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Author Topic: The Last of Us 2  (Read 608 times)

Pete Wells

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The Last of Us 2
« on: 20 June, 2020, 11:31:04 AM »
Oh God! I’ve been playing this for about six hours now and, having never blubbed at a computer game, it’s almost got me three times already! While the gameplay sometimes leaves me cold, this is absolutely masterful storytelling with extremely powerful characters.

Stunning!

shaolin_monkey

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #1 on: 20 June, 2020, 02:22:03 PM »
It’s good, for sure. I’ve just started exploring Seattle, but had to stop as it was a bit intense with all the stealth and clickers and stuff, so had to play Horizon Zero Dawn for a bit, just to reach my quota for explosions and cartoon robot dinosaurs.

shaolin_monkey

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #2 on: 20 June, 2020, 02:47:55 PM »
Also, who knew I’d end up really liking Aha.

WhizzBang

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #3 on: 20 June, 2020, 07:04:41 PM »
While the gameplay sometimes leaves me cold, this is absolutely masterful storytelling with extremely powerful characters.

This is all I need to read to know. I can't stomch the stories in video games and always skip them, it's the gameplay that is important for me.

I think it is fine to put a story in because a lot of people do seem to want this, but you shoud always be able to skip and just hit the start button to get brief explanation of what your current objective is.

Professor Bear

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #4 on: 20 June, 2020, 08:57:04 PM »
You can skip the cutscenes and your next objective is never hard to discern, as if for some reason you can't figure out where you're going in an area with literally one exit (TLOU 1 and 2 are incredibly linear), either your companion character will say "this way", or your character will say "maybe I should try that big door over there" to themselves.  If that still doesn't clarify it for you, after a while the camera will swing around and lock onto your objective for a few seconds so that you literally cannot miss it.  If it's a puzzle like a code for a door, your character will say "maybe the list of codes I picked up earlier etc" and then after a while the menu button appears onscreen telling you to push it and what item to look at.
If even that's a bit complicated, you can disable the puzzles entirely in the options menu.  There are, similarly, a vast array of gameplay tweaks you can make, some altering the difficulty in general ways, but other options presenting you with more ways to play the game, like the "auto-swap weapons" option for when you run out of ammo - with human enemies, they stay in cover when you have a gun, but if you disable the auto-swap option, you can equip an empty gun, pull the trigger a few times to make the humans think you're out of ammo, then switch to a loaded gun for when they charge you.  The difference between the easiest and hardest settings on top of how you can micro-manage how you play essentially results in two different games.

Naughty Dog have shifted away from emulating cinematic storytelling with this, Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy, though they retain the cinematic setpieces and vast environments.  It's an interesting approach to telling a story by emphasising immersion in the worldbuilding and characters, and by appealing to your empathy.  When Ellie picks up a picture of Joel and Sarah, I got The Feels in a way I don't ever recall from a game, movie or tv show before.  It was a moment I couldn't have experienced any other way except via this game and these characters.
Only just cleared the Synagogue in Seattle, but enjoying the game very much so far.  Hopefully it won't drag as much in the home stretch like Uncharted 4 did.

Professor Bear

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #5 on: 21 June, 2020, 03:49:06 PM »
Possible spoiler alert, obviously, but following up on my comments about the game's vast array of options, here's a closer look at The Last Of Us Part 2's range of disability access options for players with limited vision, partial or total hearing loss, and/or limited motor function.

Pete Wells

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #6 on: 23 June, 2020, 01:52:43 AM »
Well, I’ve just completed it. Maybe the most harrowing game I’ve played. What a ride!

Going into spoiler territory now, so please don’t read until you’ve done the game...

So, structurally, I thought Naughty Dog were very, very brave. Killing you-know-who right off the bat (or should that be ‘the club’?) was so shocking, awful and powerful and it really affected me. However, I found that doing this, then making me play as Abby for half the game was extremely problematic. I didn’t like her, well, because of her actions, I downright HATED her, so it was kinda difficult to be invested in, and root for her as a character. To be honest, this did affect my overall enjoyment of the game.

