You know, this is Sac­ri­fice Land.

The Last Of Us Part II loves to punch play­ers right in the gut and nev­er relents. Five years after the events depict­ed in the first game Joel and Ellie are liv­ing rel­a­tive­ly safe, peace­ful lives in a Jack­son, Wyoming set­tle­ment start­ed by Joel’s broth­er Tom­my. The har­money comes to an abrupt end ear­ly and the sto­ry starts tak­ing shape around a new set of characters. 

The Last Of Us Part II Review

The Last Of Us focused on Joel’s and Ellie’s jour­ney, the peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions they encoun­tered along the way. Part II shifts the focus to an old­er Ellie and her jour­ney to Seat­tle with her girl­friend Dina. The over­all sta­tus and con­di­tion of the world are the same as before, fun­gus zom­bies still roam the land killing any liv­ing thing they can catch. Sur­vivors have built their own com­mu­ni­ties and fac­tions to live their lives in what­ev­er they believe is the safest way pos­si­ble, con­sid­er­ing the state of the world. The sto­ry telling is done well, even if the sto­ry told isn’t very good.

Naughty Dog did a great job build­ing upon the world of The Last of Us, mak­ing it feel dan­ger­ous, yet alive. This game has a slight, open-world vibe that the orig­i­nal did not, tempt­ing you to explore each area in depth. When search­ing through these expan­sive seg­ments, you’ll come across plen­ty of notes, most of them out­lin­ing the lives of oth­ers who have like­ly per­ished since it was writ­ten. There’s also dif­fer­ent col­lec­tables for each playable char­ac­ter; Ellie can gath­er super­hero cards, while Abby seeks out quar­ters from all 50 States. 

The Last Of Us Part II Review

Graph­i­cal­ly, it’s one of the most beau­ti­ful PlaySta­tion 4 exclu­sives. The atten­tion to detail was­n’t just lim­it­ed to the envi­ron­ment, but how the char­ac­ters inter­act with it. Every­thing action is seam­less, and the sur­round­ings respond accord­ing­ly, real­ly bring­ing you into the game. The sound is also amaz­ing and just as immersive. 

Human ene­mies are more than just tar­gets to kill to progress through the sto­ry, they have names, fam­i­lies and lives while not on duty. While you sneak around you hear them hold­ing con­ver­sa­tions about their day-to-day lives. When you kill a human, you might hear one of their com­rades scream their name out of sad­ness. The infect­ed also have new noises. 

The Last Of Us Part II Review

Since Run­ners haven’t pro­gressed too much passed the ini­tial infec­tion, they make creepy sounds that are almost like words. The sub­tle, yet omi­nous, nois­es Click­ers make seems enhanced. It’s as if every twitch and jerk they make gives off sound, so their screams are much more ter­ri­fy­ing when they happen. 

While TLOU fea­tured main­ly com­bat against the infect­ed, Part II real­ly push­es the “peo­ple are the real mon­sters” nar­ra­tive, so you fight human ene­mies far more often than in the pre­vi­ous title. That’s why they have names and friends who are obvi­ous­ly hurt by their death. It’s bla­tant­ly clear Naughty Dog’s quest was to human­ize your ene­mies and show how Ellie and com­pa­ny, aren’t perfect. 

Before the game’s launch Druck­mann said “This is a sto­ry about hate – an intense, har­row­ing, and emo­tion­al adven­ture” and he did­n’t lie. You can feel the hate in Part II, you can taste it and in my case it made me hate pret­ty much every char­ac­ter in the game. Most­ly because they are all awful peo­ple who do a series of ter­ri­ble acts, Ellie includ­ed. In fact, she’s wear­ing the crown of “Most Awful” in my eyes. It was­n’t an easy real­iza­tion for me to come to, but it’s true. I can’t explain why I feel that way with­out includ­ing major spoil­ers, so you’ll have to come about the end­ing’s specifics on your own.

The Last Of Us Part II Review

The game­play and com­bat mechan­ics are top notch, feel­ing smoother and more reli­able than in the pre­vi­ous game. Ene­my AI are smarter, so along with the upgrad­ed stealth sys­tem, it makes for a great com­bat expe­ri­ence. Cer­tain encoun­ters require plen­ty of plan­ning and exe­cu­tion to sur­vive, espe­cial­ly on the hard­er dif­fi­cul­ties. How­ev­er, noth­ing about the com­bat was dras­ti­cal­ly altered. 

The only real dif­fer­ence is how Abby and Ellie don’t go through com­bat the same way. They have sep­a­rate skills, weapons and how they fight dur­ing con­flict. Abby is a lot stronger than Ellie, she can kill infect­ed by sim­ply throw­ing them to the ground and stomp­ing their heads in. Ellie is bet­ter at stealth and moves quick­er than Abby. It’s meant to feel this way, but can still be jar­ring when your thrown back into the oppo­site character.

Item craft­ing is pret­ty much the same as it was in the first one, except item ingre­di­ents can now be found in seg­ments requir­ing you to find more seg­ments to com­plete your recipe. It seems like it serves no pur­pose oth­er than being filler to make the game longer. 

Bottom Line

While The Last Of Is Part II fea­tures many refine­ments over its pre­de­ces­sor, it fails fans of the series with a string of odd, and out­right bad, sto­ry choic­es. Naughty Dog dis­re­spects return­ing char­ac­ters Joel, Ellie and Tom­my as well as new char­ac­ters like Abby. How­ev­er, the game is still immer­sive and once get past a cer­tain point, you’re like­ly heav­i­ly invest­ed in the out­come, even if you don’t like it. The Last of Us Part II can be com­plet­ed in at least 25 hours if you don’t do any expan­sive exploring.