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【PS4】「The Last of Us Part II」Review. Pros and cons and its political correctness

This post is a translation of my The Last of Us Part II review. As you might already notice, I'm Japanese and not good at English so would you kindly try hard for understanding my poor English. Thanks!

And thank you for proofreading and correction @GamingNihongo!

Last of Us part one was for the PS3, while the sequel 『The Last of Us Part II』 is for the PS4 and was released seven years after the original game. I was really looking forward to it as a fan who played both the previous game and the DLC. However, it has gotten a really bad reputation before it's release, and after its release the reputation has only gotten worse.
I couldn't decide if I wanted to buy it or not since I have been feeling that something was wrong too. But it seems that the unfavorable criticism won't stop and is only getting bigger and bigger as time goes by. It made me want to confirm the game quality with my own eyes, so I purchased and played the game.

So here I talk about the pros and cons of the game and I will also be talking about the political correctness that can be seen in The Last of Us part 2. As you already may have noticed I'm not good at English, it'll be hard to read but I hope you'll understand what I want to say.

Oh by the way, I'm really regretting that I purchased a digital copy of The Last of Us part II, because I can't sell it even though I won't play it ever again.

The Last of Us Part II ダウンロード版 スタンダード・エディション 7590円

The Last of US part II cost 7,590 yen, around 75 USD, for the Standard Edition. This is pretty expensive but it's an AAA title.I purchasing a digital copy was natural for me already so I didn't even think about buying a physical copy for a second... Regret.

My impressions without spoilers

Ironically, Joel is explaining the game itself in-game dialogue. I'm not sure what he said exactly in the English version but it's like: 「It's called "sequel". Not good as much as the previous.」

Sadly, the wonderful narrative that made The Last of Us part 1 so great was completely lost in the sequel. Barely an average game from the start till the end. Rather it being a nine out of ten it feels like trash, especially for fans who waited for a long time.

The atmosphere in the game has not changed since The Last of Us part 1. Humanity has declined because of the unknown deadly infection. The great cities became empty. Abundant nature covers the footing of rotten skyscrapers. If you enjoyed its world, like the movie 『I am Legend (2007), rather than the story, you can enjoy it the same as before. The graphics are beyond reproach as a title made near the end of the PS4 era. The expression of air, water, ruined cities, and abundant natures are far better than the previous and it feels so much more realistic.

敵として登場するエリー

Rotten skyscrapers and natures swallowing them are the Last of Us specialties.

The system is following the previous, and has added more actions such as jumping or crawling, and you can enjoy more variety of actions. No doubt it's a legitimate evolution, same as the graphics.
However, I encountered an unrecoverable glitch once. The character went through the walls and couldn't get back.

Also, I feel stressful about that Abby is hard to stealth even for the crawling action is added. Her weapons are not good for stealth play and she even must make knives required to stealth-kills with consuming materials.

The story has changed a lot. It's the direct sequel that takes place 5 years later from the previous game. But the theme is the vengeance resemblance to the 『Red Dead Redemption』 series or the 『God of War III (2010). There is no heartwarming exchange by Joel and Ellie, which was the core value of the previous narrative. No road-movie like emotional feelings. Abby will make a connection to Lev, who escaped from the enemy group, but it's a poor depiction compared to Joel and Ellie's.

In fact, it's barely "ok" as a revenge story. No catharsis from executing the revenge like the Red Dead Redemption, no exhilarating feelings like the God of War III. It's just an awkward ending with no fun.
Moreover, it has long wasted time of gameplay, no undulations both on narrative and looks, lengthy, dragging.

QTE

It has QTE scenes that remind me of God of War III. However, Ellie and the players' feelings are not synchronized at that time, also It didn’t make me angry since I was not even familiar with the character who was beaten. I guess that God of War III was really good on that point.

Recap

I would not recommend the game if you are a fan of the series, I really don't recommend it at all. You are going to see only deranged developers who made the plot which rubs the players the wrong way, and saying 「See, you got mad, don't you? It's moving people to their hearts!」

About the buzzing of its political correctness.

It wasn't as dead as I thought by the political correctness.

The political correctness thing is a big part of its bad reputation. Some say that its persistence to the political correctness tightens its expression and killing itself, like the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
I've been watching political correctness related things for a long time and tweeting about it. Not only as a fan of the series but also as a one who worries about political correctness crap spreading to the world, I was really looking forward to confirming whether the Last of Us 2 surrendered to the political correctness.

As a result, not much as I expected. It's not complete trash like the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It keeps a certain level of quality as an AAA title if you close your eyes to its story. Of course, it depends on the person if the gameplay is fun or not.

