The Last of Us Part II reviews are in. And, if the slew of flawless scores stands as any measure what will greet players, the confidence exuded by Sony with an embargo lift a week ahead of launch was warranted.
There seems little disagreement among the gaming press that Naughty Dog’s effort is a must-play, a seminal entry in the annals of video game history. Yet, it’s an experience that will sit uncomfortably with many for its no-holds-barred exploration of human imperfection in a world beset by wanton violence.
Many seem torn between the compelling, carefully woven narrative beats we’ve come to expect from Naughty Dog and a profoundly visceral experience that leaves the player emotionally drained. But, the consensus is that this is one that needs to be played.
All this is wrapped in a stellar graphical package alongside astounding mechanics that elevate the gameplay of the original – a fitting farewell to the PlayStation 4 era.
Here’s a spoiler-free round-up of The Last of Us Part II reviews from a selection of gaming outlets.
The Last of Us Part II is a spectacular sequel, it’s a brave and unexpected direction for the series, expanding on the world both narratively and mechanically, producing a far sounder and rounded experience that never falters or gets in the way of the game’s clear storytelling strength.
The Last of Us Part 2 is an outstanding action game; a darker, more introspective follow-up that seeks to challenge the conventions of big-budget action games. In this it’s not always successful, but its execution is impeccable, and its story proves an appropriate bookend to the story of Joel and Ellie. In short, it’s some of Naughty Dog’s best work.
It’s a huge roll of the dice from the developers, but it works, and the pay-off is almost indescribable. It would be too much to claim that you will never feel the same about video game violence again, but the shock is profound and discomfiting. It’s gut-wrenching stuff.
The Last of Us Part II is another story that could only work as a game, the kind of challenging, groundbreaking work that comes along two or three times a decade.
It delivers a layered, emotionally shattering story on top of stealth and action gameplay that improves the first game’s mechanics while integrating a bit more of Uncharted’s greater mobility and action. But while Part 2 is a thrilling adventure, it still makes time for a stunning, nuanced exploration of the strength and fragility of the human spirit. The PlayStation 4 has one of its best exclusives in one of the generation’s best games.
It’s a visually beautiful game that feels distinct to play, and the story it tells and how it tells it, at the most basic level, certainly pushes the edges of what games have done before. None of those accomplishments elevated or redeemed it for me. Like the nature consuming Seattle, or the outbreak consuming humanity, its ugliness overshadowed everything else.
Whether it’s from a story perspective or a gameplay one, Naughty Dog haven’t been afraid to make some big leaps with this game. Fortunately, it’s almost all for the better, and the result is a game that is as diverse as it is challenging, with visuals that I can’t see being beaten until the new consoles hit, and a story that will raise some eyebrows but ultimately sticks the landing, in spite of how dark it can get. A magnificent example of what is capable in the medium of video games. We absolutely needed this sequel.
When the credits rolled on The Last of Us Part 2 I was still buzzing from the excitement of the final few hours. My loyalty shifted between characters. I grew to love who I hated and dislike who I loved. I laughed, I teared up. I felt anger and elation. It’s the new high water mark for video game characters and I can’t wait for everyone to see just how special it is.
Unparalleled presentation combines with an engaging gameplay loop that puts you in the shoes of its characters – and forces you to feel all of the tension and misgivings of its cast. It’s uncomfortable and not everyone will necessarily enjoy its direction, but that’s ultimately what makes it so essential.
It’s a hard game to stomach, in part because so much of who Ellie is and what she does is beyond your control. She is deeply complicated and flawed, and her selfishness hurts a lot of people. At times, the pain you inflict feels so senseless that it can leave you numb. It’s all messy and bleak and made me profoundly sad for myriad reasons, but the more I reflect on it, the more I appreciate the story and characters at its core.