Similarly, the game put me off Ellie quite a bit too, especially the final chapter which I thought was wholly unnecessary (though I DO get it!) Hats off to the makers of the game, when Ellie woke up in the farm and the prompt was coming up at the open window I was screaming at my telly! I tried everything before I finally accepted that I HAD to interact with the window, and my heart was pounding in my chest! So, when Ellie shut it, I was beaming! “What a perfect end!” I stupidly thought, before being subjected to another few hours of absolute torture!


So presently, lots of mixed feelings about it. I need to digest the journeys I’ve been on. As I said at the start, the gameplay doesn’t blow me away (it can be veeeeeery repetitive) but the atmosphere, visuals, characters and plots were outstanding. I’m going to play through the entire thing again over the coming days, and actually enjoy it, instead of being terrified and heartbroken at every corner! 

Professor Bear

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #7 on: 29 June, 2020, 11:44:22 AM »
After playing it in small sessions here and there for the last week or so, I decided to power through the rest of the game since I was clearly near the end of it, as I was just starting that bit where Jessie shows up.
I enjoyed it, but some of the story choices were a bit on-the-nose, which was problematic because almost immediately after the switch to Abby in the stadium, my first thought was that joke from Austin Powers where he runs some henchman over with a steamroller and then makes a quip along the lines of "feeling a little flat?" and then it cuts away to the henchman's friends waiting for him in a bar when they get the news that he's been killed in an industrial accident at work and they start eulogizing him and crying about how he was finally turning his life around, and then this happens as a running gag for the rest of the film to the point it became a meme in popular culture to say "he had a baby on the way!" about henchmen being killed (see also: "he had three days to retirement!").  This is what I thought of when Abby and Alice meet in the stadium, because even Austin Powers didn't go so far as to give a warm and humanising backstory to a guard dog, but TLOU2 does, and... well, it's kind of hilarious?  I will lay money there are people of a certain age who got to the introduction of Alice and the characters cooing over her and saying she was their favorite, and the first thing they said was "she had puppies on the way!"  And then we get not one but two different characters with babies on the way in the game story and tbh, the tone became somewhat unsalvageable after that for me.  YMMV.
So anyway, the game was good, but then it turned into a 30 hour Austin Powers homage - or, if you're feeling charitable, it rehashed the divisive twist from Metal Gear Solid 2 that most people didn't like.

making me play as Abby for half the game was extremely problematic. I didn’t like her, well, because of her actions, I downright HATED her, so it was kinda difficult to be invested in, and root for her as a character. To be honest, this did affect my overall enjoyment of the game.

The problem isn't what Abby did, as the game's theme about the cyclic nature of violence is legitimate, but rather the problem is that Abby is a garbage person and this is explicitly stated at several points by other characters as well as by Abby herself.  She's a product of her environment, but she also has enough awareness to know what she's doing is wrong and then does it anyway.  She and the other Wolves take open pleasure in sadism and killing to the point they cross half a country to torture and murder a single individual in cold blood, and then afterwards legitimise it by saying that he deserved worse even though we see - on-camera - that they knew his motivations for doing what he did, and they're killing him because he stopped them from murdering a child.
And then, of course, there is the bit where Abby is shown to be a knowing participant in ethnic cleansing.
The Wolves enjoy a more open and democratic life than the Seraphites on the surface, but this is because they are a militarised society and are equally brainwashed by autocratic dogma and semi-religious fervor ("may your survival be long") that they use to excuse their atrocities not just against the 'heathens and savages' threatening their ever-expanding borders, but against anyone from outside the barricades built around the Wolves' fort/society.  Just look at how Owen and Abby are treated for questioning orders or perceived disloyalty - their own friends almost immediately try to kill them, and Abby has no problem returning that favor later in the game.
I get what the game writers were trying to do, but it just doesn't come off because Abby makes too many knowingly bad decisions to genuinely empathise with.

Keef Monkey

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #8 on: 06 July, 2020, 04:51:23 PM »
I don't know, I honestly saw Abby as an inherently good person caught up in some bad shit, and the flashbacks to her before her dad was killed really showed a stark contrast to the person who that event turned her into by the time we first meet her. Plus I didn't really find her travelling across the country to kill the man who killed her father any less sympathetic an act than Ellie travelling across the country to kill the woman who killed her father (figure).

