WARNING: There are some spoilers for The Last of Us Part Two
Naughty Dog’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s blockbuster game is what every gaming sequel should be.
What makes a good a videogame sequel?
A game which progresses a narrative, one which develops characters we already know and introduces the player to new ones, an experience which feels familiar but brings in new gameplay elements.
The 24-hour playthrough was an experience I will never forget, however, one thing stood out to me once I took control of Ellie and later WLF outcast Abby, the game felt more fluid compared to its predecessor.
For those who have not played the first game, the player takes control of Joel who at times did feel robotic.
The lack of a jump button for Joel gave The Last of Us a very linear path with the inability to explore all areas of its vast post-apocalyptic setting.
This was something championed by Naughty Dog during numerous previews for the long-awaited sequel. Ellie’s ability to jump around all areas of the map gave the game a more open world feel, something which has become very popular during the Playstation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One generation.
As well as the lack of jumping, Joel was a character whose movement was slow around the first game’s environment even when running. Ellie and Abby, on the other hand, are a joy to control.
Obviously, there would be a difference in gameplay between a game originally released on Playstation 3 and one which has been created for PS4, but it is still something to marvel and admire.
Both playable female characters move around the game as you would expect their human counterparts to move.
Ellie is someone whose playstyle heavily promotes stealth. Her small size and quick movements discourage the player from going ‘loud’ into combat situations. Instead, Ellie is someone who is most effective behind cover and quickly snatching her enemies for a stealth kill, whether it be human or infected.
Abby, on the other hand, feels like an evolution of Joel from the first game when it comes to gameplay.
Her movement is robust, but not restrictive and is still able to carry out similar stealth elements to Ellie, however, when it comes to combat, Abby is someone who uses hand to hand, offering a more militaristic feel when it came to fighting various enemies.
There is a nice throwback to the first game with Abby having to create shivs in order to kill certain enemies.
While some prominent online figures have voiced their disgust at the story of The Last of Us Part Two in order to gain more clicks on whatever platform they use, the majority of those who have finished the game have praised Neil Druckmann, Halley Gross and the rest of the Naughty Dog team.
Following Joel’s death at the hands of Abby at the start of the game, Ellie transforms into someone hellbent on revenge whose search for Joel’s killer sees her do things which at first, may seem somewhat justifiable.
Naughty Dog then decides to throw a curveball approximately halfway through the game, putting the player in the shoes of Abby. At first, my reaction was one of shock, why would I want to take control of a character who killed Ellie’s fatherlike figure.
However, as you spend around 12 hours with Abby in a story which runs alongside Ellie’s, you realise why Abby had killed Joel as a result, depicting him as an anti-hero.
There are many moments throughout Abby’s story which show the devastating effect Ellie’s actions are having on those around her, but delving into them would ruin the experience for those who may have missed them on their first playthrough.
The Last of Us Part Two is an entertainment experience which simply could not be replicated in a film or big-budget television series.
Throughout the story, the player is exposed to some exceptional character development intertwined with some exceptional gameplay and a story which has reached a natural conclusion.
Whatever the future holds for this franchise, it’s safe to say The Last of Us Part Two saw the glass ceiling set by the first game and smashed through it with relative ease.
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