium in town. :-)
This turned out to be longer than I intended, sorry )) As a closing idea, just want to say that even though I was hyped for the game, I guess I always managed to keep in mind the fact that it's simply that, a game, and this late into a generation it will probably not re-write the rules. I guess 25+ years of gaming and several dozen of let-downs does that to a person. :-D


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Jaicee (on 09 July 2020)

I think things are okay so far on the main forums, but they're definitely not on my Facebook wall, and I also just feel demoralized by lots of down-votes that are optional here in this kind of setting. ANYWAY, back to the game! I'm not sure I understand everything that you (Lee) are saying in the reply above, but I do thank you for the follow-up and I do get what you're saying about the repetitiousness of the game's message about unforgiveness and vengeance I suppose and desiring a more streamlined approach to the narrative, though I never got tired of it myself. There were a few developments that I felt were excessively melodramatic even for this game's world, but nothing that significantly lessened my interest in where the narrative was going. In short, I didn't get particularly tired of the world-building that the game takes the time to do, and the notes were kinda the most boring part of that for me, although I appreciated their inclusion as their would be that much less emotional weight here without them. It probably also helps that I'm also someone who LOVES many so-called walking sims just because I enjoy discovery and narrative for their own sakes and don't like always feeling stressed all the time. I needed moments to catch a breather and stuff like the farmhouse and the museum were just an absolute delight for me; best parts of the game! Maybe I'm easy to please (though I really don't think so) or maybe instead it's that I've been gaming forever now and get tired of the fact that games overwhelmingly lean so heavily on un-lifelike action stuff that sometimes I just want there to be something different. I loved the old lady's mansion in Uncharted 4! It's not boring to me.


  • +2
Jaicee (on 09 July 2020)

Bottom line: I just never got tired of playing this game. I never wanted to put it down. I was almost half an hour late for work one day because I lost track of the time playing it in fact. :-D I couldn't wait to see what happened next, ESPECIALLY when the game cut to a scenario I didn't see coming. I didn't want the game to be more predictable.


  • +1
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

@hunter_alien
Appreciate you input--despite the wall of text (lol).

@Jaicee
(Slight correction from past comment: *surprised how UN-enthused I was with Part II in comparison)
Yours too! Your example actually brought me back to a TLOU I experience, expect I ran late meeting up with friends instead of work.

If there's one slight tweak or re-emphasis I'd make to help clarify my issue it'd be this adjective: "self-indulgent." I don't want to come out as some hardliner who wants things trimmed to down to the very second. Some passive moments of taking in the gravity of your situation in Pt. II hit me like electricity too. But I think when I'm distracted by an...'attitude' behind a protracted emotional/melodramatic scene it can short-circuit my attention and make me question why we're going down this route. Although I haven't reviewed any of them yet, there are some walking sims I really like too!

That's the best summation I can make to that part.


  • +1
Jaicee (on 09 July 2020)

That does help a little actually. Although I think we'd have to get a little more specific/spoilery in the form of specific examples to be totally clear (which is obviously fine by me). I would be curious as to what you'd perceive as an example of this.


  • +1
coolbeans (on 10 July 2020)

Hey! Sorry for the late response. Felt like tapping out after some of my other discussions. I'm glad that helps. Although I wish I had a singular example like UC4's mansion, I have to aim towards something grander and think of Abby's Seattle section in various bits and pieces. Exploring & re-exploring various spots to get huge exposition dumps about what the Scars & Wolves are planning, the need for protracted walking sections virtually every time in the aquarium, having fun in the dog kennels, Abby & Owen romance part, and the weird need to communicate how extensive this journey is by starting inside the aquarium to the hospital.

Just to reiterate, I'm not saying all of this should be removed entirely. I'm just left wondering why ND didn't consider the player's time more often as it reiterates messages you can easily grasp.


  • 0
Jaicee (on 10 July 2020)

No worries about the delay, I get it completely. Anyway, to the substance...whoa! We are definitely gonna to have to disagree then. I perceived things almost the opposite way: stuff like the aquarium were my favorite aspects of Abby's act and the stuff that sometimes felt a bit more like a chore was like having to fight off a sometimes arbitrarily-placed collection of infected. When I was at the aquarium, I wanted to keep playing. When I was just going through some more infected and found myself low on time, I thought to myself "You know what, I can save here. This can wait." It's not that I didn't find those encounters suspenseful, but that they didn't propel me forward quite the same way that learning something new about Abby and Owen and just the backstory of this world did. I think we've reached the place where we simply have a difference of opinion.