The object of the design is obviously to try and get you relating to both characters equally, but they didn't quite pull that off because if anything I found I was siding more with Abby by the end. I just couldn't at all get along with Ellie heading back out again, and I couldn't understand why at no point did Abby tell Ellie why she killed Joel. Ellie assumes it's because of him halting the cure, but she surely would have found the truth more relatable and the two possibly could have seen the common ground and stopped messing each others' lives up over it. Likewise when she finds Abby at the end she's on her way to the reformed Fireflies, who are Ellie's best shot at contributing to the creation of a cure. Ellie is haunted by the fact she had the chance for her life to mean something denied her by Joel, so surely Abby giving her that chance would have been a more cathartic ending for her than a clunky melee boss fight on the beach. I always find it a bit of an annoyance when conflict in fiction is sustained by characters just not saying to each other why they're doing stuff (Lost would have been a few seasons shorter if people just had proper conversations) so that was irksome.


That said, I loved the game! I was surprised to, I really didn't think the first game was very good (great character writing, fantastic performances brilliantly captured and a haunting ending, but I found the mechanics for stealth and combat, and the level design and encounters all pretty dreadfully put together) and only bought this one out of curiosity.

Absolutely gripped throughout. The story and characters hooked me more, the performances and presentation are second to none, the stealth felt fantastic and the combat sweaty and intense and clumsy in a GREAT way, and switching between the two felt fluid and satisfying in a way it didn't in the first game for me. The way it set a tone and an atmosphere and sustained it throughout was really, really impressive too.

It does suffer from something I find with all Naughty Dog games though, in that no matter what length they are they all run on a couple of hours longer than they should. With the Uncharted games I can easily identify what I'd take out (it'd be the 2 hours of horrible focus on endless combat rooms that every one of them finishes with) but with this I'm not sure what I'd take out because I can't really identify a particularly weak chunk. It just seemed to run out of steam a little gameplay-wise, even when there were story threads I still wanted to see resolved. It maybe didn't help that to get to the ending they want they have to introduce a convenient new faction out of nowhere, and given how well fleshed out the various camps are throughout the game they felt like a bit of an afterthought just because they need a common enemy. Also, the melee boss fights in the game were all reskins of the same fight (phase 1 - dodge a hit and counter, repeat until QTE, phase 2 - dodge 2 hits and counter, repeat until QTE, phase 3 - dodge 3 hits and counter, repeat until ending QTE) so fighting Abby at the end with her just doing the same attack patterns you've seen elsewhere fell really flat for me, and the inherent wonkiness of such a heavily scripted punch up meant it felt unintentionally a bit daft after the game had done such a good job of keeping things really oppressively serious.

So that, plus the fact I was very much Team Abby by this point and I felt she got pretty short-changed as a character in the last stretch, meant the last chunk just wasn't as absorbing for me I guess. I did think having Ellie attempt the guitar was a nice way of showing how much of her soul she'd lost through revenge though. She lost her song because she just wouldn't back off and stop the violence, and the lyrics 'if I ever were to lose you I'd surely lose myself' is as subtle as a hammer about that but it still hit me hard. I felt for her, even if I didn't empathize with her motivations by the end. Maybe that was the point, Abby started in a bad place and had a redemptive arc while Ellie did the inverse and became a monster over the course of it.


It was a really brave way to tell a story in a videogame I thought, and the hate that it's been greeted with by noisy incels online who are apparently angry enough to send death threats to actors and developers purely because of fictional characters in a video game show that it didn't work for everyone (but f*ck those guys). It largely worked for me though, afore-mentioned quibbles aside.

So yeah, I think it's pretty fantastic, and I say that as a guy who went in with no fondness for the franchise at all.

broodblik

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #9 on: 06 July, 2020, 07:21:02 PM »
I am enjoying the game so far, I think I am about half-way with it. The main story so far I find not as good as the previous one. The revenge on revenge theme is too much of cliche for me. I do not like playing Abby at all. I just struggle to like the character. I wished the game focused only on Ellie's story. The game play mechanics I also struggle with especially the close-combat parts. What I do find really good is the whole environment and grande of it all plus how the crafting is incorporated into the game.