The famous muscular Abby herself is plain, easy to understand as a character. The sex scene was censored in the Japanese version so I can't talk about it, still, I didn't feel anything odd depicting around it.

  • Of course, I have a big complaint about that sex scene why is it ok for Japanese anime tits to be censored, but a full on sex scene to be uncensored?

Also the character's death a lot of fans talked about, I didn't feel any discomfort came from the political correctness. The problem with that is not the political correctness, just that the developer can't provide a strong narrative to be worth that death or the narrative fans can consent to.

Still, it is the "Political Correctness Supply"

However, there is no doubt that this is the game of the political correctness, by the political correctness, for the political correctness. Neil Druckmann, the director, doesn't hesitate to be a fan of the (insane) radical feminist Anita Sarkeesian. And claiming that Quiet from 『Metal Gear Solid V (2015) or Cortana from the Halo series are role models of sexualized, objectified or marginalized or blah blah shit continues. Anyway, he is a typical Twi-Femi* like person.

  • Twi-Femi: Japanese slang for crazy radical feminists on Twitter.

I assume that he drew Abby as his ideal politically correct female image which came from an antithesis to lookism.
The same goes for trans-ish characters appearing in Abby's scenario.
Of course, the emphasizing Dina is a jew, and an irrelevant episode of the synagogue cames from the political correctness too. (Because the synagogue stuff was not in preparation for the latter story neither didn't contribute to deepening Dina's character.)

I don't think those are bad things. Developers should make their game as they want. Just, I only think like 「I don't care if you stick to political correctness, but just make a fun game」. I think that people who persist in political correctness believe that following political correctness means it is a great(interesting) product. It is wrong.
You would be able to make a great product while following political correctness. But the political correctness doesn't turn crap into a great product. I want Mr.Druckmann to appreciate this big difference, but it's too late, I guess.

Abby "The Protein" Anderson

Still, Abby is unnaturally muscular though. I wonder how much she, just a foot soldier, is taking protein drinks in that post-apocalyptic world. Also, I love that her walking sound is like some monster stomping.
(Or maybe developers discriminate against her weight...?)

Spoiler alert from here!
Personally, I don't recommend this game,
but let's find some good points.



⭕Pros

💯Great Japanese dubbing voice actors🗣️

Sorry, it's Japanese version only, but the casting, 山寺宏一(Kouichi Yamadera) as Joel and 潘めぐみ(Megumi Han) as Ellie, continues from the previous. First appearance character Jessie, a friend of Ellie, is played by 杉田智和(Tomokazu Sugita), very well-known veteran voice actor in anime. He played John Seed from 『Far Cry 5 (2018), too.
Also, the other characters are played by well-skilled voice actors who familiar with movie dubbing. I think I'm lucky to be Japanese at this point.

ジェシー

Jessie. Poor boy at the mercy of ex-girlfriend whim, and dies. But Sugita's sad voice performance is so good.

💯Wonderful to see the big city returning to nature🌲🏙️🌲

It's still overwhelmingly wonderful. This time it takes place almost only in Seattle so the road movie type of excitement is gone. But instead of that, you can enjoy the interesting looks of a variety of landmarks in the city that are returning to nature. You can enjoy overgrown grasses in buildings continue to the previous, and also the port area near the ocean, sinking in the water almost looks like a floating city. And also you can enjoy a skywalk where the great nature still couldn't reach, in the game.

水没都市

You have to use a boat when you explore near the port area in Seattle since it's sinking. Controlling the boat was a bit stressful, but I could enjoy its scenery like the Jungle Cruise.

Between the previous and this one, there were two post-apocalyptic games as PS exclusive, the 『Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) and the 『Days Gone (2019). Both provide beautiful scenery of collapsed civilization. But in the former, almost all buildings are completely rotten since it's set in the far future and even war has occurred in its history. And the latter story took place in the countryside with relatively no skyscrapers. I think the Last of Us is the master of “Skyscrapers x Nature” post-apocalypse scenery still.

  • But I do recommend both of those over the Last of Us 2 on speaking of fun. You can enjoy 1000 times more.😅

ビル屋上のクレーン

I felt the developer is trying to make us not be boring by this kind of level variation because the game is mainly back and forth between inside of rotten buildings and outside. But...

💯No loading interruption🚅

It's no special these years, but there were no interruptions for loading while the game. Instead of that cut-scenes are long and a lot of areas forced to slow walk, but they were not bad as much as feel stress.
However, I felt the loading right after launch the game was quite long, I felt...

❌Cons

☹️Bad narrative, worst character switching.