  • +1
coolbeans (on 11 July 2020)

Just to reiterate, I wouldn't want all emotional moments like that gone either. It's more about how the overabundance not always feeling necessary or some not feeling worth the languid pace. In any case, I'm glad you felt more invested from beginning to end. Who knows? Perhaps I'll have a different stance after a new game+ run.
Without a doubt, Part II is an ambitious game if its able to generate these types of discussions.

Since we're reaching a conclusion, I appreciate your thoughts about the review & game proper. You (& others) have helped contribute to my most rewarding comment sections yet.


  • +1
Jaicee (on 11 July 2020)

My most valuable addition yet: Thanks!


  • +1
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 July 2020)

P.S. I really think this review gives far too much weight to the story, when considering the score. I feel like two points were deducted due to the story, and one point for all the other criticisms combined. Trying to hold games to the same narrative standards as books/movies/T.V., and then judging those games mostly on their story not being A+ material is silly. Games are far more than their story, comprising of gameplay, music, controls, etc. Not to mention games will almost always have their story hamstrung by gameplay. A good story by movie/T.V./Book standards will always be considered great by video game standards. This review reads like a food critic that focused on the restaurant decor, and not the food.


coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

Considering that I've read or watched plenty of sub-par books, movies, & TV, I don't know what your assessment of "A+ material" means in this context. As far as I can tell, I'm just giving weight as it'd apply to a AAA narrative-focused adventure of this scope. Naughty Dog's history, the PR, its predecessor, etc., all communicate an emphasis on story & characters. Hell, they're the creatives who put 5+ hours of cinematics & copious walking sections in here, so comparing this to "restaurant decor" doesn't apply. Depending on who you ask, story HAS been Naughty Dog's main course for two console generations.

Sure, there's a delicate balance most games have between their gameplay and story. But depending on the context, that doesn't mean I--or any other critic--are obligated to ignore it. Even if there's still a slight skew in quality between games and other media, I still have a habit of connecting with ones that utilize interactivity in a neat way. This is where I was 100% onboard with TLOU and Left Behind, but never to the same extent with Part II.


  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 July 2020)

The meaning of A+ material won't help here. I was using hyperbole. Kinda like the phrase "Jimmy got an A on his math test, but he's no rocket scientist!" The focus here shouldn't be on the meaning of A+ material, or rocket scientist. The focus should be on the hyperbole used to get the point across. The point being, that a game can have a very weak, story and still be a great game, while a movie or book cannot have a weak story and be a great movie or book.

Naughty Dog has been more about combining the stealth, platforming, cover based shooting, and hack n' slash elements of other genres into a seamless experience, than they have been about story. Also setpieces. Giant, ridiculous setpieces. Uncharted 2! Now, I'm not saying that story isn't also something they've been known for. I'm just saying that it's definitely not the be all and end all focus of their games. Naughty Dog isn't Quantic Dream here.

Obligated to ignore the balance between gameplay and story? Is that what you mean? Because, I feel like that's exactly what you just did. I feel like you ignored the balance between gameplay, and story. If you review Metroid Prime, are you going to complain that 90% of the story is contained in scannable flavortext? Or are you going to realize that it's a video game, and this was probably the best way to deliver the story for the MP developers?

"This is where I was 100% onboard with TLOU and Left Behind, but never to the same extent with Part II." - I agree with that. TLoU is considered a masterpiece, because it's one of the few games that has both fantastic story, and fantastic gameplay. To boot the interactivity just adds to it overall. On the flipside I feel like TLoU2 is a great game, but not the 9.5 or 10/10 masterpiece that a lot of critics would have you believe.


  • 0
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

I got that. The issue is hyperbole or not I still didn't have any frame of reference, like a ship without a paddle. What would qualify as "A+ material" to you? But now that you and I seem to put TLOU on equal standing I have a better idea. I disagree on great story being a necessary aspect for film or books. Some movies can do incredibly well with simple premises or scripts. Surrealist films/books are one such area that can often elevate themselves beyond not-so-great stories.