Professor Bear

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #10 on: 06 July, 2020, 08:22:11 PM »
When Ellie tried to play the guitar at the end, I just went WOMP WOMP.  I get what they were going for, but like a lot of things in the game, it doesn't quite work.

I don't know, I honestly saw Abby as an inherently good person caught up in some bad shit, and the flashbacks to her before her dad was killed really showed a stark contrast to the person who that event turned her into by the time we first meet her.

Disagree strongly about Abby - she's a wrong one, as we see in her teenage years when she condones the murder of a child despite knowing about her father's impulsive nature and his string of failures performing the exact same procedure over and over again, killing each and every subject, and then starting over saying "this time it'll be different".  We're told there was definitely a cure, but it all comes from one - unreliable - man's reading of the science, and the more we see of Abby's backstory, the more it becomes apparent her dad was as full of shit as all the other leaders of violent cults that we see in both games, and this a conscious choice by the writers.  Not only is this there to introduce the previously-unthinkable concept that Joel was actually right and the utilitarian argument for "the most amount of good with the least amount of suffering" that justified Ellie's murder was at best a Hail Mary, but it also underscores that Abby is conscious of the terrible things these factions do and she doesn't just go along with it anyway, she encourages others to do the wrong thing.  There's a reading of the flashbacks that her dad wouldn't actually have killed Ellie and forced Joel's hand if Abby hadn't told him to perform the surgery.
Before she got to the Wolves, Abby was a wrong one, but after she got there, she was fine with being part of a group that enacted ethnic cleansing, just as she was good with her friends massacring children just for being lippy to soldiers (the massacre that broke the then-working truce between Wolves and Seraphites).  The Seraphites are seen as an unambiguously terrible faction, but the lore that is uncovered as you go shows it wasn't always so, and that they got progressively worse just to keep up with the Wolves' atrocities, becoming insular and violent towards outsiders and eventually turning that inward against their own people - Yara and Lev's situation is arguably a direct result of how violent and reactive the Wolves have made the Seraphites - and Abby knows all of this but still she stays.
Abby's friends tell her she's a piece of shit, Hell, even Abby herself tells you she's a piece of shit, and that she doesn't actually know why she's doing the twins a solid apart from a vague hope it redresses some of the bad things she's done - on and on, the game doesn't make any puzzle of who Abby is, and in the end actually gives up on trying to redeem her and instead goes for making you pity her and herds you into the hope that she saves someone else entirely.


I like that they tried something different, and Abby's bits are the best parts of the game, but she isn't a good person and this is by design.  Ellie's path is equally not meant to be redemptive - everything she does takes her further away from the one arguably "good" faction (Jackson), represented by Dina, and she isn't going home at the end of the game.  This is her path to ruin, and that necessitates many bad decisions.

On my second play-through atm, and only just noticing that if you kill someone and another enemy sees it, they scream the names of the dead person, and the ghoulish OTT anguish NPCs express if you kill their dogs shouldn't be funny, but 6 season of Bojack Horseman have clearly ruined me.

broodblik

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #11 on: 22 July, 2020, 04:42:32 AM »
Now that I finally completed the game, I can say that it is a highly recommend game and well-worth each cent spend on it.  My early criticism of the Abby was luckily unfounded and at the end I enjoyed the second part much more than the first (like reading a book you cannot stop halfway). The only criticism I have is that the close fighting combat I found to be cumbersome and the camera-angles did lead to some confusion to where the enemy is. Overall a solid 8.9 game.

shaolin_monkey

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #12 on: 08 August, 2020, 03:08:22 AM »
I think that is probably one of the most impactful games I have ever played. 

At the end of the credits it asked if I wanted to play New Game+, retaining all the unlocks from the first play through.

Hell no. I think I’ll leave it there, thanks.

Pete Wells

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Re: The Last of Us 2
« Reply #13 on: 11 August, 2020, 11:14:45 AM »
The second playthrough was much better for me as I was a HELL of a lot less tense - still shocked and sickened, but at least I knew what was coming! Such an excellent experience that only computer games can deliver.