The emotion gap between Ellie and the player.

The narrative/story is unclear. It's the biggest bad point of this game. It could have blown the bad reputations away if the story was great like the previous game.

I couldn't get into the characters at all. Because it's not made to be able to do that.

You will play as Ellie at the beginning of the game. And shortly into the game you will play as Abby and after that Joel is killed. At this time we couldn't know why Abby hates Joel that much, so I kinda excited like reading a murder mystery, but it's immediately gone as it's not made to be a mystery at all.

As a player, we play the game while empathizing with Ellie who is full of vengeance, but somehow it's very slow and dragging.
Simply I felt playtime was too long since the game was drawing Ellie's situation of pursuit in too much detail. Also, the open-world-ish small exploring, made me think that Ellie was taking her time, contrary to her goal of revenge. Not only that, I thought she had to hurry because she was chasing Tommy.

The previous game was a kind of a road-movie. Even the detours contributed to the player's empathy for Joel and Ellie. However, a narrative like this one rushes the player's feelings. So the exploring part makes a tiny lag between Ellie's feeling and the player's. This was one of the points I felt hard to get into Ellie's feelings, in my opinion.

I know there were a few scenes trying to express Ellie is rushing, such as that Ellie went a pursuit again at night after the one day of searching. However, its scenery doesn't much change so I couldn't feel in-game time passing.
Also, I was a bit frustrated that Ellie looks like she is seeing the revenge trip as some kind of picnic. Such as the lovey-dovey talking with Dina, the pregnant thing, the ex, Jessie. I think most of the fans from the previous felt like 「Geez please focus on revenge, remember the Joel!」 on Ellie. At least I did.
And I realized that Ellie shines if she is the sidekick. And Ellie is not capable of playing the protagonist. But she did well as the protagonist on The Last of Us part 1 DLC. Maybe it's because of the DLC had a well-focused story on one thing.

The switching playable character to Abby breaks a player's empathy for both of the characters

I couldn't understand the developer's intention of that suddenly switching to Abby at the very timing of avenging.
I understand that Abby has her own circumstances. But why the developer made the player to experience it. What is the meaning of it? Did the developer want us to feel more empathy for Abby? If so the intention was a complete failure. Because, we already had been playing as Ellie for more like 15 hours long, to kill Abby. It only makes us feel disagreeable from the switching to Abby, who was the our vengeance target. Also Abby is not drawn as a “charming/charismatic villain”. She didn't even appear since after she brutally killed Joel. I don't understand at all, why they made us control the character who has no charm including the looks.

Anyways spending a very long time with Abby and when I kinda became attached to her, “Enemy Ellie” appeared then. The Ellie, player's avatar for a long time, the player's anchor of the emotion, becames an enemy regardless of the player's intention. It's now against us as an stupid enemy boss character driven by some AI program.
「What is this stupid move. After all she is... it's not me nor avatar, it's just one of gears driving the game.」 My remaining tiny empathy to Ellie is completely gone by seeing that.

Ellie as an enemy

A "fallen" Ellie just like the other enemies. This game completely denies the player's empathy.

At the same time, we did feel hesitant to attack or kill Ellie, of course. The feeling that one about not wanting to attack Ellie while controlling Abby, blew my empathy on Abby away. Eventually, there was only routine work to process the story left.

Anyway defeated Ellie and I expected a common consequence something like "vengeance makes nothing but sadness, blah blah". Nevertheless, it continued, and I had to play Ellie again! and Abby again! And it was very dragging and slow. At this time I had lost not only my empathy for both characters, but I had lost interest in the story itself. Like 「A... vengeance? Idk. Maybe one of them dies. Like I care."」

Nevertheless, I couldn't stop there because I thought I can't make a proper review if I don't see the ending. And I saw the ending. Honestly, again, I don't understand why it was like that. It was completely the same conclusion as before. I felt it didn't make sense.
I was also disappointed with Abby's skinny look. Because it's almost like they made her muscular only for this scene. Of course not, I guess, but it's just a cheap depiction to express weakness. And Ellie. The reason to seek revenge again over giving up her family(happiness) she finally got, is too weak. The reason to give up revenge again is too weak.

After all, Ellie tried to kill Abby and gave up, and then tried to kill Abby and gave up. Sounds so stupid... What should I feel from this mess narrative?

For this reason, the narrative is very weak, unfocused contrary to the previous great one. Moreover, the developers' self-satisfied ego 「I'm gonna make players feel hatred!」 is annoying. For example, all enemies scream their friend's name when the player kills them. I think the developer is trying to make the players feel uncomfortable when the player kills an enemy. Because we, the players, basically don't care about the enemy's lives. But how do you feel if the John Wick movie shows that 「this enemy has a family...」 each time when John kills an enemy? It's just ruining the movie and we can't be excited.