But that's according to you, isn't it? Someone else can easily approach me about ND's stories and not care so much for the gameplay. Maybe they just find it serviceable so they latch onto what they like about the characters. May not be the end-all on which to judge them, but it's more emphasized than Call of Duty. Now, Call of Duty's story & characters? THAT'S closer to what you'd call "restaurant decor" (although I'll still go after it anyways).

Right, but ignoring it will be context-dependent. As hinted at above, TLOU Pt. II's management of violence in-game and cutscenes is something I think they often manage well. The parts where I don't think it does, I won't ignore it. You basically answered your own question with respect to Metroid Prime. That's one of the counter-examples of a story marrying story & gameplay with near-100% consistency. That type of interactivity enhances the story, not detracts from it.

I don't know about "fantastic" gameplay for TLOU (even by '13 standards) but it got quite close. Well, I guess you and I are at a crossroads on that. I think this is a good personal nugget to encapsulate what made it easy to give it a 7: I still kinda remember my Hard/Grounded New Game+ dual-playthroughs for TLOU & Left Behind. They were done relatively close together. I don't have nearly the same impetus to do that with Pt. II, despite some cool nuggets I could find with the parallels. There's something more missing with this sequel for me, and it's not a couple extra annoyances that'd still make me consider it a "great" game either.


  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 09 July 2020)

What would qualify as A+ material? Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Jurassic Park, Game of Thrones Seasons 1-4, Dragon Quest 11, Astonishing X-Men (Whedon run), Uncanny X-Force (Remender run), Thor or Wolverine by Jason Aaron, New 52 Animal Man. Sorry for not having any actual books. I'm more of a non-fiction reader.

What would be a good example of a good surrealist film or book? And if you say David Lynch, I'm gonna slap you!

Well the story parts of TLoU2 are about 5-7 hours, with a large chunk of them skippable. To complete the game takes around 20 hours. Depending on whether you do a second playthrough that's 1/3rd to 1/5th of gametime dedicated to story. The issue isn't whether one individual subjectively latches onto the story, while another subjectively latches onto the gameplay. The issue is what actually makes up the bulk of the 20-36 hour experience. And that is the gameplay.

Can you elaborate on the phrase Context Dependent? What is the question I answered? I'm sorry, but could you restate that entire paragraph in different terms? It comes off as overly vague.


  • +1
coolbeans (on 10 July 2020)

I really appreciate your list, as it has some of my choices and some I could check out in the future. If these are the examples, then I can say I never really felt like I was consciously applying THESE standards upon Pt. II's story. The most typical expectation I have going in with a story comes down to functionality: how is both the 'plot' and 'story' accomplishing their goals in respect to exposition, pacing, emotional resonance, etc. But I guess I'm just restating my initial thoughts from response #1.

You caught me! I'm a big fan of Mulholland Drive, modest fan of Lost Highway, but didn't care for Inland Empire. I'm not far into Lynch's filmography, but I do think he's a great example. Going away from him, I'd say Last Year at Marienbad is another great surrealist film. Although I haven't seen Enter The Void, the idea of a single-shot drug trip/sex party with surrealist stuff has some major potential too.

Do you think it's just limited to that much time though? Where do collectible notes picked up & those laborious walks focused on character growth work here? And if we do go off this metric, how far do we take this 1/3 of the story reasoning? You mean to tell me that if this story sucked--absolutely sucked--there's some rule established that nothing less than a 6/10 is permissible, even if story is the main reason they purchased the game?

Alright. Let's refresh then: the supposed imbalance between story & gameplay I appear to have doesn't really register with me. I'm not determining how much weight to put towards story based on some bean-counter, but rather its perceived importance. I'm not doing something like "Space Invaders succeeds with its innovative gameplay but the slim story about the Gloop-Glops and Gleem-Glits leaves a sour taste. 7/10" From both the PR I spoke with and the general atmosphere, story plays a MUCH bigger importance than most other games. Ignoring that to perhaps evaluate more on animations, soundtrack, gameplay, & length is context-dependent; that being how I came in valuing this work and what I got out of it.

You answered your Metroid Prime question with your follow-up about how that was the best approach for the developers. Metroid Prime's flavor text succeeds as the meat of the story because of its incorporation and how it marries so well with the design intention. I don't think Part II succeeds in the same way and it has a greater emphasis thrown at story.

