McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

Review: “The Last of Us Part II” is good but flawed

With the release of “The Last of Us Part II Remastered,” it may be a good time to look back at the original
Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment
The Last of Us Part ll has been released, but it has left followers questioning the quality presented in the second part.

The year is 2020, and the world is in a hard lock down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The only thing keeping you connected to the other people around you is a phone and the internet. You wake up one day to find a link to a game set to release later that year, with every single plot detail made readily available to the public a couple months before release, and on paper, it does not look too good. 

“The Last of Us Part II” has been an extremely polarized game ever since its announcement, as the first game wrapped itself up, although ambiguously, with no loose ends. This only ever got worse when the game’s script and cutscenes were leaked early to the public, showing it to be a revenge plot. Ever since, the game has been highly scrutinized by fans, but has been a critical darling with a 93 on metacritic from critics, and a 5.8 average from players. 

With the release of “The Last of Us Part II Remastered,” I think it is a great time to go back and reevaluate the game for what it is, and not the controversies surrounding it. With that said, this game does have genuine narrative issues that do impact the overall experience, and I will be going over all of those problems. 

Before I get into the genuinely great things in this game, I want to go over some of the critiques I have, and trust me, there’s more positive things than people are willing to give the game credit for.

My first problem is when characters die during the game. Other than Joel’s death, they are mostly glossed over and not addressed again unless it is convenient for the plot. For example, in the middle of the game a side character Jesse is shot dead, and never discussed again. Sure, Ellie was in the middle of fighting Abby, but to say that Ellie has been friends with Jesse for a while and cares about him, then never gives him a funeral like she did Joel, makes the death not feel like it has an impact. Same thing with all of Abby’s friends that died, none of them get a visible funeral in the game, not even Owen, a love interest of hers.

Another problem with the game is its pacing. In the middle of the game right when things are ramping up for the battle between Abby and Ellie, the game switches perspectives from Ellie to Abby where you then play days 1, 2, and 3 from Abby’s perspective. It takes forever to get back to the point where Ellie and Abby confront each other. Although ultimately I do like the perspective switch, putting it when the climax of the game would normally happen is extremely jarring. On top of that, Abby does not have all of the upgrades you had with Ellie, meaning you have to start all over.

Now for the good things of the game. I mentioned it earlier, but the perspective switch to Abby is jarring at first, especially considering she was the one who killed Joel, the protagonist of the first game. I did know about the perspective change coming into the game, but I ended up really liking Abby as a character and could ultimately understand why she wanted to kill Joel. I like how the game tries to make you feel empathy for a character you deeply hated, and for me it worked. I ended up rooting for Abby by the end of her campaign and was genuinely sad about what Ellie had done to all of her friends, especially Owen. 

That is another positive of the game, the character of Abby in general. She is a genuinely compelling character to me, and the hate for her never really made sense to me. At the beginning of the game it made sense for people to hate her as that is what the game wants you to do. But by the end of Abby’s campaign, I felt like she was humanized enough to where I genuinely felt bad for her when she and Ellie were trying to kill each other in the ocean at the end of the game. Part of the hate could be fueled by transphobia as she was rumored to be transgender before release because of her larger stature, but that ended up being another character named Lev, who’s the Ellie to Abby’s Joel. 

Abby meets Lev and his sister Yara after she is captured by the Seraphites at the end of day 1, and they end up saving her from being hanged. In turn Abby helps Yara’s broken arm into a makeshift cast. The next day, Abby worries about Yara and Lem’s wellbeing and heads back to the mobile she left them in. When she arrives she realizes she has to amputate Yara’s arm for her to survive. With Lev’s guidance, she is able to make it to the hospital to get the materials needed to amputate. The most important part of this section, however, is not Yara’s arm, it is the relationship between Abby and Lev. By the end of day 3 they have a similar relationship to Joel and Ellie, but instead of a father and daughter dynamic, it is more of an older sister and younger brother one. Although it is unrealistic for them to get that close that fast, I really enjoy their chemistry, and it really reminded me why I loved part I.

I have neglected Ellie thus far, and there is a very good reason for it. I think everything went down as it should have. Yes, even Joel’s death at the beginning of the game. The only problems I have with her campaign are the plot conveniences. The fact that the dead W.L.F. member she found in the radio tower had pictures of all of the people who helped kill Joel with their whereabouts on the pictures, her leaving the map at the aquarium, and Maria letting Ellie and Dina go after Tommy at the beginning of the game. It is way too convenient and oftentimes takes me out of the game, which is a shame because the game does a very good job at getting you emotionally invested. Overall these issues are not that big of a deal to me, and merely nitpicks.

If you have played the first game and loved it, I highly recommend “The Last of Us Part II.” It has its problems, but overall I think it is a worthy successor to Part I.

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