アビーの回想

In Abby's part, the memorable scene from the previous, where is the Firefly hospital corridor, is repeatedly inserted. I like this as it reminds me of Far Cry 5 Jacob Seed, but it barely isn't achieved to make players feel that hatred against Joel like Abby does.

🥱Infecteds are too insignificant

The previous was the first one. So all of the players don't have any knowledge of unknown horrible infection. And the story is about delivering Ellie, who is the key to the cure, to the Firefly that is kind of a medical team. Therefore it's narrative and infection couldn't be separate even the theme itself was discord of humans.

However, this time, almost all players, especially those who played last one, are already got used to the infection itself and infected enemies such as Clickers because it's a sequel. And even characters in the game are already getting used to infecteds too much. They became just low-level enemies even for them, like that female characters under twenty, are competing how many infected they killed. Nobody is thinking about a cure nor researching anymore. It's just another wildlife animal for them.

In result, the infecteds are only enemies or obstacle objects in this game. No deep mentions about the infection. Even though this game introduces a new species of infected, the “Rat King”, and it seems like the first infected person, yet Abby barely talked about it. Both character minds are full of vengeance so they don't even care about new species. Speaking of new enemies, there is also the new species Shambler, but nobody cared about it. Besides, it barely differs from the Bloater.
This game also has a side of Sci-Fi in the near future, isn't it. I wanted this game to give me more kind of a space to consider, think about the background of the story, like, why the world became like this, what is this fungus in the first place... Something like an aftertaste?
On that point, such as the 『Resident Evil 7 (2017) was better. I could enjoy both sci-fi virus stuff and also drama of people.

Rat King

Seems that this Rat King is the first infected patient of the unknown infection. But Abby is not interested in it and Ellie doesn't even encounter it. This game doesn't care about the player's curiosity much. I almost here developers' voices 「who still care about the infection?」

🧙The religious cult is too insignificant (and also the drifters)

I'm suspicious that they changed the story big in the middle of the development.

Lev, Abby's part sub-character, and almost all time travel together. She is like Ellie for Joel in the previous story. And her sister Yara. Their background is that they escaped from a cult called Seraphites.

They use unique whistles to contact each other and are quite skilled in battle in the Jungle-ish situation. They deny civilization such as electricity and fights with bow and arrows. Still, they have enough big to fight against the army Abby's affiliation, WLF. Seems that they are quite popular and big because I saw a lot of mural paintings that portray their founder of a religion in collapsed Seattle.
Parts of their doctrine have been told from Lev and Yara in the game, and we even visited their stronghold island at the end of the story. And it's eventually burned down by the all-out assault of WLF... but that's it.

The story doesn't even tell who is drawn on a lot of mural paintings in the city. Just we could suspect she is dead in its conversations. All of the people from Seraphites are only enemies except Lev and Yara, so their purpose is a mystery until the end. The burning village is the most spectacular scenery in the game, but I couldn't feel catharsis nor excitement because we didn't understand what the place was about in the first place. The big boss enemy Abby fought there was quite strong (I guess it's the strongest among humans in the game), but it was just an enemy, no background story nor a name. Speaking of Seraphites they are also called “Scars” because of their scar in the face. But why? That's also untold.
Those were sloppy poor depicting though those were Lev and Yara's important backgrounds and was an important element that constructs their character.

The boss enemy in Seraphites' island

The boss enemy in Seraphites' island. Perhaps he was the strongest human in the Last of Us Part 2. But no name. Who is this? Also, it was a mystery why he was so strong like a monster.

It's only my guess, but I think it was supposed to be more involved in the narrative. Because it doesn't make any sense as a game story that a lot of mural paintings are just background paintings and even her name was not shown. I felt very uncomfortable when landing the island since their existence was too unclear and also I couldn't be excited.

セラファイトの島の炎上

The Seraphites' island being burned-down is the climax scene in the game. But I couldn't feet anything from it since it's people, detail nor purpose were not drawn in the game at all in the first place.

Similarly, the Rattlers, drifters group were also neglected in the story. I felt it was a group existing just only to make a scene “Abby is captured and tortured”. Kind of a lazy plot. Of course, I don't think developers on this scale would make their plots like so. Just I can't stop thinking that the story might be changed a big several times in the middle of the development. Changing the story itself is not a bad thing, but if the result is this...