This is why your initial assessment rings hollow for me. It also follows this assumption that I don't really make in reviewing: I didn't make a start point at 10 and then -2 on story & -1 on gameplay issues over time. I just tend to fluctuate with what I'm playing at the time and make an evaluation once these credits rolled. When I think on my general sentiments and consider our review methodology, I felt most comfortable hitching to a 7.

(P.S. I feel bad for some of my missed words in previous comments. Sorry about that.)


  • 0
John2290 (on 07 July 2020)

This.


Locknuts (on 11 July 2020)

Great review, Lee.


coolbeans (on 11 July 2020)

I appreciate it. I don't recall seeing you for a modest amount of time, so this is a pleasant surprise.


  • 0
iron_megalith (on 08 July 2020)

Welcome to the minority. Thank you for being objective about the review.


coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

While I'm glad you enjoyed the review, I wouldn't consider it "objective." Hell, my subjective feelings had me torn between a 6 or 7 at one point, then solidly resting at a 7 the more I thought about it. I do feel lucky in being able to opt-out of Sony's/Naughty Dog's NDA to go more in detail though.


  • 0
goopy20 (on 09 July 2020)

Lol a 7? Even if you don't like the story, its a video game and should be reviewed as such. The gameplay and graphics alone make it stand out quite a bit over anything I played this gen so far. Personally I loved the story and thought it was extremely well told, but I do get that some would prefer the story of part 1, though. Still, did anyone give Gears 5 terrible reviews because the story sucked?


coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

First, I'd advise you to read over our methodology to see what a 7 means. Second, these appeals to it being a "video game" are limp-wristed defenses in my eyes. Yes, yes...different standards compared muh other mediums. Obviously its importance in a final score depends on the emphasis. Naughty Dog are considered one of the most popular storytellers in the games industry, and they seem to wear that identity proudly. And when considering just how critical story is that the amount of cutscenes have a runtime of two feature-length films, and have some protracted walking sections along with it, why shouldn't you expect reviews with a heavier emphasis on grading story?

Even with your counter-example, Gears 5 also shipped with a new cooperative mode, competitive multiplayer, and co-op campaign options, so some issues could've been defused by all these extra positives which may have eaten hours of your time. Fortunately, no one has to worry about weighing a bad story with Gears 5 b/c it doesn't have a bad one. I'm relieved to correct you about that.


  • 0
hunter_alien (on 09 July 2020)

Well, that is true, ND did get trapped by their own successes, and they are at a point where if they don't score perfectly, many will notice. I much rather have them try a new style and deliver something that is thematically more experimental, like this game, but I am more lenient and liberal in general when it comes to storytelling. I can consume anything from Lynch to Bay if I know the context.

About Gears and it's storyline... I wouldn't really get into discussing it as there is no point to do it here, but I do mostly agree with goopy20 in sentiment.


  • +1
LMU Uncle Alfred (on 09 July 2020)

On the comment of graphics, I think in terms of pointage graphics should be weighted to almost nothing. As long as a game looks relatively good for the hardware its on with no major hiccups or game breaking issues, great textures or graphical fidelity only go so far. Soundtrack weight on the other hand seems to be completely thrown under the bus these days, which is really unfortunate considering music is so much more timeless in nature to graphical proficiency and can provide so many more deeper and affecting emotions to what you're playing.


  • +1
KLAMarine (on 08 July 2020)

Spoilers in follow-up comment...


KLAMarine (on 08 July 2020)

***SPOILERS***
Ellie not killing Abby at the end is incredibly stupid. After all the killing, you stop at the very end!? ND needs to make it an option in the future. Seriously, it would be advisable for Ellie to kill Abby, Abby's mindset could very much be "this Ellie person could still come after us again in the future. I need to kill Ellie before she can try to kill me or Lev again".

And then there's Ellie getting her fingers bitten off: did we really need to see Ellie unable to play the guitar? Her being able to play the guitar was never the point. We can see that Ellie has lost everything: the empty house and Joel being dead is enough. The inability to play the guitar was way too heavy-handed. I could almost hear the writers asking me "do you get it? Ellie lost everything!" Would have much preferred Ellie keep her fingers at the end but also actively leave the guitar behind as she left the empty house.


