The Last of Us Part II – Mechanically Brilliant Gameplay, With a Confused Mess of a Narrative

Note: There will be no spoilers in this post.

Mechanically, ‘The Last of Us Part II’ is brilliant. Its combat system, character animation, sound design, set pieces, level design and use of environmental puzzles are all fantastic. Combat especially, is the best part of the game. It’s frantic, brutal and well-thought-out. You have a plethora of options in how to engage your enemies or how to sneak around them. Enemy AI is extremely fine-tuned, acting more like real people than anything I’ve yet seen. Infected enemies are scarier then ever due to reworked AI and – from my perspective – larger numbers than in the first game.

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But – I regret to say – the story, pacing and the main characters are a mess. In a narrative-based game, that isn’t a good thing at all. First, the main story likes to use shock and awe, rather than clever storytelling and intimate character work. In a world like the one portrayed in this series, some moments of shock and awe are warranted, but not to the point that it’s used as a crutch. Secondly, events are shown in such a way that they don’t communicate the plot as effectively as they could, meandering aimlessly about. Lastly, character motivations make no sense throughout most of the story. There are a large number of decisions made by characters that don’t make sense, either in the current situation or simply according to that character’s established personality and backstory.

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To summarize: I found ‘The Last of Us Part II’ extremely fun to ‘play’, but extremely difficult to ‘watch’ as far as the narrative portion of this game. That’s a major flaw. The moment-to-moment gameplay is admittedly a blast, but it’s the narrative that will stick with you long after the credits roll in a game like this.

Unfortunately, ‘The Last of Us Part II’ left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

 

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