アイザックも空気

Speaking of lazy plot, depicting Isaac who is the boss of WLF was also lazy. Typical villain character, the big boss trusting Abby in the first, and then turning into a big enemy. However, he is shown only twice(?) in the game. Too forgettable.

😑I don't need pseudo-open-world-ish exploring part

Especially the part when Ellie arrived in Seattle. I don't need something like 〈You can explore wherever you want in this area.〉 contrary to the game itself is a one-way straight narrative game...
I think I just don't like the games having pseudo-open-world-ish exploring part while themselves are straight narrative-driven games such as 『God of War (2018). I play and proceed with that kind of game because I want to know its story, and I tend to feel annoyed when required to explore places. Also unlike the God of War, the Last of Us is not a game with exhilarating actions. So there was not much fun on exploring. And yet to avoid lacking items later, I had to explorer some places unwillingly.
I would suffice even if the narrative-driven game has no side roads at all...

シアトルの地図

The map in the game was too hard to read. Too real and won't tell where is the where clearly since it was even the pre-collapse map. I wouldn't complain even if it was a more symbolized game-ish map...

🙄Weapon upgrades

Weapons upgrade system inherited the previous. It was even cooler since the characters' actually had a motion that modifying the weapon on a table for every single weapon.
It's ok but materials for upgrading weapons were very scarce. Even so, I could get new weapons continuously so I tend to think like 「I might get a new weapon more I like later」 and or 「There were no work-desks for a long time until here so I should upgrade here. But which weapon?」 and or 「I did upgrade it but I didn't use it as much as I would have expected...」 such on. Anyway, it was kinda off, I felt.

Moreover, there were two main characters which the player controls and they don't share weapons nor materials to upgrade. It also made me thought like 「Soon the character changes so...」 or 「If I upgrade this weapon, it does not reflect on the other character」 or such kind of "saving" mind. Thus in the latter half of the game, I didn't upgrade weapons that much, and the materials which were so lacking in the first part, were eventually leftover.

武器の改造台

The character motion for upgrading weapons is cool but since the materials shortage and also too few work-tables, The timings [When I want to upgrade] and [When I have enough materials] don't much so I couldn't upgrade comfortably.

I felt the same on the skill tree. I did upgrade skills normally at first, but soon I knew there are more skill trees hidden. Then I started to save items for the upgrade like 「I might get more good skills I want to upgrade」. Then at the time when I got enough skill trees, I got used to the fight or any other action so now all skills look boring. Also, the supplements themseleves were lacking. I couldn't feel good about getting skills.
And the same happens as weapons, character switch system makes me feel like 「Shit, I have to get skills from the start?」

Skill Tree

The skill tree system itself is relatively simple. But I couldn't know when is the best time for upgrading them since a new skill tree continuously appears. And the time I collected all of them, I couldn't feel them to be necessary so I tended to neglect them.
I know it's going to be needed on a higher difficulty, but...

Empty drawers

Speaking of items, a player can collect them from drawers or cabinets. For example, in a lot of J-RPG such as the Dragon Quest, you can check almost all drawers. And sometimes you can get an item if you have been lucky.
In the Last of Us Part 2, you can never know whether the drawer is able to check from its appearance. If you see the button guide when you are close enough, you know it's a checkable drawer. And there are not many checkable ones compared to there are so many drawers, cabinets, and lockers on the graphic. But still, you'll get no-luck, I mean you'll get empty ones from time to time.
Maybe it's a naive question but why did they make it a checkable drawer if it's empty? Why didn't they just make it uncheckable, just like others?

😶Long loading right after launched the game

There was no loading while playing the game, but there is one loading, it's right after launching the game. It's just less than a minute, but I felt it as long as I felt 「Uh... I want to play another game but I have to suck it up since I don't want to wait for that loading...」 I don't know why but it's maybe because of the boring loading screen, or because there were no loading except it, I felt it very long.

Loading Screen

The loading screen after the game launched. There is an animation which shows bugs swarming on the light, still, I felt it's long.

😡The director keeps fans getting angry.

As a fan who played the whole game, this is the most irritating thing. The director, Neil Druckmann, just doesn't care about fans or rather, enjoys tweeting some meme-ish gif which is trying to flame fans.

What I hate most was the tweet below. Thank you for telling me you don't care about fans at all by using the Last of Us characters.

And this tweet. How can you celebrate Father's Day using the character who is brutally murdered by your own plot?

I guess, he is kind of a person who likes making people angry, so we should just ignore him...

That's all I guess...? I tried to write this being moderate. But just in case if I was not clear,

The Last of Us is dead.
It's not back no matter how many times we call the name.
That time is over, and we should face the music.

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