  • 0
coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

1.) Thanks for addressing your initial comment, KLA. (Don't have to worry about putting SPOILERS now that you warned people in first comment)

2.) I have to disagree. I think having the choice would rob the story of its intentions, much like how just pushing the surgeon away as an option in TLOU 1 would've robbed that scene of its impact. Naughty Dog is hard-pressed on making the player as 'vessel' when moving the story along.

I have trouble seeing that reflected in Abby now. She gave Ellie the warning about killing her before, but lo and behold her first actions upon seeing her is getting Lev and guiding her towards the boats. I think both are operating on a 'fighter's agreement.' Both have had their opportunities of besting the other, now they move on.

But that reflects just how damaging revenge can be: you or others can die in the process, ruin romantic relationships, emotionally scar you, and even stifle artistic ambitions. I'll admit the events leading to specific finger-chomping were convenient, but I don't think the point is contrived.


  • 0
KLAMarine (on 08 July 2020)

"I have to disagree. I think having the choice would rob the story of its intentions"
>What intentions? The messaging that revenge is bad? I disagree: Ellie would still be without a Joel or Dina if she had drowned Abby. The messaging would have come across more clearly: Ellie achieved her revenge but still lost so much in attaining it.


  • -1
coolbeans (on 08 July 2020)

You're missing part of the point. Sure, "revenge is bad" angle is there but it's also about the power of forgiveness. The flash of Joel calls back to that too. She's been drenched in blood and has hurt herself so much then she realizes revenge isn't worth it. That's Naughty Dog didn't want to leave it up as a choice.


  • 0
KLAMarine (on 09 July 2020)

Still should have left it up to the player: I sure as hell didn't want to forgive Abby. Abby was a monster who killed Joel, a man that saved her, out of a singular desire for revenge. Joel on the other hand killed Abby's father to save Ellie's life.


  • 0
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

But you're limiting the perspectives here. Joel killed not only her father when she was just a teenager, but killed dozens of other people from her crew along with dashing her hopes of a cure. She BELIEVED in everything her dad was doing as well and Joel took that away in selfish act. That's why you play as her: to see her perspective of those events. I can just as easily fire back with this is you made the choice to kill Abby: "Ellie was a monster who killed Abby out of a singular desire for revenge b/c she killed Joel (avenging her father's death)."

That's the central conflict the game's trying to make. It takes its damn time to get there, and the journey ain't always that rewarding but I see a reason why ND didn't allow for that choice.


  • 0
KLAMarine (on 09 July 2020)

Unfortunate that the option is not given. Judging by all the people who throw Abby off a cliff or allow Ellie to kill her, it would have satisfied many to see Abby die at the end. I say give the people what they want!

Joel killed a bunch of no-names, Abby killed the beloved character of Joel. The choice is pretty clear.


  • 0
coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

lol I did see a video compilation of Abby's deaths on YT. But they weren't no-names to Abby is what I'm getting at. That group was her entire life in Utah (at least that's suggested). Imagine how you approach the ending of Part I now. "Joel kills a bunch of no-names and some rando doctor at the end." Well...not only does that doctor wish to cure humanity of potential infection but he also has a young daughter that's slightly older than Ellie. There's a bit more gravity given to Joel's decisions at the end now.

But it seems like we've hit an impasse about what should/shouldn't have been done for this ending. Although I don't think we'll agree, I nevertheless appreciate the comment & comment chain.


  • +1
tripenfall (on 08 July 2020)

Great review keep up the good work. At the end of the day the game IS good.... Not great


KratosLives (on 09 July 2020)

speak for your self. Its a 10/10 for me.


  • -1
tripenfall (on 09 July 2020)

I am speaking for myself, and the reviewer is speaking for theirs.


  • +3
Cerebralbore101 (on 08 July 2020)

What I'd really like to see is an open world game with all of TLoU's gameplay elements, and far less story focus. Let me explore, snipe, and survive to my heart's content! I don't need a story! I'll make my own, through my daily adventuring and discovery of the post-apocalyptic world!


Comments below voting threshold

DialgaMarine (on 09 July 2020)

“7” VGC gotta get those points for pandering to incel cucks and Xbox fanboys I see.


coolbeans (on 09 July 2020)

Here's a good deal: I'll personally give your next comment or reply a thumbs-up if the insult actually suggests it was written by a cognizant human instead of a witless bonobo.


  • +5